Altered Landscapes: The 76th New York Infantry, Gettysburg, and the Defenses of Washington

Civil War Defenses of Washington


The Civil War wrought death and destruction across the American landscape. In Washington D.C., Federal soldiers constructed an elaborate system of fortifications to protect the national capital. The 76th New York Infantry served in the Northern Defenses in 1862, garrisoning earthworks that witnessed the brunt of the rebel army’s assault on Washington during the Battle of Fort Stevens in 1864. Before embarking on campaign with the Army of the Potomac, the 76th witnessed first-hand the breakdown of social order: civilian properties were occupied to construct the capital forts; formerly enslaved African American self-emancipated, seeking refuge and employment in army camps adjacent to the defenses; and relations between soldier and civilian devolved into violence. This experience was not uncommon for Federal soldiers who first served in forts before transferring to the front.

Join the National Park Service for an exploration of the altered landscapes of the Civil War. Gettysburg National Military Park and the Civil War Defenses of Washington collaborated on this special program that highlights the 76th New York Infantry at the Defenses of Washington and Gettysburg, and Fort DeRussy during the Battle of Fort Stevens and post-war preservation. Park Rangers Jon Tracey and Steve T. Phan are featured in the special digital program.

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18 minutes, 12 seconds



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