For one quarter of his presidency Abraham Lincoln journeyed three miles between the White House and what was then known as Soldiers' Home. Walt Whitman recounted seeing Lincoln pass by many days, noting the increasing lines of care and concern on the face of the president. Mary Lincoln, after being out of the White House for a year, lamented that Soldiers' Home had been a most important place to her.
In the summer of 1864, the Confederates were so close to this summer White House of the Lincolns that the president was forced to return to the actual White House.
On one of his sojourns from the White House to Soldiers' Home, Lincoln heard a shot which spooked his horse and he lost his hat. The guards decided to investigate; they found the president's hat--with a bullet hole in it! Many people had often expressed concern about this trek that the president often took alone. Typically, Lincoln's own regard for his safety did not keep him from pursuing this route that kept him near soldiers, where he could talk with them and hear their concerns.