Civil War Defenses of Washington
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Before the Battle

During its existence, the Civil War Defenses of Washington were under almost constant rumor of threat and suffered various Confederate raids, especially on its southern and western sides. In the aftermath of the First Battle of Manassas, the routed Union troops streamed back into Washington as a disorganized mob and, theoretically, that should have made it easy for enemy forces to follow up and seize the capital. Thankfully, the Confederate forces were also disorganized, tired and in need of food, supplies, and ammunition, which made it impossible for them to follow up on their victory. Following the Confederate victories at the Second Battle of Manassas and the Battle of Chantilly, the defeated Union troops returned to the capital dejected but not in rout; again the Confederates did not followup by attacking Washington. Similarly, during the Antietam and Gettysburg campaigns, fears that the Confederate forces might some how elude their Union pursuers and turn south to Washington kept the capital in a heightened state of insecurity. At other times, rumors of intended attacks on Washington sent chills through the hearts of many of the Washington, D.C. area inhabitants, except for the numerous Confederate sympathizers. [1]

Although an all out attack and/or siege of Washington was unlikely, most of the time, the threat of enemy raids was a constant threat and rumors of intended excursions circulated almost daily. The greatest threats of intended raids concerned the most frequent raiders, Colonel John Singleton Mosby's Confederate guerillas, the Forty-third Virginia Cavalry Battalion. Mosby and his men did carry out raids on the defenses and related troops at times and the threat of such raids was realistic. But, Mosby and his men did not perpetrate all raids on the Defenses of Washington; Major, later Lieutenant Colonel, Elijah V. White's Thirty-fifth Virginia Cavalry Battalion was one of the other raiding units. [2]

The greatest enemy threat to the Defenses of Washington occurred in July 1864, when Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early led his "Army of the Valley" to within six miles of downtown Washington in view of the new Capitol dome. In mid-June, Early left Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Cold Harbor. He marched to the Shenandoah Valley where his army provided the deciding numbers in defeating Union Major General David Hunter at Lynchburg. Early then headed down the valley and across the Potomac River into Maryland, defeated another Union army under Major General Lew Wallace at Monocacy, and then marched his men to the outskirts of the Union capital. Could Early and his men accomplish the unthinkable and capture Washington, D.C., a feat that no other Confederate army, even one commanded by the consummate commander, Robert E. Lee, had accomplished?

The Campaign

According to Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early, General Robert E. Lee gave him orders, on June 12, 1864: " . . . to move the [Second] corps, with two of the battalions of artillery attached to it, to the Shenandoah Valley; to strike [Major General David] Hunter's force in the rear and if possible, destroy it; then to move down the valley, cross the Potomac near Leesburg, in Loudon County, or at or above Harpers Ferry, as I might find more practicable, and threaten Washington city." In addition, Early was to "communicate" with General John C. Breckenridge who would "cooperate" with him against Hunter and in the expedition north. At the time he received these directions, his corps was located near Gaines Mill, in the rear of [Lieutenant General Ambrose P.] Hill's line at Cold Harbor. Early the next morning, Early started his corps, that he stated numbered about eight thousand men, towards Charlottesville, Virginia. [3]

Early and his men arrived in Charlottesville on June 16. There, they took the train for Lynchburg, arriving in mid-day on the next day and entered the Confederate earthworks just as the Union troops came in to view. With the arrival of Major General Stephen D. Ramseur's division, the Confederates halted the Union attack and both sides spent the rest of the day deciding on their future moves. Inactivity continued the next morning except for some light skirmishing. Around noon, the Confederates undertook an attack and fighting continued for about two hours when Early ended the assault and appeared to be getting ready for a decisive attack the next morning. Hunter, even though his force outnumbered the Confederates, decided not to wait for the onslaught and ordered a retreat that evening. Fearing a Confederate pursuit might block the important Valley Turnpike, he took his force west into West Virginia, arriving at Parkersburg, on the Ohio River, on July 4. [4]

