Battle of Fort Stevens

Thomas' Legion
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
HISTORY OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEE INDIANS
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers
American Civil War Store: Books, DVDs, etc.

Battle of Fort Stevens
Fort Stevens Civil War History

Battle of Fort Stevens

Other Names: Battle of Washington; Battle of Washington City; Battle of Washington, D.C.

Location: District of Columbia

Campaign: Early’s Raid and Operations against the B&O Railroad (1864); 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns

Date(s): July 11-12, 1864

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright and Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook [US]; Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early [CS]

Forces Engaged: Divisions

Estimated Casualties: 874 total

Result(s): Union victory

Union Artillery in Fort Stevens
Photo of Fort Stevens Washington DC Civil War.jpg
Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

Summary: On July 11, 1864, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s exhausted Confederates reached the outskirts of Washington near Silver Spring. (Early's Route to Washington.) Skirmishers advanced to test the fortifications which at the time were manned only by Home Guards, clerks, and convalescent troops. During the night, veteran units from the Union VI Corps disembarked from troop transports and marched north through the streets of Washington to bolster the defenses.

(Right) Soldiers of Company F, 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, in Fort Stevens. While this fort would come under enemy fire during the American Civil War, there was a total of sixty-eight fortresses that formed a strong, defensive ring around Washington in 1864. Library of Congress.

On July 12, Early was finally in position to make a strong demonstration, which was repulsed by the veteran Union troops. In the afternoon, VI Corps units advanced against the Confederate skirmishers, driving them back from their advanced positions in front of Fort Stevens and DeRussy. President Lincoln watched the action from Fort Stevens and came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters. Recognizing that the Union Capitol was now defended by veterans, Early abandoned any thought of taking the city. Early withdrew during the night, marching toward White’s Ford on the Potomac, ending his invasion of Maryland. “We didn’t take Washington,” Early told his staff officers, “but we scared Abe Lincoln like Hell!” Union casualties were 374 while Confederate losses were estimated at 500. (See also Maryland Civil War History).

Battle of Fort Stevens / Washington D.C. Map
Battle of Fort Stevens / Washington D.C. Map.jpg
Battle of Washington / Fort Stevens Map

Battle of Fort Stevens Map
Battle of Fort Stevens Map.jpg
Civil War Battle of Washington Map

Setting the Stage: Robert E. Lee was concerned about Hunter's advances in the Valley during 1864, which threatened critical railroad lines and provisions for the Virginia-based Confederate forces. He sent Jubal Early's corps to sweep Union forces from the Valley and, if possible, to menace Washington, D.C., hoping to compel Grant to dilute his forces against Lee around Petersburg, Virginia. Early was operating in the shadow of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, whose 1862 Valley Campaign against superior forces was etched in Confederate history. (Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign: A History with Maps and Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862, by Confederate Military History).
 
Early had a good start. He proceeded down the Valley without opposition, bypassed Harpers Ferry, crossed the Potomac River, and advanced into Maryland. Grant dispatched a corps under Horatio G. Wright and other troops under George Crook to reinforce Washington and pursue Early.

 

The Battle of Fort Stevens, also known as the Battle of Washington City or Battle of Washington, D.C., was one of several battles fought during Early's Raid and Operations against the B&O Railroad (June-August 1864). Early's Operations against the B&O Railroad, often times referred to as Early's Raid or Early's Maryland Campaign, was part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864 and was the second of three principal campaigns fought throughout the valley region.
 

Early's Raid and Operations Against the B&O Railroad [June-August 1864], aka Early's Maryland Campaign, consisted of the following battles: Monocacy – Fort Stevens – Heaton's Crossroads – Cool Spring – Rutherford's FarmKernstown II – Folck's MillMoorefield.

Battle of Washington, DC, Route Map
Battle of Washington Route Map.gif
Battle of Fort Stevens Route Map

Battle of Washington, DC, Map
Civil War Battle of Washington.gif
Civil War Battle of Fort Stevens Map

Early's invasion of Maryland had the desired effect on Grant, who dispatched the rest of the VI Corps and XIX Corps under Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright to Washington on July 9. The steamer carrying the Union force arrived in southeast Washington around noon on the July 11, at about the same time that Early himself had reached the outskirts of Fort Stevens with the lead elements of his troops.

