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Lincoln's Citadel

The Civil War In Washington, DC

By Kenneth J Winkle

The stirring history of a president and a capital city on the front lines of war and freedom.

In the late 1840s, Representative Abraham Lincoln resided at Mrs. Sprigg’s boardinghouse on Capitol Hill. Known as Abolition House, Mrs. Sprigg’s hosted lively dinner-table debates of antislavery politics by the congressional boarders. The unusually rapid turnover in the enslaved staff suggested that there were frequent escapes north to freedom from Abolition House, likely a cog in the underground railroad. These early years in Washington proved formative for Lincoln.

In 1861, now in the White House, Lincoln could gaze out his office window and see the Confederate flag flying across the Potomac. Washington, DC, sat on the front lines of the Civil War. Vulnerable and insecure, the capital was rife with Confederate sympathizers. On the crossroads of slavery and freedom, the city was a refuge for thousands of contraband and fugitive slaves. The Lincoln administration took strict measures to tighten security and established camps to provide food, shelter, and medical care for contrabands. In 1863, a Freedman’s Village rose on the grounds of the Lee estate, where the Confederate flag once flew.

The president and Mrs. Lincoln personally comforted the wounded troops who flooded wartime Washington. In 1862, Lincoln spent July 4 riding in a train of ambulances carrying casualties from the Peninsula Campaign to Washington hospitals. He saluted the “One-Legged Brigade” assembled outside the White House as “orators,” their wounds eloquent expressions of sacrifice and dedication. The administration built more than one hundred military hospitals to care for Union casualties.

These are among the unforgettable scenes in Lincoln’s Citadel, a fresh, absorbing narrative history of Lincoln’s leadership in Civil War Washington. Here is the vivid story of how the Lincoln administration met the immense challenges the war posed to the city, transforming a vulnerable capital into a bastion for the Union.

8 pages of illustrations




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  • 975.302 Win, Nonfiction

Publish Date




Format: Book
Author: Winkle, Kenneth J
Title: Lincoln's citadel : the Civil War in Washington, DC / Kenneth J. Winkle.
Publisher Date: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
Subject: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Washington (D.C.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Isbn: 9780393081558 (hardcover)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: 975.302 Win
Bib Id: 442315

Format: Book
Author: Winkle, Kenneth J.
Title: Lincoln's citadel : the Civil War in Washington, DC / Kenneth J. Winkle.
Edition: First edition.
Publisher, Date: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
Description: xvi, 486 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Subjects: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Subjects: Washington (D.C.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (pages 417-463) and index.
Contents: "Abolition house" -- "Getting the hang of the house": Congressman Abraham Lincoln -- "At war with Washington": the abolitionists -- "A western free state man": Lincoln and slavery -- "Is the center nothing?": Lincoln's middle ground -- "Cleaning the devil out of Washington" -- "A wide spread and powerful conspiracy": warnings and threats from Washington -- "The way we skulked into this city": claiming the presidency -- "This big White House": the Lincoln family -- "White and black, all mixed up together": the African American community -- "A swift and terrible retribution": striking the first blows -- "Order out of confusion": preparing for war -- "I was slow to adopt the strong measures": loyalty and disloyalty -- "If I were only a boy I'd march off tomorrow": the tide of sick and wounded -- "An unknown something called freedom" -- "Tinkering experiments": toward emancipation -- "Freedom triumphant in war and peace": emancipation in Washington -- "We must use what tools we have": toward total war -- "On the soil where they were born": the former slaves -- "The step which, at once, shortens the war": the Emancipation Proclamation -- "Defend what is our own": the limits of freedom -- "Never forget what they did here": honoring the fallen -- "Worth more than a victory in the field": the end in sight -- Epilogue: "The country was ready to say amen".
LCCN: 2013017206
ISBN: 9780393081558 (hardcover)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: 975.302 Win