History of Western Maryland, Vol. 2: The Civil War, Frederick County

History of Western Maryland, Vol. 2: The Civil War, Frederick County – J. Thomas Scharf

The preparation of “History of Western Maryland”, one of the most voluminous works on the history of that part of the United States, imposed a vast responsibility and an immense amount of labor. In the compilation of this history no authority of importance has been overlooked. The author has carefully examined every source of information open to him, and has availed himself of every fact that could throw new light upon, or impart additional interest to, the subject under consideration. Besides consulting the most reliable records and authorities, over fifteen thousand communications were addressed to persons supposed to be in possession of facts or information calculated to add value to the work. Recourse has not only been had to the valuable libraries of Baltimore, Annapolis, Frederick, and Hagerstown, but the author and his agents have visited personally the entire territory embraced in the six counties of Western Maryland, spending much time in each district, examining ancient newspapers, musty manuscripts, family, church, and society records, conversing with the aged inhabitants, and collecting from them orally many interesting facts never before published, and which otherwise, in all probability, would soon have been lost altogether. In addition to the material partly used in the preparation of his ” Chronicles” and ” History of Baltimore City and County” and ” History of Maryland,” the author has consulted an immense number of pamphlets, consisting of county and town documents, reports of societies, associations, corporations, and historical discourses, and, in short, everything of a fugitive character that might in any way illustrate the history of Western Maryland. Sketches of the rise, progress, and present condition of the various religious denominations, professions, political parties, and charitable and benevolent institutions, societies, and orders form a conspicuous feature of the work. Manufacturing, commercial, and agricultural interests have also a prominent place. An account of the county school system is also given, and a history of the various institutions of learning of which Western Maryland has every reason to be proud. Many of the facts recorded, both statistical and historical, may seem trivial or tediously minute to the general reader, and yet such facts have a local interest and sometimes a real importance. Considerable space has also been given to biographies of leading and representative men, living and dead, who have borne an active part in the various enterprises of life, and who have become closely identified with the history of Frederick, Washington, Montgomery, Allegany, Carroll, and Garrett Counties. The achievements of the living must not be forgotten, nor must the memories of those who have passed away be allowed to perish. It is the imperative duty of the historian to chronicle their public and private efforts to advance the great interests of society. Their deeds are to be recorded for the benefit of those who follow them; they, in fact, form part of the history of their communities, and their successful lives add to the glory of the Commonwealth. A distinguishing feature of the work is its statistics of the various districts into which the six counties of Western Maryland are divided. In them the reader is brought into close relation with every part of Western Maryland. This is volume two out of six, covering the Civil War and Frederick County.

History of Western Maryland, Vol. 2: The Civil War, Frederick County

History of Western Maryland, Vol. 2: The Civil War, Frederick County.

Format: eBook.

History of Western Maryland, Vol. 2: The Civil War, Frederick County.

ISBN: 9783849658656.


Excerpt from the text:


After the termination of the Maryland campaign, the Army of the Potomac remained on the north bank of the river, in the vicinity of Sandy Hook, Sharpsburg, and Williamsport, with a large detachment thrown across at Harper’s Ferry, occupying Loudon and Bolivar Heights.

Reconnaissances were made on the 16th and 17th of October from Sharpsburg in the direction of Reameysville, Leetown, and Smithfield, Va., and from Harper’s Ferry to Charlestown. In the latter the Fifth Maryland participated. On the 21st of October a reconnaissance was also made from Loudon Heights to Lovettsville, in which the Third Maryland bore a part. On the 26th of October, Gen. McClellan began his second advance into Virginia from the line of the Potomac. Early on that day a cavalry force under Gen. Pleasonton crossed the Potomac at Berlin, and moved in the direction of Purcellville. Soon after the Ninth Corps began to cross in light marching order, and took position near Lovettsville. The First, Sixth, and Ninth Corps, the cavalry and the reserve artillery crossed at Berlin between the 26th of October and the 2nd of November. The Second and Fifth Corps crossed at Harper’s Ferry between the 29th of October and the 1st of November. The Twelfth Corps was left in the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry, to guard against another invasion of Maryland. Attached to it at this time were the Third and Fifth Maryland Infantry Regiments, Purnell’s Legion, and Cole’s cavalry.

