Civil War Defenses of Washington

Civil War Defenses of Washington Welcome to the official page for the Civil War Defenses of Washington. The Civil War Defenses of Washington is a complex system of earthwork fortifications constructed by Union forces during the Civil War.
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Originally comprised of 68 earthwork forts, 20 miles of rifle pits, 32 miles of military roads, and 93 detached batteries, these fortifications made Washington, D.C. one of the most heavily fortified locations in the world. Today, the National Park Service manages 19 of these sites.

Operating as usual

#FlashbackFriday to the Battleground National Cemetery Luminary in 2019.The 3rd Annual Battleground National Cemetery Lu...
11/13/2020

#FlashbackFriday to the Battleground National Cemetery Luminary in 2019.

The 3rd Annual Battleground National Cemetery Luminary program will premiere on the Civil War Defenses of Washington (CWDW) page on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. 🇺🇸🕯

The special digital program will feature the stories of the veterans connected to the site, including the lone veteran who was interred 72 years after the Battle of Fort Stevens, and detail the memorialization that occurred at the cemetery in the decades following the Civil War.

More information can be found at the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/cwdwnps/posts/5177360958944375

IMAGE:
CWDW Volunteer wearing a Federal uniform plays Taps on bugle at Battleground National Cemetery.
Courtesy: National Park Service

Rock Creek Park

#FindYourFort in the Fall. 🍂📸National Park Service Adventurers Chris and Quinn from Rockville, Maryland visited Fort Ste...
11/13/2020

#FindYourFort in the Fall. 🍂📸

National Park Service Adventurers Chris and Quinn from Rockville, Maryland visited Fort Stevens today to explore the historic earthwork and learn about the Battle of Fort Stevens.

Junior Ranger Quinn "liked the earthworks and found it interesting that President Abraham Lincoln was the only president that came under direct fire from an enemy combatant at this site. She also really enjoyed the recreation part of the site where she could run around in circles. Even though it was a gloomy day, it was much needed for a little escape. We will plan to visit again, but it was just perfect to learn about a new place."

Thanks for sharing the images and reflections of your visit, Chris and Junior Ranger Quinn!

The Forts are awaiting your visit! #MayTheFortsBeWithYou

IMAGES:
Chris and Quinn explore Fort Stevens Park on a soggy day Northwest Washington D.C.
Courtesy: Chris R.

Rock Creek Park

11/12/2020

On behalf of the National Park Service, the Civil War Defenses of Washington (CWDW) presents the 3rd Annual Battleground National Cemetery Luminary. The special digital program commemorates #VeteransDay and will feature stories of the veterans connected to the site, including the lone veteran who was interred 72 years after the Battle of Fort Stevens, Theh program also details the memorialization inspired by veterans that occurred at the cemetery in the decades following the Civil War.

The video premiers on the CWDW page on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

We thank all of volunteers who assisted with the luminary production and filming.

#VeteransDay in the Defenses of Washington.

Rock Creek Park

A vivid description of President Abraham Lincoln visiting wounded Union troops during the Civil War courtesy of our coll...
11/12/2020

A vivid description of President Abraham Lincoln visiting wounded Union troops during the Civil War courtesy of our colleagues at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site.

"It was a touching scene, and one to be long remembered, as the large-hearted and noble President moved softly between the beds, his face shining with sympathy and his voice often low with emotion..."

#LincolnAtWar

President Abraham Lincoln had a genuine empathy and concern for the common soldier. His many visits to battlefields and hospitals during the American Civil War reflected his dedication to them as their commander-in-chief.

In this written account, journalist Noah Brooks recalled how the president prolonged a visit to the Virginia front in April 1863 so that he could visit some military hospitals. “The President, with his usual kindliness of heart, insisted upon going through all of the hospital tents of General Meade’s corps, and shaking hands with every one, asking a question or two of many of them, and leaving a kind word here and there. It was a touching scene, and one to be long remembered, as the large-hearted and noble President moved softly between the beds, his face shining with sympathy and his voice often low with emotion. No wonder that these long lines of weary sufferers, far from home and friends, often shed a tear of sad pleasure as they returned the kind salutation of the President and gazed after him with anew glow upon their faces. And no wonder that when he left the camp, after his long tour through it all, that a thundering cheer burst from the long lines of men as he rode away to the chief headquarters.”

