Frederick Douglass: The Voice of the Slaves

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Voice of the Slaves

Frederick DouglassThe most well-known former slave during the Civil War era was Frederick Douglass. He was an African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. Before and during the war Douglass was a preeminent abolitionist who wrote and spoke about slavery throughout the North. He was a friend of John Brown and later, Abraham Lincoln.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey had been born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland to Harriet Bailey. It was rumored that his father was their master. The day and year of his birth is unknown. Douglass who changed his name after he escaped slavery was taken from his mother at an early age and raised by his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey, until he was seven. Douglass later wrote:

The opinion was … whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion I know nothing…. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant…. It [was] common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. I do not recollect ever seeing my mother by the light of day. … She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone.

Douglass lived in a number of households in his early years. At one the mistress, Sophia Auld, taught him the alphabet, although it was illegal to teach slaves to read. Her husband disapproved but the lessons continued. He learned to read from neighboring white children and the people whom he worked for until one day his mistress observed him reading a newspaper and snatched it away from him. He continued to teach himself in secret.

Douglass was taken back by his owner, Thomas Auld, from his brother Hugh and rented to Edward Covey who had a reputation as a slave breaker. Covey beat Douglass regularly until one day Douglass rebelled and fought back. After losing the confrontation with Douglass Covey never beat him again.

Douglass attempted to escape several time from 1833 until his final successful attempt in 1838. He had met Anne Murray, a free black woman from Baltimore, and fallen in love. Murray provided him with a sailor’s uniform and he escaped by train to the North. Maryland had a large free black population and it would not have been an unusual sight to see an African-American sailor. Within 24 hours Douglass was in a safe house in New York. Douglass would write later about his thoughts of freedom:

I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the ‘quick round of blood,’ I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: ‘I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions.’ Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.

Twelve days after his escape Douglass and Murray were married by a black Presbyterian minister. At first the couple settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts where they adopted Douglass as their married name. It was here that Douglass first became aware of the abolitionist movement. Eventually, he was asked to speak at a meeting of the Bristol Anti-Slavery Society where he told his compelling story.

With the encouragement Douglass became a speaker on the American Anti-Slavery Society‘s Hundred Conventions project, a six-month tour of meeting halls throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Though only about 23 years old, Douglass was able to conquer his nervousness and eloquently speak about his life as a slave.

In 1845, Douglass’ first autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was published. Although some skeptics questioned his ability to write the book was a success. Within three years of its publication, it had been reprinted nine times with 11,000 copies circulating in the United States; it was also translated into French and Dutch and published in Europe.

Douglass published three versions of his autobiography during his lifetime (and revised the third of these), each time expanding on the previous one. The 1845 Narrative, which was his biggest seller, was followed by My Bondage and My Freedom in 1855. In 1881, after the Civil War, Douglass published Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, which he revised in 1892.

Frederick Douglass went on to become the preeminent voice of the slaves in America. He was to travel widely and associate with some of the most consequential people in the era. By the time of the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country, known for his orations on the condition of the black race and on other issues such as women’s rights. His eloquence gathered crowds at every location. His reception by leaders in England and Ireland added to his stature.

In his first autobiography, Douglass defined his views about slavery in clear and stark terms. He condemned the hypocritical Christianity of the South that used religion to justify slavery.

I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

In his second autobiography, Douglass wrote about the denial of marriage to slaves:

The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it’s privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it’s humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?

Again in his first autobiography Douglass talks about the contentment of the uneducated slave versus the discontent of one who has been able to learn:

I have observed this in my experience of slavery, – that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.

Frederick Douglass seemingly summed up his life to that point in his 1845 autobiography. It actually summed up his entire life because he struggled for success his entire life.

Without Struggle There Is No Success






McClellan at Antietam

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Command Decisions

Battle of AntietamMaj. Gen. George McClellan’s final battle as commander of the Army of the Potomac was Antietam or as Southerners call it, Sharpsburg. The bloodiest single day battle in American history, Antietam is considered a tactical draw, even though the Union Army held the field while Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia retreated back across the Potomac into the safety of Virginia.

After the debacle of the Seven Days Battles, McClellan had withdrawn his huge army south to the James River where it was under the guns of the Union Navy. In August the bulk of McClellan’s command was transferred to the Army of Virginia, commanded by Maj. Gen. John Pope. Almost immediately Pope was engaged by Lee in a series of battles culminating in his defeat at Second Manassas or Bull Run.

After Pope’s defeat, Lincoln reluctantly returned McClellan to Washington where he combined both his force on the Peninsula and Pope’s shattered army into a strengthened Army of the Potomac. Lincoln told his aid John Hay, “We must use what tools we have. There is no man in the Army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops of ours into shape half as well as he. If he can’t fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight.”

Meanwhile, Robert E. Lee shorn of any adversaries (or so he thought) crossed the Potomac and invaded Maryland on September 2nd. So began the great chase North. The two forces met at Harpers Ferry which Stonewall Jackson masterfully captured on September 15th. Another wing of Lee’s army fought pitched battles were fought on September 14 for possession of the South Mountain passes: Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps.

When Lee realized that he was overmatched he ordered his army to withdraw west to Sharpsburg. Meanwhile, an Indiana soldier discovered Robert E. Lee’s orders to his army wrapped around several cigars. McClellan confided to a subordinate, “Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home.”

Unfortunately, many historians believe that McClellan failed to fully exploit the strategic advantage of the intelligence because he was concerned about a possible trap (posited by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck) or gross overestimation of the strength of Lee’s army.

Many historians say that even though McClellan brought a larger army that the Confederates to Antietam, he brought one soldier too many: himself. At Antietam, McClellan fought a piece-meal battle. Rather than ordering a general attack in the morning, the battle unfolded from north to south in a piece-meal fashion. These tactics allowed Lee’s outnumbered forces to move defensive forces to the points of the Union attacks.

