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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

The Day the Confederate Army Almost Marched on Washington DC




Fort Stevens was located near Georgia Avenue at 13th Street and Quackenbos Street NW in Washington DC. For the most part, the fort has slipped out of the public’s memory and nothing of the fort itself remain standing today. (parts of the fort have been reconstructed) 


But it was at Fort Stevens, part of the extensive fortifications built around Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War, where President Abe Lincoln came under fire and where approximately 900 soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing, all within a few miles from the White House.

Constructed in 1861 as Fort Massachusetts it was later renamed for Brig. Gen. Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia, on September 1, 1862. Stevens is renown in American military history for picking up the fallen regimental colors of his regiment and shouting "Highlanders, my Highlanders, follow your general!" as he charged the rebel lines carrying the banner of Saint Andrew's Cross. 


A bullet struck him directly in the forehead killing him instantly. His son, Hazard, (Below) was also injured in the Battle of Chantilly. He also became a general in the U.S. Army and an author, and the first man to climb Mount Rainier.


Three years after the fort was built, in June of 1864, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was sent to clear the Shenandoah Valley of Federal troops and then to and invade Maryland, disrupt the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and threaten Washington DC. The idea was to force the Union to withdraw Yankee troops away from overrunning Richmond, the confederate capital.



By July 7 the Second Corps prepared to march on Washington when Union Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace, (author of Ben Hur and later Governor who pardoned Billy the Kid) led a disheveled army attempted to resist the Confederate advance at the Battle of Monocacy, in Maryland, just outside Washington.
General Wallace

The battle lasted all day and Early's troops pushed the Yankees back to Washington, meaning there was nothing between Early and his army and the United States capital except a dilapidated force he had just defeated.




On July 11 the confederates were in Silver Springs Maryland, right on the DC border. The next day, they attacked Fort Stevens with the main assault being led by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, (Below) former U.S. vice president and one of Lincoln's opponents in the presidential election of 1860. (He was also a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, a suspected confederate spy by many, and had dated her when they were in their teens)


President Lincoln and his wife rode out to the fort to observe the battle. Right after they arrived, the rebels unloaded an enormous spray of bullets in their direction which narrowly missed the president and seriously wounded a surgeon standing next to him. Throughout the time he was there, sharp shooters also spotted the President and fired on him as well. At one point, Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright (His aide-de-camp at the battle was Oliver Wendell Holmes) shouted at Lincoln "Get down, you fool!"

General Wright 

General Early withdrew his confederates from the attack and returned to Leesburg Virginia, telling one of his officers "Major, we didn't take Washington but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell."

Early died at age 77, after falling down a flight of stairs at his home in Lynchburg Virginia.

(The above mentioned Quackenbos Street, unusual in a city with streets named with single letters or after states) was once called Madison Street, after the President. In 1905 the name was changed so the city could adhere to the new nomenclature mandating alphabetical streets of increasing syllables the further you moved from the center of town.
Some think the street might be named for New York’s Quackenbos family, which included a Revolutionary War figure named John Quackenbos or perhaps after George Payn Quackenbos, a teacher and author. Others say it was named for George’s son, John Duncan Quackenbos, a Columbia University-trained physician who became a leading proponent of hypnotherapy, believing that it could curb criminal tendencies and addictions.) 

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