In Memory of Those Who Fought and Died at Fort Stevens

Cannon Fire at Fort StevensMy thanks to Wayan Vota for bringing the following public listserv post to my attention and providing a great photo to accompany it. It is certainly appropriate for Memorial Day, and more so, highlights the importance of the many forts that once protected the capitol.

The Post is as follows:

Greetings to all,

I would like to ask our community to think for a moment about those
who gave their lives for our Nation here in Ward 4.  On July 11 and
12, 1864, a battle occurred in Northwest DC, centered on Fort
Stevens and extending in a wider arc from Fort Reno to Fort Slocum.
Fort Stevens, located at what is now the intersection of Georgia
Avenue and Quackenbos Street, NW, was attached by a Confederate
force moving south from Silver Spring.  Fort Stevens was reinforced
by Union troops, who repulsed the attack.

According to my research, 373 Union troops and 500 Confederate
troops were killed. 40 Union soldiers are buried at the Battleground
Cemetery in the 6600 block of Georgia Avenue, now administered by
the National Park Service.

The battle is generally portrayed as a tentative or probing attack
by a weaker and exhausted Confederate force against a well organized
and stronger Union force.

What if the attack had succeeded and Fort Stevens had fallen?  The
Capitol could have fallen, and the Civil War could have continued
for more years.  European nations may have been emboldened to side
with and actively aid the Confederacy. Northern states may have
settled on a divided nation.  Slavery could have continued for more
years. All is this is speculation and we will never know the
possible outcome of a fall of Fort Stevens.

But for the 373 soldiers who gave their lives, none of this was
theoretical.  They were killed in a war for our national survival,
and they prevented what could have been an enormous defeat. In some
measure, we can thank them for the quality of life we enjoy today in
Shepherd Park – once a battlefield.

Merrit P. Drucker
Major, US Army (Retired)
7507 12th Street, NW
WDC 20012

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