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Fort Stevens was part of the extensive fortifications built around Washington, DC during the American Civil War. Ft. Stevens came under direct Confederate attack by troops led by General Jubal Early in the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 11-12, 1864.

A popular but unconfirmed account of the battle's second day has Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. angrily telling a tall, careless civilian to take cover and stay away from the firing zone, not knowing the man to be President Abraham Lincoln.

Fort Stevens in The Guns of the South[]

Fort Stevens' guns fought fiercely against the Confederate invasion of Washington City, but it was all in vain. A Confederate shell hit the powder magazine, destroying the fort in a massive explosion, which turned night to noon and made as much noise as a thousand Fourth of July ceremonies packed into one.[1]

Fort Stevens in "Must and Shall"[]

On July 12, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln rode out to Fort Stevens to observe Confederate General Jubal Early's attack, and was briefly under enemy fire before he was brusquely ordered to take cover by General Horatio Wright. Lincoln ignored Wright's order until U.S. Army Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. called for Lincoln to get down. This advice was in vain; as Lincoln headed for a ladder, a sharpshooter's bullet hit him in the head and killed him instantly.


  1. The Guns of the South, p. 172-176.