View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 12:15 am
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Hellcat
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A faster move by Early in 1864 might have accomplished something. Lee learns that Grant has stripped DC of most of it's defenders in 1864 (it went fro 23,000 down to 9,000) and on June 12th dispatches Early with 20,000 men to strike at the capital. According to Philip Katcher's The Complete Civil War Early crosses the Potomac with 14,000 men on July 6th. By July 9th Early is at Frederick, Maryland, where he ends up engaged in a battle with Lew Wallace's troops which he wins. But the battle may have proved costly to him as on July 10th he's encamped at Rockville, Maryland, ten miles north of Fort Stevens.

On July 7th, having already learned of Early's campaign, Grant dispatches the 25th NY Cavalry, the 1st and 2nd Divisions of the 6th Corps, and elements of the 19th Corps to reinforce the defenses of Washington. At least the 25th NY Cav arrived at Fort Stevens on July 10th at midnight.

As Fort Massachusetts, Fort Stevens boasted a 200 man garrison and a ten gun battery. After being renamed and expanded the fort now boasted 423 man garrison and a battery that consisted of

two 8-inch siege howitzers, six 24-pdr siege guns, four 24-pdr seacoast guns, five 30-pdr Parrott rifled cannon, one 10-inch mortar, and one 24-pdr Coehorn mortar(Fort Stevens Marker).

The Encyclopedia of the American Civil War reveals that the fort was undermanned at this time, having only 209 present. In addition to Fort Stevens other forts such as Fort Slocum would take part in the battle.

Early launches the two day Battle of Fort Steven on July 11th with a force of 10,000 men. Federal forces would reach around 9,600 by the end of the battle, though at the start of the battle they weren't this high. Militia and 500 to 600 dismounted cavalry (probably elements of the 25th NY Cav) arrived to bolster the Federal defenders, who had fallen back to within 100 yards of Fort Stevens, at 1 PM. By 1:30 PM these reinforcements had pushed Rode's division back 1,000 yards. By late afternoon on the 11th the divisions of the 6th Corps and the 19th Corps elements were disembarking on the wharves of Washington and being taken to Fort Stevens. The lead elements from both corps began arriving on the battlefield around 3PM. At about the same time Early tries to over power the defenders but stops for some unknown reason around 5 PM, just when the Federal skirmish line was weakening. By early evening the 6th Corps and the 19th Corps are up and on July 12th Early is defeated. He crosses the Potomac once again on July 14th.

Had Early attacked a day sooner he would have taken Fort Stevens and might have attacked DC on the 11th before the elements of the 6th and 19th Corps could have arrived.

Last edited on Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 12:40 am by Hellcat

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