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This is the final post in a series about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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Union General George Meade

 

Change of Command

Union Col. James Hardie arrived at the Robert McGill farm in Arcadia, Md., in the early hours of June 28, 1863.

He was under orders not to dress in uniform or tell anyone where he was going. He had been “given the necessary passes and money to buy his way to his destination if he encountered delay or opposition. If met by [Confederate Gen. JEB] Stuart and the Confederate cavalry, he was to destroy his papers, endeavor to escape, and deliver his orders verbally,” John Schildt wrote in Roads to Gettysburg.

Hardie presented Gen. George Meade with sealed orders from the War Department. Meade now commanded the Army of the Potomac. He protested his appointment, but he could do nothing about it. Gen. Joseph Hooker was no longer in command.

The formal change of command took place around noon and Hooker left shortly thereafter.

Charles Coffin, a reporter on the scene, wrote, “Gen. Hooker bade farewell to the principal officers of the army on the afternoon of the 28th. They were drawn up in a line. He shook hands with each officer, laboring in vain to stifle his emotion. The tears rolled down his cheeks. The officers were deeply affected.”

Here are the other posts in the Frederick Civil War series:

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This is the sixth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.
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Catoctin Aqueduct on the C&O Canal

Boating the border of warring nations

While the Mason-Dixon Line being the dividing line between the North and the South, an argument could be made that the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was the dividing line between the Union and Confederacy. Running alongside the Potomac River as it does, Virginia was directly south of the canal and Maryland was to the north. Whenever you read about an army crossing the Potomac River, it also had to cross the canal.

The unlucky location meant that the canal was vulnerable to destruction by both the Union and Confederate armies

“In some instances, battles were fought so close to the canal that the company’s property was hurriedly made into hospitals and morgues,” Elizabeth Kytle wrote in Home on the Canal.

The Confederate Army attempted multiple times to destroy the canal during the war or at least damage it so it wouldn’t hold water, thereby stranding the canal boats and keeping the coal from reaching Washington. The Monocacy Aqueduct was a target of their destruction, but it was a failed target.

“The C&O Canal was a pipeline to Washington for coal and the Confederate Army wanted to destroy it to cripple the Union Army,” said Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County.

When the Confederate Army crossed the canal in September 1862 on its way to Frederick, Confederate Gen. Daniel Hill stayed behind to destroy the canal.

He quickly learned that there wasn’t enough black powder or tools to destroy the aqueduct so he tried to blow up Lock 27. His men managed to drill small holes for the black powder, but the blast did little damage.

Confederate Gen. John Walker tried his luck a week later.  His men drove off the Union pickets at the aqueduct and tried to drill holes in each of the seven aqueduct arches for the black powder. “After several hours, Walker’s chief engineer reported little progress, complaining that the drills were extremely dull while the masonry was of ‘extraordinary solidity and massiveness,’” Harland Unrau, a National Park Service historian, wrote in The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal During the Civil War: 1861-1865.

Demolishing the canal would have taken them days, not hours. So the plan was abandoned. They would damage other areas of the canal during the war, but not the 438-foot -long Monocacy Aqueduct.

Because of the problems with raiders disrupting trade on the canal, President Abraham Lincoln had also authorized Representative Francis Thomas, a former president of the canal company in 1839-41, to organize four citizen regiments to protection canal property and boaters on the canal and along boat sides of the Potomac River. The companies would be called the Potomac Home Brigade.

Other posts in this series

This is the fifth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

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The Occupation of Mt. Airy

Although Maryland remained in the Union, Mount Airy was strongly and openly pro-Confederate.  It was not unusual for that area of the Frederick County.

Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County explained that southern and eastern areas of the county had been settled predominantly by English and Scotch families from Southern Maryland who had no major problem with slavery. The northern and western areas of the county were settled heavily by German families who favored family farms.

