The Battle of Fort Stevens

by Fred Ray on July 8, 2006 · 0 comments

I’ve blogged about the battle of Fort Stevens previously here, here, and here. Next Tuesday and Wednesday (July 11 and 12) will the the 142nd anniversary of one of the more important and least understood battles of the war, and the only battle in which a sitting president came under fire. Although usually written off a “mere skirmishing” it was a hard fought open order battle in which the troops engaged suffered about 20% casualties. Of the 5,000 or so men engaged, over a thousand were killed or wounded.

One should also consider the political aspect — had Jubal Early been a day earlier and taken Washington, or had Abe Lincoln been killed or wounded, the war would have taken an entirely different course. Even as it was, the appearance of a rebel army at the gates of the capital, especially in an election year, was a huge embarrassment for the Lincoln administration.

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The Washington Times features an article I wrote about the battle today, much of which took place on the grounds of what is now Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and it’s available online. The Times is one of the few major dailies that has a regular weekly Civil War section, and according to the editor it’s one of the paper’s most popular features.

In addition there is a short section about what’s happening at Walter Reed, which is scheduled to be closed. One of the reasons I wrote the article is to try to raised awareness of the need to preserve some of the battlefield, which is now in downtown Washington.


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