On April 14, 1861, following the surrender of Fort Sumter, Washington was "put into the condition of a siege," declared Abraham Lincoln. Located sixty miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the nation's capital was surrounded by the slave states of Maryland and Virginia. With no fortifications and only a handful of trained soldiers, Washington was an ideal target for the Confederacy. The South echoed with cries of "On to Washington!" and Jefferson Davis's wife sent out cards inviting her friends to a reception at the White House on May 1. Lincoln issued an emergency proclamation on April 15, calling for 75,000 troops to suppress the rebellion and protect the capital. One question now transfixed the nation: whose forces would reach Washington first-Northern defenders or Southern attackers? For 12 days, the city's fate hung in the balance. Washington was entirely isolated from the North-without trains, telegraph, or mail. Sandbags were stacked around major landmarks, and the unfinished Capitol was transformed into a barracks, with volunteer troops camping out in the House and Senate chambers. Meanwhile, Maryland secessionists blocked the passage of Union reinforcements trying to reach Washington, and a rumored force of 20,000 Confederate soldiers lay in wait just across the Potomac River. Drawing on firsthand accounts, The Siege of Washington tells this story from the perspective of leading officials, residents trapped inside the city, Confederates plotting to seize it, and Union troops racing to save it, capturing with brilliance and immediacy the precarious first days of the Civil War.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||7 MB|
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I was fascinated by this book outlining the panicky first days of the civil war when the safety of the capital was in doubt. I have read a few general histories of the civil war but somehow I didn't grasp how tenuous the hold on Washington was. Just the riots on the troops passing through Baltimore was enough to unnerve any president in the position Lincoln was in. Since a lot of general histories accelerate into the hardcore fighting stages of the war, you don't always have it presented to you in anything like this sort of detail. For the first time I realize how very different this country might have been if just a few things might have turned the other way in those first few weeks. Highly recommended.