The story below is an excerpt from our May/June 2014 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
The Worthington House
The Worthington House was built in 1851 and remained in the family until 1953. It was used as a field hospital during the Civil War.
This easy walk amid the history of 150 years ago also includes a ridge-line oak-hickory forest.
A civil war battle that you may not know about took place during the summer of 1864. When compared to other, multi-day battles, it was little more than a skirmish (although hundreds died), yet this one-day conflict was one of the most important of the war; it almost certainly saved Washington, D.C. from being captured by the Confederacy.
Earlier that year, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army had dug in near Petersburg and Richmond, Va., as Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant laid siege to the area. The tactic was working, in large part because Grant had bolstered his forces by transferring thousands of troops from forts that surrounded Washington. Realizing the city was almost without defenses, Lee dispatched Lieutenant General Jubal Early and 15,000 troops to travel the Shenandoah Valley, pass through Maryland and capture the Union capitol.
Crossing the Potomac River, Early’s army turned eastward near Frederick, Md. Alerted to these movements, Union Major General Lew Wallace marched a group of fewer than 3,000 (most had little combat experience) to Monocacy Junction, the logical point that Early would have to go through to continue to Washington. An additional 3,000 men sent by Grant from Petersburg arrived on the morning of July 9, shortly before the Confederates began to attack. Outnumbered three to one, Union troops held the southern soldiers at bay until late in the day. With 1,300 men dead, wounded, missing or captured, Wallace ordered a retreat to Baltimore. Although Early won the battle, his army was delayed long enough to enable Federal reinforcements to arrive in Washington to prevent its capture. Thus ended the Confederacy’s third and final invasion of Northern territory.