Thursday, February 7, 2008
Washington, D.C., is a relatively flat city, but as you move northward from the downtown area, you rise in elevation from river level up to 429 feet above sea level. The highest point in the city is Fort Reno, which lies just east of Wisconsin Avenue and a few blocks north of Washington National Cathedral, the second highest point in the city.
During the U.S. Civil War, Fort Reno was the city's first line of defense against the Confederate Army. It was involved in the only Civil War battle to take place within the borders of the Capital City. In July 1864, CSA General Robert E. Lee sent Confederate troops to the city to take advantage of its low troop levels. Led by General Jubal A. Early, 22,000 Rebs of the 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia marched from Maryland. Federal troops noted Confederate troop movement and alerted troops stationed at Fort Stevens, four miles to the east on the other side of Rock Creek. The battle was known as "The Battle of Fort Stevens."*
Fortunately, Federal troops under the command of Major General Horatio D. Wright arrived in Washington at the same time as General Early's troops. The two forces skirmished for almost three days before Early realized the city couldn't be taken without heavy losses and the Confederate troops retreated.
Today, Fort Reno is home to one of D.C.'s several water storage and pumping stations. This photo was the closest I could get as the facility is surrounded by a fence. Nonetheless, there is a large park surrounding the facility and it is a popular gathering spot on July 4th for watching the fireworks downtown.
Here's an interesting tidbit. The actual highest physical point in Washington, D.C., is the Washington Monument, which stands at 555 feet. In terms of topography, though, Fort Reno is the high point in this fair city!
* Fort Stevens is a few blocks from where I live. I'll head over in the next couple of days and take pictures.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08