McClellan also confined his movements across Antietam Creek the the various bridges that spanned the waterway. He believed that the creek was unfordable, yet units of Richardson’s Division forded it at the center of the battlefield opposite. My own second great grandfather recorded this in a latter affidavit.

In addition, McClellan has been heavily criticized for holding back his reserve force under the command of Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter. When Col. Francis C. Barlow and 350 men of the 61st and 64th New York saw a weak point in the line and seized a knoll commanding the sunken road. This allowed them to get enfilade fire into the Confederate line, turning it into a deadly trap.

The Confederate line broke and created a massive hole in their defenses but there was no force to follow up and rout the enemy. Porter is said to have told McClellan, “Remember, General, I command the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic.” McClellan took his implied advice and failed to commit his reserves into a battle that might have been won if he had used his forces aggressively.

McClellan failed to make the correct command decisions at Antietam and it cost the Union Army a clear victory and an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army. The destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia would have left Richmond virtually defenseless and with their capital city captured the South would have likely lost the war in 1862.




Economic Warfare Against Northern Towns

This entry is part 16 of 18 in the series The Hard Hand of War

The Burning of ChambersburgIn June 1864, General Robert E. Lee ordered Lt. Gen. Jubal Early to cross the Potomac and menace Washington. Lee’s hope was that the Union government would order General Ulysses S. Grant to divert troops from his Overland Campaign to defend the capital. During their time on the northern side of the Potomac River, Early and the Army of the Valley carried out a campaign of economic warfare against some of the towns in their path.  His goal was to raise much needed money and supplies for the Southern cause.

Three towns in particular were to be the targets of his campaign of economic warfare: Hagerstown and Frederick in Maryland and Chambersburg further north in Pennsylvania.

Early’s Army crossed the Potomac on July 5-6, 1864 and he almost immediately dispatched Brig. Gen. John McCausland with a 1,500-man cavalry force to the town of Hagerstown on July 6th with instructions to demand $200,000 in currency and collect as much in the way of supplies that he could find. The Confederates claimed that it was to repay damages caused by Maj. Gen. David Hunter’s earlier campaign in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

McCausland felt that the sum was too large for the town to pay so he reduced it to $20,000 which was collected from the residents. McCausland had been ordered to burn the town unless they paid the ransom.

The money was collected and turned over to the Confederates. At the same time his troops were collecting a substantial amount of supplies that had been left behind by the Fifth United States Cavalry. They included 120,000 bushels of oats, 400 cavalry saddles and other equipment, in addition to clothing for the troops.

On July 9th, Early arrived in Frederick. He instructed his commissary officer to demand supplies from the town. The note of demands reads as follows:

“Hon. Mayor: I am directed by Lieut. Gen. Early, commanding, to require of you for the use of his troops, (500) five hundred barrels of flour, (6,000) six thousand pounds of sugar, (3,000) three thousand pounds of coffee, (20,000) twenty thousand pounds of bacon. I am respectfully your obedient servant, W.J. Hawks, Chief Com. C.S. Army of Va.”

The Confederates were told that the food demanded by them was not available. Early then sent another note to the town authorities with a demand for $200,000 in currency. He gave them the option to provide medical supplies, stores, ordinance and quartermaster materials. The note was accompanied by a note threatening to burn the town to the ground.

Over the next several hours the town authorities, led by Mayor William G. Cole, haggled with a group of Confederate negotiators that included Lt. Col. William Allen who was Early’s chief quartermaster, his chief commissary officer W.J. Hawks, Dr. Hunter McGuire and John A. Harmon. The ransom was for 10% of the town’s taxable base. Pointing out that Early had only asked Hagerstown for $20,000, they sent him a note asking him to reconsider.

Early’s negotiators refused their request and by late in the afternoon, the town authorities agreed to the request. The town was forced to borrow the large sum from the Frederick banks. It was delivered at about 5:00 PM in large baskets after the city officials had received word of the Confederate victory at Monocacy Junction.

The Confederates also seized a variety of medical, commissary and quartermaster supplies valued at a minimum of $262,500. These came from various warehouses that were scattered around the town. Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace had only a vague idea of the government materials that were in the town and therefore, did not order everything removed when his troops evacuated the town. However, much in the way of Federal government supplies remained in storage and were still untouched when Union troops re-occupied the town.

The fact that the ransom that was paid by the town of Frederick to preserve the town and any government supplies in the town became a point of contention between the city and the Federal government well into the 1900s. The original notes were not paid off until 1951 at a total cost to Frederick of $2,300,000. No reimbursement from the Federal government has ever been made to Frederick.

After their return to Virginia, On July 28th Early detailed McCausland to take his brigade, General Bradley T. Johnson’s, and Captain William G. McNutty’s battery, totaling in all about 4,000 men, and proceed Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was to deliver a demand of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in greenbacks, in retaliation for damages done by Hunter in the Valley of Virginia. If he was refused, fifty of their leading citizens were to be arrested and their town was to be burned.

McCausland arrived in Chambersburg on July 3oth and made his demands to the authorities. When the demands were not met, McCausland ordered his troops to burn the city. Commencing with the public buildings, they started fires simultaneously in fifty places. By one o’clock the entire town was in flames. Five hundred and twenty-seven buildings, valued at $313,294.34, were destroyed and, in addition, $915,137.24 in personal property were reduced to ashes.

McCausland force was being closely followed by Union cavalry under the command of Brig. Gen. William Averell. He tracked him down at Moorefield, West Virginia and on August 7th surprised the Confederates in a sunrise attack on their camp. McCausland had 420 of his men captured plus all his artillery, 678 horses, equipment, three battle flags, and 150 killed, wounded, and missing. By the time that they returned to the main army at Mount Jackson, they were exhausted and worn down by their long raid.

