Welcome to "Remembering the 142nd PVI". The purpose of this site is post pictures, information, and the final resting places of this regiment of the American Civil War. It seeks to tell a "bottom up" history, straight from the common soldiers themselves. If you have any information concerning the 142nd, please email me at bmonticue@gmail.com. Thank you and enjoy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fort Stevens, Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress
Once the 142nd left Camp Curtin in Pennsylvania, the regiment was immediately sent to Ft. Massachusetts, later named Ft. Stevens, just outside of Washington, D.C. This fort was one of many structures surrounding D.C., making it one of the most fortified cities on earth. By the end of the war, there were 68 forts, 93 gun batteries, 20 miles of rifle pits, and 32 miles of military roads around the Capital.

  The regiment was sent to this location, along what was then 7th Street Pike, to help secure the main artery into the city from the North. Their time here did not consist of much drilling. Mostly, they dug rifle pits and cleared trees.

Lt. Col. Alfred B. McCalmont
Photo Credit: Dickinson College

In a letter to his brother John, dated Sept. 9, 1862, Lt. Col. Alfred McCalmont wrote, "Our men are all detailed to cut down the woods in front of the fort, and to work on the fortifications."

Capt. Albert Heffley
Photo Credit: Berlin, PA Historical Society

Capt. Albert Heffley of Co. F records the same in his diary: "After breakfast I detailed 50 men from the company to chop trees down about a mile from the Fort, so as to prevent the enemy from planting batteries. I had a great time with the boys. About one half worked exceedingly well, while the other half scarcely earned their salt."

It's difficult to imagine the need for cutting down trees around Fort Stevens if you see its 21st Century location. Due to years of urban sprawl, Ft. Stevens is now located in the middle of Washington, DC, completely encroached by development on all sides. In fact, the Civil War Trust, the nation's leader in battlefield preservation, named Fort Stevens as among the most endangered Civil War battlefields in 2010.

Photo Credit: Civil War Trust

After a few weeks in the Nation's Capital, the 142nd left Ft. Stevens and moved to Maryland to help with the sick and wounded from the battles of Antietam and South Mountain.

Two years later, Fort Stevens would gain fame as being the only location where a sitting President of the United States ever came under direct enemy fire. In July 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early moved northward through Virginia and Maryland, and on July 11 arrived near Silver Spring, MD, just outside of Washington. He sent out skirmishers to test the city's surrounding fortifications. On July 12, President and Mrs. Lincoln came to Fort Stevens to see the action for themselves. After Confederate snipers took a few shots in his direction, the President quickly left for a safer venue.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Works Cited:

United States Departmentt of the Interior brochure. http://www.civilwartraveler.com/maps/nps/CWDW-Interpretive-Brochure-2010.pdf

National Park Service Battle Summaries. http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/dc001.htm

Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/fort-stevens.html

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