Walking the fields where Blue met Gray, you'll gain a new appreciation for the Civil War's tragedies and triumphs.
Some of the most pivotal clashes of the Civil War were fought on Maryland soil. Start your trip with an eight-and-a-half-mile driving or cycling tour of Washington County's Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. On September 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee pitted his 41,000 men against a Union force twice that size; by nightfall, more than 23,000 soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. Today, more than 350 monuments decorate the battlefield.
Or explore South Mountain Battlefield State Park, Maryland’s first battlefield State Park and the site of the Battle of South Mountain which instigated the Battle of Antietam.
Visit the Boonsborough Museum of History, which contains items from both the Antietam and Gettysburg battles. Then have dinner in nearby Hagerstown, the site of several smaller battles and a launching point for others. In fact, in 1864, the city was threatened with destruction by a Confederate general unless a $20,000 ransom was paid.
Travel southeast to Frederick County, where a crucial battle to prevent an invasion of Washington, D.C., was fought on July 9, 1864. At Monocacy National Battlefield, you'll see where a small Union force of 5,800 managed to stall the advance of a Confederate army of 18,000 for a full day. The rebels eventually won the field, but the battle lasted long enough to allow troops to assemble to protect the capital.
The Barbara Fritchie House and Museum in nearby Frederick is a reconstruction of the original home of the sassy heroine immortalized in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier for the wit and courage she showed while heckling rebel soldiers as they passed through town. Also in Frederick is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, where the harsh realities of 19th-century battlefield medicine are examined, as well as the compassion exhibited and advances made by medical personnel on both sides.
Carroll County remained relatively untouched by the battles which raged around it, but it played an important part in the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg. Retrace the paths of the Union and Confederate armies as they moved toward that monumental encounter on the "Roads to Gettysburg" driving tour. This 25-stop journey includes a mini-tour detailing Corbit's Charge, a cavalry skirmish that prevented Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart's men from reaching Gettysburg in time to deliver critical support to Lee's forces. Both Union and Confederate troops bivouacked at Union Mills within the same day on their way north. The Union Mills Homestead, a clapboard farmhouse, still stands today. The family that built the home, the Shrivers, sent men to fight on both sides of the war.
The Antietam Campaign: Lee Invades Maryland
Gettysburg:Invasion & Retreat