THE CIVIL WAR DEFENSES OF WASHINGTON, DC
After the 1861 Union defeat at nearby Bull Run, work on the Civil War Defenses of Washington proceeded in earnest. By 1864, the defenses were formidable, but mostly lay empty, as the fighting had moved south. In the summer of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. Lee secretly dispatched General Jubal Early and an army of more than 15,000 men up the Shenandoah Valley. From Harpers Ferry, engaging in battles or skirmishes (especially at Monocacy), they drove straight towards Northwest D.C. When they were detected there was a dramatic race to staff the defenses and save Washington. This presentation will review the construction of the Civil War Defenses of Washington, the Battle of Fort Stevens, and related events and context, such as the April 16, 1862 passage of the D.C. Emancipation Act. The presentation will include maps and photos.
Dr. Cooling is the author of Mr. Lincoln's Forts: a Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington (with Wally Owen), Jubal Early's Raid on Washington 1864, and the upcoming The Day Lincoln Was Almost Shot; the Fort Stevens Story.
Gary Thompson is a co-founder (as is Dr. Cooling) of the non-profit Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington, which works with the National Park Service and others to better preserve and educate about the Forts.