Just in time for the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Alexandria authors Benjamin Franklin Colling III and Walton Owen have re-released their 1989 book, “Mr. Lincoln’s Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington”. The 2009 edition is a must-have for Civil War buffs who live in the DC Metro area. The book has been revised in style, format and content, making it the premier historical reference and tour guide to the Civil War defenses of Washington, D.C.
During the Civil War, Washington, D.C. was one of the most heavily fortified cities on earth. To protect Washington with all it contained and symbolized, the Union Army constructed a shield of fortifications: 68 enclosed earthen forts, 93 supplemental batteries, miles of military roads and support structures for a commissary, quartermaster, engineer and civilian labor force, some of which still exist today. Thousands of troops were held back from active operations to garrison this complex.
The Commanders of the Army of the Potomac – from Irvin McDowell to George Meade, and even Ulysses S. Grant – always had to keep in mind their responsibility of protecting the city, while they moved against Confederate forces. The city became the symbol of Union determination, as well as a target for Robert E. Lee’s Confederates. As a military logistical base, it contained hospitals, storehouses, equipment repair facilities and animal corrals. These were in addition to other public buildings, small urban areas and vast open space that constituted the capital on the Potomac.
According to the foreword by Edwin Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus for the National Park Service, “…’Mr. Lincoln’s Forts’ is a classic, a publication against which future endeavors in the field will be measured.”
Cooling is a well known Civil War historian who has authored many publications in that field, as well as in military and naval history. Owen is the Assistant Director and Curator at the Fort Ward Museum, one of the most significant sites discussed in the book.
The authors will have a book signing at Fort Ward, 4301 West Braddock Road, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.