#HonoringVeterans
#AbrahamLincoln
#CivilWar
#FordsTheatreNPS

Image: Lincoln Museum, Ft. Wayne, IN; “Lincoln Visiting the Wounded,” oil on canvas by Pruett Carter

"Our men of Company K were, in a sense, raw troops, yet in this battle they bore the aspect of calm courage. Of this com...
11/12/2020

"Our men of Company K were, in a sense, raw troops, yet in this battle they bore the aspect of calm courage. Of this company were the central picket lines when the enemy approached. I remember the heroism of the pleas some of them made to be allowed to enter the ranks of other bodies of soldiers which were advancing to meet the charge of the Southern men. Several of them served this way."
-Orderly Sergeant James H. Laird, Co. K, 150th Ohio National Guard

Co. K comprised students from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. The regiment enlisted at Cleveland and were mustered into Federal service for 100-days on May 5, 1864. The regiment, along with several other National Guard units, were sent to reinforce the depleted garrisons in Washington D.C. They were assigned duty along the Northern Defenses (Forts Lincoln, Saratoga, Thayer, Bunker Hill, Slocum, Totten and Stevens), and attached to the First Brigade, First Division (Brigadier General Martin D. Hardin), Twenty-second Army Corps. The regiment, notably Co. K, was part of the ragtag defenders at Fort Stevens when Confederate General Jubal A. Early advanced toward Washington on the afternoon of July 11, 1864. Private William E. Leach was seriously wounded along the skirmish line. He was moved to Fort Slocum and died of his wounds on July 13. His body was transported back to Ohio for burial. Seven members of the regiments were wounded during the battle. The 150th Ohio National Guard was mustered out of service on August 23, 1864.

Veterans of Co. K returned to the battlefield of their youth 43 years later, dedicating a monument at Battleground National Cemetery in 1907.

The Civil War Defenses of Washington honors the 150th Ohio National Guard Infantry for Veterans Day Week.

#VeteransDay 🇺🇸

Rock Creek Park

IMAGE:
Co. K, 150th Ohio National Guard Infantry monument at Battleground National Cemetery in Washington D.C., 2014.
Courtesy: National Park Service

11/11/2020

On behalf of the National Park Service, the Civil War Defenses of Washington (CWDW) honors all American Military personnel, past and present, for their services to the United States of America on Veteran’s Day. CWDW Volunteer Dwayne Starlin will dedicate the American Flag at the headstone of the only Civil War veteran buried at Battleground National Cemetery, Major Edward R. Campbell, U.S. Army, interred in 1936.

He will conclude the program by playing “To The Colors” on the bugle.

#VeteransDay

Veteran's Day at Battleground National Cemetery.On this Veteran's Day, the Civil War Defenses of Washington honors all A...
11/11/2020

Veteran's Day at Battleground National Cemetery.

On this Veteran's Day, the Civil War Defenses of Washington honors all American military personnel, past and present, for their service to the United States. Special recognition goes to the 5,000+ veterans that now serve in the National Park Service.

A special Veteran's Day digital program premiers on the CWDW page this coming Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Stay tuned for more details!

#VeteransDay

IMAGE: Park Ranger placing the National Flag at Battleground National Cemetery.
Courtesy: NPS

FORT STEVENS REMEMBERED During the post-war era, Federal veterans desired to commemorate their military service at battl...
11/11/2020

FORT STEVENS REMEMBERED

During the post-war era, Federal veterans desired to commemorate their military service at battlefields spanning the American landscape. In Washington D.C., four Federal units dedicated monuments to honor their service and sacrifice at the Battle of Fort Stevens.

The memorialization started in 1891 at Battleground National Cemetery, located 1/2 mile north of Fort Stevens on the Seventh Street Road (Georgia Avenue) on the fields where the engagement was decided. On July 12, 1864, two brigades of the Union Army's Sixth Corps launched an attack aiming to drive rebel forces skirmishing north of the Defenses of Washington. Their assault drove the Confederate Army of the Valley District from the gates of the capital. Washington D.C. was relieved. The engagement proved to be costly for Federals who sustained most of their casualties during the evening attack. According to Brigadier General Frank Wheaton, commanding Second Division Sixth Corps, “The last shot was fired about 10 o’clock, and the remainder of the night was occupied in strengthening the position, burying the dead, and caring for the wounded, and relieving the skirmish line, which had been two days in front constantly under fire.”

