tv [untitled] June 1, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EDT
was about 375 yards perimeter. as i mentioned, it was perhaps the most famous fort. that's because of the battle of ft. stevens on july 11th and 12th of 1864 when jubal early brought troops up through the valley up around frederick, maryland, and then in towards washington, d.c. on july 11th, he came very near the fort here itself. his men were pretty exhausted. they did kind of feel it out that day, but decided that they would have a demonstration in force the next day. now, i've explained before that these defenses were mutually supporting. so that if you attacked ft. stevens, you were going to catch fire from the forts on both sides. even jubal early and his demonstration on the 12th,
realized that and decided to actually leave. now the defenses, as i mentioned, had started being built in 1861. this is kind of in 1864 with the battle of ft. stevens. this is kind of the culmination of the defenses. following the attack in july of 1864, really they pretty much went unmaligned, but they still had some troops to man them, but they weren't worried about that. lee was more or less headed south, and the other confederate troops were doing the same in other parts of the country. so in 1864, it was probably the culmination of the defenses themselves, even though construction went on right to the end of the war and on some of them even afterwards.
interestingly in the 1930s, the civilian conservation corps was brought in to work on this fort. after the civil war, it was abandoned, and it wasn't until around the turn of 1900 that some of the veterans of the sixth corps, which had manned the fort, raised money to try to buy the land. as you will see, when looking around the fort, it is by no means all here at this time. but they tried to restore it as best as they could. the ccc, you'll notice the revetment, the logs -- the fake logs are made out of concrete. okay. basically what we're seeing is this area over to about here and then on the front side, you will see the ditches still there. this area is cut off over on this side.
it was never fully finished in the rear. it was more or less like what's called a lunette. they did have logs in the back to try to close it in to support it. while the quote, battle of ft. stevens was going on july 11th to 12th, abraham lincoln, not that far away, came out to the fort, and he actually got up on the parapet to look out to see where the troops were. and there were actually some sharpshooters who took shots at him. they did not hit him. one of the -- the story is, and i've often wondered if this is true or not, oliver wendell holmes who became famous later, was said to have said get down, you fool, meaning get down before you get shot. i doubt that that happened, but there are people that said that
that is what oliver wendell holmes said, but this is the only time that a president of the united states has actually been under fire while president of the united states, so abraham lincoln here, standing on the parapet looking out to see where the enemy troops actually were. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs any time by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. and watch american artifacts every sunday at 8:00 a.m., 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. >> spend the weekend in wichita, kansas, with book tv and american history tv. literary life with book tv. robert on black entrepreneurs, interest business in black and white and dennis farny on the founding of beechcraft
in the barnstormer and the lady. browse the rare book collection. sunday at 5:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv experience early plains life at the old town museum, early days of flight at the kansas aviation mew sem. and two participates from the kansas civil rights movement. once a month c-span's local content vehicles explore the history and literary life of cities across america. this weekend from wichita, kansas, on c-span 2 and 3. in spite of our nation's long tradition of extending voting rights to nonproperty owners and to women, to people of color, to native americans, and to younger americans, today a growing number of our fellow citizens are worried about the same disparities, divisions and problems that nearly five decades ago some sought to address. in my travels across this country i've heard a consistent drum beat of concern from citizens who often for the first
time in their lives now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation's most noble ideals and that some of the achievements that define the civil rights movement now hang again in the balance. >> attorney general eric holder gave the keynote address at the inaugural faith leader summit on voting rights. watch the rest of his address to the summit online at the c-span video library. between 1861 and 1868, clara barton, known as the angel of the battlefield and founder of the american red cross, lived in this washington, d.c., build ing she employed 12 clerks on the . 12th floor in her missing soldiers office where they received over 60,000 letters from families searching for lost sons and husbands. in 1996, litsch ard lieians, a
