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Volume 35, No. 8 – August 2022

The President’s Message:

I am so pleased to announce that the Civil War Round Table will be meeting on Wednesday, August 10th at 7:00PM at the Lake Clarke Shores Town Hall.  Future meetings will continue to be on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:00PM at the Town Hall.  After a long hiatus, I look forward to seeing everyone at the August meeting and all upcoming meetings.  Masks are encouraged but optional.

Directions to the Lake Clarke Shores Town Hall:

1. Exit I-95; go westbound on Forest Hill Blvd. The first traffic light is Pine Tree; continue to the next traffic light which is Fla Mango Road

2. Make a left onto Fla Mango Rd.

3. Proceed 0.4 mi. and turn left onto Barbados Road                                                       

4. Continue down Barbados Road. Destination on left. The Police building is to the right. The Town Hall to the left.


August 10, 2022 Program:

 President Lincoln’s Cottage

President Lincoln, Mary, and son, Tad, spent June to November in 1862, 1863, and 1864 living in the 32 room Gothic Revival house on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home approximately three miles north of the White House.  The house was built in 1842 for George Washington Riggs, a prominent businessman and founder of Riggs National Bank.  Construction began in 1842 and was completed in1843 and was situated on 241 acres atop the highest point in Washington.  Riggs sold the house and acreage to the federal government.  It was purchased to create a home for veterans.  U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis provided the impetus to buy the property.  Early residents were known as inmates until 1859 when the “Military Asylum” was officially renamed the “Soldiers’ Home.”

Lincoln first visited the Soldiers’ Home in March, 1861and planned to spend summers there to escape the Washington sweltering temperatures.  Government business prevented the family from moving there until the summer of 1862.  He commuted daily from the White House to the rural retreat.  The President’s secretary, William Stoddard, wrote “Mr. Lincoln usually rides in on horseback, about nine o’clock in the morning accompanied by ‘little Fred’ (Tad) on his pony.  His health is better this season than last and he manages to keep up his spirits in spite of the burdens of anxiety,”

When they arrived at the summer retreat in June, 1862, they were mourning the death of their son, Willie.  Mary was despondent and in her own words “in need of quiet.”  Lincoln was also in search of relief from the stress of the War.

In the autumn of 1862, the Lincolns shared the Soldiers’ Home grounds with three hundred veterans and soldiers of the Presidential military guard.  Protection was paramount after a number of security breaches at the Soldiers’ Home.  There were always reminders of the War’s horrors as burial details quickly filled in a hastily established cemetery adjacent to the property.  On average thirty to forty burials were conducted in plain view of the Lincoln summer home. 

While at the Cottage, Lincoln worked on the plan for emancipation.  A preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862 while at the summer retreat.  It went into effect January 1, 1863.  Politicians, favor seekers, and diplomats found their way to the Cottage.  However, the President found time to relax by indulging in storytelling, reading Shakespeare, the Bible, poetry, and contemporary humorists.  He chatted with soldiers of his guard, took leisurely carriage rides and walks with Mary, and played games with Tad.  Mary encouraged friends to visit and dine with her and the family.

His daily ride to the Cottage gave him an opportunity to interact with soldiers.  This in turn gave Lincoln firsthand news from the front.  Walt Whitman often saw the President on his morning commute and wrote the following.  “Mr. Lincoln generally rides a good-sized easy-going grey horse, is dressed in plain black, somewhat rusty and dusty; wears a black stiff hat, and looks about as ordinary in attire &c., as the commonest man.  I saw very plainly the President’s dark brown face, with deep cut lines, the eye, &c., always to me a deep latent sadness in expression.”   (Note: In Walt Whitman’s quote “&c.” was used in the 1800’s for the present day “etc.”)  The president made the summer retreat his home for a total of thirteen months.  He was last seen riding the grounds on the afternoon of April 13, 1865 just one day before his assassination. 

Two other presidents lived in the “Soldiers; Home”, Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur.  In 1889 the Cottage was official named “Anderson Cottage” after Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame who was a founder of the Home.  In 1973, the Cottage, three other structures, and six acres were designated as a National Historic Landmark.  After an eight year restoration the Cottage was opened to the public in February, 2008.

President Lincoln's Cottage

Last changed: 07/21/22