The Confederates pursued Hunter's force and in a few skirmishes, captured some men and artillery and destroyed supplies and ordnance. When the Yankees entered the mountains, Early broke off the pursuit and, on the 22nd, halted to replenish his men, allowing the artillery and wagons to catch up. On June 18, Early had received a telegram from Lee, stating: "Grant is in front of Petersburg" so "Strike as quick as you can, and, if circumstances authorize, carry out the original plan, or, move upon Petersburg without delay." Thus, after replenishment, Early headed his force, now comprising his Second Corps plus men commanded by Breckenridge and Ramseur, down the Shenandoah Valley, crossing the James River on the 23rd and reaching Buchanan that night, and proceeding on to Staunton, on the 26th, where he halted again to reorganize. [5]

At Staunton, after reorganization, Early determined that he had about two thousand mounted troops commanded by Major General Robert Ransom and comprising four brigades under Brigadier General John McCausland, Colonel W.L. Mudwall Jackson, Brigadier General Bradley T. Johnson and Brigadier General John D. Imboden. The infantry comprised approximately ten thousand troops. Major General John C. Breckenridge commanded a corps composed of his own division, under Major General Arnold Elzey, and Major General John B. Gordon's division of the Second Corps. The other two Second Corps divisions were under Major General Robert Emmmet Rhodes and Major General Stephen D. Ramseur. Brigadier General Armistead L. Long commanded the nine artillery batteries divided into two battalions. Early also attempted to unencumber his army by leaving unneeded supplies and personal items there. With all this accomplished, early in the morning on June 28th, Early set his command into motion, passing Harrisonburg on the 29th and New Market on the 30th, continuing to Winchester on July 2. At Winchester, a communication from Lee directed Early to remain in the area until "everything was in readiness" to cross the Potomac and, in the meantime disrupt and destroy the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. [6]

On July 3, Union Major General Franz Sigel, after some skirmishing, fled Martinsburg, abandoning some supplies–he had shipped out most of them in the railroad cars–and the Confederates enthusiastically appropriated what they found. Other destruction of the railroad and canal was also accomplished. But, at Martinsburg, on the 3rd, some of Gordon's men became drunk and plundered the city. The same thing occurred the next day at Harpers Ferry, as some of Gordon and Ramseur's men pillaged the city in a disorganized mob. Union troops had evacuated the city, crossed the Potomac River, burned the railroad and pontoon bridges there and moved into the fortifications on Maryland Heights. Early began crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown the next day intending to attack the Union forces on Maryland Heights. The Confederates eventually realized that capturing the Union force would cost many men and much time in the attempt, which was not a forgone success. Thus, Early, on July 7, moved on, leaving the Union forces on Maryland Heights. He would march around them, through South Mountain on his way to Washington. [7]

On July 5, Lieutenant General Grant, commanding general of the Army, in spite of various correspondence from Union commanders in the Shenandoah that mentioned Early commanded the force in their front, dated as early as June 22, finally realized that Early, with the Second Corps, was absent from his front. Also, about this time, the day that Early's men began crossing the Potomac, Washington, D.C. and its citizens really began to worry about their security. Would Early head towards Baltimore, Washington or somewhere else? [8]

On July 6, Captain Robert E. Lee, met up with Early, near Sharpsburg, with a message from his father. In addition to his other missions, Early was to cooperate in an operation intended to liberate Confederate prisoners of war so that they could join Confederate forces before Petersburg. Early would detach General Bradley T. Johnson, with his cavalry brigade formerly commanded by General William E. "Grumbles" Jones, on a raid between Washington and Baltimore toward the Union Prison at Point Lookout, Maryland, where he and a force under naval raider Colonel-Commander John Taylor Wood would secure the release of the fifteen to twenty thousand prisoners of war there. Early sent Johnson off on the mission but, due to the inability of Wood to join up, the prisoners of war were not liberated. [9]

Although Early had hoped to find some Confederate sympathy as he entered Maryland, he did not court it. His men undertook extensive foraging, which, in some cases, turned into sacking, pillaging and plundering in various towns including Sharpsburg, Hagerstown, Williamsport and Shepherdstown. The Confederates extracted ransoms from some towns such as $20,000 from Hagerstown, $1,500 at Middletown, and $200,000 later at Frederick. In addition, supplies and food were taken from many Maryland homes and farms. [10]

