A House Divided: A City Transformed


. . .On entering the capital, you feel that you are indeed approaching the scenes of actual conflict; a company of soldiers, with glistening bayonets, receive you at the station; strong patrols go to and fro through the streets, to pick up stray soldiers and officers…

A Jewish Soldier, “Four Hundred Thousand Men”
The Jewish Messenger

For the Union, Washington was the wartime hub. Over 30,000 soldiers were dispatched to forts encircling the city. Federal buildings, schools, and churches were converted to barracks and hospitals. Battles raged nearby in Manassas, Virginia (1861 & 1862), and Frederick, Maryland (1862).

War brought the city unexpected prosperity. Skyrocketing prices and demand for food, lodging, and household goods enriched merchants, tailors, and boarding-house operators. Six kosher restaurants were among the more than 450 restaurants operating in the city during the Civil War. 

Soldiers in front of Washington Monument

Union forces pose in front of the unfinished Washington Monument on what would become the National Mall.