Mount Airy’s leanings concerned the Union Army because the town was also a stop on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

“The railroad was important to the Union not just for troop transport but for communications,” Haugh said. “The railroad men were the eyes and ears for President Lincoln to know what was happening along the line.”

New Jersey Infantry commanded by Captain Jacob Janeway were stationed in Mount Airy to protect the railroad and National Road from Confederate sympathizers who might want to commit acts of sabotage.

The infantrymen used the Pine Grove Chapel as a barracks and the mess tent was set up in an area that is now the church cemetery. The land would become a cemetery while the soldiers were there.

“A sick and delirious soldier who wandered into Ridgeville and died was the first person given a Christian burial in the land at the back of the church,” according to the Town of Mount Airy web site.

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This is the fourth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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Confederate General JEB Stuart

 

JEB Stuart’s Hunt for Horses

About a month after the battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart crossed back into Maryland with 1,800 soldiers. Their mission from Gen. Robert E. Lee was to capture equipment and horses that the Confederate Army needed. They were also to disrupt communication lines and destroy the C&O Canal or B&O Railroad when possible.

They moved through Washington County, Md., and Franklin County, Pa., taking what they needed and destroying what they couldn’t carry.

Rather than retracing their route through Washington County back into Virginia, Stuart was forced to take a southeastern route from Chambersburg, Pa. Rain had swollen the Potomac River making it impossible to cross at the time so they headed toward Frederick County.

Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton was on Stuart’s trail. However, some bad intelligence caused Pleasonton a delay that allowed Stuart to get around him and head towards Emmitsburg.

In Emmitsburg, Stuart’s men fought a cavalry battle with members of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry who were on their way to Gettysburg.

“It was one of two cavalry battles fought in the streets of Emmitsburg during the war,” said John Miller, historian for South Mountain State Park and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s expert on the Civil War.

Emmitsburg’s citizens welcomed Stuart’s men and gave them fresh bread, buttermilk, and meat. However, the fighting in Emmitsburg had given Union supporters time to warn other nearby towns forcing Stuart to cut short his visit. Fearing a strong Union response, Stuart headed south as quickly as he could.

Sarah Six’s family lived in Mechanictown. Word spread through the region that Confederate soldiers were taking horses and cattle when they found them. If they paid, they paid in Confederate scrip. Sarah’s father, William Six, was so worried about losing his stock that he took his two horses north to Wrightsville, Pa.

In the end, the hunt for horses didn’t yield much for the Confederacy.

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This is the third in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md

 

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The Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862.

 

Turning the Tide of the War

The battles at Gettysburg and Antietam have been credited as turning points in the Civil War, but it may have actually been during the Battle of South Mountain when the tides of war shifted toward the Union.

“Tactically, the Maryland campaign for the Confederacy was lost at South Mountain,” said John Miller, historian for South Mountain State Park. “Union morale turned around there. It was the beginning of the end. It showed that Lee could not carry the war on the offensive.”

The Battle of South Mountain in western Frederick County was actually five separate skirmishes at the mountain passes as the Confederate Army tried to hold back the Union Army and keep it from crossing. It was the first major battle that occurred in Maryland in Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s campaign that had come through Frederick City days earlier.

The fighting on the mountain lasted from 9 a.m. in the morning to 10 at night when the Confederate forces finally fell back.

“The Confederates really didn’t have much of a chance,” Miller said. “They were caught off guard, but the few Confederates forces left there to hold the passes managed to hold a massive force back for the day.”

That delaying action allowed Lee to stop his northern march through Washington County and pull back to support his troops from South Mountain as they retreated.

Then Union Army followed and the two armies met near Sharpsburg for the bloodiest single day in American history.

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This is the second in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg during the Civil War. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

 

Union and Confederate Armies Trade Places in Emmitsburg

The Daughters of Charity archives hold accounts of the Union Army arriving in Emmitsburg on the evening of June 27, 1863. They camped around St. Joseph’s Academy and the officers used homes in Emmitsburg for quarters.