Early, on July 7, sent the cavalry ahead toward Frederick and, since the expected shipment of shoes had finally arrived, he distributed them to his men that night. Leaving early in the morning on July 8, advancing toward South Mountain, Rhodes men moved through Crampton's Gap to Jefferson; Breckenridge led his men through Fox's Gap; and Ramseur pushed his men, with the supply wagons, through Boonsboro Gap. After passing South Mountain, the force moved on toward Monocacy Junction. Ramseur's division moved through Frederick, skirmishing with Union troops as they advaned. The Union force under Major General Lew Wallace, the commander of the Middle Department and author of Ben Hur, began the evacuation of Frederick, after dark. The Confederates entered Frederick, the next morning, and extracted a ransom of $200,000. [11]

When, Wallace and his men, numbering between five and six thousand, including Brigadier General James B. Ricketts' Division of the Sixth Corps that Grant had dispatched on July 5, left Frederick, they moved southeast of the city and took a position on the Monocacy River where they could dispute enemy crossings. Early reported that his line covered " . . . the Washington road, while the Baltimore pike is two miles and a half on my right." The position blocked passage on both the roads leading to Washington and to Baltimore. Skirmishing began at around 6:30 a.m. and eventually lead to general fighting, about 9:00 a.m., as the Confederates, roughly ten thousand men, advanced. After fierce resistance for a prolonged period of time, turning back three Confederate attacks, Ricketts' division was defeated after Gordon's division outflanked it. Wallace decided to retire before he lost all his troops, allowing the Confederates to cross the railroad bridge, and fighting ceased by 5:00 p.m. Some Confederates pursued the Yankees but soon broke off. The Confederates had lost around 700-800 men killed, wounded and missing while the Yankees lost about 1300-1400. Early's men had clearly won a decided victory, but had lost a day in their movement to Washington that was quite telling. [12]

Following the Battle of Monocacy, Early ordered the wagons, supplies, foraged livestock and captives to cross the Monocacy that evening so they would be ready to move with the army early the next morning. U.S. Army Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck received a message from Wallace, at 11:40 p.m., informing him of the defeat at Monocacy; Wallace had begun a retreat toward Baltimore. In light of Early's movements after the battle, it became fairly evident that he was headed for Washington, not Baltimore. Realizing the precariousness of the situation in the Washington, D.C. area, on the 9th, General Grant ordered the two remaining Sixth Corps divisions to Washington by boat. On the 10th, he informed the President that one division of the Nineteenth Corps, about 6,000 men, was on its way by boat, from Fort Monroe. Some thought was given to having U.S. Grant, himself, travel to Washington and personally command the defenses of the capital but he finally decided that " . . . it would have a bad effect for me to leave here." At daylight, Early's army began to move in the direction of the Union capital. [13]

General McCausland's cavalrymen led the way for Early's army as they traveled the road toward Washington. Dust and heat wearied them. Periodic skirmishing haggard them. Union Major William H. Fry gathered approximately 500 cavalrymen, from Giesboro Depot, and set out to discover Early's whereabouts. He soon fell in with Captain A. Levi Well, with some companies of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, and together they rode north from Rockville toward Gerrardsville; these troops engaged the enemy in what historian Benjamin Franklin Cooling referred to as " . . . the opening shots of the battle for Washington." Fry and Well dogged the Confederates for the rest of the day, all the way to Rockville. By evening, the Confederate troops were strung out from Gaithersburg to Rockville. The main Confederate bivouac was at Gaithersburg. [14]

According to Early, his army moved out at daylight on July 11. McCausland, with his cavalry traveled the Georgetown Pike. The infantry, with John Imboden's cavalry, under Colonel Smith, in the lead, "turned to the left at Rockville, so as to reach the 7th street pike which runs by Silver Springs into Washington." Jackson's cavalry covered the infantry's left flank. Like the day before, it was hot and dry, no rain for weeks, which, with all the men, horses, artillery and wagons moving at once, stirred up a lot of dust. The Confederates were moving as fast as they could in an effort to reach and capture the fortifications in the Defenses of Washington before re-enforcements arrived to man them. [15]