are carpenter, was helping to prepare this building for demolition when he discovered the sign. we went to learn about the missing soldiers office and to hear the story of richard lyons who worked alone for months to save the building from demolition. >> hi, i'm susan rosenvold. i work for the national museum in frederick, maryland, and i have a great project i'm working on. i would like to give you a little tour of. it will be clara barton's missing soldiers office. she lived here during the civil war and this is where she got her start in humanitarian relief. here we are inside the space where clara lived during the civil war. this part right here was last renovated in about 1910. as we go up the original staircase starting at about the second floor landing, it's all
original, the actual wood steps and banister that clara used every day when she came to and from her boardinghouse room. the first floor was a store until 1993. there was a shoe store in there. then the second floor was either professional space, offices, or places for the people who on the first floor would live that owned the stores. so after a while they never used the third floor and so they actually blocked off the whole floor so no one could get up there. it's pretty much the way it was when general services administration discovered what this building was when they were getting ready to demolish the building. general services administration wanted to sell many of the buildings on this block that they had owned. and so they, because this was old and dilapidated they decided
they wanted to demolish it so a developer could come in and build something new. but once they discovered the things in the attic on the third floor they decided that the space was so historically important that they wanted to save the space instead of destroying it and build something new. this is the original staircase that clara used that has never been renovated or changed much at all, just a few repairs done to it. so when you walk up the staircase and put your hand on the banister, you're walking in clara barton's foot steps. she did this for about eight years during the civil war era and just after. when she operated a missing soldier's office in this space. eventually she ended up leaving because her health became so poor and she was so exhausted from the work she had done during the war that she couldn't climb these three set of stairs any more so she ended up moving
out late in december of 1868. and it's pretty much when she closed down her operations here in washington. so, we're going to go down the hallway. this is the original stairwell. she would have walked this every day to get to and from her boardinghouse room. one of the really cool things we found in here is this blue wallpaper down here at the bottom. it was covered up by a floorboard and we believe that was the original wall paper. in the restoration project we're hoping to replace all of the damaged paper or lack of paper in this room with that pattern wall paper that we expect to have replicated with the same techniques that it would have been made with in the 1850s. another really interesting thing is one of my favorites is this holder back here. this is, if you take this away,
the shelf has two holes in it, and it's the earliest form of a fire extinguisher for boardinghouses. what they did is they had these two holes in the shelf, they would have leather buckets that sat down in here that were full of sand because every room had some kind of fire driven stove, whether it was coal or wood, then they would need this in case the place caught on fire. any of the occupants could run out in the hallway, grab the bucket and run in and throw it on the fire. after that, of course, we eventually get to a modern fire extinguisher that was a spray. didn't take them too long to get there. these are very difficult to find. so now we're in the hallway. one of the neat things that we have, we found in this space that we had replicated is a roll of the missing men.
clara had five of these produced during the war. and sent out almost 100,000 copies and we only know of a handful in existence today, so one of the goals my museum is to fine copies of each roll, one through five so that we can show people exactly all the names and exactly what kind of work she was doing during that period of time. this roll was sent out to newspapers all over the united states. and printed. and placed in the newspapers along with this little note right up here. and a note explains to the readers that what they need to do is if they have any information about any of the men on this list they should send the information to clara barton. this is the space that she would have lived in, one of the nice things about this boardinghouse is that it had installed gas lighting in the hallways above the doors and in each of the boarding rooms.