The arrival of the VI Corps brought desperately needed veteran reinforcements. It also added another high-ranking officer into a jumbled Federal command. The Washington defenses played host to a number of generals ejected from major theaters of the war or incapacitated for field command due to wounds or disease. Maj. Gen. Alexander M. McCook was one of the former, having not held a command since being relieved of command after the Battle of Chickamauga.
 
McCook was, however, placed in command of the Defenses of the Potomac River & Washington, superseding Christopher Columbus Augur, who commanded the Department of Washington. Augur also commanded the XXII Corps, whose troops manned the capital's defensive works. Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck called upon Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore in New York City to take command of a detachment from the XIX Corps. The U.S. Army's Quartermaster General, Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, took command of an "Emergency Division", composed of federal employees who were armed during the raid, directly under the command of McCook. Even President Abraham Lincoln personally arrived at the battlefield.
 
McCook tried to sort out the problem of too many high-ranking generals in the face of Early's advance. He was unable to rid himself of the generals, and their attempts to gain leverage over one another, but a somewhat workable command structure was established. With McCook in overall command, Gillmore commanded the northeast line of fortresses (Fort Lincoln to Fort Totten), Meigs commanded the northern line of forts (Fort Totten to Fort DeRussy—including Fort Stevens) and Augur's First Division commander, Martin D. Hardin, commanded the northwest line of forts (Fort DeRussy to Fort Sumner). Wright and the VI Corps were initially to be held in reserve but McCook immediately decided against this, stating that he felt veteran troops needed to take the front lines against Early's troops. As it was, Hardin's troops engaged in some light skirmishing, but as McCook intended, it was to be Wright's veterans who bore the brunt of the fighting.

Battle of Washington, DC
Battle of Washington, DC.jpg
Civil War Battle of Fort Stevens History

Battle: At about the time Wright's command was arriving in Washington, Early's corps, after its fight at Monocacy, began to arrive at the breastworks of Fort Stevens. Yet, Early delayed the attack because he was still unsure of the federal strength defending the fort, much of his army was still in transit to the front, and the troops he had were exhausted due to the excessive heat and the fact that they had been on the march since June 13. Additionally, many of the Confederate troops had looted the home of Montgomery Blair, the son of the founder of Silver Spring, Maryland. They found barrels of whiskey in the basement of the mansion, called Blair Mansion, and many troops were allegedly too drunk to get a good start in the morning. This allowed for further fortification by Union troops.
 
Around 3 p.m., with the bulk of their force present, the Confederates commenced skirmishing, probing the defense maintained by Brig. Gen. Martin D. Hardin's division of the XXII Corps with a line of skirmishers backed by artillery. Near the start of the Confederate attack the lead elements of the VI and XIX Corps arrived at the fort, reinforcing it with battle-hardened troops. The battle picked up around 5 p.m. when Confederate cavalry pushed through the advance Union picket line. A Union counterattack drove back the Confederate cavalry and the two opposing lines confronted each other throughout the evening with periods of intense skirmishing. The Union front was aided by artillery from the fort, which shelled Confederate positions, destroying many houses that Confederate sharpshooters used for protection.

Battle of Washington and Surrounding Area
Defenses Surrounding Washington City.jpg
Defenses Surrounding Washington City Map

President Lincoln, his wife Mary, and some officers rode out to observe the attack, either on July 11th or the 12th, and were briefly under enemy fire that wounded a Union surgeon standing next to Lincoln on the Fort Stevens parapet. Lincoln was brusquely ordered to take cover by an officer, possibly Horatio Wright, although other probably apocryphal stories claim that it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Private John A. Bedient of the 150th Ohio Infantry, the fort commander, other privates of the Ohio National Guard, and Elizabeth Thomas.
 
Additional Union reinforcements from the VI and XIX Corps arrived overnight and were placed in reserve behind the line. The skirmishing continued into July 12, when Early finally decided that Washington could not be taken without heavy losses which would be too severe to warrant the attempt. Union artillery from Fort Stevens attempted to clear out Confederate sharpshooters hidden in the buildings and fields in front of the fort; when the artillery fire failed to drive them off, the IV Corps brigade of Daniel Bidwell, supported by Oliver Edwards' brigade and two Veteran Reserve Corps regiments, attacked at about 5 p.m. The attack was successful, but at the cost of over 300 men.