As the Confederates approached, the Union troops, what there was of them, were in dire straits. First, the command structure was fragmented. Major General Christopher C. Augur commanded the Department of Washington, Twenty-second Army Corps, and should have had overall command. Colonel Moses N. Wisewell was Military Governor of Washington and, therefore, he had some command functions. Major General Alexander McD. McCook reported that on July 11, at 12.30 a.m, a telegraphic order was received directing that: Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, with a portion of the Nineteenth Corps, would command the line from Fort Lincoln to Fort Totten; Brigadier General M. C. Meigs, Quartermaster-General, would command the line from Fort Totten to Fort De Russy; Brigadier General Martin D. Hardin, would command from Fort De Russy to Fort Sumner, inclusive; Major General Horatio G. Wright, commanding the Sixth Corps troops in the defenses would be held in reserve; and Major General Alexander McD. McCook would command the entire line. Furthermore, the Chief of Engineers, Brigadier General Richard Delafield, reported that at the time of Early's raid, he had ordered all the Army Engineer officers constructing seacoast batteries, north and east of this city, to the defenses of Baltimore and Washington, including seven officers and General Barnard had also returned for the emergency. Thus, command confusion was rife. [16]

The number of troops and their quality were major problems. In his post-war report on the Defenses of Washington, Barnard wrote that in July 1864, " . . . all the artillery regiments which had constituted the garrisons of the works and who were experienced in the use of the artillery, had been withdrawn and their places mainly filled by a few regiments of 'one-hundred-days men,'just mustered into service." Continuing, Barnard remarked that the fortifications were manned by: "Bodies of hastily-organized men, such as teamsters, quartermasters' men, citizen volunteers, &c., sent out to the lines . . ." Veteran Reserve Corpsmen, composed of partially disabled men who could perform some duties, were on alert and manned some of the fortifications. This allowed the fully-able to fight. Convalescents were also in the defenses. The July 10th Department of Washington tri-monthly report showed an aggregate present combined strength of 23,326 officers and men North of the Potomac along with 484 heavy artillery pieces and 29 field artillery pieces; 16,114 officers and men, 460 heavy artillery pieces and 6 field artillery pieces were south of the Potomac and would be of no use in the fight against Early's army. Of the 23,236 officers and men only 17,277 were readily available to fight Early's army. Those not available included 196 general headquarters personnel, 2,841 military personnel in the District of Saint Mary's, Maryland, 156 at Fort Washington, Maryland, and 2,766 general hospital guards. Historian Frank Vandiver believes that "After all detachments and other deductions were made, Augur might be able to put 9,500 men in the thirty-seven miles of entrenchments" including those south of the Potomac. Historian Frank Cooling wrote: "All that authorities could hope for was a sufficient show of force to bluff the enemy until Grant's veterans could arrive from Petersburg to save the city." [17]

As Early's men continued their advance, they ran into some Union troops. Colonel Charles R. Lowell with three squadrons of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment may have initiated the first fighting of the day when they skirmished with McCausland's force while also gathering intelligence. Major William H. Fry was also involved in skirmishing that morning. As McCausland continued his movement on the Georgetown Pike, he was headed for Fort Reno at Tennallytown and along with a battery of artillery, he drove back the Union picket-line guarding the fronts of forts Bayard, Simmons, and Mansfield. At that time, the guns in those forts and Fort Reno opened on McCausland, his men and the accompanying artillery battery. McCausland, in response to the artillery fire moved left, giving his attention to forts Kearny and De Russy and the intervening ground, between 9 and 11 a.m. By noon, General Hardin, commanding in the area, asked General Augur for more ammunition for Lowell and Fry and forage for their horses. Skirmishing continued on that front. [18]

The other Confederates marched from Rockville on Rockville Pike along the New Cut Road (now Viers Mill Road) to the crossroads in Leesborough (now Wheaton). Then, they turned right on to the Washington and Brookeville Turnpike that became the Seventh Street Road in the District. As they marched, they heard the heavy artillery firing from the forts and heard of the intelligence from McCausland about the well-built fortifications in the Defenses of Washington. As they approached the District, the Capitol dome came into view as well as the enemy fortifications. Colonel Smith drove a small body of cavalry back into the works, dismounted his men and deployed as skirmishers. Early rode ahead of the infantry and arrived in sight of Fort Stevens after noon, observing that the fortifications were not adequately manned. Attempting to act quickly, Early wrote that he deployed his infantry and started them towards Fort Stevens just as Union re-enforcements were arriving and being deployed within the fortifications. When skirmishers in front of the fort responded, and the heavy artillery from the fort began to fire, Early stopped his movements and reconnoitered. [19]

