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Civil War Reaches Tennallytown

The Civil War reached the outer edges of Washington in 1864. It was so close that President Lincoln rode near the front lines of Fort Stevens and came under fire.
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Some of you may recall the naming debates we posted about Tenleytown some time ago. We did some more history sleuthing for some good stories about the neighborhood and came across a great article from The Baltimore Sun, printed on July 13th, 1864.

President Lincoln visits Fort Stevens
President Lincoln visits Fort Stevens

Visiting Tennallytown yesterday to ascertain the truth of the various rumors respecting the rebel advance, we found that our cavalry, under command of Maj. Fry, have been stubbornly contesting their advance, retreating only when flanked by superior numbers. Sunday afternoon they fought from 3 o’clock to 9 P. M., and were driven back but five miles. Yesterday, at the time of our visit, the rebels were kept at bay two or three miles out Tennallytown.

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At Tennallytown, as might be expected, there was some excitement, and every now and then a wounded soldier was brought in. Several were said to have been severely injured the day previous, and left at Rockville.

The large clouds of dust arising beyond the rebel skirmish line gave strong evidence of the movement of considerable bodies of trebel troops. The rebel skirmishers had a battery of 3-inch rifles. A shell from one of them struck the house of Mr. Birch, out about two and a quarter miles on the turnpike, setting it on fire. His son, a boy of about twelve years, escaped from it by jumping upon his father’s horse and riding across the fields, the road being blocked by the fire of the rebels. The force in our front was estimated at several thousand.

The President, accompanied by the Secretary of War, encouraged our troops by their presence, and were loudly cheered.

From Tennallytown we proceeded to Fort Stevens, formerly Fort Massachusetts, on the Seventh street road, about five miles from the city, and on the way passed large bodies of troops moving to meet the invaders, who maintained a strong skirmish line in our immediate front.

The Civil War battles had been brought right up to within a few miles of the White House, and the President even took the time to see the front lines himself.

Fort Stevens in 1864
Fort Stevens in 1864
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