so you can see when we go into the next room the pipes, the gas pipes are still hanging down that held the original gas lights and we have some fragments of some of those gas lights, we're going to try to replicate those as the museum goes forward and the restoration work takes place. so we're walking right now into the space that was originally -- well, eventually clara's missing soldiers office. she started out in just one room. and i've read an account from one of her family members who visited her here who said that she had one room, she divided that room in half because she started to collect supplies for soldiers and she needed so much space that she put this wall up you see in the background and that was her boarding room, half of it was used to store supplies, the other half was her living space, which was really quite small for the time. the last time we know anyone
inhabited this space was in 1911 on the third floor. that's when the original leasee, edward shaw, moved out of the building. he got to be elderly and left this building and moved in some smaller space. i'm not sure where yet. he's one of the very intriguing personalities we're researching right now to find out exactly what his role was. his relationship with clara barton. so, he did move out in 1911 and as far as we know, no one of ever occupied the space after that. >> my name is richard lyons, i work with the general services administration as a carpenter. in 1996 they sent us out to the
buildings we acquired from the development corporation to chen them up, make sure no one was living in them. it was the day before thanksgiving in '96. me and a co-worker came here. we started in the basement. first floor and then second floor. by that time he wanted to go back to the shop. it was about 10:30. he went back to the shop. i was going to stay because i didn't want to come back here on a monday. so, strangely as it happened, i made my way up the steps and i got up there, you know, nothing in here. no lights, no nothing. only a little bit of light coming through the windows. and i walked in here and i heard some noise in the back. u-oh, somebody is back there. so i go back there. shine my flashlight around. nothing there. so i'm looking around in each room, and i hear the noise over
here again. so there's nothing here. so i did this four times. about the fourth time i was over there i tripped over this ladder leaning up against the wall. so i came over here, looked around. nothing was here. so i happened to witness -- you don't usually witness one, but i witnessed an accident out here at the intersection, somebody ran a red light and bumped fenders, and i'm standing here watching what happens. and from out of nowhere, don't know what it was, but it felt like somebody tapped me on my shoulder and i thought it was my co-worker and i turned around and there was nobody there. when i turned around to look back out the window, i turned around like this and the corner of my eye i seen an envelope hanging between the ceiling and
the wall about two inches down, about right there. so i said well, i can't reach it. so i go back and i bring this ladder out here. and i put it there and i tried to pull it down. it was tight. so there was a hole right here. these boards here were laid out like a floor up there, all leveled off and everything. i pulled myself up through the little hole and on my hands and knees, i put my hand on a piece of metal. so i picked it up and moved it out of the way so i get to where the envelope was. when i turned it over it read missing soldiers office. third story, room nine, miss clara barton. so that was a thrill of the day. still is. and i shone my light back in there. there was utensils, clothing,
newspapers, newspapers from 1859 up to 1868. they had the whole account of the civil war in them, i imagine. funeral bunting, i think it's funeral bunting. hundreds of yards of it rolled up. here it is in the window. sometimes stuff falls out of the ceiling or comes up out of floor and i pick it up and throw it in there. so, didn't really know what to do. i said, well, i'll pack up some of this stuff and hide it. so i will come back on monday. so i came back on monday and then i happened to run into one of the project managers out front and i asked him about it. what they were going to do we're going tear it down. with the building. i said, well, why? he said, well, we don't need it. i said, what are you going to do?
two buildings were built the same. we're going to keep that building. duke ellington performed there when he was a young man. duke ellington is a well-known person but this building i found some stuff in there that relates to a very important time in our history, to a very important person and he turned as white as he could. i thought he was going to pass out. well, get rid of it. don't go to gsa with it. get rid it. i took it upon myself to do what i did, went to the library of congress. for about nine months every evening and did research, what threw me off was the address. everything i found here was address 488 1/2 7th street. i realized i need some help here. so i went to somebody that knew about washington, asked them questions.
you got to go the library and get some of the old records and look at them. so i did. it had clara barton lived here. that's how this got lost. in 1870 they changed the address to 437 because the numbers never matched up. then they changed to it 437. and then i was sure, i called people all over the country, i set up a post office box in ed charles name, an answering machine in ed charles' name. i was calling people all over the country trying to get them to buy this building. well, at first they had detectives all over the place trying to find this fellow ed. we had a contractor, electrician named ed. it wasn't him.
so, you know, i happened to be reading an article from the battlefield journal in september and they were dedicating a monument to clara barton, and i called antietam battlefield and i talked to man about it, told him what it was, what i found. he was very interested in it. he said, well, i'll have to talk to my wife. she's an expert on clara. for a week we exchanged messages. then one morning my wife called me at work, she says there's a man from the park service named gary scott that wants to talk to ed shaw. i said what did you tell him? she said i told him i would have him call you. so i called him and he wanted to know about the artifacts and everything and i told him. at first he didn't believe me.