Meanwhile, Grant had found himself a commander who was aggressive enough to defeat the elusive Early. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan was given command of the Army of the Shenandoah. He then proceeded to fight a series of battles culminating in the Battle of Cedar Creek. The battle was a crushing defeat for the Confederates. They were never again able to threaten the northern states through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect the economic base in the Valley.


Point Lookout Prison Camp

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Prisoner of War Camps

Point Lookout Prison CampThe North’s Andersonville counterpart was said to have been Point Lookout prison camp at the southern tip of St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The camp was situated on a peninsula that was at the confluence of Chesapeake Bay on the east and the Potomac River on the west.

The area became not only a prison camp but was also a port, a military base and a large army hospital due to its advantageous location. Point Lookout was built in 1862 and was in operation through the end of the war.

The Union army simply walled off the tip of the peninsula by building a 14 foot high wall across the peninsula. The prison camp was approximately 40 acres. The wall had a walkway for the patrolling guards. Eventually, all of the guards were African-American soldiers who were said to have treated the prisoners brutally.

Confederate Prisoner John R. King said; Two days out of every three we were guarded by a gang of ignorant and cruelsome negroes.  Please do not think that I dislike the negroes as a race.  Many of them are my friends, but the negroes authority over the white people and the defenceless prisoners suffered at their hands.  Numbers of scars were left on the frame work of the closets made by negroes firing at the prisoners.  The negro guard was very insolent and delighted in tantalizing the prisoners, for some trifle affair, we were often accused of disobedience and they would say, “Look out, white man, the bottom rail is on top now, so you had better be careful for my gun has been wanting to smoke at you all day!”

Like Andersonville, no barracks were ever built at Point Lookout. The prisoners were given tents but eventually due to overcrowding, they were not sufficient to house the Confederate soldiers. The location of the camp made for some unpleasant weather for the prisoners.

Over the course of its existence some 50,000 Confederate enlisted men were housed at Point Lookout. The camp’s capacity was 10,000 but according to records some 12,000 to 20,000 soldiers were there at any given time.

Point Lookout remained open even though the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Here is an account by Sgt. Point Lookout monumentCharles T. Loehr who was captured after the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. Loehr and about 2,000 other Confederates were marched to City Point, east of Petersburg and were put aboard steamers for transport to Point Lookout.

Loehr gave his listeners an accurate view of the camp, describing it as having regular rows of tents. Each double row of tents was considered a division, of which there were 10 double rows. The rows were subdivided again into ten companies of 200 men each. This adds up to 20,000 men. The Confederate sergeant recounted that each row had a ditch running down the center for drainage.

One of the problems at Point Lookout was the lack of good drinking water. It is believed that the water was contaminated by copperas, also known as iron sulfate. Loehr reported that the food was not only poor tasting but was in short supply. He pointed out that the prison was full when he arrived there and were exposed to the weather throughout there over-two months stay.

The mortality figures at Point Lookout vary wildly. The prison cemetary has 3,384 Confederate soldiers with very little evidence to show for the figure. Other historians claim that anywhere from 4,000 to 14,000 died at Point Lookout during its existence.

Today, Point Lookout Prison camp is a Maryland State Park with about half of the land area as the original due to water erosion from the surrounding waters. There is a Confederate prisoner of war memorial and cemetery which commemorates the soldiers who perished there.



On To Williamsport

This entry is part 24 of 27 in the series The Gettysburg Campaign

Williamsport, Maryland was the goal of both armies. The Confederates were moving to the Potomac River town because of its ford and ferries. The Union army was simply in pursuit of their withdrawing enemies. Think of Williamsport as the drain through which both armies would use to exit the battle area.

Brig. Gen. John Buford and his cavalry division had spent the 4th of July in Westminster, Maryland where they reshoed their horses and refit themselves with available supplies of food, fodder and ammunition. They had fought a hard fight on July 1st but had spent the rest of the battle in the rear. They were forced to carry on their activities in a driving rain storm that was wearing on both men and horses.

After Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt’s Reserve Brigade rejoined the division, they were ordered to move to Frederick, Maryland, about 25 miles away. One officer from the 1st U.S. Cavary recalled the march, “The rain fell in torrents, men and horses hungry and worn out.”  A trooper from the 9th New York Cavalry, Private Nelson Taylor, wrote home, “Our horsses (sic)…have been saddled every day and nearly every night for 4 weeks and not mutch (sic) grain for them to eat.”

Confederate Retreat from GettysburgAlong their route, the Union cavalry met a Pennsylvania Dutch miller who inquired about the results of the recent fight. When he was told that the Confederates were whipped and in retreat by Buford, he offered them much needed supplies, refusing a payment voucher. Buford insisted and his men and horses had much needed food to continue their march.

By the night of July 5th, Buford’s column made it to within 5 miles of Frederick. The rain had continued all day but his men were so exhausted that they simply fell onto the soggy ground and fell asleep. During the night a Confederate spy was arrested after questioning Buford about the movements of his troops. They found detailed drawings of Union troop dispositions, passes from Lee and General Longstreet and large sums of money sewn into his clothing. Buford gave the spy, William Richardson, three minutes to make his peace and ordered that he be hanged.

Early on the morning of July 6, 1863, Buford met up with Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick to plan their joint strategy for an attack against John Imboden’s wagon train that was now trapped in Williamsport because of the high waters of the Potomac River. The two commanders agreed that Buford’s men would attack the Confederate positions at Williamsport.

Kilpatrick and his Union cavalry division had been successful at Monterey Pass, capturing 1,300 Confederates, hundreds of wagons and much livestock from Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s wagon train. Facing him was the Confederate cavalry genius, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart who knew that the critical area for his retreating army would be the area between South Mountain and Hagerstown. He also knew that one dangerous unknown was his lack of intelligence on Kilpatrick’s cavalry.

