tv Battlefield Tour CSPAN August 19, 2014 9:07pm-9:49pm EDT
>> thank you, mr. bearss. before closing, we have a few announcements. >> thank you again, mr. bearss, mr. gibbs, everyone for joining us again today. we do want to acknowledge, we have a lot of special guests in the audience, but we actually have the great grandson of captain simon e. chamberlain of company k., the 25th new york calvary, the first calvary to deploy here on july 11th here at fort stevens when early's troops arrived. with mr. -- i'm sorry, would mr. chamberlain please stand. [ applause ]
we will close the benediction, but we do hope each of you will come over and join us. just across the street you'll get some instructions. it's the moment to join us for the first fine of the civil war here in the district of columbia since 1864, 150 years ago today. fire a canon, yes. >> please welcome again reverend louis as he leads us through the benediction. >> please stand. now lord we ask for our blessings that as we leave this place, that the street fellowship of the holy communion
will rest, rule and abide with us now and forever more and all god's people said -- amen. american history tv in primetime continues wednesday with the civil war battle of the crater, which took place during the siege of petersburg, virginia, on july 30th, 1864. the battle failed with heavy losses for union troops. at 8:00 p.m., the national parks service commemorates the 150th anniversary of the battle and honors the role of u.s. color troops. at 9:20, emanuele dabny discusses how the attack failed and why u.s. color troops were unjustly blamed. and at 10:15, author kevin la vigne discusses how color troops were remembered immediately following the civil war. the battle of the crater at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3.
here are some of the highlights for this weekend. friday on c-span in primetime, we'll visit important sites. saturday night at 8:00, highlights from this year's new york's idea's forum. and on sunday, q&a with new york congressman charlie rangel at 8:00 p.m. eastern. friday night at 8:00 on c-span2, in-depth. saturday on afterwards at 10:00, retired neurosurgeon and columnist ben carson, and sunday at 11:00 p.m. eastern, lawrence goldstone on the competition between the wright brothers and glenn curtis to be the predominant name in manned flight, c-span3 on friday at 8:00 eastern, a look at hollywood's portrayal of slavery. saturday at 8:00. and sunday night at 8:00 p.m., former white house chiefs of
staff discuss how presidents make decisions. find our television schedule one week in advance at c-span.org and let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400 or e-mail us. join the c-span conversation, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. each week american history tv's series "the civil war" marks the 150th anniversary of the conflict by bringing you lectures, discussions, and battlefield visits. 150 years ago in july of 1864, a confederate army of about 12,000 troops under the command of general jubal early nearly invaded washington, d.c. next, historian and journalist marc leepson takes us on a tour of battlefields in maryland and washington, d.c. to tell the story of the battle of monacacy, where confederates were delayed by union forces in the approach
for the nation's capital where early probed the defenses of the heavily fortified city before deciding to turn back. >> july 1864, to give you a bigger picture of the war, this was just after the bloodiest six weeks of the civil war, the wilderness campaign, spots of wilderness, over 60,000 union causalities dead or wounded. about 40,000 confederates dead or wounded. there was war weariness, especially in the north, but general grand grant, u.s. grant, was determined to -- this was his grand plan to end the war. he had richmond and petersburg surrounded and his idea, his plan, was to choke robert e. lee and force him to come out and
fight what he thought would be the battle that would end the war. lee knew this, of course, too, so lee came up with a bold plan of his own and that is on july -- on june 13th in the early morning hours, he took about 12,000 troops under general jubal early and took them outside of the defenses of washington on a bold plan, a four-part plan that he hoped would mess up general grant's grand plan to end the war. the first part was to kick the union forces out of the shenandoah valley. now, at this time of the war, robert e. lee's biggest problem was supply, including food, and most of their food came from the shenandoah valley. so the union forces under general david hunter had taken over just about the entire shenandoah valley. second part of the plan was to quote/unquote threaten washington, d.c. the third part of the plan was to free confederate prisoners at
the point lookout prison camp, which was on the very tip of southern maryland in the chesapeake bay. and the fourth part of the plan, and i think the part that lee considered the most important, was to force grant to take troops outside of richmond and petersburg and to ease this chokehold that grant had on him. so in the early morning hours of july 13th, 12,000, an entire corps of troops, left the defenses of richmond, about a third of lee's troops. they marched 70 miles to charlottesville, virginia, got on a rickety old train and arrived in lynchburg on june 17th and june 18th came the battle of lynchburg, which didn't last very long, because hunter who wasn't one of the great union generals to say the least, fled once he saw early's troops. so hunter fled over the mountain into west virginia, what is now west virginia. early thought about chasing him, they didn't, but he took one look and saw the entire shenandoah valley was cleared of
