This Week in the Civil War - #872
On Monday, July 11, 1864 Jubal Early’s Confederates entered the environs of Washington, D.C. and attacked Fort Stevens with artillery. That afternoon and on the following day, Abraham Lincoln visited the fortification. On the 12th a youthful Union officer, the future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, seeing an unidentified civilian needlessly exposing himself to enemy fire cried out, “Get down, you fool” and was stunned to realize that civilian was Abraham Lincoln. The president ducked for cover just as a Union officer near him was blown apart, struck directly in the chest by a Confederate shell. A shaken president soon was moved to safety. Thus it was in July 1864 that Abraham Lincoln became the first and only seated, American president to risk his life in a combat situation.