Washington as A remarkable city.
You, my son, have heard, and perhaps read, how Rome was once saved by a goose. There were, as you know, my son, a great many geese abroad during the siege of Washington; but it was not through any act of theirs that the city was saved. As I love you dearly, my son, so is it my first desire to instruct you correctly on all subjects in which the good of our great country is concerned. Before concluding my history of this remarkable siege, I shall prove to your satisfaction that Washington was saved, and the fate of the nation determined, by a barrel of whisky.
Let me say to you, my son, that the siege of Washington, however much people abroad may laugh at it, was one of the most extraordinary events in the history of modern warfare. It took place in the year of our Lord, 1864; and there is no other event in the war of the great rebellion to compare with it. You will, therefore, my son, understand why it is that the history of an event of so much importance should be written only by an impartial historian—one who has courage enough to tell the truth, and no official friends to serve at the expense of honor. I must tell you, also, my son, that the great military problem of this siege has afforded a subject of deep study for our engineers, from General Delafield downward, who have puzzled their wits over it without finding a solution.
Should we be unfortunate enough to have another great war, and the nation again be compelled to give itself up to the profession of arms, the conduct of this siege would afford us an excellent example, as well as a profitable key to the art of war, as understood by our War Department in the said year of our Lord, 1864. This, then, is another reason why this great military event should be faithfully rendered. I will also add, my son, that though I may fail to instruct you after the manner and style of the most profound historian of our day, I will at least make my account of this great siege so plain and simple that you will comprehend it in all its multiplicity of parts.
But first let me tell you a few things about Washington, the capital city of this great nation. You, my son, may have seen one hundred other cities, and yet it will remind you of none of them. It is very elongated, and spreads over a great deal of ground, apparently for personal inconvenience. Indeed, my son, it has the appearance of having been dropped down late of a Saturday night by some eccentric gentleman who had a large quantity of architectural odds and ends on hand, and had no other use for them. It has been famous always for its acute angles and broad avenues. The former, I have heard more than one person say, were skillfully arranged by a very accommodating French engineer, for the special benefit of persons who went home late of nights and were liable to get confused on the way. The population