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Corn on the Cob in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area: Past to Present Day Experiences

July 12, 2021

Carroll County Food/Dining

Corn on the Cob in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area: Past to Present Day Experiences

For Marylanders, two foods are synonymous with summertime—crabs and corn on the cob. While crabbing can only be done farther east and south of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, corn is abundant during the summer months among the rural farmlands of Carroll, Frederick and Washington Counties. In fact, sweet corn is a summer ritual in this part of Maryland, where agricultural roots run deep. Whether you’re enjoying fresh corn for dinner from a nearby farmer’s market or buying in bulk from a local farm to build a freezer stash to enjoy in the off-season, you’ll find that Marylander’s take their sweet corn very seriously.

Corn During the Civil War
“I never saw such pretty country or an old one in my life,…splendid crops have been raised in this part of Maryland and everything good to eat.”—H. Watters Berryman of Co I 1st Texas describes Maryland during the Maryland Campaign of 1862

Corn is connected in many ways to our Civil War history in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. It was, in several different forms such as corn, cornmeal, cornbread and hominy, a staple of a Civil War soldier’s diet. Frequent references are made to the fact that during the Maryland Campaign of 1862, Confederate soldiers were living mostly off of apples and green corn. While green corn was most likely immature field corn, it was a far cry from the sweet corn that’s been cultivated today.

Antietam is home to the infamous cornfield, part of the D.R. Miller farm on the northern part of the battlefield, simply known today as The Cornfield because of the horrific carnage that took place there on the morning of September 17, 1862. By the time the morning phase of the battle shifted south, nearly 8,000 soldiers had been wounded or killed in and around Miller’s Cornfield, which had not yet been harvested. 

Union Mills Homestead Celebrates Corn with Annual Festival 

This August, Union Mills Homestead is celebrating its 50th Annual Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival. Though typically considered a side dish, corn is the main attraction at this long-running, annual event. Ticket holders can enjoy fried chicken, applesauce, sliced tomatoes, a roll, iced tea, lemonade and all the delicious roasted corn they can eat. Nothing says summer more than a delicious, old-fashioned menu like that, held in the tradition of picnics and frolics at the site in times gone by.

While there are many different ways to prepare corn on the cob, roasted corn may not seem as familiar as boiling or grilling corn. At the festival, corn is roasted in the husk and served right at your table. Unlike boiling, roasting keeps the kernels tender and juicy, and it won’t char like it does on the grill. It’s also much easier to separate the corn cob from the silk and husk after it’s been cooked. Hundreds of dozens of freshly-harvested corn are eaten at the festival each year. This event is a tradition for many families and a fun way to celebrate summer and delicious Maryland sweet corn!

Charissa Hipp

Contributing Author: Charissa Hipp

Charissa Hipp has a passion for connecting people to places through tourism marketing, storytelling, writing and hiking. A wife and mother of three, she is the Maryland Ambassador for Girls Who Hike and encourages people to connect with nature to experience its physical, mental and spiritual... Read More