Fort Totten was a medium-sized fort, a seven-sided polygon with a perimeter of 270 yards (250 m). It was located atop a ridge along the main road from Washington to Silver Spring, Maryland, about three miles (5 km) north of the Capitol, and a half-mile from the Military Asylum or Soldiers' Home, where President Abraham Lincoln spent his summers while president. The fort was of typical design for its time, with earth walls some 15 feet (4.6 m) thick and 8 feet (2.4 m) high. Outside the walls (or "ramparts") was a large ditch or dry moat over seven feet deep and twelve feet wide, and outside that was a broad cleared area surrounding a barrier of tree branches, brambles and general debris (or abatis). Along the inner surface of the wall were gun platforms for several types of cannon, some firing over the parapet, others firing through openings in it, and a banquette, a kind of shelf on which soldiers could stand to fire over the wall.