GDG- Neither this Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out against a large force

Andy Mills amills at
Wed Jan 25 10:08:12 CST 2012

In reading one of the articles posted earlier ( ), on page 144, Halleck is quoted as to have said:  "Neither this
Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out against a large force. They must depend for their security very much upon the co-operation of your army"

It has been said in this forum that Washington was a nearly impenetrable fortress and the ANV could never actually capture the city.

But this quote makes it seem that he feared very much for the safety of DC and I have to believe Lincoln would also feel this way, or Halleck wouldn't be able to send such telegrams to the army.

Did they see a reality that is we don't see today?  Were the forces that defending Washington DC impressive on paper, but troops to which you couldn't rely on when the fighting got heated?  In 1863, how many troops defended the capitol and were they mostly green troops with short enlistments?   What makes us today claim DC was unable to be taken when the military men of the time thought the exact opposite?

I know there are a lot of questions, but I am trying to figure out the differences in beliefs and if this is all with the hindsight of history to know Lee / ANV / Confederacy never had the capabilities the Union / US high command believed they were capable of.


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