union troops. this is big. so early marched his men down the valley, north because of the way the river flows, so they began to march down the shenandoah valley. they were very -- they were not very well supplied. a third to the half of the men did not even have shoes. they tied burlap around their feet. they waited two days along the route for a shipment of shoes. they got up to harpers ferry in martinsburg, both in west virginia now, then in virginia, where another dim bulb of union generals, he was a political general, a german immigrant, he was made a general because he could bring in germans, he was from st. louis. he was the one who had the not very good experience at new market on may 15th, where he outnumbered the confederate troops and lost when the entire corps of v.m.i. cadets came up from lexington and defeated
sigel, unofficially known as the flying dutchman. sigel fled martinsburg and harpers ferry and they had a nice 4th of july, the southern troops did, eating all the yankees' food and drinking whatever beverages they found. the next day on july 5th, they crossed over the potomac river into maryland. this is the third invasion of the north by confederate troops. 1862, 1863, into what will be the battle of monacacy in 1864. seagal fled to the other side of the river from harpers ferry and were pretty well embedded up there. early thought about going after them, but he didn't. he made a right turn, now 50 miles from washington, d.c. and they did rest for a couple of days in maryland.
then he headed towards washington, d.c. jubal was quite a character, to say the least. he went to west point, but not to be a military man, it was a good education at the time. he did take part in the seminal wars and mexican war, but he didn't see any action. he was a member of the virginia assembly at one time, he was a warrior, and before the war started, he was part of the virginia secession convention. once virginia seceded, he became probably one of the most ardent confederate die hards. he quickly gained a reputation of being aggressive leader, he became a general, he was in all the battles in the eastern theater from manassas onward, and he was kind of a cantankerous guy. he was a hard drinking, tobacco chewing, -- he was famous for
cursing, hated women. didn't get along with fellow officers, didn't get along with generals. the men sort of loved him and hated him. robert e. lee really liked jubal early. lee called him "my bad old man," even though lee was older than early. early had arthritis, kind of hunched over, scraggly beard, wore the slouched hat and lee liked him because -- it's interesting that lee should depend on him and admire early so much, because lee's personality was 180 degrees opposite. he was a god-fearing man, he didn't curse, respected women, and so on. robert e. lee said it's good war is so horrible, otherwise men would love it, compares to jubal early, who probably, if there was something the opposite of that to be said, he would have said it. sths a man lee entrusted to go on this mission and he was one
of the more aggressive southern generals, and it's interesting because of what happened later at washington, his aggressiveness. washington was just across the river from virginia. 90 miles from richmond, from the very beginning of the war, the union was very concerned about a southern invasion of the nation's capital, so immediately troops were sent down into washington, d.c., and then after the battle of first manassas, the feet 35 miles from washington, they started building a series of forts and fortifications that by the time a couple of years later, washington was completely ringed by interconnected series of 67 forts. they were called the defenses of washington. they were kind of like a beltway. they even went across the po potom potomac. those forts, only one of those forts exists today and that's fort ward in alexandria, virginia. fort stevens, where we're going
to go later, has been partially rebuilt and that's where the end of my story happens, outside of fort stevens. but these forts were very well built. they were all connected by fortifications and berms, and they were designed to be manned by about 35,000 troops, but now we're in the summer of 1864, just about every able-bodied union troop is down outside richmond in petersburg in the eastern theater. we don't know the exact number, but we think only about 10,000 troops were on the barricades at washington, d.c. who were these 10,000 troops? well, they were members of what was called the veteran reserve corps. the veteran reserve corps had just changed its name before that. before that it was known as the invalid corps. they changed the name for obvious reasons. who wants to be named the invalid? most people, i think, know there were so many causalities that
washington, d.c. was basically one giant hospital during the last years of the war. as troops got better but couldn't go back to the field, they were given these pale blue uniforms and did rear echelon duty. so that's who was defending washington, d.c. when jubal early came here to monacacy on july 9th and the battle started. this was not a good example of union high leadership, what happened here during this. first of all, union intelligence was abysmal throughout the war and it was not good here. the union did not know that robert e. lee had taken an entire corps of troops outside leaving richmond where they left on june 13th. they didn't know really that an entire corps had left until july 5th, when they crossed the potomac river, then you had a little bit of panic going on.