Around noon, cheering began at the Sixth Street docks where Union reinforcements had finally arrived. Even the president came to the dock to greet them. Major General Horatio Wright led one of his divisions of the Sixth Corps off the transports onto the dock to rousing cheers. After a false start in the wrong direction, these troops headed up Seventh Street toward Fort Stevens. Soon afterwards, the Nineteenth Corps contingent arrived and headed up Seventh Street also. When General Wright and his men approached the defenses, he received an order from General Halleck to hold his men in reserve and the Nineteenth Corps contingent was to move to Fort Saratoga, not under enemy attack. Wright fumed and finally received permission to advance to Fort Stevens. When he arrived at the fort, the Confederates were pressing the skirmishers and approaching the fort. When the First Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps under Brigadier General Frank Wheaton moved out to reestablish the skirmish line, other Sixth Corps units ventured into the skirmishing. A variety of people such as Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, had come to Fort Stevens to observe the fighting, including the President, with Mrs. Lincoln, who peered over the parapet, putting himself in danger and earning a special honor as the only president to come under enemy fire while in office. Early's whole force never showed but skirmishing continued until the Confederates fell back after dark ending the fighting. [20]

After dark, Early met with generals Breckenridge, Rhodes, Gordon and Ramseur and, according to the Confederate commander, he decided to attack the fortifications at daylight on the 12th. Later, though, he received intelligence from General Johnson that two corps from General Grant's army had arrived and more could be on the way. Thus, at daylight the next morning, Early reconnoitered again, "found the parapet lined with troops" and "decided to give up all hopes of capturing Washington." Thus, it remained relatively quiet in front of Fort Stevens throughout most of the day except for skirmishing and Union artillery fire upon any "collection of the enemy which could be seen within reach of their guns." Again, President Lincoln visited Fort Stevens and ascended the parapet to see what was happening. Under enemy fire, someone, there are various suggestions as to whom it was, entreated the president to get down before he was killed. At around 6:00 p.m., General Wright ordered General Wheaton to lead his division out and clear out the Confederate skirmishers, about twelve hundred yards in front of Fort Stevens to the right of the Seventh Street, who were systematically wounding or killing anyone who exposed themselves within the fort; the enemy strongly resisted the attack and heartily returned fire for sometime before retreating long after dark. [21]

West of Fort Stevens, Colonel Lowell, commanding the cavalry in front of Fort Reno, concocted a bold move and received permission from General Hardin to carry it out. He moved up the River Road, in the morning, while it was still dark, reached the wooded country, and attacked McCausland's cavalry on its right. Then, Lieutenant Colonel Crowinshield, with two squadrons of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, attacked the enemy's front, compelling them to drop back a mile in confusion. Other attacks on isolated Confederate units occurred elsewhere in front of the defenses. [22]

During the night of July 12 to 13, Early's Army of the Valley withdrew, headed back to the Shenandoah Valley, crossing the Potomac at White's Ford, near Leesburg on July 14; some Union forces had pursued Early whose men fought a rearguard action at Poolesville, Maryland. After Early crossed the Potomac, General Wright advised his superiors against pursuit but President Lincoln did not agree. One source gives the total Union and Confederate casualties as 874; another source gives casualties as 573 Union and 500 Confederate. The only real threat of the Civil War to the Union capital was over. Soon, the strength of the Defenses of Washington would return to depleted numbers but as the Union forces continued to win victory after victory, the defense of Washington, D.C. seemed unnecessary. [23]

Historically Significant Sites Related to Early's Raid in the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Maryland [24]