On the 7th of November an order was received from Washington relieving Gen. McClellan of command and appointing Gen. Burnside as his successor. On the 13th of December, Burnside made an assault upon the Confederate heights in the rear of Fredericksburg, when ” a slaughter the most bloody and most useless of the war” took place. Gen. Jackson commanded on the right of the Confederate line, and Gen. Longstreet on the left. On the Federal side Franklin was on the left, Hooker occupied the center, and Sumner the right. The Federal attack was repulsed with a loss on the Union side of about fifteen thousand killed and wounded, and on the Confederate side of about five thousand. After the battle of Fredericksburg, Gen. Burnside was relieved of the command, and Gen. Hooker appointed in his stead. The Twelfth Corps, which had been left at Harper’s Ferry when McClellan advanced towards the Rappahannock, again joined the main army in the latter part of December. During its stay on the upper Potomac several reconnaissances were made to ascertain the location and strength of the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley. In one of these expeditions, made by the Second Division, under Gen. Geary, on the 9th of November, the Third Maryland and Purnell’s Legion participated. The division moved from Bolivar Heights to Rippon, within six miles of Berryville, driving back the enemy, and capturing prisoners, arms, horses, and cattle.

From the 2nd to the 6th of December, Cole’s cavalry and the Third Infantry formed part of a column under Gen. Geary, which marched to Winchester. En route Cole’s cavalry skirmished with the enemy’s cavalry at Charlestown, Berryville, and Ash Hollow. On the withdrawal of the Twelfth Corps from Harper’s Ferry, Cole’s cavalry and the Fifth Infantry were left in that vicinity, while the Purnell Legion was sent to Frederick City.

The First Maryland Cavalry did not accompany the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland campaign of 1862. It was given a more arduous duty in the defenses of Washington south of the Potomac. During the fall and winter months it made numerous reconnaissanees through the section of country lying between the Bull Run Mountains and the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. The regiment was kept almost incessantly in motion, picking up guerrillas, watching dangerous defiles, scouting across the country, always on the qui vive against attack or surprise.

On the 25th of October, 1862, while making one of these reconnaissanees, a detachment of the regiment was attacked near Manassas Junction by a superior force of the enemy, and had one man (Robert Starkey) killed, two officers (Lieuts. A. S. Dorsey and N. P. Patterson) wounded, and seven men captured. Again, on the 27th of December, a portion of the regiment, under Capt. Joseph H. Cook, aided in repulsing Stuart’s attack upon the town of Dumfries. After a sharp and determined fight, lasting several hours, the enemy was driven off with considerable loss. Capt. Cook was highly commended by Col. Candy, commanding the post, for his efficient services on this occasion. In the morning a detachment of the First, commanded by Capt. J. K. Buckley, had been sent from Dumfries on a scout in the direction of Stafford Store and Springs. Next day, while en route from Fairfax Station to the relief of the garrison of Dumfries, the Third Maryland Infantry took part in a skirmish with the enemy at a point between Occoquan Creek and the town of Dumfries. Finally, on the 31st of January, 1863, the First Cavalry left Hall’s Farm, four miles from Washington, and marched to Stafford Court-House, where it arrived on the 4th of February, and was attached to the cavalry brigade of the Eleventh Array Corps, Col. Kielmansegge, of the First, commanding. On the 12th of February it changed camp to Aquia Creek. Upon being assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps, Feb. 21, 1863, the First moved to near Belle Plain Landing. While here it performed picket duty on the Rappahannock.