Battle of Fort Stevens Civil War Map
Battle of Fort Stevens Civil War Map.jpg
Battle of Washington Map

Analysis: The Battle of Fort Stevens was an American Civil War battle fought July 11–12, 1864, in Northwest Washington, D.C., as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864 between forces under Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early and Union Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook. Although Early caused consternation in the Union government, reinforcements under Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright and the strong defenses of Fort Stevens minimized the military threat and Early withdrew after two days of skirmishing without attempting any serious assaults. The battle is noted for the personal presence of President Abraham Lincoln observing the fighting.
 
Early's force withdrew that evening, headed back into Montgomery County, Maryland, and crossed the Potomac River on July 13 at White's Ferry into Leesburg, Virginia. The Confederates successfully brought the supplies they seized during the previous weeks with them into Virginia. Early remarked to one of his officers after the battle, "Major, we didn't take Washington but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell." Wright organized a pursuit force and set out after them during the afternoon of the 13th. (See also: Battle of Fort Stevens: The Civil War Battle of Washington and Maryland Civil War History.)

Confederate Order of Battle:

Army of the Valley District

LTG Jubal Early

Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Rodes' Division
     MG  Robert E. Rodes

Battle's Brigade


   BG Cullen A. Battle

  • 3rd Alabama
  • 5th Alabama
  • 6th Alabama
  • 12th Alabama
  • 61st Alabama

Grimes' Brigade


   BG Bryan Grimes

  • 32nd North Carolina
  • 43rd North Carolina
  • 45th North Carolina
  • 53rd North Carolina
  • 2nd North Carolina Battalion

Cook's Brigade


   BG Philip Cook

  • 4th Georgia
  • 12th Georgia
  • 21st Georgia
  • 44th Georgia

Cox's Brigade


   BG William R. Cox

  • 1st North Carolina
  • 2nd North Carolina
  • 3rd North Carolina
  • 4th North Carolina
  • 14th North Carolina
  • 30th North Carolina

Ramseur's Division
     MG Stephen D. Ramseur

Lilley's Brigade


   BG Robert D. Lilley

  • 13th Virginia
  • 31st Virginia
  • 49th Virginia
  • 52nd Virginia
  • 58th Virginia

Johnston's Brigade


   BG Robert D. Johnston

  • 5th North Carolina
  • 12th North Carolina
  • 20th North Carolina
  • 23rd North Carolina

Lewis' Brigade


   BG William Lewis

  • 6th North Carolina
  • 21st North Carolina
  • 54th North Carolina
  • 57th North Carolina
  • 1st North Carolina Sharpshooters Battalion

Breckinridge's Corps

MG John C. Breckinridge

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Gordon's Division
     MG John B. Gordon

Evans' Brigade


   Col E.N. Atkinson

  • 13th Georgia
  • 26th Georgia
  • 31st Georgia
  • 38th Georgia
  • 60th Georgia 
  • 61st Georgia 
  • 12th Georgia Battalion

York's Brigade


   BG Zebulon York

  • Hay's Louisiana Tigers brigade (consolidated)
    • 5th Louisiana
    • 6th Louisiana
    • 7th Louisiana
    • 8th Louisiana
    • 9th Louisiana
  • Stafford's Brigade (consolidated)
    • 1st Louisiana
    • 2nd Louisiana
    • 10th Louisiana 
    • 14th Louisiana
    • 15th Louisiana

Terry's Brigade


   BG William Terry

  • Stonewall Brigade (consolidated)
    • 2nd Virginia
    • 4th Virginia
    • 5th Virginia
    • 27th Virginia
    • 33rd Virginia
  • Jones' old 2nd Brigade (consolidated)
    • 21st Virginia
    • 25th Virginia
    • 42nd Virginia
    • 44th Virginia
    • 48th Virginia
    • 50th Virginia
  • Stuart's old 3rd Brigade (consolidated)
    • 10th Virginia
    • 23rd Virginia
    • 37th Virginia

