1760 to Early 1942
George Washington bought 1,806 acres known as Clifton’s Neck in 1760 and added this tract, which he renamed River Farm, to his Mount Vernon Estate. River Farm included what is now Fort Hunt Park. After his death in 1799, River Farm was inherited by two of his nephews and subsequently sold to a number of other owners.
In 1890, the Endicott Board recommended that a fort be built in Virginia across the Potomac River from Fort Washington as part of the coastal defense system. Ultimately, the fort had four batteries - Mount Vernon, Robinson, Porter and Sater. Only Mount Vernon battery was completed in time for the brief Spanish-American War. In April 1899, the post was named Fort Hunt after Brevet General Henry Jackson Hunt, who had a significant role in the Union victory at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The fort never saw military action, and its cannons were shipped to Europe in World War I. The four batteries still stand at Fort Hunt Park today.
From 1931 through 1933 the first African-American ROTC unit in the country trained and drilled at the site. During the height of the Great Depression, World War I veterans staged three “Bonus Marches” on Washington, D.C., to demand bonuses that Congress had agreed to pay them on a deferred basis. During the first march in 1932, a temporary hospital for sick veterans was installed at Fort Hunt that functioned for nearly two months. The veterans camped at Fort Hunt during the 1933 and 1934 marches and met with representatives of President Franklin Roosevelt, including Eleanor Roosevelt. The President offered to enroll willing veterans in the newly-formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and over 3,000 veterans applied.
The CCC, a jobs program primarily for unemployed youth, was authorized under the Federal Unemployment Relief Act of 1933. It also provided jobs for veterans, Native Americans and residents of American territories (mainly in forest conservation and park improvement). The camp at Fort Hunt (NP-6) was established on October 17, 1933. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England visited NP-6 on June 9, 1939. After the Nazis invaded Poland, the enrollees increasingly performed national defense work. The camp was liquidated in March 1942, and the CCC terminated in July 1942 due to World War II.