40 men (39 Federal soldiers and 1 civilian volunteer) were interred on a 1-acre strip of land the days following the battle. The ground was appropriately dedicated as Battleground National Cemetery. One veteran of the battle was buried in 1936, closing the cemetery to future burials. His story will be featured on Veterans Day.

The first monument was dedicated by the 98th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1891. The regiment took part in the evening assault on July 12, 1864 and sustained heavy losses, Eight members of the regiment are interred at the cemetery, the most of any unit involved in the two-day battle.

Three more monuments were dedicated in the next two decades:

• 122nd New York Volunteer Infantry (1904)
• Co. K, 150th Ohio National Guard Infantry (1907)
• 25th New York Volunteer Cavalry (1914)

The Civil War Defenses of Washington honors the United States Servicemen who gave the last full devotion at the Battle of Fort Stevens.

#TheseHonoredDead
#FortStevensRemembered

IMAGES:
(1) Battleground National Cemetery, 1909. Monuments from left to right: Co. K, 150th Ohio National Guard; 122nd New York Volunteer Infantry; 98th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

(2) Battleground National Cemetery from Georgia Avenue in 1909-10. The caretaker's lodge, designed by Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Megis, was constructed after the war, 1871-73. The 25th New York Cavalry monument is missing and was dedicated in 1914.

(3) Battleground National Cemetery, 1865-1871.

The Library of Congress

Happy Veterans Day from the U.S. Department of the InteriorThe National Park Service invites all visitors to remember ou...
11/10/2020
Happy Veterans Day from Interior!

Happy Veterans Day from the U.S. Department of the Interior

The National Park Service invites all visitors to remember our veterans by visiting any National Park Service site for free on Veterans Day. November 11, 2020.

#VeteransDay

As of this Veterans Day 2020 all veterans and Gold Star Families are granted immediate free access to the treasured lands they or their loved ones fought to ...

#OnThisday the U.S. Marine Corps was established in 1775.Prior to the Civil War, there was a detachment of Marines stati...
11/10/2020

#OnThisday the U.S. Marine Corps was established in 1775.

Prior to the Civil War, there was a detachment of Marines stationed at the Navy Yard in southeast Washington D.C. The corps numbered 63 officers and 1,712 enlisted personnel when war erupted in April 1861. A few squadrons were assigned duty with Brigadier General Irvin McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia occupying Northern Virginia after Federal troops crossed the Potomac River in late May, and participated in the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) in July.

The Marines were involved in important amphibious operations along the coastline during the war, notably New Orleans (1862); Drewy's Bluff (1862); Fort Wagner (1863); and Fort Fisher (1865). Marines were also assigned the task of guarding the conspirators involved in the Lincoln Assassination on Navy ironclads anchored off the Anacostia River in 1865.

#TheFewTheProudTheMarines

IMAGE:
Washington, D.C. Marine battalion in front of Commandant's House at the Marine Barracks in 1864. The barracks, located at corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C, was established by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801.
The Library of Congress

The 3rd Annual Battleground National Cemetery Luminary program will premiere on the Civil War Defenses of Washington Fac...
11/10/2020

The 3rd Annual Battleground National Cemetery Luminary program will premiere on the Civil War Defenses of Washington page on Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. The special digital program will feature the stories of the veterans connected to the site, including the lone veteran who was interred 72 years after the Battle of Fort Stevens, and detail the memorialization that occurred at the cemetery in the decades following the Civil War.

Stay tune for more details. 🇺🇸🕯

#VeteransDay

IMAGE:
1st Annual Battleground National Cemetery Luminary, 2018.
Courtesy National Park Service

November is #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth The Civil War Defenses of Washington will honor the heritage, culture, and hist...
11/09/2020

November is #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

The Civil War Defenses of Washington will honor the heritage, culture, and history of Indigenous people in a series of posts.

An estimated 29,000 Native Americans served for both Union and Confederate forces during the war, participating in skirmishes, raids, and major battles in nearly every theatre across the landscape.

