150th anniversary of Civil War battle in Frederick recalled in week-long activities.
MONOCACY NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD, FREDERICK, Md. — It was 150 years ago that General Jubal Early led about 15,000 Confederate forces across the Potomac River and into Maryland. His Rebel eye was on the Nation’s Capital and a federal prisoner of war camp at Point Lookout, Md., where he hoped to free confederate POW’s and return them to battle.
Meanwhile, nerves were jangled in Washington because the city was only lightly defended. Most federal troops were deployed south, many near Richmond, where Union General U.S. Ulysses S. Grant pressed Confederate General Robert E. Lee in an attempt to end the Civil War.
Union General Lew Wallace, who would go on in life to write the novel Ben Hur, along with about 6,600 federal troops, boarded B&O rail cars in Baltimore and were rushed to Monocacy Junction near Frederick, Md., to mount a defense against the invading rebel forces.
Thus raged the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864. Both Wallace and Early each suffered up to 1,500 killed, wounded and captured. While Confederate forces won the battle, it delayed Early’s advance on Washington by a full day, allowing Grant enough time to move troops from Richmond to Washington to defend the city.
“It was called the battle that saved Washington,” says National Park Service Ranger Mike Hosking.
Commemorative activities are continuing through this weekend, through the week, and next weekend at Monocacy National Battlefield, marking the 150th anniversary of the battle.
“We’re giving folks a glimpse of what would have been seen here 150 years ago, the uniforms the armament,” Hosking says.
Canvas pup tents are pitched on the rolling hills of the battlefield, and campfires are stoked. Men in blue and butternut, some carrying muskets, march in the woods and fields. The Civil War reenactors are bringing history to life.
“It’s part of our history,” says Bob Hines of Olney, a history teacher at Richard Montgomery High School, dressed in the gray of a confederate artilleryman.
“Probably 40 percent of my classes have come to America from somewhere else and they desire to know what this country’s about, so I think it’s important every generation learn,” Hines says.
Commemorative events include artillery and infantry demonstrations, music, special activities for children and battlefield hikes.