Kilpatrick and his troopers arrived at Smithburg, Maryland at about 2:00 PM on July 5th, following the fight at Monterey Pass. He positioned his force on three different hills facing South Mountain, so as not to be surprised. Each hill had a brigade of cavalry and a battery of horse artillery. Settling in to await the Confederates, Kilpatrick’s command didn’t have long wait until Jeb Stuart appeared with two brigades of his cavalry.

An artillery duel ensued that lasted about an hour. This type of exchange was something that Stuart could not afford. He was in danger of running out of ammunition for his horse artillery and his artillery commanders attempted to ration its use. However, Kilpatrick did not wish to become too involved with a minor battle. He was more interested in cutting off the retreat of the entire Confederate army. As night approached, he disengaged his forces and moved to Boonsboro.

Kilpatrick’s movement ceded the area between South Mountain and Hagerstown to the Confederates and allowed them a position where they couldGeneral J.E.B. Stuart concentrate. Kilpatrick cost the Army of the Potomac the initiative that it would not regain through the rest of the campaign.

Stuart realized the importance of the area for the Confederate withdrawal. It controlled the roads to both Williamsport and Falling Waters, about 4 miles down river. If the Confederate controlled both towns, they would be able to safely cross the Potomac River into Virginia. Commanding the approaches to the two towns was Hagerstown, Maryland, an important commercial center. Who ever held Hagerstown would have the upper hand.

Stuart immediately realized the importance of the town to his army and dispatched two small brigades of cavalry there by the shortest route. The brigades were commanded by Col. John R. Chambliss (commanding Rooney Lee’s Brigade) and Brig. Gen. Beverly Robertson. They had a total of about 1,800 horsemen.

Meanwhile, Stuart accompanied the brigades of Col. Milton J. Ferguson (commanding Brig. Gen. Alfred G. Jenkins’ Brigade) and Brig. Gen. William E. Jones who took a more indirect route.

Kilpatrick had received information that the enemy wagon train was passing through Hagerstown and he had plans to add it to his impressive tally. The Union cavalry were surprised at the initial lack of Confederate opposition in Hagerstown. The surprised the Confederate defenders by entering the town of 6,000 from the south. They soon ran into barricades in the streets and riflemen in the surrounding houses.

During the furious fighting for the town an artillery duel began with the Confederate guns in the town square and the Union guns on high ground south of town. The fighting in the town devolved into a saber-to-saber affair. The advantage swayed back and forth as some units on both sides retired while other units advanced.

The difference between the two evenly matched cavalry forces turned out to be the North Carolina infantry of commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson drove Kilpatrick’s men back through the streets of town. They were followed by Stuart’s main body and a Texas brigade from Longstreet’s Corps. Despite this, the Confederate forces were outnumbered by Kilpatrick’s division.

General Judson KilpatrickIverson’s Brigade had a rough time on the first day at Gettysburg and had lost most of their wagons to the very same Kilpatrick at Monterey Pass. They had been detailed to escort the wagon train and hoped to exact some measure of revenge. Iverson’s handling of his brigade turned the tide and forced the Union cavalry to retreat from Hagerstown. Kilpatrick ordered his troopers to retreat toward Williamsport where he expected to meet Buford.

A running fight ensued from Hagerstown to near Williamsport. The exhausted Confederate horsemen, who had been in the saddle almost continuously since July 3rd continued to advance. Both sides inflicted significant casualties but each side was reluctant to discontinue the fight. A captured Union officer, Lt. Col. Frederick Cavada of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, who marched trough Hagerstown to Williamsport described a scene of devastation.

“All along the road from Hagerstown to Williamsport we noticed indications of General Kilpatrick’s cavalry dash into Hagerstown. Our dead cavalrymen were lying in the road, and on either side of it, completely stripped of their clothing, and dead horses, broken caissons, and other remains of the conflict were scattered here and there.”



Lee Moves Into Maryland

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series The Maryland Campaign

Lee Moves Into Maryland

General Robert E. Lee ordered his Army of Northern Virginia to begin their movement toward Maryland on September 3, 1862. Crossing into the Free State of Maryland, Lee ordered his bands to play “Maryland, My Maryland” in an attempt to induce sympathy for the Confederate cause from the civilian populace.

He had started the Northern Virginia Campaign with about 64,000 men. With the losses at Manassas and Chantilly his force had been diminished by about 9,000 men. Units that had been guarding the capital of Richmond had now arrived, since the threat to the city was past. They included the divisions of Maj. Gens. D.H. Hill and Lafayette McLaws and two brigades under Brig. Gen. John G. Walker. These units made up his losses.

Lee began to move his army north and west to Leesburg in Loudon County. On September 4th, the lead element crossed into Maryland across the Potomac River. His main body arrived in Frederick, Maryland on September 7th.

Map of the Maryland CampaignLee in the Eastern Theater, Generals Braxton Bragg and Edmund Kirby Smith in the Western Theater were launching simultaneous invasions of border states. The two western generals were invading Kentucky. They were each provided with identical proclamations from Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Click Map to enlarge.

In the proclamations, Davis attempted to explain to the citizens of the invaded states, Maryland and Kentucky, that there was “no design of conquest,” and that the invasions were only an aggressive effort to force the Lincoln government to let the South go in peace. “We are driven to protect our own country by transferring the seat of war to that of an enemy who pursues us with a relentless and apparently aimless hostility.”

Davis was also aggressively courting recognition from Britain and France. He did not wish the Confederacy to be seen as anything but a state that was attempting to defend its sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the three generals had issued proclamations of their own since Davis’ had not reached them in time. Lee’s proclamation announced to the people of Maryland that his army had come “with the deepest sympathy [for] the wrongs that have been inflicted upon the citizens of the commonwealth allied to the States of the South by the strongest social, political, and commercial ties … to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke, to enable you again to enjoy the inalienable rights of freemen.”

