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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  November 28, 2014 1:51pm-1:58pm EST

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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 cover ran of the forum will resume in just a moment. you're watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitte twitter @cspanhistory for information on schedule, upcoming programs and to keep up with the latest history news.
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each week american artifacts takes viewers into or kifs, museums and historic sites. at the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 washington, d.c. was a lightly defended city and vulnerable to attack with only one fort located south of the citynd 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 70 armed forts and batteries encircling the city. next is part of our tour of some of the surviving forts we visit fort stevens which came under direct attack 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 the massachusetts. the people who built it immediately after the battle of first manassas which really
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scared the washington, d.c. area and they started getting serious about building defenses around city. so fort massachusetts was built in this 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 a 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 yards perimeter. as i mentioned, it was perhaps the most famous fort. that's because of the battle of fort stevens on july 11th, 1
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tth2th in 1864 when early brought troops up through the valley up around frederick maryland and in towards washington, d.c. on the 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 supporting. so if you attacked fort stevens you were going to catch fire from the forts on both sides. even jubal early in the demonstration on the 12th realized that and decided to leave. the defenses as i mentioned started being built in 1861.
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this is kind of 1864 with the battle of fort stevens. this is kind of the culmination of the defenses following the attack in july of 1864, really they pretty much went unmaligned. but they still had some troops but they weren't worried about that. lee was more or less headed south and the other confederate troops were doing the same and other parts of the country. so in 1864 was probably the culmination of the defenses themselves, even though construction went on right to 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
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abandoned and it wasn't until the turn around 1900 that some of the veterans of the sixth corps which had manned the fort raised money to try to buy the land. as you will see and when looking around the fort, it's by no means all here at this time but they tried to restore it as best they could. the ccc will notice the revetment, those logs that i have -- fake logs are made out of concrete. basically what we're seeing is this area over to about here and then 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. it was more or less like what's called a linette and they did have logs in the back to try to close it in to support it.
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while the quote battle of fort steven was going on abraham lincoln not that far away came out to the fort and he actually got up on the pit to look out to see where the troops were. there were actually some sharpshooters who took shots at him. they did not hit him. one of the -- the story is and i've often wopd wondered whethes is true or not, oliver wendell holmes 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 is what oliver went dadell holm said. but he stood up here to


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