The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union 1st Edition, Kindle Edition

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Product Description
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.

The Siege of Washington: The Twelve Days That Shook the Union

A Timeline

April 14, 1861 The Union flag is lowered over Fort Sumter in surrender. In Washington, President Lincoln drafts an emergency proclamation calling for 75,000 Union volunteer troops to suppress the rebellion and defend the capital. Lincoln tells his cabinet, “If I were Beauregard, I would take Washington.”
April 15 Lincoln formally issues his emergency proclamation. Americans in both the North and South are transfixed by a single question: Who will reach the capital first? Confederate attackers? Or Union defenders?
April 16 As militiamen begin to mobilize across the North, General Winfield Scott has only 900 U.S. Army troops and 600 District Militia under his command to defend Washington.
April 17 Virginia votes to secede from Union. South Carolina Governor Pickens writes to Jefferson Davis that the “true course is to take Washington city immediately.”
April 18 The First Pennsylvania Volunteers arrive in Washington—without weapons—and are quartered in the empty Capitol building. The danger is so extreme that emergency volunteer troops are stationed in the East Room of the White House. An assault on the city is expected that night.
April 19 The Sixth Massachusetts are attacked in a bloody riot in Baltimore as they change trains on their way to Washington. Baltimore leaders bar further Union troops from passing through the city, imperiling the arrival of reinforcements for days.
April 20 Baltimore secessionists rip up rail lines to Washington. Meanwhile, the Eighth Massachusetts and Seventh New York regiments are stalled in Philadelphia as their leaders debate the best route to the capital. One prominent Virginian telegraphs the Confederate secretary of war: “Lincoln is in a trap.”
April 21 Panic seizes Washington, particularly among free blacks, who fear that they will be re‐enslaved if the South takes the capital. Thousands of people flee.
April 22 Washington is entirely cut off by rail and telegraph. Food supplies dwindle. According to journalist Henry Villard, it seemed “as though the government of a great nation had been suddenly removed to an island in mid ocean in a state of entire isolation.”
April 23 Secessionist forces in Maryland plot an attack on Union troops moving toward Washington. The Baltimore Sun reports that “armed men [are] stationed everywhere, determined to give the Northern troops a fight in their march to the capital.”
April 24 The Seventh New York and Eighth Massachusetts set out on an epic march from Annapolis to rescue Washington.
April 25 The Seventh New York arrives in Washington and stages a spontaneous parade down Pennsylvania Avenue amid cheering residents and ringing church bells. Washingtonians exclaim their joy that the “Capitol of the Nation is Safe!”

From Publishers Weekly

Historians have long been perplexed over why the South didn't attack Washington, D.C., in the early days of the Civil War. In this absorbing history, the siege of the Union capital and the panic over an expected Confederate attack that never came—offer significant insights into the long conflict. The Lockwoods, both historians, examine the two weeks after Fort Sumter, when everyone from Southern firebrands to Abraham Lincoln thought the rebels would seize the isolated and virtually defenseless Union capital, which was surrounded by slave states and had a substantial pro-Confederate population. The rail and telegraph lines were cut by Maryland secessionists, and the capital waited anxiously for Northern soldiers to push through hostile territory to its rescue while enduring food shortages, bank runs, and rumors of approaching rebel armies bent on hanging federal officials. The authors' well-paced narrative captures the suspense of the ordeal and the Union's achievement in improvising a defense from scratch. This vivid portrait of a weak and jittery Washington turns into a story of how Northern vigor and organization trumped Southern élan, presaging the larger war. 40 b&w illus.; 1 map. (Apr.)
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Product details

  • File Size: 5377 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 11, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004UA4CPU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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