Echols' Division
     BG John Echols

Wharton's Brigade


   BG Gabriel C. Wharton

  • 45th Virginia
  • 50th Virginia
  • 51st Virginia
  • 30th Virginia Sharpshooters Battalion

Echols' Brigade


   Col George S. Patton

  • 22nd Virginia 
  • 26th Virginia 
  • 23rd Virginia Battalion

Vaughn's Brigade


   BG Thomas Smith

  • 36th Virginia
  • 60th Virginia 
  • Thomas' Legion (dismounted)
  • 45th Virginia Battalion

Other

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Ransom's Cavalry Division
     MG Robert Ransom, Jr.

Imboden's Brigade


   BG John D. Imboden

  • 18th Virginia Cavalry 
  • 23rd Virginia Cavalry 
  • 62nd Virginia Mounted Infantry 
  • Unauthorized Virginia Cavalry Battalion

McCausland's Brigade


   BG John McCausland

  • 14th Virginia Cavalry
  • 16th Virginia Cavalry
  • 17th Virginia Cavalry
  • 25th Virginia Cavalry
  • 37th Virginia Cavalry Battalion

Johnson's Brigade


   BG Bradley T. Johnson

  • 1st Maryland Cavalry Battalion
  • 8th Virginia Cavalry
  • 21st Virgina Cavalry
  • 36th Virginia Cavalry
  • 22nd Virginia Cavalry Battalion
  • 34th Virginia Cavalry Battalion

Jackson's Brigade


   BG W.L. Jackson

  • 2nd Maryland Cavalry Battalion
  • 19th Virginia Cavalry
  • 20th Virginia Cavalry
  • 16th Virginia Cavalry Battalion
  • 47th Virginia Cavalry Battalion

Horse Artillery

  • Jackson's Company Virginia Horse Artillery
  • McClanahan's Company (Staunton) Virginia Horse Artillery
  • Baltimore Light Artillery (2nd Maryland)
  • Lurty's Virginia Battery

Artillery
     BG Armistead L. Long

Braxton's Battalion


   Maj Carter M. Braxton

  • Allegheny (Virginia) Artillery
  • Lee (Virginia) Artillery
  • Stafford (Virginia) Artillery

King's Battalion


   Maj J. Floyd King
Maj William McLaughlin

  • Wise Legion (Virginia) Artillery
  • Lewisburg (Virginia) Artillery
  • Monroe (Virginia) Artillery

Nelson's Battalion


   Maj William Nelson

  • Amherst (Virginia) Artillery
  • Fluvanna (Virginia) Artillery 
  • Milledge (Georgia) Artillery

Union Order of Battle:

Defenses of the Potomac River & Washington

MG Alexander McDowell McCook

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Other

Emergency Division
   BG Montgomery C. Meigs

First Brigade


BG Daniel H. Rucker

  • Quartermaster's employees
  • Detachment from Provisional Brigade

Second Brigade


BG Halbert E. Paine

  • Quartermaster's employees
  • 2nd District of Columbia
  • 12th Veteran Reserves

3rd Brigade


Col Richard Butler Price
Col Addison Farnsworth,
July 12

  • 7th New Jersey
  • Quartermaster's employees
  • Convalescents

VI Corps

MG Horatio Wright

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

First Division
   BG Frank Wheaton

1st Brigade


Cpt Baldwin Hufty

  • 4th New Jersey
  • 10th New Jersey
  • 15th New Jersey

2nd Brigade


BG Emory Upton

  • 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
  • 65th New York
  • 121st New York

3rd Brigade


Col Thomas S. Allen

  • 37th Massachusetts
  • 40th Pennsylvania
  • 82nd Pennsylvania
  • 119th Pennsylvania
  • 2nd Rhode Island (Battalion)
  • 5th Wisconsin (Battalion)

Second Division
   BG Lewis A. Grant

1st Brigade


Col George P. Foster

  • 62nd New York
  • 93rd Pennsylvania
  • 98th Pennsylvania
  • 102nd Pennsylvania
  • 139th Pennsylvania

2nd Brigade


Ltc Charles Hundson

  • 2nd Vermont: Ltc Samuel E. Pingree
  • 3rd Vermont
  • 4th Vermont
  • 6th Vermont
  • 11th Vermont Heavy Artillery

