Crosshairs on the Capital

Jubal Early’s Raid on Washington, D.C., July 1864 - Reasons, Reactions, and Results

James H. Bruns

A new perspective on Jubal Early's raid on Washington, D.C. in 1864.
Date Published :
September 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
maps and photographs
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Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636240114
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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A new perspective on Jubal Early's raid on Washington, D.C. in 1864.

In an era of battlefield one-upmanship, the raid on the Nation’s Capital in July 1864 was prompted by an earlier failed Union attempt to destroy Richmond and free the Union prisoners held there. Jubal Early’s mission was in part to let the North have a taste of its own medicine by attacking Washington and freeing the Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout in southern Maryland. He was also to fill the South’s larder from unmolested Union fields, mills and barns. By 1864 such southern food raids had become annual wartime events. And he was to threaten and, if possible, capture Washington. This latter task was unrealistic in an age when the success of rifle fire was judged to be successful not by accuracy, but by the amount of lead that was shot into the air. Initially, the Union defenders of the city were larger former slaves, freemen, mechanic, shopkeepers and government clerks, as well as invalids. They might not have known much about riflery and accuracy, but they were capable of putting ample lead on the long until Regular Union regiments arrived. Jubal Early hesitated in attacking Washington, but he held the City at bay while his troops pillaged the countryside for the food Lee’s Army needed to survive.

This new account focuses on the reasons, reactions and results of Jubal Early’s raid of 1864. History has judged it to have been a serious threat to the capital, but James H. Bruns examines how the nature of the Confederate raid on Washington in 1864 has been greatly misinterpreted—Jubal Early’s maneuvers were in fact only the latest in a series of annual southern food raids. It also corrects some of the thinking about Early’s raid, including the reason behind his orders from General Lee to cross the Potomac and the thoughts behind the proposed raid on Point Lookout and the role of the Confederate Navy in that failed effort. It presents a new prospective in explaining Jubal Early’s raid on Washington by focusing on why things happened as they did in 1864. It identifies the cause-and-effect connections that are truly the stuff of history, forging some of the critical background links that oftentimes are ignored or overlooked in books dominated by battles and leaders.

About The Author

Jim Bruns is the former Director of the History and Heritage Command’s Museums
Operations Division. Mr. Bruns also led the National Museum of the United States Navy, the Navy’s “flagship” museum, located on the Washington Navy Yard. During his 35-year federal and not-for-profit career Jim Bruns has served as a
Smithsonian curator, museum director, and deputy to the Assistant Secretary for
American Museum and National Programs. Jim Bruns is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the author of 11 books.



Chapter 1 – The Confederates Turn the Tables
Chapter 2 – Into the Valley
Chapter 3 – The Rebels are Coming
Chapter 4 – Defending Washington
Chapter 5 – Across the Potomac
Chapter 6 – 9 July – Monocacy Junction
Chapter 7 – 9 and 10 July – Taking Shelter
Chapter 8 – The Way to Washington
Chapter 9 – The Rebels Take Their Toll
Chapter 10 – Outside Baltimore
Chapter 11 – 11 July
Chapter 12 – 12 and 13 July
Chapter 13 – 14 July
Chapter 14 – Back Again
Chapter 15 – Point Lookout
Chapter 16 – Fort Stevens
Chapter 17 – Early’s Exit



"In writing this work, Bruns went beyond purely military matters, to look at the opinions, apprehensions, frustrations and experiences of the local inhabitants about their security, how to cope with being in the midst of moving armies hostilities, and the general stresses of war...Highly recommended."

- The NYMAS Review

"Bruns’ monograph has added new fuel to a long smoldering story."

- America's Civil War

"...succeeds in revealing why the Raid happened, and sheds light on how this second attack by hostile forces on the nation’s capital—the first by Britain in the War of 1812—came to pass. Add this volume to your library."

- Military Images Magazine

"Bruns examines noncombatant opinions, apprehensions, and frustrations regarding precise updates concerning their security, what to do in preparation of the hostilities, and what was taking place in July 1864."

- David Marshall, President of the Miami Civil War Roundtable

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