especially when the word got out that early was heading towards washington, or maybe baltimore. he didn't let people know. here at monacacy, strategically northwest and east/south transportation connection. we have the 355 over here, which was here then, it was called the georgetown pike, and it goes directly on a line to washington, d.c. today, it's called the irbana pike here, it becomes the rockville pike, then becomes wisconsin avenue. goes right into washington. up the monacacy river we have the pike that goes straight to baltimore. then we have the railroad line, which comes straight down here from baltimore and the spur that goes straight from frederick, so you had north, south, east, west railroad hub and two roads that went right to baltimore. so it was not clear. there was panic in the streets in baltimore and in washington when they heard. and, of course, the rumors started flying. early had gained troops.
they had about 14,000 troops on july 9th. the rumors were that he had 15,000, 20,000, 35,000 troops. so washington's command structure was fragmented. there were a lot of generals in washington, d.c. in fact, general hallock, henry hallock, who was the army chief of staff, at one point said we have plenty of generals, what we need is privates here. we need people to get to the barricades of washington. so that was the situation in washington. now back down in richmond, grant, when he learned what was happening here, did not want to send troops outside of richmond and petersburg, this was his grand plan to win the war. you can read the telegrams that went back and forth between washington and outside of richmond. you can read the memoirs of people on his staff. you can read the letters that they wrote. grant would not send troops, and
finally he gave in at the last minute and he sent two regiments of the 6th corps, woke them up in the middle of the night, marched out to city port, got on these steamers, went down the james river, out into the chesapeake bay, up into baltimore harbor, they got off the ships, they marched to the railroad station, camden station, now camden yards where the baseball stadium is, and they arrived here at the monacacy junction at 1:00 in the morning on july 9th, 1864. union intelligence was not very good, but one man figured out through the intelligence and more or less what was happening, and that was lou wallace. now lou wallace was an interesting character and he was the other main character of this story. he was from indiana, he was from a prominent family. he did serve in the mexican war as a 19-year-old lieutenant, but he had no military experience
other than that when the war started. he did have a unit in indiana before the war. those were those drill teams that dressed up in these colorful uniforms. they became the 11th indiana when the war started, he was their leader and he scored an early victory at romney, west virginia, right after first manassas when the union was looking for heros. and the union press played him up really big and he became a general and that was sort of his high point. his low point happened at the battle of shiloh when his regiment got lost the first night. probably not his fault. it was rough terrain, bad weather, et cetera, dark, kind of a fog of war situation, but grant and hallock were very, very upset with wallace after shiloh. he did fight the second day, but they sort of shoved him to the side after that and his job was at this point in the war, he was the commander of the union's middle atlantic department, which was basically his job was he was military governor of
baltimore. it wasn't a very plum assignment. well, reading the same intelligence that the union high command got and didn't do anything about, wallace did something. the other thing that helped him here was that the head of the b.n.o. railroad, a man named john garrett, he had his network of intelligence who were the station masters all along the b. & o. railroad. they are heading your way. so wallace picked up on this and on his own, don't forget he was in hot water with grant and halllock, no orders, he gathered up 2800 men, about all he could get, and came down to the western most point of his jurisdiction, which was right here, and he set up on the eastern bank on the monacacy river. lou wallace, after the war, became a novelist and he wrote the second most popular novel of the 19th century, which was
"ben-hur" and also wrote an 800-page memoir, which was really a god send for a historian, after reading these sort of dry memoirs and lots of them and letters and so on, journals, and orders, here you get lew wallace who writes his memoir, you know, 40 years after the fact, writes it in a flowery 19th century novelist style. and when wallace says that they arrived here in the morning and lit their campfires, he'll say something like, you know, the steely sky gave way to a brilliant orange sun as we made our way down to the junction and the campfire smoke curled up, which was great. of course, you have to balance what wallace says in his memoir with his telegrams from the battlefield, his after-action report the day after, his after-action report two weeks later, because wallace had a way of making himself sound really good, and, you know s he did a
