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The Battle for Washington
Fort Stevens, July 11-12, 1864

Location: District of Columbia Near Silver Spring City Limits. Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright and Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook [US]; Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early [CS] Forces Engaged: Divisions

Estimated Casualties: 874 total

Description: On July 11, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s exhausted Confederates reached the outskirts of Washington near Silver Spring. Skirmishers advanced to feel the fortifications which at the time were manned only by Home Guards, clerks, and convalescent troops. During the night, veteran units from the Union VI Corps disembarked from troop transports and marched north through the streets of Washington to bolster the defenses. On July 12, Early was finally in position to make a strong demonstration, which was repulsed by the veteran Union troops. In the afternoon, VI Corps units sortied against the Confederate skirmishers, driving them back from their advanced positions in front of Forts Stevens and DeRussy. President Lincoln watched the action from Fort Stevens and came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters. Recognizing that the Union Capitol was now defended by veterans, Early abandoned any thought of taking the city. Early withdrew during the night, marching toward White’s Ford on the Potomac, ending his invasion of Maryland. “We didn’t take Washington,” Early told his staff officers, “but we scared Abe Lincoln like Hell.”

Part of Forst Stevens has been preserved by the National Park Service. It is worth the visit. A small monument to Early's forces stands in front of the Provost Marshal's Office at Walter Reed Army Hospital. There is a small cemetery containing the remains of several Confederate soldiers who died in Early's raid on Washington.

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