The reaction to the invasion in both Lee’s army and the civilian populace of Maryland was a clear surprise to Lee and his generals. There was significant straggling in the Southern army. They had been continuously fighting and marching from June through the summer months. Supplies Confederate troops marching through Frederickwere scarce and many of the men’s clothing were in rags. A significant number of men were without shoes. Countless others became ill with diarrhea after eating unripe “green corn” from the Maryland fields.

Some of the Confederate troops refused to leave Virginia. Their stated belief was that they had joined the army to defend the soil of Virginia from Northern aggression. They claimed that invading the North would make them no better than the Yankees. Lee ordered his commanders to deal harshly with stragglers, whom he considered cowards “who desert their comrades in peril” and were therefore “unworthy members of an army that has immortalized itself” in its recent campaigns.

The Confederate Army found little sympathy from the civilian populace of Maryland. Lee mistakenly believed that Marylanders would willingly join the Southern cause but most were in favor of the Union cause. Those who believed in the Confederacy had already left the state for the South. Pro-Southern sympathies appeared to be greater in the Maryland legislature than in the general population.

The invasion of Maryland caused alarm and outrage in Maryland and neighboring Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin called for 50,000 volunteers and asked that Maj. Gen. John Reynolds, a native Pennsylvanian, be detached from the army to command them. After some complaining by McClellan, General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck ordered his reassignment.

In Maryland, the populace rallied to the Union cause. Even Baltimore, thought by the Confederates to be a hotbed of secession,  took up the war call immediately. Church bells throughout the region alerted citizens to the invasion.

The 6th Maryland infantryOnce across the Potomac and into Maryland, Lee divided his army into four parts. Lee sent Maj. Gen. James Longstreet to Boonsboro and then to Hagerstown after receiving intelligence that Union militia was massing at Chambersburg Pennsylvania. It turned out that a mere 20 men were there at the time.

Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was ordered to seize the Union arsenal at Harpers Ferry with three separate columns. Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart‘s Cavalry and the division of Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill to guard the army’s rear at South Mountain. The arsenal was a tempting target with many vital supplies but virtually indefensible. General McClellan had requested permission from Washington to evacuate Harpers Ferry and attach its garrison to his army, but his request was refused.

General George B. McClellan, the Union commander, was a naturally cautious officer whose career up to now had been punctuated by slow movements and missed opportunities. A superb engineer, he had built the Army of the Potomac from virtually nothing and many historians surmise that he was loathe to plunge it into battle. President Abraham Lincoln once observed that McClellan had “the slows” as if it was a sickness.

McClellan began to move his 87,000-man army north on September 7th. He divided his force into three separate columns to speed the advance. In his usual way, the Union commander surmised that he was outnumbered and that Lee had 120,000 men when he had about half that number.

Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin commanded the left wing, Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner commanded the center wing and Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside commanded the right wing. The three wings joined together at Frederick on September 13th, six days after Lee’s army had passed through the town.

About 10 a.m. on September 13, Corporal Barton W. Mitchell of the 27th Indiana Volunteers, part of the Union XII Corps, discovered an envelope with three cigars wrapped in a piece of paper lying in the grass at a campground that D.H. Hill’s division had just vacated. The envelope contained Special Order 191, Lee’s entire battle plan for the upcoming campaign.



The Battle of Monocacy Junction-Part Two

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series Jubal Early's 1864 Valley Campaign

The Battle of

Monocacy Junction-

Part Two

General Lew Wallace had expected reinforcements numbering 1,050 men of the 2nd Division of the VI Corps but they never arrived. The trains carrying them rather than proceeding to Monocacy Junction, dropped them off 8 miles to the east but within hearing of the fighting. Their commander, Colonel John F. Staunton, did not march his men to the sound of the guns. Six weeks later, he was cashiered from the Army for his actions that day.

General John McCauslandAround 2:00 PM Brig. Gen. John McCausland ordered his men forward once more. This time McCausland decided on a flank attack, catching Ricketts off guard. Ricketts was unable to shift troops in time to defend against McCausland’s advance. They pushed the Union force back and occupied the grounds of the Thomas farm. Here, they were stopped because the supporting artillery fire ceased for fear of hitting the Virginians. After several hours of fighting, McCausland was forced to retreat but by then the Union artillery was nearly out of ammunition.

Realizing that an attack in strength was necessary to win the day, Early ordered Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon to attack with his entire division. Gordon’s 2,500 men crossed the river at the Worthington-McKinney Ford. At about 3:30 PM, he ordered his men to advance by brigade, preceded by skirmishers.

As they advanced through the farm fields, Gordon’s men encountered a number of obstacles that broke up his formations. They included farm fences and huge grain stacks. Not realizing that they were facing veteran troops, Gordon mistakenly believed that his troops were up against hundred days men.

The lead brigade which was on the right of the advance, led by Brig. Gen. Clement A. Evans, met a withering fire from the Union veterans. Evans himself was severely wounded when a bullet penetrated a box of pins in his pocket and drove them into his side and hip. Many of Evans’ best offices went down, including General Gordon’s younger brother, Major Eugene C. Gordon, and six color bearers. In all, Evans’ brigade lost over 500 men killed and wounded.

At this point the center brigade of Louisiana Infantry, led by Brig. Gen. Zebulon York, began to charge against the 87th Pennsylvania and the 14th New Jersey. They found a gap between the two regiments and moved forward to exploit it. The Confederates pushed the two Union regiments back towards the Washington Turnpike, where they took cover behind breastworks. They repulsed the Confederate charge and stopped a second one from Evan’s brigade. They held off the Confederates until well after 4:00 Pm and inflicted 163 casualties (killed, wounded and missing) on York’s General John Brown Gordonbrigade.

