The stone monument on top of the parapet of Fort Stevens was dedicated by the veterans of the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 12, 1920. Originally, the monument was placed in the area of the flagpole, but was relocated to the parapet at the conclusion of the reconstruction of the fort and powder magazine by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The monument is dedicated to an event that occurred on the second day of the battle in which President Abraham Lincoln stood on the parapet and came under direct fire of Confederate sharpshooters. It is the only time in American history in which an acting President came under direct fire from an enemy combatant.
Standing in front of the Lincoln stone and looking northward, one will see the cupola at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center located less than half a mile away. This is the battlefield for the second day of the Battle of Fort Stevens. President Lincoln arrived at the fort by carriage early on the morning of July 12.
Along with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, the two entered the fort to see the men of Fort Stevens repel the Confederate invaders. But seeing the men inside of the fort was not enough for the President. He wanted to see the battle. So Mr. Lincoln climbed atop the parapet to witness what was transpiring on the battlefield in front of him. Several generals and officers accompanied the President onto this dangerous perch to see the 6th Corps repel Jubal Early’s forces. Scattered throughout the battlefield were a few trees and patches of scrub brush. Hidden in these spots were Confederate sharpshooters; snipers trained to hit a target at distances of well over 800 yards.
While standing atop the parapet of Fort Stevens, President Lincoln was transfixed on the battlefield. Bullets from Confederate snipers whizzed by him but he seemed oblivious to the danger. It was not until a surgeon standing three feet to the President’s right was severely wounded in the leg that the reality of the situation became apparent. President Lincoln came down from the parapet and watched as Union soldiers continued to send Jubal Early’s troops retreating into Southern Maryland and away from the city.
Return to the flagpole. Hit NEXT when you arrive.