Thursday, April 16, 2009

Circles and Squares Roundup


No it's not a lesson in geometry. Simply put, I was thinking the other day that I know who most of the squares and traffic circles in DC are named after, but I'm fairly certain most others who live here do not. Now, that may have something to do with my time as a fifteen-year-old shut-in Civil War buff; a phase I imagine the majority of people did not endure. Therefore, I thought it might be nice to do a little write-up on who the various historical figures whose names we use each day were, given that the vast majority were, in fact, Civil War figures of varying degrees of importance. So, here are a few Civil War-related circles and squares you may have passed through, in no particular order:

Thomas Circle - General George Thomas, who made up for his rather commonplace name by having lots of fun nicknames: "Pap," "The Rock of Chickamauga," "The Sledge of Nashville." General Thomas was a level-headed, competent Union General in the Western Theater.

McPherson Square - James B. McPherson, another competent general of the Western Theater, who died in 1864 just outside Atlanta.

Dupont Circle - Rear Admiral Samuel DuPont, who did not fare well during the Civil War. Though he was the first officer to command Union ironclads, he never distinguished himself during the war and retired in 1863 after a failed assault on Charleston.

Farragut Square - Admiral David Farragut, who distinguished himself in the taking of New Orleans, as well as Mobile, AL. He was the highest-ranking naval officer in the United States during the Civil War.

Scott Circle - General Winfield Scott, the highest-ranking officer in the American army at the time of the Civil War. General Scott was truly a hero of the Mexican-American War, and was so old and unhealthy by the time of the Civil War that he resigned in 1861.

Logan Circle - General John Logan, yet another competent but undistinguished Western Theater commander. See my Bizarre Bites post for more on his later political career.

Sheridan Circle
- General Phil Sheridan, an able Western commander who was transferred to the Eastern Theater late in the war, and succeeded in gaining control of the long-contested Shenandoah Valley. Later an Indian killer.

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  1. What about Franklin Square? Will there be a part two?

  2. I pass through Thomas Circle multiple times a day, and I am now officially calling it "The Rock of Chickamauga Circle." Thanks.

  3. I wanted to focus on Civil War folks, since they are something of a specialty of mine. As for a part two, I think that might be in order given that I skipped things like Lafayette Square. Especially interesting might be looking into what the various parks and squares were called in L'Enfant's original plan.