The army headed north on June 30 when “a sudden order was given to strike tents and march for Gettysburg. In fifteen minutes it was done, and Saint Joseph’s Valley relapsed into quiet. Father Gandolfo came out early to say Mass and unaware of the departure of the Northern Army was halted by some Confederate pickets…”

While the Daughters of Charity showed no favoritism in the war, the same didn’t hold true for the girls who boarded at the academy. Many were from Confederate states and were trapped in a country at war with their home states. As the Union Army prepared to leave, one girl is said to have climbed into the cupola on one of the buildings and signaled to Confederate scouts where the Union troops were and that they were leaving.

Confederate troops slipped into the area behind the advancing Union Army with the Daughters of Charity accounts noting, “The country now changed hands for a little time, and the Southern Grey swept round St. Joseph’s, not in large force, but detachments of cavalry, picket men etc.”

They stayed only hours before they, too, headed north.

John Miller, a historian for South Mountain State Park and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s expert on the Civil War, says the problem is that there is no record of the Confederates in Emmitsburg at that time, though there were a few hours during the early morning of  June 29 when it might have happened. He also says that an army the size of the Union Army could not have moved out in 15 minutes.

Sis. Betty Ann McNeil, former Daughters of Charity archivist, agrees that there are discrepancies in the timeline, but adds that the information comes directly from the accounts of sisters and Father Francis Burlando. These accounts were recorded in 1866, though, so their memories might have mixed up the dates.

Miller does note that on July 5, Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart and his men were acting as a rear guard for the slower-moving wagons leaving Gettysburg. He had been told that the Union troops had moved out of Emmitsburg and came in from the western side of town.

“The Union troops hadn’t left, though,” Miller said. “There was a small skirmish out near where the Emmit House is and Stuart’s men took 70 Union soldiers prisoner.”

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This is the first in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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 Confederate troops marching west on East Patrick Street, Frederick, Maryland, September 12, 1862. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick County, Md., citizens helped split the Union, but they also helped preserve it. As contradictory as that sounds, the Civil War divided Frederick County as much as it did the country. Within its borders, a smaller version of the war played out 150 years ago. Frederick County saw battles fought in and near its towns and reeled in the aftermath of other battles. It saw great military leadership and even greater displays of compassion. Both Union and Confederate troops occupied its towns and families were divided because of where their loyalties lay.

 

“Frederick County was a border county within a border state,” said Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County. Bordered by the Mason-Dixon Line to the north and the Potomac River along the southwestern edge, Frederick County has the traditional border between the North and the South as its northern border and the actual border during the Civil War to the southwest.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the National Road both ran through the county making it an important transportation center during the war as troops and supplies moved through the area.

“Frederick County was important to the Confederacy, too, as this was kind of their thoroughfare to the North,” Haugh said. He points out that the Confederacy had three major campaigns into Maryland and they all had ties to Frederick County.

Before the War

Frederick County’s experience in the Civil War could be said to have begun years before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina (where some Frederick County citizens were among the Confederate attacking force).

Roger Brooke Taney lived in Frederick City for 22 years practicing law. He moved to Washington to become a U.S. Supreme Court in 1835 and eventually chief justice. That is when case of Dred Scott vs. Sanford came before the court. His court ruled that slaves could not sue in federal court because they were not citizens, the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and Congress had no right to abolish slavery from its territories. The decision became so controversial that it is frequently listed as one of the causes of the Civil War.

John Brown had a scout in Frederick before his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and Frederick’s Home Brigade was part of the armed response to the raid.

Avoiding Secession

Frederick County’s split sympathies about the war drew a line across the county that was as clear as the one the war drew across the country. It was in this environment that Gov. Thomas Hicks brought the Maryland legislature in the spring of 1861 to vote on whether Maryland would secede from the Union. As divided as Frederick was, Annapolis was a bomb waiting to explode and a secession vote would have lit the fuse.

