In September 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee moved his Confederate army into Maryland so farmers in war-torn Virginia could complete their fall harvest. He also hoped that a military victory on Union soil would gain foreign support for the Southern cause. After several smaller confrontations, Lee’s ensuing campaign came to a head with the Battle of Antietam.
White’s Ferry to Frederick
Including MD 107, MD 109, MD 28, MD 355, MD 85, MD 80 & I-70
Confederate soldiers forded the Potomac River and entered Maryland near White’s Ferry. Cavalries then clashed in Poolesville, which was no stranger to Civil War action: In 1861, Union troops assembled here before being ferried into Virginia for the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, and in 1863, Confederate horsemen stormed through on their way to Gettysburg, Pa. Civil War exhibits are found inside the circa-1793 John Poole House.
Several miles due north, you’ll find the Monocacy National Battlefield. Well-known as the site of the July 1864 conflict dubbed “The Battle that Saved Washington,” Monocacy also played a key role during the Campaign of 1862. Ask at the battlefield visitor center for details about Lee’s “Lost Orders,” which were found in this area by a Federal private and given to Union Gen. George McClellan prior to the battle at Antietam.
Frederick — the site of a 50-block historic, cultural and commercial district — has both the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Barbara Fritchie House. Fritchie was a 95-year-old widow who, as poet John Greenleaf Whittier proclaimed, defiantly waved an American flag from her window as Confederate troops moved through town.