i said i'll tell you what i'll do. i'll make xerox copies and send them to you. him to. give me the address. he gave me the address. at the time he had a store here in washington for the park service. and no sooner he got that stuff he called me back and, you know, that's got be the real thing. when can i see it? he made arrangements with gsa to come in here. gary saved the building from getting torn down. hadn't been for him i don't think we would be standing here today. >> one of my favorite artifacts in the building and i think one of the best is this door right here. this is door number 9 and it is associated with the missing soldiers office, clara talks about being in room number 9
quite a bit in her diaries that are located at the library of congress and a few other places. one of the really extraordinary things about the door is that in her diary, she talks about having this mail slot cut in there. she paid a carpenter to come out, she paid 50 cents and she needed this mail slot because she was receiving hundreds and hundreds of letters a day. i'm sure she was not the postal service's favorite person at that time because of that amount. so during the civil war, the u.s. army was so overwhelmed because this was the first time that they had truly had to conduct a very large scale war which they were completely unprepared for in every kind of way. soldiers were left on the battlefield in unmarked graves. many men were missing. the army was not able to put in the resources. to locate where they had been.
so clara barton, by 1864, was pretty famous internationally, and she was known as the angel of the battlefield and a friend of the american soldier, so families started writing to her to ask if she knew anything about the whereabouts of their loved ones who had been missing, sometimes for a couple years. and they were pleading for help. which, of course, clara couldn't ignore. she was kind of in a lull at that time between going out to the battlefield, so she was very willing to pick up a new job to do. and a new purpose for her. so she started to make inquiries about these towards the end of the war, as the u.s. army was liberating some of the prison camps, they were shipping all of those soldiers, many of whom were in bad condition, outside of minneapolis, maryland, so she
proposed to senator henry wilson that she go out to camp and start interviewing soldiers and looking through records to see if she couldn't help these families out. people were really very traumatized by the idea that their loved one was just laying in a field somewhere or in an unmarked grave, so they really needed closure, and she recognized the need for this help. she approached henry wilson. he approached president lincoln who said i'll talk to the war department about it. of course, they came back very unhappy about the idea that a woman was going to come to camp and look through their records and get in their way. and ask all kinds of questions, which they really didn't have time for. well, president lincoln, of course, knew better than that. he knew how overwhelmed they were, so he actually put an ad in or a notice in the newspapers
that said, if you have any information about missing soldiers or are in need of information about someone that you're missing, please contact ms. clara barton on seventh street in washington, d.c., and then signed the bottom, abraham lincoln. she had the support from the big man up there at the very top, and there wasn't really much the army could do about keeping her away. so she did go to annapolis. eventually, all of the paroled soldiers were rehabilitated and sent home so they closed the camp, and so naturally, she moved her office right here into d.c. and into the living space that she had. it was just a natural thing. she had up to 12 clerks at one point, working for her. she actually left town quite a bit of the time to go on a speaking tour to raise funds to
support the missing soldiers office. she also lobbied congress to make it an official agency and give her a budget. she never was able to do that until about 1868 when congress voted to reimburse her for the funding she put out of her own personal money to get this thing done. she did receive over 6,300 63,000 pieces of correspondence. she tried to answer each and every one. a lot of times she set up form letters for her clerks to use and they, she gave them permission to sign her name, so every soldier that she received an inquiry on went in a book. eventually went on a roll that was published in all the papers, five rolls all together, and she answered every family member, every correspondent as best she could with whatever information that she had.
unfortunately, in a lot of those ended up being, we're sorry we couldn't find any information, but some of them were very interesting. she did get a letter that she answered personally from a woman whose son was an officer and he was missing. she sent the mother sent a beautiful photograph of the son in his uniform that was very compelling and so clara actually worked on that case herself. the other one was a letter from a family, and i can't remember where they were from, but they had been missing a loved one, so she took the information, put the man's name on one of the rolls that was published, and received a letter back from the gentleman himself who said he didn't understand why clary felt the need to publish his name in all of the papers and that he could take care of himself and he would let his family know his whereabouts when he was ready to do that.
and so she wrote him a very impertinent letter stating she actually wasn't very concerned and she felt very bad that his family was concerned about him. and that he had caused them so much grief, and by the way, she sent his letter to them along with his whereabouts. so they would at least know what happened to him. this is the original sign that was found identifying the building. it would have been on the outside of the door and of course it says missing soldiers office third story room nine. ms. clara barton. that would have been hanging on the outside of the building to identify it for people who were looking for ms. barton's office. some of the really, really interesting finds that we got in the attic were socks. we got -- we found many, many, many socks. and sock tops and sock bottoms ther