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The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union
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The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  282 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
On April 14, 1861, following the surrender of Fort Sumter, Washington was "put into the condition of a siege," declared Abraham Lincoln. Located sixty miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the nation's capital was surrounded by the slave states of Maryland and Virginia. With no fortifications and only a handful of trained soldiers, Washington was an ideal target for the Con ...more
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published April 11th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published March 1st 2011)
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Fredrick Danysh
Jul 20, 2016 Fredrick Danysh rated it really liked it
This is a well documented historical analysis of the first two weeks of the American Civil War concentrating for the most part on the building up the defenses for Washington, D.C. It is a good read for the Civil War buff and is easy to read and follow events.
Jul 18, 2011 Du rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-govt
I had high hopes for this book. I thought... oooh an unknown chapter of the Civil War. Well it is unknown because it is really insignificant. Each of the 12 days of the siege of Washington, which took place following the fall of Ft Sumter, gets a chapter. The down side is that the chapter has what occurred that day, which might not be much, plus back story and filler that ruins the story. I think this is a case of what should be a long article filled with fluff and filler to make it a 200+ page ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
Most accounts of the crisis leading up to the start of the Civil War typically end with the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, an event that is generally regarded as the first shots of the conflict. Yet this conclusion ignores the equally dramatic aftermath of the bombardment. With war now a certainty, the Lincoln administration scrambled to prepare by issuing a call for troops. Yet as they did so the very structure of government was crumbling around them, as Southerners in the milita ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Aligd848 rated it it was amazing
This is a really interesting and well written book about a bit of history that I did not know much about - the dangerous vulnerability of the city of Washington during one week following the fall of
Fort Sumpter, with virtually no army to protect it from what should probably been a devastating invasion by Confederate forces. The protection of the White House by troops led by the very interesting James Lane of Kansas is quite interesting. The treachery of the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland ma
Mar 28, 2012 Joanna rated it really liked it
Someone else who reviewed this book was disppointed because "nothing happened". Nonsense! This was a telling of the tension, fear, and uncertainty of the days following Fort Sumter, when Washington D.C. faced possible capture by Southern rebels and the frantic rush to get troops, any troops, into Washington to protect Lincoln, the Treasury, and the seat of US government.

The auther simply tells the story, both on a wide-angle level and on a personal level. I enjoy books like this, with lots of q
Mar 04, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it
Good book. Interesting premise that could have changed the entire course of the civil war. Why didn't the confederacy attack Washington when they had a chance?
Sep 02, 2012 TJ rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Held some promise but just not interesting enough. And jumped around a lo, not organized in coherent manner. Overall not worth it.
Paul Haspel
Jun 25, 2015 Paul Haspel rated it really liked it
Shelves: washington-dc
A siege is a relatively formal tactic, in military terms – as set and prescribed in its movements as a minuet. The army of one side surrounds a strategically important site of the other side – a castle, a fort, a city – and cuts said site off from the rest of the world, with the goal of compelling their enemy to surrender said site. There were sieges during the American Civil War – at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863, and at Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864-65. To that list, authors John and Charles ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Pamela rated it it was amazing
On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumpter in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. The next day, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort to Confederate General Beauregard. Thus, began America’s Civil War.

During the years leading up to the firing on Fort Sumter, Southern sympathizer Secretary of War John Floyd had posted the majority of Union troops west of the Mississippi while Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey, another Southern sympathizer, had ordered most of the US nav
Dec 24, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it
At Ft. Sumpter, the confederacy began in April 1861. In a few days, the South captured weapons at Harper's Ferry and could have attacked Washington's Norwood Naval Yard. Lincoln called up 50000 volunteer troops but the nation really had no standing army. Each state would call up their military militias or create them. Often a wealthy man would offer to be become a officer and people would. volunteer for that regiment. The militias were long in coming from the North to Washington. Pro-slavery gro ...more
Douglas Audirsch
Apr 09, 2012 Douglas Audirsch rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting window into a little known piece of our national history. It was from a pro-union insider's perspective. The Confederates are viewed as extremists and the unionists are considered patriots. The old canard that the victors write the history books proves true here. I enjoyed reading it immensely even though it slowed down toward the end and seemed to drag. However, the majority of the book was very interesting with tremendous detail.

This is the story of what happened in
Jan 09, 2017 Danielle rated it really liked it
*Book received through the Amazon Vine Program*

The Civil War started 150 years ago. And on this anniversary year, publishers are launching quite a few books about it. "The Siege of Washington" should definitely be one of those new Civil War books that you should buy or put on your To-Read list. It's certainly not a book that's full of dry fact after fact. John Lockwood and Charles Lockwood take the reader through 12 Days after the fall of Fort Sumter. They tell the story in a way that while read
Bob H
Dec 04, 2014 Bob H rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
Published in time for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War's start, this may be the first book about this story: the isolation and near-capture of Washington. Some books have touched on it -- Lincoln's aides' memoirs, Gore Vidal's novel "Lincoln", Mary Alice Will's "The Confederate Blockade of Washington, D.C." (indeed, the rebels would be blocking sea traffic on the lower Potomac for some months to come). This book, however, focuses on the 12 days in which Washington had almost no Federal sold ...more
Katie Hanrahan
Aug 20, 2011 Katie Hanrahan rated it really liked it
The Lockwoods have taken a small slice of American Civil War history and crafted an intriguing and detailed account of the first few days of that war. Little has been previously written about a very unsettled time, when Ft. Sumter was taken by rebel forces and no one knew when Virginia, and possibly Maryland, would secede.

