station on the top of Soldiers' Home, which overlooked the country, and the enemy would have been enabled to move in his works to meet us. Under the circumstances, to have rushed my men blindly against the fortifications without understanding the state of things, would have been worse than folly.
If we had any friends in Washington
none of them came out with any information, and this satisfied me that the place was not undefended. . . . After interchanging views with my brigade commanders, being very reluctant to abandon the project of capturing Washington
, I determined to make an assault on the enemy's works at daylight the next morning, unless some information should be received before that time showing its impracticability, and so informed those officers.
During the night a despatch was received from General Bradley T. Johnson
, from near Baltimore
, informing me that he had received information, from a reliable source, that two corps had arrived from Grant
's army, and that his whole army was probably in motion.
This caused me to delay the attack until I could examine the works again, and, as soon as it was light enough to see, I rode to the front and found the parapets lined with troops.
I had, therefore, reluctantly to give up all hopes of capturing Washington
, after I had arrived in sight of the dome of the Capitol
and given the Federal
authorities a terrible fright.”
This was the last time Washington
was threatened; and the fortifications saved the city.
The garrison unaided could not have done so.
[The defenses of Washington presented many problems in the nature of formal fortification and concentration of troops that did not apply to the capital of the Confederacy.
Lee's army was the surest defense of Richmond whose fall necessarily followed the defeat of the Confederate forces.
Nevertheless, a scheme of defense was early adopted and this will be found discussed in an interesting chapter, in the preparation of which Captain Hunt has received the valuable assistance of Colonel T. M. R. Talcott, commanding the engineer troops of the Army of Northern Virginia.--the editors.]