Black History Month: The Underground Railroad

February 5, 2016

February is Black History Month. It calls upon all Americans to honor African-American expressions of sacrifice and heroism throughout history. The earliest endeavors in the national civil rights struggle have much to do with the outcry against human bondage.

Prior to the Civil War, organized abolitionists were aided by the loosely interconnected Underground Railroad. Neither underground nor railroad, the UGGR, as it was known to patrons, was a scattered, clandestine network of antislavery diehards and freed blacks. Secret routes and safe houses dotted the antebellum landscape spanning from Georgia to Canada. Between the peak years of 1830 and 1865, it helped as many as one hundred thousand fugitive slaves escape to freedom.

Harriet Tubman (Library of Congress)

Harriet Tubman (Library of Congress)

Harriet Tubman, a UGGR conductor, remarked upon on her eight years spent freeing slaves: “I can say what most conductors can’t say—I never run my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” Tubman became a revered voice in the protest against the debasing injustices of slavery. In 2013, President Obama established the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. You can read the park pamphlet available through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Today, the Underground Railroad is an atypical national park. It wasn’t until the 1990s that it came under the jurisdiction the National Park Service (NPS). After conducting a study of UGGR operations and primary routes, NPS was entrusted with its preservation and interpretation. You can read the act establishing the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom on GPO’s govinfo.gov.

024-005-01185-4In addition, the U.S. Government Bookstore makes available the following National Park Service publications:

Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide

Underground Railroad: Official National Park Handbook

Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book

The Underground Railroad connected sympathizers with freedom seekers, freed with enslaved. The untold numbers of underground success stories sprouted above ground into a vast nexus of advocates and defenders. Unquestionably, the UGGR ride to freedom helped lay the tracks for the civil rights movement of the 20th century. During this Black History Month, may we admire that extraordinary effort to liberate a people and the larger African-American journey to freedom in all its forms.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE RESOURCES?

Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


The Wright Stuff: Skies & World Transformed

December 16, 2015

They called Dayton, Ohio home and used the wind-shaped dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as a lift off point. Both places were testing grounds, temporary assignments. For it was the unopened blue that beckoned them skyward and homeward. On December 17th, 1903, the Wilbur and Orville Wright stuck their first—and the world’s first—successful flight in a heavier-than-air, mechanically controlled machine. Twelve seconds in the air turned into over 100 years of aviation progress.

024-005-01212-5Those sibling inventors behind the defining technology of the last century are the subject of a National Park Service handbook entitled “First Flight, The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane.” In his forward, astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn defers to the duo as the “first astronauts. Their initial short flight opened our quest to reach beyond the world we know. They were the first test pilots.”

In ‘First Flight’, noted Wright biographer Tom D. Crouch recounts their bicycle shop beginnings, hometown life, and aeronautical experimentations. Full page maps and fold-outs tell of the history, visionaries, and mechanics of flight. Pull-out quotes decorate the margins, lending a first person feel to Wilbur & Orville’s story.

Eye witnesses thought the pair were foolhardy—a few spokes short of a wheel. Kitty Hawk resident Millie Daniels said, “A lot of folks thought the Wrights were a little touched, you know…they would  imitate the way birds flew…turn their arms like wings and run through the dunes while watching the gulls.” The birdie brothers weathered the pitch-and-roll of small gains and minor setbacks. In search of strong headwinds to propel their glider, they eventually moved their production from Ohio to the sand flats of the Outer Banks.

The iconic first flight of the Wright brothers in their 1903 Wright Flyer (Credit: NPS Wright Brothers National Memorial)

The iconic first flight of the Wright brothers in their 1903 Wright Flyer (Credit: NPS Wright Brothers National Memorial)

Pitched in tents battered by bitter nor’easters, the Wrights set out to beta test the product of their scientific inquiries. Several seasons of experiments led to design changes that led to repairs that led to reattempts. Finally, on a cold morning of perfect conditions, sustained human flight was achieved. On his first glide into the air, Orville remarked, “It was only a flight of twelve seconds, and it was uncertain, wavy, creeping sort of flight at best; but it was a real flight at last…”

A foolhardy flying machine became a phenomena of human achievement. The Wright Brothers made their home above the world and consequently changed the world.