Our first feature is perhaps the best known Native American soldier that served during the war: Brevet Brigadier General Ely Parker. Born Hasanoanda, Parker was a Tonawanda Seneca Indian, attorney, engineer, and secretary to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. He met Grant while practicing law in Galena, Illinois before the war. It was through his friendship with Grant that he was awarded a commission as a staff officer in 1863.

For the remainder of the war, Parker worked alongside Grant and helped him write out official orders and other correspondence. Parker also wrote out the official terms of surrender as dictated by General Grant at Appomattox Court House. Park was present during the Grand Review of the Armies that paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. on May 23-24, 1865 (See Image Below).

Following the war, Parker remained in the U.S. Army and once again became military secretary to General Grant, who was promoted to full general (four stars) in July 1866. Parker followed Grant to the White House in 1868 culminating in his appointment as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Parker served in this office from 1869 to 1871. He was the first Native American to hold the office, and became the chief architect of the administrations Peace Policy with Native Americans in the West. In this role he worked to cut out corruption within the agency, ensure that all treaties were enforced to the letter, and make sure that the various tribes of the west received their food and supplies in a timely manner.

Following his resignation in 1871, Parker worked in business and for the New York City Police Department before passing away at the age of 67 in 1895. Brigadier General Ely Parker was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

#IndigenousHeritageMonth
#FindYourPark

Credit to our colleagues at Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site for information on General Parker.

IMAGES:
(1): Ely Parker, Brevet Brigadier General and Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Courtesy: US National Archives

(2): Brevet Brigadier General Ely Park (left) and Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington D.C. on May 23-24, 1865.
Courtesy: The Library of Congress (Credit to John Banks for cropping and providing names on the image)

(2): Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (sitting center) with his staff: Brigadier General Ely Samuel Parker (left), Colonel Adam Badeau (standing left), Major Orville Elias Babcock (standing right), and Colonel Horace Porter (sitting right).
Courtesy The Library of Congress

#FindYourFort Friday"Fort DeRussy occupies a very commanding point overlooking the deep valley of Rock Creek, and throwi...
11/06/2020

#FindYourFort Friday

"Fort DeRussy occupies a very commanding point overlooking the deep valley of Rock Creek, and throwing a cross fire upon the approaches to Fort Stevens, and together with Fort Kearny, controlling the country roads between [the] Rockville Turnpike and Rock Creek."
-Brigadier General John G. Barnard, Chief Engineer Defenses of Washington

#MayTheFortsBeWithYou

IMAGE:
Rock Creek Park
in Washington D.C. Fort DeRussy is located on the natural crest of the hill overlooking Milkhouse Ford Trail to the right of the park ranger. Visitors are advised to remain on all blazed trails and off the historic earthworks.
Courtesy: National Park Service

MAC'S LAST CAMPAIGN On November 5, 1862, one day after the midterm elections, Major General George B. McClellan was reli...
11/05/2020

MAC'S LAST CAMPAIGN

On November 5, 1862, one day after the midterm elections, Major General George B. McClellan was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan's tumultuous tenure as commanding general ended as the army embarked on the winter Fredericksburg Campaign. It was General McClellan's last military assignment. He resigned his commission as major general in the Regular Army two years later as the Democratic candidate for president on election day, November 7, 1864. McClellan's Civil War service included the massive expansion of the Defenses of Washington in 1861. He assigned his chief engineer, Brigadier General John G. Barnard, with the immense task of overseeing the construction of the capital forts after the Battle of First Bull Run (Manassas). The remnant earthworks that dot the modern landscape are part of McClellan's complicated legacy.

"EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, November 5, 1862.

By direction of the President, it is ordered that Major-General George B. McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Ambrose Burnside take the command of that army. Also which is now commanded by General Burnside.* That Major-General Fitz John Porter be relieved from the command of the corps he now commands in said army, and that Major-General Joseph Hooker take command of said corps.

The General-in-Chief is authorized, in [his] discretion, to issue an order substantially as the above, forthwith, or so soon as he may deem proper.

A. LINCOLN."
#MacAttack

IMAGE:
Major General George B. McClellan with Mary Ellen McClellan, wife, at a studio in Washington D.C.
Courtesy: The Library of Congress

Address

Washington D.C., DC
20011

Access to the forts varies by site. Most are accessibile within a short walk of public transit.

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