very brave thing here, can't get away from that, and as i say in the book, i believe and i think the judgment of history is that what wallace did here, did save washington, d.c. so this battle took place on july 9th, 1864. right now it's november 2nd of 2007 and it's a beautiful fall day, but one thing to keep in mind about this battle was that it was very, very hot. they didn't have thermometers or no one referred to a thermometer in their memoirs or at the time, but had to be in the mid to upper 90s and very humid. wallace set up headquarters in a very good tactical spot and that was on the east bank of the monacacy river on high ground, so he could overlook the entire battlefield and he was on the other side of the river, which made it difficult for -- to be attacked. it was a good defensive position. who were these 2,800 men? well, they were 100 days men. they joined just for 100 days,
no one had fired a weapon in anger before. pretty gutsy thing, if you think about it. here was intelligence, a corps of troops, maybe as many as 35,000 are headed your way and he sets up right here with 2,800 unexperienced troops. that's what finally happened when grant sent up the troops. those troops got here at 1:00 in the morning on july 9th and now wallace had about 6,500 troops, including experienced 6th corps men and he knew what to do with them. he arrayed them along the bank of the monacacy river and i think we're going to go down there now and we'll talk about what happened when the battle started. we're at the very edge of the monacacy national battlefield and this monument was dedicated at the 50th anniversary of the battle to honor the confederates who died here. there are about 800 confederate causalities at the battle, dead and wounded. route 355 today runs through the
battlefield, as it did back then. it was known as the georgetown pike, but what didn't go through the battlefield back then, of course, was interstate 270, which is, i think you can see it right over there on the edge of the horizon, but this is where the confederate artillery was arrayed during the battle, and it's just an unfortunate thing that interstate highway runs through this entire battlefield. i think they've done a terrific job interpreting it. they have a lot of the farmfields that the battle took place, but it's sort of a difficult battle to envision, one reason being it took place in several different places at the same time and another reason being an interstate highway goes right through it. this is the actual junction itself. you can see it down there, and the bridge on route 355 was the old covered bridge over the junction. this is where some of the most brutal fighting of the battle
took place. later on in the day, when a group of vermont soldiers took a stand against early's -- some of early's top troops and they were at a very good strategic point down there. i don't know if it's that easy to see, but the confederates came this way and the vermont soldiers, there weren't very many of them, there was like a company of them, and they held off a regiment of early's troops for hours before they finally had to flee, and they were -- they had to flee back up the railroad track and then over the old railroad bridges, you can't see from here. the railroad bridge did not have a bed. it had just railroad ties, and these vermont soldiers while they were being fired upon by this confederates, had to run across the railroad ties, over the river, with the water 40 feet below, sort of a dramatic
point of the battle. two vermont soldiers received the medal of honor for their actions that day. right where we're standing now is where the overmanned vermont men took up their stand against the confederate troops, who came straight down that way from where the tracks are, and this is where they held them. this is the actual junction. it says frederick junction, but it's known as the monacacy junction then. the old train station was right behind us over here. and, in fact, these are the tracks that the troops came down from baltimore. anyway, after their vermonters finally couldn't take it anymore, they fled down the tracks, around the bentd, and the old railroad bridge over there, the ones they had to flee for their lives over while they were being shot at by the confederates.
what you see in the back behind me, which has been restored by the national park service to the way it looked the day of the battle in 1864, this was the portion of the battle of monacacy, and what you're hearing is interstate 270 in the background, but what was here then was cornfields and wheatfields and they were crisscrossed by farm fences. it was not an ideal place to have a battle, especially if you were attacking, which the southerners were. so behind me, general john mccausland from louisiana, they were part of john brown gordon's brigade, they came right behind me and they got off their horses because i guess of the conditions in the field here.
