On the Home Front
One of the precipitating factors of the Civil War was the legendary Dred Scott vs Sanford case heard by the US Supreme Court in 1857. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, who launched his legal career in Frederick Town in 1801, delivered the landmark decision on behalf of the Court. Taney’s gravesite is in St. John’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in downtown Frederick. The Roger Brooke Taney House interprets a property once owned by the former Chief Justice and includes living quarters, a summer kitchen, and slave quarters. Learn more about this man who swore in seven U.S. Presidents. This site is operated by the Historical Society of Frederick County. Open seasonally.
At the Kennedy Farm House, visitors can see where John Brown stayed in 1859 prior to his ill-fated attack on the US Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. By appointment only: (202) 537-8900. Donation.
Stop by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Visitor Center at Ferry Hill Place where exhibits tell Civil War stories of the canal including the experiences of Ferry Hill resident Henry Kyd Douglas who grew up there and later served on Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s staff during the Maryland Campaign. Situated on a high bluff overlooking the Potomac River, along Route 34 near Sharpsburg. Open seasonally.
Explore the 1797 Union Mills Homestead and Grist Mill of the German-descended Shriver family and learn about the split loyalties and troop interaction among area residents. One set of Shrivers was strongly pro-Union, while relatives across the road favored the South. As the Battle of Gettysburg loomed, Confederate cavalry units on their way north stayed with the Southern-sympathizing Shrivers. Almost as soon as J.E.B. Stuart’s men rode off the next morning, Union troops set up camp with the Shrivers across the road. Interestingly, the pro-Southern Shrivers were not slave owners, while the pro-Union family did own slaves. Open seasonally, $
Frederick witnessed a steady stream of both Northern and Southern soldiers and full-blown military occupations of both armies from 1862 through 1864. In the last of these, Confederate General Jubal Early received his $200,000 from the town. Historians believe that Early’s ire with Frederick stemmed from his experience during Lee’s Invasion in the fall of 1862 in which the Confederates received a "cold reception" by loyal townspeople, including flag-waving heroines Mary Quantrill, Nancy Crouse of nearby Middletown, and Barbara Fritchie. Walk down the same streets as Stonewall Jackson and see where Fritchie made history in downtown Frederick. Today Frederick warmly welcomes you to experience its 50-block historic district and a variety of shopping, dining, entertainment, and public art experiences. For a comprehensive listing of Frederick area special events, historic sites, restaurants and shops, visit the website of the Tourism Council of Frederick County.
Now a vibrant area full of restaurants and specialty shops, Union troops came to downtown Westminster in August 1862 and arrested a number of local men accused of being secessionists. Just a few days before the Battle of Antietam, the town was occupied by Rebels. Unionists kept low profiles while Southern sympathizers entertained officers connected with a scouting party of Virginia Cavalry. Less than 10 months later, General George Meade made Westminster a major Union supply depot on July 1, 1863—the opening day of the Battle of Gettysburg. An estimated 5,000 wagons, 30,000 mules, and 10,000 men were quartered in the town. A Confederate force visited Westminster again on July 9, 1864, when CSA cavalry under Marylander Harry Gilmor dashed into town and cut telegraph lines. Visit Carroll County Tourism for more information on special events, museum sites, retail and dining opportunities.
Divided loyalty, riots, sackings, a newspaper office burning, and other incidents took place in Hagerstown as passions erupted before and during the war years. Even "Little Heiskell," Hagerstown’s symbolic weathervane of a Hessian soldier atop City Hall, could not escape the violence of war; a Rebel sharpshooter used it for target practice, shooting it through the heart. Today the weathervane is perched atop the Jonathan Hager House and Museum in Hagerstown City Park. Caught in the line of retreat, Hagerstown was the site of multiple skirmishes in the weeks following Gettysburg. Smallpox was a major problem during the war, with an outbreak spreading through the town. In 1864, Hagerstown avoided a Confederate torching by paying a $20,000 ransom. Hagerstown now boasts several historic buildings, thriving retail stores, fabulous restaurants, and a busy calendar of exciting downtown events. Interpretive markers throughout the town share stories about Hagerstown’s Civil War experience. The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau provides valuable information on upcoming events, restaurant and shopping opportunities and historic as well as cultural attractions.