How do I obtain First Flight?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


Celebrate American Indian Heritage

November 20, 2014

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush proclaimed November as “National American Indian Heritage Month,” as requested in Public Law 101-343. Since then, proclamations and legislation have been passed to recognize the history and culture of Native American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes during the month of November. You can read many of the past proclamations and legislation on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

For example:

There are many documents related to designation of November as a celebration of Native American heritage. In addition, many documents about the celebration are available in Federal depository libraries located nationwide or online through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

History

The effort to recognize and celebrate American Indian Heritage at a national level began a century ago. Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker, director of the Rochester Museum in New York and founder of American Indian rights organizations, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to commemorate a day for “First Americans” in 1912.

Image courtesy of nps.gov

Image courtesy of nps.gov

Several declarations by American Indian Groups have designated a day in May as well as September for commemorating Native Americans. Additional historical information is available on the U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs Web Site. The site also provides a list of Congressional Resolutions and Presidential Proclamations. Many of those are available through FDsys, or in the collections at Federal depository libraries. The Library of Congress also has a Web site with information about Native American Heritage Month.

Federal Observance of an official day or week to celebrate Native culture began in 1976 with a Congressional Resolution authorizing President Ford to declare on October 8, “Native American Awareness Week.” Every year thereafter, a proclamation has been made to celebrate a day or month in honor of American Indians. According to a Library of Congress information page about the history, it began in 1986 with Public Law 99-471 and President Reagan’s Proclamation 5577 declaring November 23-30, 1986 as “American Indian Week.” In 1992, Public Law 102-188 declared the entire year of 1992 as “Year of the American Indian.”

President Obama made the 2014 proclamation on October 31. You can check the White House Web Site for other Presidential Proclamations. Historical proclamations are included in publications such as the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States and the U.S. Statutes at Large. These can also be accessed in Federal depository libraries nationwide.

Native American Day – October

Many States in the U.S. also celebrate a Native American Day.

Recently the California State Legislature proclaimed the Fourth Friday in September as Native American Day. American Indian Day has been celebrated in Tennessee since 1994.

native american image 1

Image courtesy of nps.gov

In South Dakota, the second Monday in October is celebrated as Native American Day, rather than Columbus Day. Codified State Law 1-5-1.2 states that “Native Americans’ Day is dedicated to the remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much history” to the state of South Dakota.

Other annual events occur throughout the year, such as the annual Native American Heritage Days held in Grand Canyon National Park. The twenty-first annual event was held this year from August 7-8, 2014

Educational Resources

Whether celebrating a day, month or year, you can take any opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of North America.

The National Library of Medicine recently created the exhibition Native Voices: Native People’s Concepts of Health & Illness. Visitors can see the exhibit in the rotunda gallery of the National Library of Medicine, or visit the traveling exhibition. The Exhibition opened in Honolulu Hawaii on July 18th, and is currently in Sulphur, Oklahoma until October 24, 2014. For those unable to visit in person, the Web site includes videos, timelines, and resources about the exhibition and content.

Image courtesy of The University of Iowa (Digital Library)

Image courtesy of The University of Iowa (Digital Library)

The National Archives contains a wealth of records relating to American Indians from about 1774 through the 1990s. Their Web site provides a helpful research guide for accessing these collections. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has created an informative guide on Native American Heritage through the Indian Housing’s Office of Native American Programs (ONAP). The U.S. Department of Defense also has a detailed Web guide created for the 2001 American Indian Heritage Month.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is a valuable educational resource visitors to Washington, D.C. can explore. Those unable to visit in person can explore some of the collections online.

