The skirmishing continued into July 12, until Early finally decided Washington could not be taken without heavy losses too severe to warrant the attempt. His corps withdrew that evening, headed back into Montgomery County, Maryland, and crossed the Potomac River on July 13 at White's Ferry into Leesburg, Virginia. Early remarked to one of his officers after the battle, "Major, we didn't take Washington but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell." It would be nearly another day before the Union pursuit under Wright would set out after them.
According to Stimmel, "he made a bee line for Fort Stevens, about as fast as the old coach horses could take him, and arrived before the whole of the Sixth Corps got there. On arriving at the Fort, the President left his carriage and took his position behind the earthworks of the Fort, which left us at liberty for the time being to put in the time as we saw fit." The President stood on the ramparts of Fort Stevens, next to an officer who was wounded. As one soldier reported the incident: "Old Abe and his wife was in the Fort at the time and Old Abe and his doctor was standing up on the parapets and the sharpshooter that I speak of shot the doctor through the left thigh, and Old Abe ordered our men to fall back."4 Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. allegedly shouted at the President: "Get down, you damn fool!" Before the President left the fort, he said good-bye to the future Supreme Court justice, adding, "I'm glad to see you known how to talk to a civilian." John Hay's July 12, 1864 diary entry read:
The President seemed in a pleasant and confident humor today. The news from Sherman, if confirmed, is good -- that the enemy intend to desert Atlanta.
4. John H. Cramer, Lincoln Under Enemy Fire, p. 27.