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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  November 28, 2014 10:02am-10:11am EST

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resurrection of this slain union soldier. any other questions? oh, that will be the last one. okay, thank you so much. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. and during congressional breaks and holidays, too. today we're focusing on the civil war, showing you a recent forum on the 1864 election hosted by the lincoln group of washington, d.c. abraham lincoln ran for re-election that year on a platform of restoring the union and emancipation for slaves. and he used his resounding victory as a mandate for his policies. our coverage of the forum will resume in just a moment. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. at the outbreak of the civil war in 161, washington, d.c. was a lightly defended city and
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vulnerable to attack. with only one fort located south of the city. and the confederate state of virginia just across the potomac river. by the end of the war, however, the nation's capital had become one of the most fortified cities in the world. with a ring of about 70 armed force and batteries encircling the city. next as part of our tour, some of the surviving forts we visit fort stevens which came under direct attack by confederate forces in july 1864. >> this is fort stevens. which is one of the many forts in the defenses of washington. this is probably the most famous, and i'll explain why in a little while. now originally, this was known as fort massachusetts. the people who built it immediately, after, the battle of first manassas, which really scared the washington, d.c. area, and they started getting serious about building defenses around cities so fort massachusetts was built in this
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area by massachusetts troops. it was about a perimeter of about 168 yards, and encompassed about 200 men in the fort. after second manassas in august of 1862, they decided to make this larger. because of its location, it's very -- it's on a high ground, plus it covers seventh street, which today is george avenue. but it was seventh street extended, which a lot of people used. so it was important to protect it. so they made it larger so it was about 375 yard perimeter. as i mention it was perhaps the most famous fort. and that's because of the battle of fort stevens on july 11th, 12th, of 1864. when earley brought troops up through the valley, up around
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fredrick maryland, and then in orders washington, d.c. on that july 11th. he came very near the fort here itself. his men were pretty exhausted. they did kind of feel it out a little bit that day but decided they would have a demonstration in force the next day. now i've explained before that, these defenses were mutually supported. so that if you attack fort stevens, you were going to catch fire from the forts on both sides. and even jubal early and his demonstration on the 12th realized that and decided to actually leave. now, the defenses as i mentioned had started being built in 1861. this is kind of an 1864 with a battle of fort stevens. this is kind of a culmination of the defenses. following the attack in july of
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1864, really, they pretty much went on the line. but they still had some troops but they weren't worried about that. lee was more or less heading south, and the other confederate troops were doing the same, in other parts of the country. so in 1864 was probably the culmination of the defenses themselves. even though construction went on right through the end of the war, and on some of them even afterwards. interestingly, in the 1930s the civilian conservation corps was brought in to work on this fort. after the civil war, it was abandoned, and it wasn't until around the turn around 1900 that some of the veterans which had manned the fort raised money to
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try to buy the land. as you will see, which looking around the fort, it's by no means all here at this time. but they tried to restore it as best as they could. as you can see, you'll notice, those walls -- fake walls made out of concrete. okay basically what we're seeing is this area over to about here. and then on the -- on the front side, you will see the ditch is still there. but this area is cut off over on this side. it was never fully finished in the rear. was more or less why let's call it a net, and they did have logs in the back to try to close it in through supporting. while the court battle of fort stevens was going on july 11th to 12th, abraham lincoln, not
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that far away, came out to the fort, and he actually got up on the parapet to look out to see where the troops were. and there were actually some sharp shooters who took shots at him. they did not hit him. one of the story is, and i've often wondered whether this is true or not, oliver wendell holmes, who became very famous later, was said to have said get down, you fool. meaning, get down before you get shot. i doubt that that happened. but, there are people that said that that is what oliver wendell holmes said. but abraham lincoln here, standing on the parapet looking out to see where the enemy troops actually were. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs any time by visiting our website
10:09 am this thanksgiving weekend we continue our fore-day book tv and american history tv programming. saturday at 10:00 eastern on book tv's after words jonathan eig on the history of the birth control pill. and sunday night bill nye the science guy and why he thinks the teaching of evolution and creation in science class is not only wrong but dangerous. and american history tv on c-span3 saturday night just before 9:00, george washington and benedict arnold. and sunday afternoon at 4:00 on reel america a glimpse of american life from 1914 to 1930 from automaker henry ford's film collection. find our complete television schedule at and let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400. e-mail us at or send us a tweet @c-span #comments. like us on facebook, follow us
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on twitter. now we continue our look at the 1864 presidential election between abraham lincoln and george mcclellan. the summer of 1864 was marked by heavy union casualties, and dwindling support for lincoln's end goal of emancipation. many believe that lincoln would fail to win re-election. university of kansas professor jennifer weber examines the political climate in the summer of 1864 and explains how lincoln won by a landslide. this is a portion of a symposium hosted by the lincoln group of d.c. it's about 50 minutes. >> good morning. i'm pleased to be here this morning, and i'm honored to be able to introduce our next speaker, jennifer weber. jennifer is an associate professor of history at the university of kansas. where her specialty, no surprise, is the civil war. her first book was


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