The first Federal occupation of Stafford began in April of 1862 when Union troops of Brigadier General Dan Sickles crossed over from Maryland.
Three years before, Sickles made a name for himself when he killed his wife’s lover in front of the White House. His trial was covered by the media and the nation clamored to follow it via newspapers. His defense attorney, Edwin M. Stanton (later to become Lincoln’s Secretary of War), got an acquittal for Sickles. This was the first time that a defendant was acquitted using a plea of “temporary insanity.”