Finally, after sending to General Breckinridge for reinforcements, Gordon ordered the Virginia Infantry brigade of Brig. Gen. William Terry on the left, to attack. Gordon joined the attack with the Virginians. The Confederate advance was fairly successful and Terry dispatched a flanking force to the Federal right where they were able to drive the Union defenders back towards the Georgetown Pike and Gambrill’s Mill.

Gordon pressed the attack against the entire Union line along the Georgetown Pike. The Union forces lacked artillery due to lack of ammunition and they began to withdraw towards Gambrill’s Mill. Some of Wallace’s troops began to panic and he ordered a general withdrawal at about 4:20 PM.

At around 3:00 PM Wallace and Ricketts had discussed the line of retreat that they might take if it became necessary to withdraw. They were expecting Colonel John Staunton’s reinforcing brigade of 1,050 but they never arrived. Wallace had planned to use this fresh unit as part of his rear-guard. His plan was to retreat north up the country roads to the Baltimore Pike and then in the direction of Baltimore.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s men had finally pushed the smaller Union force of Lt. George Davis back across the river and had captured the railroad bridge. About two-thirds of Davis’ 275-man detachment had succeeded in withdrawing. Ramseur’s force merged with Gordon’s left wing brigade and captured the Union hospital that had been setup at Gambrill’s Mill.

Retreat from MonocacyChased by the Confederates, Wallace’s force headed north up a variety of roads and trails through the rough country to the east of Frederick. The area was heavily forested and crossed with narrow streams, ravines and deadfalls.

Meanwhile, Colonel Allison Brown’s Ohioans had defended the stone road bridge for 12 hours. Wallace had met with Brown at 5:00 PM. He ordered him to hold the bridge “to the last extremity” and “when pressed so hard that nothing more could be done, to command my men to disperse and to take care of themselves”, Brown later said. Shortly after Wallace left, Maj. Gen. Erastus Tyler arrived with reinforcements.

The Confederates began to flank the defenders and they were forced to retreat across the bridge. Brown’s men panicked and ran but he was able to persuade about 300 to remain. They made a brief stand, covering Wallace’s retreat and then retreated themselves.

That evening Wallace’s army was scattered between Bartonsville and New Market. The Confederates failed to pursue the retreating Union troops who were able to reach the safety of Baltimore by the 11th. Behind them, they left 1,294 casualties (killed, wounded and captured).

Even though Early’s Confederates had won a tactical victory at Monocacy Junction, the Union forces under General Lew Wallace achieved a strategic victory with the delay of the enemy’s advance on Washington.

Upon his arrival at his headquarters in Baltimore, Wallace learned that he had been relieved of his military command by General Ulysses S. Grant, while retaining “in charge of the administration of the department.” Grant would later realize that he was mistaken and Wallace was reinstated.

Early’s route to Washington was now open but he had lost between 700 to 900 men at Monocacy and one complete day. The Union reinforcements from Petersburg had one more day to arrive at the capital and defend it from the Confederates. The following day, Early’s troops were at the door to Washington. Early could see the Capital dome through his field glasses. It seemed his for the taking.









The Battle of Monocacy Junction-Part One

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Jubal Early's 1864 Valley Campaign

The Battle of

Monocacy Junction-

Part One

The Battle of Monocacy Junction was perhaps the most important engagement of the war, yet to this day it remains the least appreciated and somewhat obscure. Without Wallace’s force delaying the Confederates, they would have arrived at the capital a day earlier and in much better condition.

Once the Union forces under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace withdrew from Frederick to Monocacy Junction, Early entered the town and demanded a ransom of $200,000 in money or supplies. He threatened to burn the town down if he did not receive it. We will cover this part of Early’s campaign in the next post.

map of the Battle of MonocacyOn July 6, 1864, Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant ordered two brigades of the VI Corps, about 5,000 men, under Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts north from the Petersburg siege lines to reinforce Wallace, west of the capital. Until these troops arrived, there were only the 2,500 men of Wallace’s command to defend the national capital.

Wallace’s soldiers were for the most part hundred days men who were generally used for non-combat operations. After two days of skirmishing on July 7th and 8th, Wallace had withdrawn about three miles to the southeast of Frederick to a junction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In addition to the iron railroad bridge, both the Georgetown Pike to Washington and the National Road to Baltimore crossed the Monocacy River here.

Wallace would need to stretch his force along about 6 miles of the river in order to defend the bridges and several fords from Early’s Confederates. Initially, Wallace had Brig. Gen. Erastus Tyler’s First Separate Brigade of infantry and the cavalry of Lt. Col. David Clendenin. By the 9th, the first units of Ricketts forces was at the Monocacy River line.

Upon his arrival on the evening of the 8th, Wallace told Ricketts that their goal was to defend the capital as best they could. He felt at best, that they might delay Early for 36 or 40 hours in order to give General Grant enough time to bring up a corps or two into Washington.

Tyler’s men occupied two blockhouses and trenches at the two bridges. The higher eastern bank of the river was a natural breastwork for the Union defenders. Rickett’s force occupied the Thomas and Worthington farms on the Union left. They used the farm fences as breastworks.

The Confederates skirmished with Wallace’s troops both on the National Road and the Georgetown Pike. Some men were captured but while being questioned they told their captors that the entire VII Corps was defending the river line. This led the Confederates to exercise caution and not press their numerical advantage.

Worrying that a frontal assault would be too costly, Early sent Brig. Gen. John McCausland’s cavalry to look for a ford to cross the river and General James B. Rickettsoutflank the Union line. He found one further down the river and attacked the Union left flank. McCausland’s men did not see Rickett’s troops between the Worthington and Thomas farms who were able to fire a volley to panic the dismounted cavalry. McCausland succeeded in rallying them but they were unable to defeat Rickett’s’ force.