In the meantime steps had been taken to reorganize the First Maryland Infantry, which had so greatly distinguished itself at Front Royal. On the 8th of June, 1862, the Secretary of War ordered the remnants of the regiment, then at Williamsport, to proceed without delay to Baltimore for reorganization, recruiting, and equipment. In accordance with this order the depleted regiment, under Capt. Thomas S. J. Johnson, proceeded to Baltimore, where Col. Kenly resumed command on the 15th of August. On the 22nd of the same month Col. Kenly was promoted brigadier-general of United States Volunteers for ” gallant conduct at the battle of Front Royal,” and on the 6th of September he was directed to organize and command a brigade of new troops. Two days after, on the 8th of September, 1862, Gen. Kenly assumed command of the ” Maryland Brigade,” which was composed of the First, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Regiments of Maryland Volunteers, then in process of formation in or near Baltimore, and Capt. Alexander’s battery of Baltimore Light Artillery. On the morning after the battle of Antietam the Maryland Brigade, except the Sixth Infantry and Alexander’s battery, left Baltimore for Hagerstown, which it reached at 2.30 a.m. on the 20th. It immediately marched towards Williamsport to reinforce the Pennsylvania militia, whom they found formed in line of battle about two and a half miles from the town, and engaged in a brisk skirmish with the advance cavalry of the enemy, who were approaching in the direction of Hagerstown. The brigade remained in line and under arms until the next day, when it marched in and occupied Williamsport, the enemy meantime having withdrawn to the Virginia side of the river.

The significance of this movement of the brigade is explained in the following extract from a letter of Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, addressed to Gen. Kenly:


“The enemy crossed at Williamsport in force, with cavalry, artillery, and infantry, on the afternoon of the 19th of September, 1862, and attacked the pickets of Gen. Reynolds between that place and Hagerstown. After night they approached his lines, then about three miles from the latter place. In the meantime large commissary and quartermaster stores and ammunition for the Army of the Potomac had arrived at Hagerstown. Gen. Reynolds had his men in line of battle, .and kept me informed as to the movements of the enemy. Between twelve and one o’clock the general came to Hagerstown, and a council was held in my room, composed of Gens. Andrew Porter and Herman Haupt, Maj. Vogdes, Capt. Gentry of Gen. Porter’s staff, and Col. John A. Wright of my staff. It seemed to be the united judgment of the military gentlemen that the enemy would attack in the morning, if not before, and serious apprehensions were entertained as to the result.

“Our troops were raw and undisciplined, and we were without efficient artillery. Preparations were ordered to ‘be made for the destruction of military stores and the removal of the troops, to be carried out if the enemy should attack in force, and if it should become apparent that we could not resist him. At two o’clock on the morning of the 20th you arrived with your command, the Maryland Brigade, en route to report to Gen. McClellan. I deemed the danger so imminent at that point that at my instance Gen. Reynolds was notified of your arrival and took command of yourself and troops. Your arrival relieved us all, and your troops marched directly to the front (notwithstanding the long and rapid march they had made and their need of rest and subsistence), where you remained until the enemy recrossed the Potomac, and Gen. Reynolds, by my direction, ordered the militia under his command to return to Pennsylvania. Although no battle was fought, your presence and the strength of your command encouraged us, and proved a material influence in compelling the enemy to withdraw to the right bank of the Potomac, and in checking the demonstration he was making on Hagerstown.”


The brigade went into camp just outside of Williamsport, on the road leading to Hagerstown and Clear Spring. Company A of the Seventh Regiment, Capt. E. M. Mobley, was detailed as the provost-guard of the town.

The command now formed part of Gen. Franklin’s Sixth Army Corps. The pickets of either army faced each other across the river, easily fordable and within comparatively short range. This led to an occasional interchange of compliments more spicy than courteous, but the practice was soon suppressed. Shortly after reaching Williamsport the brigade was again united by the arrival of the Sixth Infantry and Alexander’s battery, which had been left behind when the other regiments moved from Baltimore. During the night of September 23rd the Eighth Infantry, under Col. Denison, marched to Clear Spring, reaching there about daybreak. When the inhabitants of the village awoke their profuse hospitality demonstrated that the regiment was among friends. In a short time the whole command was breakfasted, and often in after and more dangerous times the generous reception at Clear Spring was pleasantly recalled by the soldiers of the Eighth.