so there was a dismounted calvary and they charged the union through the farm fields over here. they didn't know it was 6th corps men. the 6th corps men were waiting for them and it was carnage. the southerners got chopped down and they had to retreat and went back there again. most of gordon's brigade was way back at the farm where we first started here where the artillery was. now, here's an important thing you have to keep in mind, jubal early did not want to fight a battle here at monacacy, he wanted to go invade washington. he's only 40 miles away from it right now, but wallace forced him. he blocked him along the river. early held as many troops back as he could. in fact, early wasn't here when the battle started, he was in the city of frederick extorting money of the city fathers to the tune of $200,000, which he got. but anyway, mccausland's charge does not work, they flee back
here, they charge again, get repulsed again, then gordon brings all of his troops here and this is where the most fighting of the battle took place. gordon called it the sharpest fight he was in in the civil war. he was in the wilderness. the river ran red with blood and when it was over, there were about 1,300 union causalities killed, wounded, and captured, and about 800 confederates killed and wounded, and most of it took place here and the thomas farm, which is the next farm over. a young -- the family hid in the basement during the fight, and a young 6-year-old boy named glen worthington saw everything that happened, as did his father and his family, and he wrote a book about it later. it's one of our best descriptions of what happened on this battle. and actually later in life, glenn worthington was one of the people who influenced congress
to set aside this land to be a national battlefield. and so back to the battle itself, of course, early prevailed. he outnumbered 14,650. retreated, went up towards baltimore, wound up at elkin mills. it was very, very hot. early let his men rest on the battlefield that night, buried their dead, took care of their wounded, took prisoners to frederick and the next morning on july 10th, 1864, they started their march towards washington, d.c.. only took us about an hour to get here, but i'll pick up the story. early, they spent that night on the battlefield. the next day they maarten, 15
miles, 20 at the most. don't forget, it was really very hot and they were tired and had been marching since june 13th, so they camped in rockville and gaithersburg, which are busy suburbs of washington, d.c. now, but it was farmland there. early started to get money from the city fathers of rockville. there was calvary skirmish from there. units from washington came out to do some skirmishing. the next morning, july 11th, early, who's one of those generals out on the horse leading the men, made it right out here, right to the outskirts of fort stevens. if you can picture washington, d.c. as shaped like a diamond, we are right at the very top of the diamond, in the northwest portion of washington, d.c. early about noontime was out of the gates of fort stevens right out here. he had the capitol dome in his sight at noontime, and what did he see? he saw this very impressive
series of forts. he saw this fort and it was connected to several other forts around here. it looks impregnable and he saw troops here. early did not know these were 100 days men and the call went out for civilians to come out and help man the barricades, so you had clerks from the state department, men from the quarter master corps, people who have never fired a weapon in their life. the word motley comes up more than once, but early did not know this. his men were strung out way along back on the georgetown pike. sorry, not the georgetown pike, the 7th street pike, they cut off the georgetown pike in what is now wheaton, maryland, and cut out to the 7th street pike, georgia avenue, so early, uncharacteristically for him
decided not to invade, but there was fighting that went on with artillery and skirmishing that day, july 11th, and that night. this is all, we are now in the city of washington, d.c. it's not urban washington, d.c., but it's definitely city, and -- but back then, this was all farms out here. this is hardly considered part of washington, d.c., because washington was down there where the white house is and downtown and georgetown and so on. now they had cleared tries out for firing outside fort stevens, but this was all farmland, and people from washington came out to see what all of the excitement was about, including president lincoln. fort stevens was one of -- might have been the most extensive of the defenses of washington. there were 67 of them, not all of them were as extensive as
this one. there was a magazine, looks like barracks, it was enclosed on all four sides. some of them weren't even enclosed. some of them were just pointing out towards the defenses. they were kind of rudimentary, but they were built up very heavily and they were all connected, so -- but fort stevens is sort of at the gate of washington, d.c. at the very tip of the northern diamond, if you think of washington shaped like a diamond. and it was heavily defended or heavily fortified, rather, wasn't heavily defended until the 6th corps got up here late in the afternoon on july 11th. this is more or less been reconstructed, but it's more or less what it looked like on july 11th, 1864, with early's artillery out there, the union artillery here, and skirmishing going on and the citizens from washington coming up to see what it was all about.
