Bas relief on the monument to Maj. William Wells at Gettysburg National Military Park. On the afternoon of July 3, 1863, after the final Confederate attack had been repulsed, Union cavalry commander Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Elon John Farnsworth to charge the Confederate’s right flank. The terrain was rocky and uneven, and Farnsworth protested the order. Never-the-less, he obeyed, and accompanied the 1st Vermont Cavalry, commanded by Maj. William Wells. Farnsworth had two horses shot out from under him before he was killed–shot five times. Wells survived, earning the Medal of Honor.
For over a century, the Catoctin Iron Furnace smelted iron, its forges spewing smoke and burning red hot. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it fueled the machines of war. Much of this backbreaking work was done by slaves.
Catoctin Iron Furnace is a historic iron forge along U.S. Route 15 from Frederick to Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland. Though forges were present when the ironworks were operational, there is currently no forge at the site. But you can still tour the grounds and the ruins of the “Isabella forge” casting shed and the owner’s mansion.
In 1774, four brothers: Thomas, Baker, Roger, and James Johnson, built Catoctin Furnace to manufacture pig iron from locally-mined hematite. The oven produced cannonballs for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, including shells fired during Yorktown’s siege. Some claim it also provided cannon and produced plates for the USS Monitor during the Civil War, but researchers consider that improbable.
On the eve of the American Revolution, the Johnson brothers eyed the Monocacy River Valley’s industrial potential. They acquired land under Catoctin Ridge and erected an iron furnace. The original Johnson Oven burned until 1776, producing useful tools and household products including the famous “Catoctin Stove,” also called the “Ten Plate Stove” and the “Franklin Stove”.
Visit the scene of J.E.B. Stuart’s last decisive victory in Virginia before it is erased forever by suburban sprawl.
The Battle of Buckland Mills was fought on October 19, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Fauquier County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The skirmish, though small, was the last decisive Confederate victory in Virginia, resulting in 230 total casualties and the route of Kilpatrick’s cavalry.
Following the Gettysburg Campaign, both the Union Army of the Potomac and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia were exhausted and needed time to recover, and both Maj. Gen. George G. Meade and Gen. Robert E. Lee sent units to reinforce Tennessee. This resulted in the often overlooked Bristoe Campaign, when Lee decided to go on the offensive against a depleted Union army. After being bruised at the Battle of Bristoe Station on October 14th, Lee tasked his cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to cover their retreat.
Visit the site where Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart and his men escaped capture in this little-known Civil War skirmish.
The First and Second Battles of Auburn (aka Coffee Hill) were fought on October 13-14, 1863, between elements of the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. William H. French and Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren and elements of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell in Fauquier County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The minor battles were part of the Bristoe Campaign and resulted in approximately 163 total casualties. Both were inconclusive.
Following the Gettysburg Campaign, the opposing forces were exhausted and needed time to recover, and both Maj. Gen. George G. Meade and Gen. Robert E. Lee sent units to reinforce Tennessee. This resulted in the often overlooked Bristoe Campaign, when Lee decided to go on the offensive against a depleted Union army. He sent his cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart north to distract Meade from his movements. Stuart caught up with the Union left flank in Fauquier County on October 13th.
This little-known Civil War cavalry battle in northern Virginia played a key role in the Gettysburg Campaign’s opening phase.
The Battle of Aldie was fought on June 17, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate cavalry commanded by Col. Thomas T. Munford in Loudoun County, Virginia during the American Civil War. An inconclusive prelude to the Battle of Middleburg, the Battle of Aldie was part of the Gettysburg Campaign and resulted in approximately 424 casualties.
On June 1, 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slipped away from the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, and headed north to invade Pennsylvania. Lee entrusted his cavalry commander, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, to screen his army’s movement from the enemy. Stuart’s cavalry fanned out across the Loudoun Valley in northern Virginia.
Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was a Maryland lawyer and author who wrote the poem that became famous as the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner“, our national anthem. During the War of 1812, Key was aboard a British ship negotiating the release of American prisoners during the Battle of Baltimore and witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
The sights inspired him to write a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, which was later put to music and re-titled “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Key and his wife were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery Frederick, Maryland and this monument was erected in his honor.
A small park and cemetery memorializes one of the most lopsided and controversial battles of the American Civil War.
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The Battle of Ball’s Bluff was fought on October 21, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone and Col. Edward D. Baker and Confederate forces commanded by Col. Nathan “Shanks” Evans near Leesburg, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a humiliating defeat for Union forces, including the loss of a U.S. Senator, and led Congress to establish the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
After the First Battle of Bull Run ended notions of a quick Union victory, President Abraham Lincoln authorized Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan to form the Army of the Potomac and plan another advance into Virginia. Leesburg, Virginia was a strategic town on the Potomac River, so McClellan ordered Brig. Gen. George A. McCall to investigate Confederate troop movements in the area. McClellan was under the impression that Confederate Col. Nathan “Shanks” Evans had abandoned Leesburg, when in fact his withdrawal was temporary.
On the night of October 20, 1861, Col. Charles Devens of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry sent a patrol across the Potomac River to recon the area. A jittery officer sent word that he had seen a Confederate camp, so Devens sent a raiding party of 300 men across the river the next morning. Though there was no camp, Colonel and U.S. Senator Edward Dickinson Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, ordered more Union troops to reinforce the 15th Massachusetts.