On the afternoon of the 24th the regiment fell back some three miles towards the river, and took position on Cowton’s farm in support of a battery posted at Dam No. 5. It was relieved of this duty on the 10th of October, and returned to Williamsport. That day information was received by Gen. Kenly that Stuart’s cavalry was crossing the river at McCoy’s Ferry and moving towards Williamsport. The whole brigade was turned out under arms, the streets of the town barricaded, and every disposition made to hold the post. Capt. Russell’s company of the First Maryland Cavalry was dispatched in the direction of Clear Spring to watch the movements of the enemy. It was soon discovered that he was heading for Pennsylvania. After remaining under arms for three rainy days and nights the brigade was ordered back to camp. During this period of excitement there were the usual flying rumors and false alarms, with frequent ” falling in,” as if the enemy was actually at hand, and reported demonstrations upon the advanced pickets, concluding with the intelligence that Stuart had finally succeeded in effecting his escape across the river near the mouth of the Monocacy. In the pursuit of Stuart, Fiery ‘s cavalry company marched from New Creek, Va., to Mercersburg, Pa., whence it returned to Clear Spring, where for some time it was employed in guard and picket duty along the river front from Dam No. 5 to Cherry Run. The other companies of Cole’s battalion pursued the enemy vigorously on his return march, harassing him upon every occasion, and capturing seven men with horses and equipments of Wade Hampton’s Legion, about the only loss that Stuart suffered in this raid around the Army of the Potomac. Towards the end of October everything about Williamsport in the military line quieted down for the time. On the 29th of October the Seventh Infantry marched to Four Locks, where its headquarters were established. The several companies (except Company A, which remained at Williamsport) were distributed along a front of some five miles, guarding the fords of the Potomac and the culverts and draw-bridges of the canal from a point above McCoy’s Ferry to below Dam No. 5. On the 2nd of November, 1862, the Fourth Infantry, at the request of Governor Bradford, took its departure from Williamsport for Baltimore for service as guards at Camp Bradford, the general rendezvous of drafted men. On the 11th of December, Gen. Kenly marched with the First and Sixth Infantry for Maryland Heights, under orders to take post there. Next day the Seventh Infantry, under Lieut. -Col. Charles E. Phelps, marched back to William-sport, leaving; only Company I, Capt. Anderson, at Four Locks. Company G, Capt. Bragonier, continued its march to Dam No. 4. On the 13th of December four companies of the Seventh were ordered on provost duty at Hagerstown, and Capt. Bennett, of Company E, was appointed provost-marshal. On the 21st the Seventh Regiment (except Company B, left on provost duty in Hagerstown) was assembled at Williamsport, and in company with the Eighth and Alexander’s battery, and a squadron of the First Cavalry under Capt. Russell, proceeded, via Sharpsburg, to Maryland Heights.

Here the entire Maryland Brigade (the Fourth Regiment having rejoined it from detached service at Camp Bradford on the 17th of December) went into winter quarters, and the regular routine of drill and discipline was re-established.

The sojourn of the brigade in Western Maryland , was a bright page in its history. The feeling of the people towards the soldiers was, with very few exceptions, cordial and thoroughly sympathetic. When the brigade first entered Williamsport, upon the heels of the enemy’s cavalry, they were welcomed as deliverers, and, so far as opportunity for intercourse was permitted, with hospitality. The Union sentiment seemed to increase in volume and intensity as you approached the border. It was in some measure doubtless owing to the spirit inspired by the Virginia Union refugees that the loyalty of this southern border of Maryland was of a flavor that the word bitter would but feebly characterize.



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