There are also several books and series published by Federal agencies and available from the Government Printing Office bookstore to learn more about Native cultures, history, and recent events:

  • Handbook for North American Indians series047-000-00415-2This series, produced by the Smithsonian Institution is an extensive reference set providing an encyclopedic summary of the prehistory, history, and cultures of the aboriginal peoples of North America.
  • The Eagle Book serieseagle book series imageThis is an award winning series developed through collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention Native Diabetes Wellness Program, the Indian Health Service Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention, and the Tribal Leaders Diabetes committee. What began as the book “Through the Eyes of the Eagle” is now a full series written for elementary and middle school children and includes a guide for educators and communities.
  • Nursery Manual for Native Plants: A Guide for Tribal Nurseriesnursery manual for native plantsAgricultural Handbook 730, produced by the Forest Service, is a coordinated effort with the Virtual Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources and representatives from tribes across the United States to create a manual with special attention to the uniqueness of Native American Cultures. There is also access to the full PDF online.
  • The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to ChildhoodThe Children's Bureau LegacyHistory of the bureau from 1912-2012 is detailed here, including information about Indian Boarding Schools and the Indian Adoption Program.
  • Iroquois Warriors in Iraq – This publication analyzes the role of the Iroquois’ Warriors of the UW Army Reserve’s 90th Division, which was deployed to Iraq in 2004.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore Web site at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Cathy Wagner is an Outreach Librarian with the Outreach & Support team in the Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) unit at the Government Printing Office.


National Public Lands Day: Orchards and Fruit Trees

September 23, 2014

The leaves on the trees are changing colors, pumpkins seem to be popping up everywhere, and it is getting darker earlier. Fall is in the air and coinciding with the beginning of fall is National Public Lands Day, a celebration that began in 1994 and takes place on the last Saturday of September where volunteers across the country work together to beautify public lands. Also coinciding with the season is the annual trip to the orchard to pick apples and drink cider. In the spirit of fall, apple picking, and National Public Lands Day, we are looking at two companion publications from the National Park Service about orchards and fruit trees.

024-005-01266-4Fruitful Legacy: A Historic Context of Orchards in the United States, with Technical Information for Registering Orchards in the National Register of Historical Places

This 2009 publication follows the history of fruit trees, their presence in national parks, and how to properly register the trees. The first half and more interesting half of the publication informs readers on how fruit trees came to the United States:

  • From 1600-1800, European settlers planted seeds in irregular patterns to grow fruit trees for the purpose of producing cider and animal feed, not to produce edible fruit.
  • During the 1800s, commercial orchards were established where trees were planted in a specific pattern with the purpose of eating raw fruit. This practice started on the east coast and migrated west along with the expansion of the country.
  • From the late-1880s to mid-1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was established and a new generation of growers started using pesticides, mechanical irrigation systems, cold storage, and mechanized equipment.
  • From the mid-1900s to present, the practice transitioned from amateur, small-scale farm orchards to professional commercial orchards. It was determined that small, dwarf trees produced greater yield and were more profitable.

024-005-01304-1014Historic Orchard and Fruit Tree Stabilization Handbook

Published in 2012, this publication follows Fruitful Legacy and specifically focuses on preserving orchards and fruit trees in California. Orchards and fruit trees are growing across 15 percent of California State Parks. Established overtime by Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, and the settlers from the Gold Rush, orchards and fruit trees can live from 50-200 years depending on the type of tree. The publication goes in depth on how to grow, maintain, and protect orchards and fruit trees and is intended for professionals who work for the California State Park Systems. However, the information can be adapted by anyone who wants to know best practices for growing fruit trees whether it is an entire orchard or a single tree.

Embrace fall and celebrate National Public Lands Day with a trip to your local orchard!

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

About the Author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.


A Star-Spangled Anniversary

September 12, 2014
Image: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem http://www.starspangled200.com/

Image: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of our National Anthem (http://www.starspangled200.com/)

September 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the United States National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In September 1814, after a 25-hour long battle with the British, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a 42-foot American flag in victory. A young Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-born attorney, was aboard a ship in Baltimore’s harbor to negotiate the release of an American prisoner and was so inspired by the patriotic sight that he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Image source: nps.gov

Francis Scott Key (nps.gov)

If you’re lucky enough to be in Maryland during the month of September, the Star-Spangled Spectacular is a free festival that celebrates the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem. Tall ships, Navy ships, and the Blue Angels will come to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Landside festivals include living history demonstrations. Events crescendo on September 13, 2014 with two star-studded patriotic concerts and extraordinary fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor, which will broadcast live on PBS’ Great Performances. Learn more here.