3rd Brigade


Col Daniel Bidwell

  • 7th Maine
  • 43rd New York
  • 49th New York (battalion)
  • 77th New York
  • 122nd New York
  • 61st Pennsylvania (battalion)

Artillery

Artillery Brigade


Col Charles H. Tompkins

  • 5th Maine Light Artillery
  • 1st Massachusetts Light Artillery, Battery A
  • 1st New York Light Artillery, Battery
  • 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery C
  • 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery G
  • 5th U.S. Artillery, Battery M

XIX Corps (Detachment)

MG Quincy A. Gillmore

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

First Division
   BG
William Dwight

1st Brigade


Col George L. Beal

  • 29th Maine
  • 30th Massachusetts
  • 114th New York
  • 116th New York
  • 153rd New York

2nd Brigade


BG James W. McMillan

  • 12th Connecticut
  • 160th New York
  • 47th Pennsylvania
  • 8th Vermont

3rd Brigade


Col Leonard B. Currie

Division Artillery

  • New York Light Artillery, 5th Battery

Second Division
   BG
Cuvier Grover

1st Brigade


BG Henry W. Birge

  • 9th Connecticut
  • 12th Maine
  • 14th Maine
  • 26th Massachusetts
  • 14th New Hampshire
  • 75th New York

2nd Brigade


Col Edward L. Molineux

  • 13th Connecticut
  • 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry (dismounted)
  • 11th Indiana
  • 22nd Iowa
  • 131st New York
  • 159th New York

3rd Brigade


Col Jacob Sharpe

  • 38th Massachusetts
  • 128th New York
  • 156th New York
  • 175th New York
  • 176th New York

4th Brigade


Col David Shunk

  • 8th Indiana
  • 18th Indiana
  • 24th Iowa
  • 28th Iowa

XXII Corps and Dept. of Washington

MG Christopher C. Augur

Division

Brigade

Regiments and Others

Defenses North of the Potomac
   BG
Martin D. Hardin

1st Brigade


Col James M. Warner

  • 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery
  • 151st Ohio

2nd Brigade


Col Joseph A. Haskin

  • 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery
  • 8th Illinois Cavalry, Detachment
  • 150th Ohio

Cavalry


Col Charles Russell Lowell

  • 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry

Defenses South of the Potomac
   BG Gustavus A. DeRussy

  (not engaged)

1st Brigade


Col Joseph Whistler

2nd Brigade


Col Thomas Wilhelm

District of Washington
   Col Moses N. Wisewill

1st Veteran Reserve Brigade


Col George W. Gile
(attached to Hardin's Division)

  • 1st Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps
  • 9th Veteran Reserve Corps
  • 22nd Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps
  • 6th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps
  • 19th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps
  • 20th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps

2nd Brigade

  • incomplete and un-brigaded regiments

Cavalry Division
   Col William Gamble

  (not engaged)

composition unknown

Front Line Commanders

In addition to their own commands these officers supervised a section of Washington's fortifications during the battle.

Commander

Line

Alexander M. McCook

Defenses of the Potomac River & Washington
(overall command)

Quincy A. Gillmore

Fort Lincoln to Fort Totten
(Northeast line)

Montgomery C. Meigs

Fort Totten to Fort DeRossy
(Northern line including Fort Stevens)

Martin D. Hardin

Fort DeRussy to Fort Sumner
(Northwest line)

Horatio G. Wright

Front line pickets and skirmishers

(Sources and related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: Season of Fire: The Confederate Strike on Washington (Hardcover) (300 pages). Editorial Review from Booklist: In 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early, outraged by Union depredations in the Shenandoah Valley by the Federals, launched a bold but futile raid on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. With this event as the central focus of his narrative, Judge has written a fascinating and riveting account of the men in battle. He masterfully maintains both dramatic tension and historical accuracy by relating the events through the memoirs of the actual participants. Judge explains the military maneuvers in language that laypersons can easily grasp, and his portrayals of the key participants breathe life into the account. Continued below.

