On April 15, 1861 Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer troops to suppress the rebellion and defend the city of Washington. The logistics of housing and feeding this incoming swarm of humanity quickly overwhelmed the Federal Government. Troops were billeted in virtually every government property including the Treasury Building, City Hall, the Patent Office, the White House, and most significantly, the Capitol itself. Iron barricades and cannon were placed in the first floor halls in case of Confederate penetration. With Congress out of session until July, the incoming soldiers made themselves very much at home, staging mock debates in the Senate and House chambers, taking turns defacing the walls with graffiti, swinging from ropes in the great rotunda, and leaving human waste and vermin everywhere they went.
Soldiers at the Capitol  
Reproduction from Stereoscopic View
May 9, 1861  

Union troops drilling on the broad flat ground on the East side of the Capitol.

Walter Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Convalescent Soldiers Passing Through Washington to Join Their Regiments.
Harper’s Weekly, Volume VI, Number 307 (November 15, 1862), Cover.
The New York Fire Zouaves Quartered in the House of Representatives at Washington D.C.
Harper’s Weekly, Volume V, Number 230 (May 25, 1861), 333.

The Fourteenth Massachusetts Regiment Marching Up Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, In A Storm.
Harper’s Weekly, Volume V, Number 244 (August 31, 1861), 549.
The Eighth Massachusetts Regiment in the Rotunda of the Capitol, Washington.
Harper’s Weekly, Volume V, Number 230 (May 25, 1861), 327.

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