You can check out the National Park Service’s Fort McHenry page for details about the park, its history, and the festivities.

The U.S. Government Printing Office offers publications and resources to help you learn more about this pivotal point in American history.

citizens almanacAvailable through the U.S. Government Bookstore, The Citizen’s Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States, contains information on the history, people, and events of the United States. This resource is primarily targeted at immigrants hoping to become U.S. citizens. However, it can also serve as a patriotic resource for elementary school-age children through freshmen in high school. Teachers of social studies and civics programs may want to have a copy handy to use in classrooms. Some examples of things covered in the publication are: rights and responsibilities of citizens, the Star-Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Gettysburg Address, the Constitution, landmark decisions of the Supreme Court, and much more. A related resource is the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit.

GPO’s Federal Digital System also has a variety of Government documents related to the Star-Spangled Banner:

Star Spangled Banner Flag on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of History and Technology, around 1964

Star Spangled Banner Flag on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History and Technology, around 1964

GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications provides access to a fascinating document from the Smithsonian, National Museum of American History: The Star-Spangled Banner: State-of-the-Flag Report, 2001. This document describes the history of THE flag that inspired our National Anthem, where it has traveled since 1814, the conservation project undertaken to preserve it for future generations, and more.

Also check out this information from the Smithsonian on the Star-Spangled Banner. You can also learn about the flag’s preservation project here. You can also learn more about Francis Scott-Key here.

You can also visit a Federal depository library near you to discover what other publications the Federal Government has to offer on this incredible moment in American history. Locations are nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.


50 Years of the Wilderness Act

September 3, 2014

keeping in wildFifty years ago on September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. This established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and designated 9.1 million acres of wildlands for preservation. In the last 50 years, Congress has added an additional 100 million acres to the System.

Lyndon Johnson signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 (nps.gov)

Lyndon Johnson signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 (nps.gov)

The 757 wilderness areas within the NWPS are managed by all four Federal land managing agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. To learn more about the Wilderness Act and the NWPS, visit the University of Montana’s wilderness.net.

The Wilderness Institute, sponsored by numerous Federal agencies, organizations, and individuals, has planned a wide array of events and projects to commemorate this historic legislation. Check it out here.

The U.S. Government Printing Office offers access to an extensive variety of publications and resources related to the Wilderness Act.

We’ll start with the U.S. Government Bookstore. Interesting publications can be found grouped by agency here:

001-001-00686-6Of particular interest to this topic is a publication from the U.S. Forest Service: Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Fire and Nonnative Invasive Plants. This 16-chapter publication was designed to help increase understanding of plant invasions and fire. The nonnative invasive species that pose the greatest threat for fires are described in detail. Also detailed are the emerging fire-invasive issues in each bioregion through the United States. This publication is the perfect resource for fire management and ecosystem-based management planning.

001-000-04738-8Another publication from the Forest Service, How a Tree Grows, describes the science of how leaves, roots, trunks, soil, and more work together to grow a tree.

024-001-03629-1Also an interesting publication related to this topic is Malheur’s Legacy: Celebrating a Century of Conservation, 1908-2008, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Southeast Oregon. This book tells the story of this Refuge’s first hundred years, as well as the story of the Native Americans who first inhabited the land, the early European settlers, how Theodore Roosevelt established it as a bird refuge, and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. This amazing wildlife refuge is home to 320 species of birds and 58 mammal species. You’ll also want to check out the National Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide. It contains a map showing national wildlife refuges that provide recreational and educational opportunities and provides tips for visiting national wildlife refuges. The publication also lists refuges in all 50 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and describes the best wildlife viewing season and features of each refuge.024-010-00724-9

For access to more Wilderness Act resources, you can visit GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).

Through the CGP, you can access the U.S. Forest Service’s report, Keeping it Wild: an Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character across the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Interagency Wilderness Character Monitoring Team—representing the

Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management, DOI Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI National Park Service, DOI U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Forest Service—offers in this document an interagency strategy to monitor trends in wilderness character across the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Also accessible through the CGP is The National Atlas of the United States of America. National Wilderness Preservation System, from the U.S. Geological Survey. This map of the National Wilderness Preservation System for the United States shows all designated Wilderness areas, and the color of each area depicts which of the Federal agencies administers the Wilderness. In addition to the map, insets on the front side show wilderness photos, a summary of the wilderness legacy, and quotes from citizens about what wilderness means to them. The back side of the map provides general information about the wilderness system in text, images, and sketches. In addition, a table lists acreage, year of establishment, and administrative information for each Wilderness.

GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) also offers resources related to the Wilderness Act:

You can also visit a Federal depository library near you to discover what other publications the Federal Government has to offer on the Wilderness Act, the NWPS, wildlife, and much more. Locations are nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.

Cheers to the great American treasure that is the National Wilderness Preservation System! Happy 50th, and here’s to many more.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.

 


Civil War Defenses of Washington & the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens

July 10, 2014

Gettysburg, Manassas, and Antietam are famous Civil War battles remembered for President Lincoln’s address, the turning point of the war, and the bloodiest battle of the war. They are also battles that took place in states surrounding Washington, DC – within 100 miles of the nation’s capital. This week marks the 150th anniversary of the only and relatively unknown battle that took place in Washington, DC, the Battle of Fort Stevens.

024-005-01232-0[1]A Historic Resources Study: The Civil War Defenses of Washington by the Department of Interior’s National Park Service follows the history of efforts to defend Washington, DC from the city’s conception in the 1790s to the Civil War and the Battle of Fort Stevens. This publication is very descriptive painting a clear picture of what Washington, DC was like during the Civil War. The Union constructed a fortification system to protect Washington, DC that by the end of the war consisted of 68 enclosed forts and batteries, emplacements for 1,120 guns, and 20 miles of rifle-trenches. Because the city was the capital and the location of war departments and bureaus it had the largest collection of supplies, equipment, and materials. In the Foggy Bottom area where the Kennedy Center, George Washington University, and the Department of State currently sit, there was a depot of 30,000 horses and mules and the Washington Monument grounds housed an Army cattle-slaughtering yard.

Battle-of-Fort-Stevens[1]

Company F, 3d Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery assembled at Fort Stevens. Photo by William Morris Smith, courtesy Library of Congress.

The Battle of Fort Stevens is the grand finale of the publication. After establishing the condition and role of the Washington, DC during the war, the book goes into step-by-step detail of the battle. Here is my perceived synopsis of the Battle of Fort Stevens: General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army gave orders to Lieutenant General Jubal Early to threaten Washington, DC, which had remained largely untouched during the war. Early led his troops through Virginia and Maryland, taking part in different skirmishes along the way. On July 9 at the Battle of Monocacy near present-day Frederick, Maryland, Early defeated the Union army, thereby opening up the route to Washington, DC. The Battle of Monocacy temporarily stalled Early, giving General Ulysses Grant more time to send reinforcement troops to defend the capital – ultimately derailing Early’s efforts. The Battle of Fort Stevens started on July 11 and ended with Early withdrawing his troops by July 13. The Confederate troops moved towards the Capitol along Georgetown Pike and Rockville Pike culminating in the Battle of Fort Stevens, which took place with the Capitol dome in sight – six miles away – on what was mostly open farm area around present-day Georgia Avenue near Rock Creek Park. The reinforcements sent by Grant and reports suggesting more Union troops were coming caused Early to retreat and end his pursuit of the city.

battle-of-fort-stevens-925[1]

Battle of Fort Stevens Map courtesy Civil War Preservation Trust

GPO’s early history is intertwined with the Civil War. One of GPO’s most significant print jobs was the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation produced in September 1862. Aside from production work done by the agency as part of the war effort, some GPO employees were part of the Interior Department Regiment organized to protect the city. With the threat of General Early closing in on Washington, employees were called on to defend the city but not needed when the reinforcement troops sent by General Grant arrived.

During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, think beyond the famous battles of the war and remember the skirmishes and other important battles like the Battle of Fort Stevens that may be unknown but are just as important.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.


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