Washington DC: 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens

150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens, the District’s northernmost fort during the Civil War, is perhaps best known for two things: the last Confederate invasion and a close call for President Lincoln, who faced enemy fire. On July 13, 2014 the fort and Battleground National Cemetery mark the 150th anniversary of Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s unsuccessful attack on Washington, DC with activities such as encampments and walking tours, and a memorial service.

At the fort, the tractor-trailer-size Civil War 150 HistoryMobile offers an interactive look at the war. The service at the cemetery includes music and a reading of the interred. Civil War 150 HistoryMobile and activities, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 13, 2014.

On the afternoon of July 11, 1864, members of the United States of America’s Veteran Reserve Corps — wounded soldiers who were deemed fit to defend the capital — held off 10,000 soldiers led by Confederate General Jubal Early until reinforcements could arrive. Had they failed, Early might have marched on to what was then the City of Washington.

Source: Washington Post

Fort Stevens

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Fort Stevens, now partially restored, was built to defend the approaches to Washington from the 7th Street Pike (now Georgia Avenue) which was then the main thoroughfare from the north into Washington. Originally called Fort Massachusetts by the soldiers from that state who constructed the fort, it was later named after Brig. General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly (Fair Oaks), Virginia, September 1, 1862.

In the summer of 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant had Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a deathtrap around Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. When Grant had moved south, he stripped Washington, D.C. of many well trained troops. As a result in July of 1864 there were only 9,000 troops to defend the city, down from over 23,000 that had been there the year before.

Those that were left were primarily poorly trained reserves. Lee sought desperately to find a way out of his predicament around Petersburg. He decided to send General Jubal A. Early with about 20,000 troops to strike at Washington, which his spies had reported was poorly defended.

On June 12, Early started his march from behind Petersburg, and by July 9, he was at Frederick, Maryland, where he demanded and received $200,000 to spare the city. On the same day, Early defeated Union Gen. Lew Wallace at the Monocacy River. In the light of later events, Wallace’s defeat after a stubborn fight became a victory for the Union because he was able to delay Early’s advance for a day. On July 10, Early encamped at Rockville, Maryland, 10 miles from Fort Stevens.

As a result of the rapid and successful movement of Early, the men of the War Department seemed paralyzed, and would give no orders except as they received them from Grant. Grant understood the situation and sent the 25th New York Cavalry, which left City Point, Virginia, on July 7 and reached Fort Stevens midnight of July 10. Also on the 7th, the 1st and 2nd Divisions of the 6th Corps, under Gen. Horatio G. Wright, left City Point. A few hours later Gen. W. H. Emory, with part of the 19th Corps just returning from New Orleans to join Grant, left Fort Monroe for Washington.
Video: Battles of Monocacy & Fort Stevens – The Civil War Preview – Marc Leepson


Fort Stevens

District of Columbia

Forts near Washington DC

Fort Stevens Battle

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