Through careful research, the authors paint a picture of Washington, D.C., at a time when there was a strong possiblity that the nation's capital would fall to the Southern sl
Gary Braham
Feb 11, 2013 Gary Braham rated it really liked it
"The untold story" The reason the story isn't really talked about is because, ultimately, nothing happened. However, the potential for disaster was great. And during this crisis, the Union and Confederacy were very engrossed in what was going on. If you were living in DC, this was your life during those two weeks. The fact that the fate of our nations capital was undetermined for that length of time, and most people don't know the story, makes this book an interesting find.

The story itself prog
Aug 08, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a great take on what the beginning of the Civil War was like in Washington, DC. Essentially after Fort Sumter and as Virginia seceded, lots of people in Washington were afraid that the Confederates would attack Washington, which was largely undefended. Most of the federal army was out west, and militias in the Northern states took a long time to arrive. The lovely people of Baltimore, adhering to Maryland's slave state categorization, did their best to stop the progress of trainloads of ...more
Jul 01, 2013 Jays rated it it was ok
A good, if slightly plodding, account of a little known early chapter in the American Civil War. In retrospect, it's almost always easy to see the multiple little points where the path of a war could have diverged and had a different outcome and this book illustrates how if the South had taken action on Washington DC sooner or been more organized in its secession, the outcome of the war could have been very different - not only with a different make-up of North America, but for the number of liv ...more
Sep 22, 2015 Ari rated it really liked it
It's April, 1861. Half the country is in revolt. The military and civilian branches of the Federal government are both riddled with fools and traitors. The capital is lightly defended, and surrounded by rebels. There are thousands of loyal troops collected in the North, but to get to Washington they somehow must pass through disloyal Maryland.

This book is the story of the days between Fort Sumter and the opening of a reliable communication link from DC to the North. We all know that the story en
Rk Wild
Jan 17, 2016 Rk Wild rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, own, war
April 12, 1861: Fort Sumter's fall to the Confederacy marks the beginning of armed combat of the U.S. Civil War. Within days, Virginia secedes from the Union and Maryland is making noises of doing the same. One question on the minds of residents in the very lightly defended Washington, D.C. surrounded by hostile troops and citizenry: can the Union rush defenders to the beleaguered Capital city faster than the Confederacy can mount an attack? With each chapter representing a single day from April ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Lexi rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Fascinating and pretty well-written. Tells the story of the first 12 days of the Civil War while DC was waiting to be overrun. Not having grown up in this part of the country, my knowledge of the Civil War is pretty slight and this was quite informative. Sadly, the editing/printing is of lower quality than I'd expect for Oxford Uni Press--multiple glaring grammar and textual errors, missing sentences, etc. Content-wise, the only downside (for me) is that the context of the war was glossed over a ...more
Charles Ressler
Oct 08, 2012 Charles Ressler rated it really liked it
This is a good book for the casual Civil War buff. Not many people today are aware of how vulnerable Washington was at the onset of the war. This book gives the reader a look at what was going on in Washington at this time and the efforts made to shore up the pitiful defenses that were in place. The war could have been over early if the South had decided to attack Washington in those early days.
Jennifer Burke
Apr 11, 2012 Jennifer Burke rated it liked it
While I'm still relatively early in the 12 days recounting ... the book so far is a good read and well done. As someone who once spent a great deal of time & effort studying the use of archival materials, I'm thrilled to see primary sources such as letters, journals, diaries and govt docs with such a starring role in the telling of important national stories. Hope the rest of the book continues to be good.
Sep 01, 2011 Sonyajohnston rated it it was amazing
Over the years I have read several books on the Civil War. I had never thought about Washington right after the fall of Fort Sumter. This book gave a glimpse of what took place for twelve days after the Civil War began. It was amazing to me how Lincoln handled Baltimore. I am totally amazed after reading the story how Washington was not overrun and controlled by the Confederacy. If you are interested in the Civil War this is a must read.
Mar 15, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Really effective use of primary source quotes (not too many, just the right amount to move the story along, and from the right people) that provide a description of what Washington was like in April 1861. Other related events outside of Washington (e.g., Baltimore's interruption of rail lines and communications) are relayed in efficient and entertaining manner as well.
Jul 02, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
I had wondered at times why the Confederate Army didn't just up and take Washington, D. C. This book did a good job of answering my question. The quotes from the people involved, from residents of D. C. to Union soldiers coming to help defend the nation's capital to Lincoln and his family, brought the events alive for me.
Feb 27, 2013 Cindy rated it it was ok
It was somewhat interesting, but it was a challenge getting through it. I enjoyed learning more about that time period but I felt like they wanted the reader to think the South was so close to attacking, when in reality, it was never even close. It wasn't a bad read, just kind of boring I guess. Glad I read it and learned about that time period, but was sure glad to finish!
Jul 12, 2012 Kaigham rated it really liked it
Interesting account of what happened in the 14 days after South Carolina seceded from the Union, when the Confederacy could have easily occupied Washington, DC, to when enough Union troops arrived. Harrowing accounts of the extra effort it took the troops from New York and Massachusetts to get through Baltimore and Maryland countryside to get to Washington, D.C.
Sep 13, 2011 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Excellent read. Really expains the tension between the feds and Maryland particularly Baltimore. Most Civil War histories gloss over these first few days of the Civil War and this really expounds then in a way that is very entertaining and informative
I didn't realize how precarious the fate of Washington during the first few days of the Civil War. I also didn't realize how pro-secessionist Maryland was and how easily it could have tipped the whole dynamic of the war.
D. Ennis
Mar 04, 2012 D. Ennis rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the book. Great material. Well organized. Could have been 5 stars if there weren't a bazillion typos and grammatical errors. Yikes.
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