and that included president lincoln. and the plaque that you see says "lincoln under fire at fort stevens." now it also happened on july 11th. july 11th lincoln was here and this represents the only time in american history when a sitting u.s. president came under fire in a shooting war. right here on this very shot. the confederate sharp shooters who were out there, don't forget this was all farmland, it was cleared, and back there, trust me, is walter reid army medical center. and on the grounds at walter reid, there's a tree with a plaque on it that supposedly says that this is where a confederate sharp shooter shot at lincoln. the same thing happened on the second day, on july 12th, and that's what that plaque represents, a union surgeon by the name of crawford was
standing next to lincoln, probably right here, and was shot in the leg. and that's when lincoln was ordered down at fort stevens. lincoln, you know, 6'4" and a stove pipe hat made a pretty tempting target. now the legend has grown up it was oliver wendell holmes that yelled at lincoln, get down you fool, or get down you damn fool, and instantly regretted saying it. i have a whole chapter in the book about that incident, and basically, well, i came to the conclusion that's a hi pockriful story, didn't come out until 1928, it was published in "atlantic monthly" in 1928. supposedly holmes had been telling it privately. i looked into it, i have a whole chapter in the book and going back to letters at the time, memoirs written shortly after the war, and, yes, lincoln did stand here, and, yes, someone
yelled at him to come down. more than likely, it was general horacio wright, who said this in 1866, didn't say get down you fool or say that he said that, but i go over that in the book. it's an interesting story, and it's not true. early is at the gates over here outside fort stevens with the capitol dome in his sight. at that moment, grant the day before finally seceded and sent the rest of the 6th corps, along with the 19th corps, down in new orleans, they were going to go to the outskirts of richmond. instead, they just stayed on the train, went up to city point with the rest of the 6th corps, got on ships, went out the james river, up the potomac river this time and got off at the old wharf down in washington down at 6th street. citizens were there to greet them, including president lincoln. gave them ice water, they gave
them sandwiches. they cheered, because people were panicking when they heard the confederates were out at the gates, so the 6th corps then marched up the old 7th street pike, which is georgia avenue, went by places we know, smithsonian, government buildings downtown, and got out here in the mid afternoon of july 11th and took part in the fighting that happened july 11th. and that fighting went into the night. after that, early held a council of war out in silver spring, which is just a couple of miles from here at the mansion of blair -- not the blair mansion, it was actually called silver spring, it was the blair mansion, the blair family. the blairs, prominent family, own blair house down by the white house, they were out of town. they had gone fishing in pennsylvania. now early held a council of war that night with his generals, who were steven dodson, robert
emirate roades, john c. breckenridge, the former vice president of the united states under james buchanan, he was from kentucky, a confederate general. he had been in that house before and knew where the wine cellar was, so early and his men drank up the blair wine, had a nice dinner and decided the next morning, july 12th, they'd come here bright and early and decide whether or not to attack. they did that and this time early could see that the 6th corps was here. they had a distinctive patch, it was a white cross. so he did not, again, did not invade. however, there was more fighting. there was skirmishing, there was artillery exchanges. men were killed. there were 300 union causalities and we're going to go to the union cemetery later. 300 dead and wounded, we don't know officially how many confederates were wounded, never made the records, but had to be that many or many.
that fighting went all of july 12th, or most of the night. july 13th, they looked out here and early's army was gone. they retraced their steps, went back through montgomery county, poolsville and crossed the potomac at whites ford and if anybody has been to whites ford, there's a ferry boat that goes across the potomac and the name of the ferry boat is the jubal early and that's where my story ends on july 13th, 1864, a month after early, june 13th, had left richmond to go on this four-part mission. this is georgia avenue that you just looked at, which used to be known as the 7th street pike, which is the route that early came down, and two years after the war, the cemetery was built. it's the second smallest national cemetery. 40 union soldiers are buried in graves behind me there in the
circle, and these are monuments to some of the units that served at the battle of fort stevens, but it's a place that i would easyliest mate that hundreds of thousands of people drive by every year and do not know it is here. just off georgia avenue, there's only a small sign, and it's the final resting place for 40 union soldiers killed at fighting here in washington, d.c. and a battle that people just don't know about. if you're stuck at the traffic light at 16th street, it's georgia and you're in the right-hand lane and you turn to your right, you can read the inscription on this monument to the confederate soldiers who were killed. it's a monument to a mass grave of confederate soldiers who were killed outside at fort stevens. it was moved there when the church was moved in the early 20th century, i believe, and it
also stands right off of georgia avenue, which is a heavily traveled commuter road in and out of washington, d.c.. i'm considering what could have happened with an entire corps of troops left loose in washington, d.c., lean and hungry troops. the treasury was there for the looting, the treasury department. they could have burned the capitol. the navy department, which lincoln did not know had a ship waiting for him in the potomac to take him out of town. think about what could have happened to the union cause had there been confederates running loose in the streets of washington, d.c.. don't forget, lincoln was fighting for his political life at this time. this was the presidential election of 1864 was just a few months away. lincoln barely got the republican nomination. he had to choose a democrat for his running mate, andrew johnson of