The area in which the Battle of Fort Stevens occurred was mostly open farm area at the time of the battle. Many of the homes, farms and other buildings in the area were damaged or destroyed to provide a field of fire for artillery, to prevent enemy sharpshooters from using them as a blind, or by accidental fire during fighting. The area remained as open farm area for some time after the battle but, especially in the Twentieth Century, practically all of it was developed for housing. Thus, little remains of the original battlefield with any integrity. Many of the roads, including Georgia Avenue (formerly Seventh Street Road and Brookeville Turnpike), Rockville Pike (Route 355), Viers Mill Road (Route 586), and Georgetown Pike (Route 197), still maintain their original names and much of their Civil War period trace. Postmaster Montgomery Blair rebuilt his home "Falkland," burned to the ground during Early's raid, but it finally succumbed, in 1958, and the Blair Shopping Center was built on the site. Francis P. Blair's Home, "Silver Spring," which Early saved from destruction and used as a headquarters while in the area, was razed in 1958. The nearby town of Leesborough renamed itself Wheaton in honor of Union General Frank Wheaton who protected it from Confederate pillaging and destruction. The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission offered the following in reference to the Battle of Fort Stevens battlefield area, after listing the few historically significant sites with integrity: "Other than these specific areas, all structures and open ground associated with the battle have been completely obliterated by residential and commercial development in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, MD within the last 50- 75 years." Further, in discussing the long-term threats to the Battle of Fort Stevens battlefield area, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission reported: "Other than the forts administered by the National Park Service, Battleground National Cemetery, Grace Episcopal Church, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the historical integrity of the land involved in the Battle of Fort Stevens has been completely eliminated by residential and commercial development."

The sites that do include some integrity are listed below along with some historical and descriptive information:

Anderson Cottage

The U.S. Soldiers' Home (now the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmens' Home) was established in 1851, through the efforts of Major Robert Anderson and Lieutenant General Winfield Scott. The Soldier's Home partially incorporated George Riggs' farm including his original home, named Anderson Cottage, in honor of Robert Anderson. President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, used Anderson cottage as their Summer home, where they were staying until 10:00 p.m. on the night of July 10 before Jubal Early's Army of the Valley invaded the area. They returned to the Anderson Cottage on July 14. Also, located on the U.S. Soldiers' Home grounds, the Army used the tower above the Scott Building for a signal tower during Early's Raid.

Battleground National Cemetery

In July 1864, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs took possession of a small parcel of the battlefield ground over which some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle of Fort Stevens had occurred to bury forty of the Union dead. The U.S. Government acquired title to this Battleground National Cemetery, encompassing 1.033 acres, on February 22, 1867, under the provision of an Act of Congress that provided for National Cemeteries. War Department General Orders No. 39, date April 7, 1882, designated Battleground National Cemetery as a Fourth Class Cemetery. Monuments to Union Army units that had served in the Battle of Fort Stevens were placed in Battleground National Cemetery as follows: Ninetyeighth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1891, One Hundred Twenty-second New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1903, Company K, One Hundred fiftieth Ohio National Guard Regiment in 1907, and the Twenty-fifth New York Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in 1914. In March 1936, the cemetery interred the remains of Major E.R. Campbell, who had served in the Battle of Fort Stevens and died at the age of 92, bringing the total of soldier graves to 41. Today, Rock Creek Park, National Park Service, administers the Battlefield National Cemetery.

Fortifications in the Defenses of Washington involved in the Battle of Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens was originally constructed as Fort Massachusetts in 1861. Later the Army enlarged the fort and renamed it Fort Stevens. Today, several pieces of artillery are placed within the partially reconstructed fortification, administered by the National Park Service. Emory Chapel now stands where the fort's eastern magazine had been. On November 7, 1911, William Van Zandt Cox and Lewis Cass White supervised the placement of a three-ton boulder (five and one-half feet high by three feet in diameter taken from the battlefield near the site of the then new Walter Reed Army Hospital on the old Carberry property) atop the fort's parapet to mark the spot where President Lincoln stood under fire; four 32-pounder cannon balls, fired from the fort and found on the battlefield, surround the base of the marker. The Sixth Corps Association, on July 12, 1920, dedicated a bronze bas-relief, sculpted by Otto Schwizer, depicting President Lincoln, Surgeon Crawford and General Wright under fire on the parapet, that was affixed to the boulder. Since around 1900, individuals and organizations had tried in vain to have the U.S. Government acquire the site. But, it was not until 1925-33, that the Government got the remaining parts of the fort and some of the surrounding ground. The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Grand Army of the Republic, in September 1936, placed a bas-relief of the fort on the site. In the late 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the parapet on which President Lincoln stood and the western magazine, under National Park Service landscape architect Robert P. McKean's supervision; the Civilian Conservation Corps substituted concrete for the original wood magazine interior, gun platforms and revetments although they aptly duplicated the detail and style of the Civil War engineers. Fort Stevens has served as a gathering point for Civil War veterans and a location for reenactments and memorializations.

