I found myself on a battlefield this week. My brother and I were passing through Frederick, Md., on our way home to Baltimore from West Virginia when I suggested we stop at the Monocacy National Battlefield.
We often pass over the Monocacy River on our way to my cabin in Great Cacapon, WV, and when I heard a recent news piece about the formation of the Monocacy National Battlefield Foundation, I wondered why I had never heard of the battlefield, and decided to stop by and check it out.
Turns out this little-known site actually played a pivotal role in the Civil War in 1864, when it was the site of a battle that, although the North lost, proved to slow the progress of Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early, who was making for Washington, D.C. with 15,000 troops to take the Capitol.
Early and his men met about 6,500 mostly un-battle-tested Union soldiers at Monocacy Junction, a strategic B&O Railroad junction in Frederick.
The battle took place on July 9, 1864, and although the Union forces put up a good fight, they could not match Early’s numbers. Several key strategies, including burning a covered bridge that would have hastened Early’s arrival in Washington, saved the Union from a larger assault on the nation’s capital:
“Although the battle was a military victory for the Confederates and their only victory in the north, it was also a defeat. The time spent fighting the battle cost the Confederates a crucial day of marching and provided the Union time to send reinforcements to Washington, D.C. General Early’s army returned to Virginia and the remainder of the war was fought on southern soil. Because of General Wallace’s valiant delaying action, the Battle of Monocacy became known as “The Battle that Saved Washington, D.C.”
As my brother and I made our way through the well-organized and informative museum on the second floor of the Visitor’s Center and hiked around the battlefield to Monocacy Junction, I thought about the current “Battle for Washington” now brewing, started by the new president – a Nationalist and Isolationist whose policies and support base seem to echo much of the ideology forwarded during the Civil War by the Confederate States – preferring “state’s rights” to a unified federal government and holding on to a nation’s past that put white Christian rights and freedoms over and above those of other races and religions.
After hearing today about the federal judge who stopped the president’s “Muslim travel ban” on the grounds it is unconstitutional, I thought, well, perhaps these and other strategies will prove to slow and ultimately halt the current takeover of the nation’s capital, and common sense, equality, fairness and Democracy will prevail, winning the Second Battle that Saved Washington, D.C.
Monocacy National Battlefield is definitely worth a visit, get more info here: