Of Spiking Footballs and Bullets

This is the last time (for this incident anyway) that I’m going to write about spiking of footballs and such. I thought perhaps a little historical context would be appropriate.

On 11 July 1864 Jubal Early and his Confederates approached Fort Stevens (in the Washington defenses). At the time the fort was held by home guards, clerks and convalescent troops. Fort Stevens is on the Northwest side of Washington. See map.

During the night troops of the 11th Corps of the Army of the Potomac landed and marched through the streets of Washington to reinforce the line. The were met by no less a personage than Abraham Lincoln.

The next day Lincoln was at Fort Stevens standing on the Parapet watching the Confederates when an officer standing next him was wounded. Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. allegedly shouted at the President: “Get down, you damn fool!” Before the President left the fort, he said good-bye to the future Supreme Court justice, adding, “I’m glad to see you known how to talk to a civilian.”

I will note that President Lincoln did not campaign on directing the defenses of Washington D.C. while under (literal) fire, in fact, as far as I know he never mentioned it, John Hay did remark that on the evening of 12 July he was in a very good humor.

Apparently things are different now.

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