GDG- Neither this Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out agains...

John Lawrence jlawrence at
Wed Jan 25 20:33:34 CST 2012

 Barnard took it over and extended it.

CWMHTours at wrote:

>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>That's good info, Jack.
>I should look into Meade's work on the forts. 
>In both of Ben Coolledge's books "Mr Lincoln's Forts" and  "Sword and 
>Shield"  I don't recall his name being mentioned.
>For the bulk of the war it was mostly Gen John Barnard who  kept tweeking 
>the forts,  moving cannon around, Etc.
>One smart thing he did was to build Ft Craig, near the modern  DIA outside 
>of Ft. Myer.  It prevented to Conf's from using the hill as an  arty 
>position against the forts outside Arl Cem.
>John Barnard leaves a good military legacy.
>I will look into Meade.  He probly was up at Ft  Pennsylvania-  later Ft 
>Great....  This is just great....  When there is  some historical question 
>like this I don't sleep at night until I chase it down  and get an answer....
>Dammit, Jack....  Now you're gonna cost me another night  of sleep trying 
>to find out what Meade on the forts in DC.
>Dammit!   I need my sleep.....   Beauty  rest-  I am getting uglier as I 
>A  Loyal Neo-Anti Unionist,
>In a message dated 1/25/2012 8:15:55 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
>jlawrence at writes:
>Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:
>In 1861,  Meade was put in command 
>of the  Department of the Potomac, not to be confused with the Army of the 
>Potomac. As  commander of the Department, he was responsible for the defense 
>of Washington.  Under the direction of general Halleck, the defenses were 
>constructed, Meade  being directly responsible.
>I'm not sure where you are coming from on your  criticisms of numbers of 
>the defenders.
>The topic at hand is how well the  defense was staffed had Lee forced 
>himself  to
>the gates.
>My  thought was that should Lee had attacked Washington, it would not be is 
> impregnable as some seem to think.
>Not sure what your tirade is all about  bit is good to deal with a man of 
>CWMHTours at wrote:
>>Esteemed GDG Member  Contributes:
>>;-{)   !!!!
>>Meade had nothing to do with the Circle of Forts  around  DC.  Where do 
>>come by  that?
>>"Not fully manned"...  It was NOT intended to be fully   manned except in 
>>the case of a military emergency.  Ie July   1864.
>>There was 30K troops, trained as Heavy Arty.  They  knew  how to shoot a 
>>100lb Parrott which is not something you  undertake lightly.   These guys 
>>damn good  professionals.
>>Not fully manned....What do you want them to  do? Stand at full  alert 
>>the ramparts when there was no  Rebel withing 20 mi?
>>The Circle of Forts was in constant  flux,  Gen John  Barnard, et all were 
>>always trying to tweek  the defenses just a little  better.  They did a 
>>good  job.
>>You don't need to man the ramparts when there is no  one  around.  When 
>>were not skinny dipping in the  Potomac or partaking of  the 600+ brothels 
>>[I think that # is in  Margaret Leech's book "Reveille in  Washington"  
>>-Fabulous  book.  You gotta buy it.  It is very  hooomoorous.]
>>"AoP was first line of defense for DC"   No no   no!
>>First line of defense was the forts.
>>The  AoP could go away and with 30k men plus the Veteran  Reserve,  plus  
>>staff of the Navy Yard, plus the quartermaster corps in  west  DC and 
>>Georgetown, plus the quartermaster staff in Alexandria, plus  the  
>>staff at Giesboro Point manning the re-horse  station that's a LOT  of 
>>Benjamin Franklin Cooling  wrote an excellent book on the  matter.  "Sword 
>>and  Shield"
>>In his book he compares the DC forts to the anvil and  the AoP  as the 
>>hammer.  Read the book.  Difficult toi  refute.
>>And the west side of Balt was pretty open to  invasion.   Defenses were 
>>No no  no, Jack!~
>>Don't make me tell you again!  
>>A  Loyal Neo-Anti Unionist,
>>In a message dated 1/25/2012 4:28:25 P.M. Eastern  Standard Time,  
>>jlawrence at  writes:
>>Esteemed  GDG Member  Contributes:
>>Meade had construcyed a multiple  fort  defensive line of some 33 miles 
>>It is my impression thoyugh  that it wasa not fully  manned,
>>rom Coddington we know that defending  Pennsylvania was  the bigger 
>>than DC though, with Stanton  establishing the  first ever National 
>>with a commanmd center i  Harrisburg,  under Curtain (even though it was a 
>>A I  read  your blurb (did not go into the OR you cited), Halleck was just 
>>pushing  Hooker, whom he did noot like, a little  harder.
>>Obviously, the AoP was  the DC first line of  defense, which is that 
>>is saying.
>>But  who  knows.
>>To respond to some earlier speculation about a what  happens  if Lee 
>>the aoP in detail, which means renders it  militarily  ineffective as a 
>>fighting force, obviously they  exfiltrate to Dc and see  if Bobby lee 
>>to test his  luck.
>>Lee, if he is smart, goes home  anyway. He might try  Philidelphia or 
>>baltimore though, as the British  learned, it was  defensible to a fault.
>>The Harrisburg thing is, IMHO,   militarily unsound.
>>More certainly though is Lee is not going  to defeat  Meade in detail, but 
>>rather drive him off the fish  hook. In which case he  goes back to Pipes  
>>And Lee gets degeated in   detail.
>>----- Original  Message ----- 
>>From:  "Andy Mills"  <amills at>
>>To: "GDG"   <gettysburg at>
>>Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012  10:08  AM
>>Subject: GDG- Neither this Capital nor Harpers Ferry  could long hold out  
>>against a large  force
>>> Esteemed GDG Member   Contributes:
>>> In reading one of the articles posted earlier (  
>/essay4.pdf   ) 
>>> , on page 144, Halleck is quoted as to have said:   "Neither  this
>>> Capital nor Harpers Ferry could long hold out  against a large  force. 
>>> 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 
>>> fortress and the ANV   could never actually capture the city.
>>> But this quote  makes it  seem that he feared very much for the safety 
>>> 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 
>>> defending  Washington  DC impressive on paper, but troops to which you 
>>> couldn't   rely on when the fighting got heated?  In 1863, how many 
>>>  defended the capitol and were they mostly green troops with  short 
>>>  enlistments?   What makes us today claim DC  was unable to be taken  
>>> 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 
>>> know Lee / ANV / Confederacy never had the   capabilities the Union / US 
>>> high command believed they were  capable  of.
>>> Thanks,
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