Fort Stevens (Washington, D.C.)
Ft. Stevens now includes several Civil War-era cannons.
Fort Stevens was part of the extensive fortifications built around Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War. It was constructed in 1861 as "Fort Massachusetts" and later enlarged by the Union Army and renamed "Fort Stevens" after Brig. Gen. Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia, on September 1, 1862.
The fort came under direct Confederate attack by troops led by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 11 and July 12, 1864. President Abraham Lincoln rode out to the Fort on both days to observe the attack, and was briefly under enemy fire by sharpshooters. On July 12, he was brusquely ordered to take cover, mostly likely by Union Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright. A story has grown up, probably apocryphal, that future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., then an aide-de-camp to Wright, yelled at Lincoln, "Get down, you fool!" Another story attributes this quote to nearby resident Elizabeth Thomas. This is believed to have been only the second time in American history that a sitting president came under enemy fire during a war (the first being President James Madison during the War of 1812).
The site, near Georgia Avenue at 13th Street and Quackenbos Street NW, is now maintained by the National Park Service. The remains of 41 Union soldiers who died in the Battle of Fort Stevens are buried on the grounds of nearby Battleground National Cemetery.
- "Lincoln Under Fire". The Pittsburgh Gazette Times, via Google News. Associated Literary Press. July 12, 1914.
- Cramer, John Henry. Lincoln Under Enemy Fire: The Complete Account of His Experiences During Early's Attack on Washington. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1948.
- "The Only Woman Who Called President Lincoln A Fool". The Afro American. August 30, 1952.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fort Stevens (Washington, D.C.).|
- The Battle of Fort Stevens: Maps, Histories, Photos, Facts, and Preservation News (CWPT)
- Google Maps Aerial View of Fort Stevens
- National Park Service page on Fort Stevens
- Leepson, Marc, Desperate Engagement: How a Little Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)
- Maureen Dowd column, September 7, 2010 Lincoln’s Forgotten Fort (New York Times, 2010)