Monday, April 25, 2011

"Siege of Washington" by John and Charles Lockwood

One hundred fifty years ago today--on April 25, 1861--the United States, especially those in the capital city, breathed a little easier. On that day, the famed 7th New York Infantry and the 8th Massachusetts arrived in Washington, ten days after President Lincoln's called for troops to suppress what with the firing on Sumter had become the now hostile rebellion of America's southern states. The capital, many believed, was now safe.

Those ten days, from April 15 to April 25, had been incredibly nerve-wracking to the young nation, now torn asunder. With the capitulation of Sumter later followed by the secession of Virginia and the seizing of the United States military stations at Harpers Ferry and Norfolk, many believed Washington would surely come under attack. Fear gripped the nation; anxiety pervaded the highest levels of government. Many in the Confederacy clamored for such an action, including many high ranking military men and politicians. The papers especially demanded Washington be attacked. That it never did would later be seen as one of the Confederacy's "lost opportunities" of the conflict, since many felt the capital, ill-prepared and under-defended, could have easily fallen.

In The Siege of Washington brothers John and Charles Lockwood, both lifelong residents and historians of DC, investigate these trying days, and thus address a chapter of the conflict not frequently discussed, recounting in vivid detail the events of these days and, more importantly, describing the moods of the two nations, the Union and the Confederacy, during the war's earliest days.

Having just completed a formal review of this title which I hope will soon appear in Civil War Times, I will not go on at great length here. But I will say that this is a much-needed title, well-written, and certainly worthy of inclusion on the shelves of your Civil War library.

For more information on the book, click here.

The Lockwood brothers have also recently contributed an article to the New York Times's "Disunion" blog, titled "State of Siege." Read it here.

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