At 6:00 AM on the morning of the 9th, Brig. Gen. Robert D. Lilley’s Virginia Infantry brigade of Maj. Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s Division approached the stone road bridge. Their objective was to capture and hold the bridge to allow the rest of Early’s force to cross. The bridge was defended by the 149th and the 144th Ohio National Guard, led by Colonel Allison Brown.

Brown had deployed a skirmish line on the west bank of the river. His 7 companies of hundred days men were outnumbered by the Confederates  but they managed to skirmish with them for several hours. Around 10:00 AM, Confederate cavalry attempted to turn Brown’s right flank at Hughes Ford. He quickly sent a company of infantry and a second company of mounted infantry to reinforce the troops who were guarding the ford.

The reinforcements joined with the guards and drove off the Confederate cavalry and returned to aid Brown. Meanwhile, at about 11:30 AM, Confederate infantry attacked Brown’s left flank in force. These troops were from Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes’ Georgia Infantry. They pushed Brown’s line back but the Ohioans made a bayonet charge and restored the Union battle line. They were to hold the position for the rest of the day.

The Confederate artillery had been in action since about 7:30 AM and they caused the B & O train engineer who was standing by to evacuate the wounded to panic and leave without loading any of them on his train. He also took Wallace’s telegrapher with him, leaving the Union commander out of contact with either Washington or Baltimore.

The Confederates needed the Monocacy bridges desperately and Wallace knew it. However, Early wanted to avoid the terrible losses that Burnside had suffered at the bridge crossing on Antietam Creek almost two years ago.

Monocacy RR Junction todayLieutenant George E. Davis and his 75 men of Company D, 1oth Vermont Infantry were to hold the two bridges for most of the day. His small force took command of the bridge defense and held of at least three Confederate attacks.

At about noon the wooden road bridge was burned and the 9th New York pickets were withdrawn without anyone informing the Vermonter. After an hour and a half struggle, Davis pulled his small force back across the iron railroad bridge to the east bank of the Monocacy River. While Davis’ men retreated the Confederate artillerists did not fire upon them.

For his actions that day, Lt. George E. Davis was later awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation reads: While in command of a small force, held the approaches to the 2 bridges against repeated assaults of superior numbers, thereby materially delaying Early’s advance on Washington. Davis did not leave the field until 5:00 PM when Wallace ordered a general withdrawal.


Across the Potomac River

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Jubal Early's 1864 Valley Campaign

Across the Potomac River

Early’s Army of the Valley crossed the Potomac River over two days, July 5-6, 1864 at Boteler’s Ford, about a mile downstream from Shepherdstown, Maryland. Many of the men still did not have shoes and the crossing was difficult for them because of the shells that cut their feet.

After the crossing, the Confederate Army remained scattered with the various divisions camping in widely separated locations. Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon’s Division was a Antietam Furnace, where Antietam Creek runs into the Potomac while Brig. Gen. John C. Vaughn’s Division was near Sharpsburg. Jubal Early crossed the river on July 6th and visited Maj. Henry Kyd Douglas’ father’s house near Sharpsburg with several of his general officers. They also took a tour of the nearby Antietam battlefield.

Shenandoah Valley Campaign May-July 1864Early seems to have lost the urgency of capturing Washington. From the time that he crossed the Potomac into the next day, he seem preoccupied with taking the Union positions on Maryland Heights. The Union position was formidable with multiple artillery batteries situated from 250 to 1,065 feet above the river, according to Major Frank Rolfe of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.

The access road was narrow, steep and rocky. It would have been very difficult for the Confederates to assault. The Union batteries dominated the town of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area. Any attack on the Maryland Heights would have been risky and time-consuming but still, Early seriously considered it.

Shortly after his crossing of the Potomac, Early accompanied Gordon’s troops when they destroyed the locks and boats that were at the nearby Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. In the afternoon, Early received a message from General Robert E. Lee brought by the general’s namesake and youngest son, Captain Robert E. Lee, Jr. to dispatch a cavalry force to liberate 18,000 Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout, Maryland. It was to be a cooperative effort with the Confederate Navy. Early sent Lee back to his father with a reply.

Early’s next move was to order his army to move east through the mountain passes toward Frederick. Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson had taken matters into his own hands and attempted to capture his hometown of Frederick with his cavalry. The Confederates skirmished with a small force of Union cavalry from the 8th Illinois led by Lt. Col. David Clendenin.

Clendenin had been dispatched from Monocacy Junction by Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace to scout to the west of the town and determine Early’s strength. Initially, the Union cavalry was able to push back the oncoming Confederates but being outnumbered they were force through the Catoctin Pass and back towards Frederick.

Johnson’s force pursued the Union cavalry but met with a force of Union infantry and artillery led by Colonel Charles Gilpin, who had been sent by General Bradley T. JohnsonWallace to support Clendenin. Johnson attempted a frontal assault of the town and accompanied by artillery fire, his dismounted cavalry moved forward. However, they were repulsed but his flanking forces attacking from the south seemed to be making progress.

Just when it appeared that the Union force was bested, Maj. Gen. Robert Ransom arrived and ordered Johnson to call off the attack. Outranked, Kohnson was forced to obey the order and ordered his men to withdraw.

Wallace was convinced that he had been victorious and the casualty figures seemed to justify his judgement. The Confederates had a total of 140 killed, wounded or missing while the Union casualties were just 2 killed and 18 wounded. He had retained the town and the enemy force had retreated. Wallace was confident that the forces that he was assembling at Monocacy Junction would be successful in delaying Early’s Confederates.

Maj. Gen. Erastus B. Tyler who was the commander of both Gilpin and Clendenin had taken command of the troops to the west of Frederick. He had requested reinforcements and Wallace had sent him a total of ten companies of Ohio infantry.