Among the more memorable key-players are Early, the daring general of the valley; Lew Wallace (who would later author “Ben Hur”), who attempts to block Early's advance; and George Davis, from Vermont, who was awarded the Medal of Honor during this fiercely contested campaign. This is a fine recounting of a relatively obscure but quite interesting series of events, and both the general reader and Civil War aficionados will enjoy it. The book also contains sixty-one illustrations.

Site search Web search

Advance to:
 

Recommended Reading: Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History. Description: The Battle of Monocacy, which took place on the blisteringly hot day of July 9, 1864, is one of the Civil War’s most significant yet little-known battles. What played out that day in the corn and wheat fields four miles south of Frederick, Maryland, was a full-field engagement between 12,000 battle-hardened Confederate troops led by the controversial Jubal Anderson Early, and 5,800 Union troops, many of them untested in battle, under the mercurial Lew Wallace, the future author of Ben-Hur. Continued below.

When the fighting ended, 1,300 Union troops were dead, wounded or missing or had been taken prisoner, and Early---who suffered 800 casualties---had routed Wallace in the northernmost Confederate victory of the war. Two days later, on another brutally hot afternoon, Monday, July 11, 1864, Early sat astride his horse outside the gates of Fort Stevens in the upper northwestern fringe of Washington, D.C. He was about to make one of the war’s most fateful, portentous decisions: whether or not to order his men to invade the nation’s capitol.  Early had been on the march since June 13, when Robert E. Lee ordered him to take an entire corps of men from their Richmond-area encampment and wreak havoc on Yankee troops in the Shenandoah Valley, then to move north and invade Maryland. If Early found the conditions right, Lee said, he was to take the war for the first time into President Lincoln’s front yard. Also on Lee’s agenda: forcing the Yankees to release a good number of troops from the stranglehold that Gen. U.S. Grant had built around Richmond. Once manned by tens of thousands of experienced troops, Washington’s ring of forts and fortifications that day were in the hands of a ragtag collection of walking wounded Union soldiers, the Veteran Reserve Corps, along with what were known as hundred days’ men---raw recruits who had joined the Union Army to serve as temporary, rear-echelon troops. It was with great shock, then, that the city received news of the impending rebel attack. With near panic filling the streets, Union leaders scrambled to coordinate a force of volunteers. But Early did not pull the trigger. Because his men were exhausted from the fight at Monocacy and the ensuing march, Early paused before attacking the feebly manned Fort Stevens, giving Grant just enough time to bring thousands of veteran troops up from Richmond. The men arrived at the eleventh hour, just as Early was contemplating whether or not to move into Washington. No invasion was launched, but Early did engage Union forces outside Fort Stevens. During the fighting, President Lincoln paid a visit to the fort, becoming the only sitting president in American history to come under fire in a military engagement. Historian Marc Leepson shows that had Early arrived in Washington one day earlier, the ensuing havoc easily could have brought about a different conclusion to the war. Leepson uses a vast amount of primary material, including memoirs, official records, newspaper accounts, diary entries and eyewitness reports in a reader-friendly and engaging description of the events surrounding what became known as “the Battle That Saved Washington.”

 

Recommended Reading: Jubal Early's Raid on Washington. Description: "Cooling has produced what is sure to become the definitive scholarly account of the campaign. Drawing on a vast array of sources, including seldom-used veterans' accounts, Cooling presents a comprehensive campaign study from origins to aftermath. Not only does Cooling masterfully describe the specific movements of the opposing forces, but he also never loses sight of the wider context in which the campaign was fought. Continued below…

In fact, Cooling's greatest contribution may be his clear demonstration that Grant was fooled by Early's operations and took an uncommonly long time to react to a very serious threat." - American Historical Review." About the Author: B.F. Cooling is chief historian of the Department of Energy and has won the Douglas Southall Freeman Award and the Fletcher Pratt Award for best Civil War history book.

 

Recommended Reading: Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War. Description: In this luminous portrait of wartime Washington, Ernest B. Furgurson–author of the widely acclaimed Chancellorsville 1863, Ashes of Glory, and Not War but Murder--brings to vivid life the personalities and events that animated the Capital during its most tumultuous time. Continued below.

