Fort Stevens battlefield, Washington DC (Taken with instagram)

This was the setting for an 1864 battle in which the Union forces defended the capital of the nation from a wing of the Confederate army. The southerners faced mighty defenses of fortresses, gun batteries, and breastworks stretching from the Potomac to what is now the neighborhood of Brightwood in Washington DC. Fort Stevens, depicted here, is one of the more preserved forts, though an entire neighborhood has grown around it.

Most famously, President Lincoln traveled to this very fort during the heat of the battle wearing his distinctive top hat. As Confederate snipers recognized him on the front and began aiming shots in his direction, a young officer (as legend would have it, the later Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes) called out “get down from there you goddamn fool, or you’ll be killed!” He feared repercussions for speaking so roughly to the president, but Lincoln was grateful for the officer’s words of caution.

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