General Lew WallaceMeanwhile, Early’s infantry was approaching the town from the west and the south. On July 8th, as the Confederates approached, many of the residents of Frederick fled to the east. Early had encouraged this confusion and terror by sending his cavalry across the countryside, attacking Union troops. Early had spread his troops like a fan which led Wallace to believe that Early may have as many as 30,000 troops.

Wallace realized by the movement of the Confederate advance elements that their target was Washington and not Baltimore. Early had begun to concentrate his forces and by the evening of July 8th, Early set up his headquarters on the western slope of the Catoctin Mountains.

Realizing that he couldn’t defend Frederick against Early’s larger force, Wallace ordered the withdrawal of his troops to Monocacy Junction along the Monocacy River, three miles southeast of Frederick. Wallace wired Washington with his plan to withdraw from Frederick and establish positions to cover Washington. He knew his duty and planned to carry it out.




Maryland, My Maryland

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The Civil Wars within the Civil War

Maryland, My Maryland

Maryland was one of the four border states that each side strove to bring over to their cause. In the case of Maryland when one looks at a map it becomes clear why Maryland was so important. The state encloses Washington D.C. on three sides with Virginia on the fourth side. Without the Free State as part of the Union, the Federal government would have been forced to evacuate to Philadelphia or even New York. This would have been a huge blow for the Union cause at the very outset of the war.

Maryland had been awarded by charter to George Calvert, the 1st Lord Baltimore, but he died before it could be finalized. Instead his son and namesake the 2nd Lord Baltimore carried out his father’s wishes to found a Catholic colony in the New World. On March 25, 1634 the new colonists set sail for the shores of the colony that would become known as Maryland, named for Henrietta Maria of France, the wife of Charles I of England.

Maryland Slave Population MapMost of the colonists to Maryland arrived as indentured servants who worked for a fixed period of time to pay for their passage. After their time of indenture they generally were able to purchase small holdings and farm the soil. In the early years of the colony the line between white and black laborers or slaves was fluid.

As the situation in England improved fewer whites indentured themselves and there was a commensurate rise in the importation of slaves. Cheap labor was important to the economy of Maryland, particularly in the areas where tobacco was cultivated. Many of the freed slaves moved to Delaware where the land was cheaper so there was an increase in slavery.

In the 20 years after the Revolution many of the slave owners freed their slaves. By 1860 49.1% of the blacks in Maryland were free. Generally, the eastern part of the state was pro-secession while the western region was loyal to the Union. After John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry citizens in the slaveholding counties formed militias for protection. Of the 1860 population of 687,000, approximately 60,000 joined the Union Army and some 25,000 fought for the Confederacy.

Immediately upon taking office in March 1861 Abraham Lincoln realized the danger to the capital if Maryland sided with the Confederacy. In early 1861 there was no direct rail connection between the cities north of Baltimore and those to the south. Passengers and freight were required to move from one terminal to another with the rail cars being pulled by horses.

On April 19, 1861 the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was traveling to Washington when the rail rail cars that they were traveling in wereBaltimore Riot 1861 blocked by a mob of secessionists and attacked. The troops disembarked from the rail cars and began to march in formation to Camden terminal.

What ensued was a riot and a massive brawl when the rear companies were attacked by the mob. When they were fired upon some of the soldiers returned the mob’s fire. Even the Baltimore Police couldn’t control the two sides. Eventually, the troops arrived at the terminal but the damage had been done. Four soldiers and twelve civilians had been killed. About 36 additional soldiers and an unknown number of civilians were wounded. The regiments equipment was left behind.

The response from the pro-southern sympathizers in the Maryland political world was immediate. Baltimore Mayor George William Brown, Marshal George P. Kane, and former Governor Enoch Louis Lowe urged Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks to burn the rail bridges leading into Maryland to prevent further movement of troops through the state. Hicks reportedly approved of this plan.


Governor Hicks opposed abolition and wrote to Lincoln that “I feel it my duty most respectfully to advise you that no more troops be ordered or allowed to pass through Maryland.” Hicks was urged to call the Maryland General Assembly into session. The state capital of Annapolis was a secessionist Southern Democratic town but had been occupied by Benjamin Butler’s Massachusetts troops. Hicks ordered the Assembly to meet in Frederick which was firmly pro-union where they voted against secession 55 to 13. Lincoln had ordered a number of secessionist legislators and Southern sympathizers arrested.

On May 13, 1861 Federal troops occupied key points around the state and restored order. By mid summer the state was firmly on the side of the Union. Arrests of Confederate sympathizers soon followed, and many of those who had declared their support for the Confederacy were forced to leave the state.

Battle of AntietamOne of those was Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart. He organized a “Maryland Line” in the Army of Northern Virginia which consisted of one infantry regiment, one infantry battalion, two cavalry battalions and four battalions of artillery. This unit was not formally recognized by the Confederate Department of War until June 22, 1863 but various units were engaged in combat from early in the war.

When Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia into western Maryland in September of 1862 his bands played Maryland, My Maryland. His hope was that Marylanders would rise up against the Union. He was disappointed that just “a few score men” joined his army since by then most pro-Southerners had already crossed over to Virginia.

The “Bloodiest Day in American History” took place at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg on September17, 1862. In 12 bloody hours of savage fighting the two armies suffered combined casualties of over 23,000 men.

The Battle of Monocacy took place on July 9, 1864 between the Confederate forces of Jubal Early and the Union forces of Lew Wallace near the town of Frederick. The battle was an attempt by the Confederates to divert the Federal army from sending additional forces to the siege of Petersburg. Despite being considered a Union defeat the battle delayed Early’s advance on Washington and saved the city.

The Union tactical victory at Antietam led Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation that became effective on January 1, 1863. All of the slaves in the states that were in rebellion were declared “henceforth and forever free”.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not cover Maryland but in November 1864 the new state constitutionoutlawed slavery. The right to vote was not extended to non-white males until the Maryland Constitution of 1867, which is still in effect today.