“Get down, you damn fool!” Oliver Wendell Holmes To Abraham Lincoln

On July 12, 1864, President Lincoln stood atop the parapet of the fort to witness the battle and came under direct fire of Confederate sharpshooters. It is the only time in American history in which a sitting president came under direct fire from an enemy combatant. Many individuals claimed to be the one to encourage President Lincoln down from the parapet. The most notable individual was a young officer named Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. His remarks to the president were short and straightforward:

“Get down, you damn fool!”

Holmes would eventually serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, 1902-1932.


From President Lincoln Under Fire at Fort Stevens National Park Service



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