The fort which is located on 13th and Quackenbos streets NW was part of the extensive fortifications built around Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War. It was constructed in 1861 as “Fort Massachusetts” and later enlarged by the Union Army and renamed “Fort Stevens” after Brig. Gen. Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia, on September 1, 1862. Throughout the Civil War, Washington was separated from enemy territory by the width of the Potomac River. In 1861, Fort Stevens was surrounded by cornfields and farmhouses, guarding the important Seventh Street Road (now Georgia Avenue).
By July 1864, most Union soldiers were needed for Ulysses S. Grant’s assault on Richmond. Washington’s forts were manned by inexperienced volunteers and convalescent soldiers. As at Bull Run, civilians came out to watch the fighting and among them was President Lincoln, who insisted on watching the proceedings from a parapet inside the fort. He became a target for Confederate sharpshooters; a surgeon standing near the president was hit. Eventually, he was ordered down. Today, a stone monument next to a cannon immortalizes the incident.
American Guest House in Washington DC