Here among the sharpsters and prostitutes, slaves and statesmen are detective Allan Pinkerton, tracking down Southern sympathizers; poet Walt Whitman, nursing the wounded; and accused Confederate spy Antonia Ford, romancing her captor, Union Major Joseph Willard. Here are generals George McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant, railroad crew boss Andrew Carnegie, and architect Thomas Walter, striving to finish the Capitol dome. And here is Abraham Lincoln, wrangling with officers, pardoning deserters, and inspiring the nation. Freedom Rising is a gripping account of the era that transformed Washington into the world’s most influential city.

 

Recommended Reading: Reveille in Washington, 1860 - 1865. Description: Winner of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize in History, it is an authentic, scholarly description of life in Washington during the Civil War, written in a highly readable style. The "star" of the book is, indeed, the city of Washington D.C. Many players walk across the D.C. stage, and Leech's research paints vivid portraits not seen before about the Lincolns, Walt Whitman, Andrew Carnegie, Winfield Scott, John Wilkes Booth, and many others. It's the "Capitol" that you have never really seen or heard that much about. Continued below.

It's a scrappy, dusty, muddy, unfinished city, begging for respect. Washington City, as it was called then, was both a respite for Union soldiers, as well as the Union Army’s “prostitution headquarters.” From the so-called 'highlife to the lowlife', the politician to the pauper, all receive their respectful, or rightful, place in this delightful but candid prose.

 

Recommended Reading: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (Military Campaigns of the Civil War) (416 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press). Description: The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign is generally regarded as one of the most important Civil War campaigns; it lasted more than four arduous months and claimed more than 25,000 casualties. The massive armies of Generals Philip H. Sheridan and Jubal A. Early had collided and contended for immense stakes... Beyond the agricultural bounty and the boost in morale to be gained with its numerous battles, events in the Valley would affect Abraham Lincoln's chances for reelection in November 1864. Continued below.

The eleven essays in this volume reexamine common assumptions about the campaign, its major figures, and its significance. Taking advantage of the most recent scholarship and a wide range of primary sources, contributors examine strategy and tactics, the performances of key commanders on each side, the campaign's political repercussions, and the experiences of civilians caught in the path of the armies. The authors do not always agree with one another, but, taken together, their essays highlight important connections between the home front and the battlefield, as well as ways in which military affairs, civilian experiences, and politics played off one another during the campaign.

 

Recommended Reading: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (McFarland & Company). Description: A significant part of the Civil War was fought in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, especially in 1864. Books and articles have been written about the fighting that took place there, but they generally cover only a small period of time and focus on a particular battle or campaign. Continued below.

This work covers the entire year of 1864 so that readers can clearly see how one event led to another in the Shenandoah Valley and turned once-peaceful garden spots into gory battlefields. It tells the stories of the great leaders, ordinary men, innocent civilians, and armies large and small taking part in battles at New Market, Chambersburg, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, but it primarily tells the stories of the soldiers, Union and Confederate, who were willing to risk their lives for their beliefs. The author has made extensive use of memoirs, letters and reports written by the soldiers of both sides who fought in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864.

Sources: National Park Service; Library of Congress; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Diary and Memoirs of Lt. Col. William Williams Stringfield; Civil War Preservation Trust; Bernstein, Steven. The Confederacy's Last Northern Offensive: Jubal Early, the Army of the Valley and the Raid on Washington. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-5861-5; Cooling, Benjamin F. Jubal Early's Raid on Washington 1864. Baltimore, Maryland: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1989. ISBN 0-933852-86-X; Kennedy, Frances H., ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6; Leepson, Marc. Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington D.C., and Changed American History. New York: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press), 2005. ISBN 978-0-312-38223-0; Vandiver, Frank E. Jubal's Raid: General Early's Famous Attack on Washington in 1864. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8032-9610-7; Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.

Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: Battle of Fort Stevens Washington DC Civil War History, General Early Shenandoah Valley Campaign Map and Maps, General Jubal Early’s Shenandoah Valley Campaigns, Raid and Operations against the B&O Railroad. The Forts and Defenses of Washington during the American Civil War and the Shenandoah Valley Operations, Photo, Photograph and Picture.

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Best viewed with Google Chrome

Google Safe.jpg