The Civil War in Washington, DC



In 1860, the Union capital, Washington, D.C., was a sleepy city of approximately 62,000 residents.

As capital of the United States, Washington became a significant civilian leadership, military headquarters, and logistics center during the Civil War. Defending the capital became a major priority of the War Department, and often dictated military strategy. In many ways, the war transformed Washington from a rather modest semi-rural city into the urban center of American federalism, as population, government, infrastructure, public and private buildings, and visitation all dramatically increased during the conflict, setting the stage for the rapid expansion of the city throughout the latter half of the 19th century.