As the legislature debated the issue in Kemp Hall in Frederick, the federal government began taking steps to ensure that Maryland would not secede. Virginia had already done so and if Maryland followed, the Washington, D.C. the Confederacy would have entirely surrounded the Union capital. Federal troops arrested legislators with Confederate leanings and imprisoned them in Fort McHenry. When the time for the vote came, so many legislators were either afraid or imprisoned that a quorum couldn’t be reached.

“Some of the legislators did not even answer when their names were called. They were in the gallery, but they feared being arrested,” Haugh said.

Hospital City

In the fall of 1861, Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks created a military hospital in Frederick’s Hessian Barracks.

“From an operational standpoint, it was a perfect location,” said George Wunderlich, executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. “It was near the B&O Railroad so patients could be evacuated if need be. It had clean water and mountain air.”

The hospital was called Union Military Hospital No. 1 and unfortunately, there would be more, many more, in Frederick. Following the Battle of Antietam, Frederick would have 28 hospitals taking over most of the large buildings in the city.

Military Hospital No. 1 could house 900 patients, but it wasn’t until June 1862 that the number of patients began to climb toward that number.

On June 4, 400 Union sick soldiers arrived at the hospital and the medical authorities were not prepared for them. The doctors requested that the Daughters of Charity help care for them. The Daughters of Charity had a reputation as excellent nurses, and Catholic sisters were the only trained nurses in the country at the beginning of the war. More than 300 Daughters of Charity would serve in hospitals, battlefields, military prisons, ambulances and troop transports for both the Union and Confederacy during the war.

By the end of the war, Military Hospital No. 1 would treat more than 40,000 patients.

Antietam

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s first invasion into the north came in September 1862 and his first destination was Frederick City.

“He had been told that he would find plenty of men to sign up and volunteer in Frederick, but they gave him the cold shoulder,” Haugh said.

The Confederate Army occupied Frederick for only a few days, but hosting an army can devastate a town. The additional soldiers and horses overwhelm an area’s ability to support the numbers of people.

It was during this time that 96-year-old Barbara Fritchie defied Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson and flew the Union flag while the Confederate Army was marching out of town. Her actions turned her into a folk heroine who was immortalized in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.

As the Confederates were leaving, one soldier left behind Lee’s orders issued to the army. A Union soldier found the orders wrapped around a set of cigars.

“How much the lost orders changed the course of the war is debatable,” said Barbara Justice, a national park ranger at Monocacy Battlefield. “Some say most of the orders had already been carried out, but others say that it caused [Union Gen. George] McClellan to speed up his pursuit so that Lee didn’t have as much time as he expected to have to carry out his plan.”

The Union Army caught up with the Confederate Army on South Mountain. Fighting began there and carried over to the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history.

Following Antietam, wounded poured into Frederick. “Imagine a town of 10,000 getting 8,000 wounded in, which almost doubles the population, and those 8,000 men are helpless. They need to be fed and cared for. They and the horses brought in with them create a tremendous amount of additional biomass that pollutes the water. Things disappeared very quickly when an army came through. Financially it must have been devastating for them,” Wunderlich said.

Monocacy

During the summer of 1864, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early came through the county with his army and ransomed Frederick for $200,000. He demanded the ransom in gold or medical supplies or he would burn the city to the ground. City officials managed to pay the ransom and Early continued south intending to capture Washington. A smaller Union force fought Early’s army during the Battle of the Monocacy. The battle delayed Early and allowed Washington’s defenses to be reinforced

“I think it’s very possible they [the Confederate Army] could have captured Washington,” Justice said. Could they have held it? Probably not, but they could have burned it and the capture would have had an effect on the effect on the 1864 Presidential election.”

When the war ended in April 1865, Frederick citizens celebrated the end of three years that had been marked by invading armies and deprivation.

“It was a fascinating time to live in Frederick County, but it must have been scary knowing you were in the path of armies,” Haugh said.

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