Fort De Russy

Located within a wooded section of Rock Creek Park are the remains of the earthworks and some of the rifle trenches along with a plaque on a large boulder.

Battery to left of Rock Creek

Located near Fort De Russy, the earthworks of the Battery to the left of Rock Creek are visible.

Battery Kingsbury

Scant remains of Battery Kingsbury are visible.

Battery Sill

Scant remains of Battery Sill are visible.

Fort Totten

Located in a large open area near a Metro Station of the same name, allowing for erosion and vandalism, well-preserved earthworks and an outer trench are visible.

Battery Totten

Located near Fort Totten, the battery's earthworks are visible but because they are located in an open area, they are liable to erosion and vandalism.

Fort Slocum

Fort Slocum Park includes some visible rifle pits and remains of a field gun battery.

Fort Reno

Fort Reno Park is basically a large open field, with possibly some archaeological remains underneath, but is devoid of any fortification remains above ground.

Fort Bayard

Fort Bayard is a small park with very few remains of the fort.

Fort Bunker Hill

Fort Bunker Hill is located in heavy woods, but it includes a few remains of the earthworks.

Grace Episcopal Church Confederate Gravesite

At the time of the Battle of Fort Stevens, Grace Episcopal Church stood along Brookeville Pike and many of the Confederates marched past it. The Grace Episcopal Church that now stands in the area was constructed after a former structure burned in 1896. A new trolley line on Georgia Avenue forced the movement of the Confederate mass gravesite to its present location. The gravesite includes 17 unknown Confederate dead from the Battle of Fort Stevens. At the gravesite is a shaft, made of granite, marked simply "Confederate," that memorializes the Confederates who lost their lives in the Battle of Fort Stevens.

Rockville, Maryland Fairgrounds

General John McCausland's cavalry brigade camped overnight, July 10-11, on the fairgrounds at Rockville, Maryland.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center originally began when the reservation of 43.27 acres was announced in War Department General Orders No. 83, W.D., dated May 2, 1906, as a result of deeds obtained from George W. Madert and his wife, in 1905. Administered by the U.S. Army, Walter Reed Army Medical Center is located on land where the Confederates positioned their lines during the Battle of Fort Stevens. Some of the open ground within the reservation is similar to the appearance of the terrain in 1864 on which the Battle of Fort Steven was fought. Also, the sharpshooter who fired at President Lincoln, after he ascended Fort Steven's parapet, was on land now incorporated into Walter Reed Army Medical Center; today a plaque, accompanied by two 100-pounder spherical shots fired from Fort Totten or Fort De Russy, marks the spot of a Tulip tree that stood near where the Confederate sharpshooter had been. Readily apparent now, the problem with this site is that during a national emergency, it may be closed to the public.

Woodside Park

In Woodside Park, in Silver Spring, at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Spring Street, a historical marker pertaining to the Battle of Fort Steven, was unveiled on July 13, 1992.


These sites, then, are those that could be visited when interpreting Early's Raid on Washington/ Battle of Fort Stevens. Fort Stevens should, definitely, be the premier site but because only part of it was saved and the state of preservation and interpretive facilities at the site leave something to be desired, it does not provide excellent circumstances for interpretation. Also, the National Park Service does not have a historian or interpretive ranger assigned to Fort Stevens daily, an important condition for a premier interpretive site, and, most likely, can not afford to do so. None of the other sites mentioned above has the value or notoriety of Fort Stevens and, therefore, could not serve as the major interpretive site.

But, there are alternatives to having a major specific site to accomplish the interpretation. First, the National Park Service could produce a brochure providing the historical background of Early's Raid on Washington/Battle of Fort Stevens along with a driving guide to each of the important sites. Second, the National Park Service could produce a historical handbook on Early's Raid on Washington/Battle of Fort Stevens as they have done for other sites. Finally, if possible, the National Park Service could produce an audio tape and/or compact disc providing historical information on the event along with driving directions and instructions. Hopefully, the accomplishment of these measures would provide an excellent level of interpretation along with the least amount of cash outlay over a long period of time.

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Last Updated: 29-Oct-2004