Battle of Fort Stevens: Witnessing the Defense of Washington

Battle of Fort Stevens: Witnessing the Defense of Washington

History: President Abraham Lincoln came to Fort Stevens on July 12, 1864 to show his support during a battle in which Confederates attempted to advance on the Union capitol. Lincoln experienced first-hand the unpredictability of combat, as he became a target of Confederate sharpshooters while standing on a fort parapet.

Confederate General Jubal Early's victory at the Battle of Monocacy three days prior allowed Confederate forces to come within striking distance of the capitol, but the battle delayed Early’s attack on Washington and allowed Union troops to gain reinforcements. The resilience of the Union soldiers, not only those occupying the forts, but also those on the offensive that slowed the Confederates' advance, solidified Union resolve and represented a symbolic victory as the nation's capital never fell into the Confederate grasp.

More to Explore: Fort Stevens, a National Park Service site, is partially reconstructed with earthworks, two cannons, monuments and interpretive plaques. Park rangers offer living history programs, lectures and park clean-ups here and at other Civil War Defenses of Washington sites.

A couple miles away you will find Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, and Rock Creek Park Public Golf Course. The park is an urban green way oasis along a stream valley. Hiking and biking trails provide a way to soothe your spirit through the beauty of nature.

Photo Credits:

  1. "Photograph of the 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Unit tasked to protect Fort Stevens."
  2. "Photograph of a unit at the ready inside Fort Stevens." Photos courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division