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Maryland's Civil War

Chesapeake Bay Area


Although no big battles were fought in or around the Chesapeake Bay during the war, the region doesn't lack interesting and diverse Civil War stories. Divided loyalties resulted in continuous political intrigue. African Americans suffered as slaves and tasted freedom through the Underground Railroad and later as soldiers in the Union army. Prisoners of war wasted away at Point Lookout. And spies, smugglers and blockade runners operated from hundreds of inlets and dozens of rivers and streams that feed the Bay.

Visiting the Chesapeake-area sites: The area included in two Maryland Civil War Trails regional maps, "John Wilkes Booth, Escape of an Assassin and War on the Chesapeake Bay" and "Baltimore: A House Divided," covers territory east and south of the Capital Beltway (I-495), south of Annapolis and east across the Bay to the "Eastern Shore." The easiest way to reach the Eastern Shore sites is to take the Bay Bridge (Route 50/301) east from Annapolis. The Booth Escape Route tour begins in Washington DC and runs roughly south into Virginia west of the Bay. The Baltimore tour covers the city and its suburbs.


Western Shore
Booth Escape Trail

St. Mary's County

Point Lookout State Park
End of Route 5 at the Chesapeake Bay
301-872-5688
   Originally a small resort community, this picturesque site became a Union hospital and then, beginning in early 1863, a prison holding captured Confederate soldiers. By June 1864 more than 20,000 prisoners crowded the camp. Terrible conditions led to the deaths of 3,384 men. Cemetery and monuments to the prisoner dead are located near the entrance to the multi-use park. Visitor center has Civil War exhibits and features walking trails to the prison site. Park open year-round. Call for visitor center hours. Park fee charged per vehicle. Civil War Trails sign.

Chaptico
Trails sign located on Route 234 at Route 238
    Blockade runners ran medicine and other supplies from here across the Potomac River. The town supplied troops of both armies and was home to adventurer Richard Thomas, known as the "French Lady," who led a daring attempt to capture a Union gunboat in Baltimore.

LighthouseSt. Clement's Island Lighthouse
Trails located at end of Route 242 at the Potomac River
    Lighthouses throughout the Bay area were in danger of attack from Confederate regular forces and sympathizers. An attack here on May 19, 1864, didn't damage the lighthouse but ruined its effectiveness by destroying its lens and lamp.

Leonardtown
Trails sign south of Route 234 at the courthouse
    A hotbed of Confederate sympathy, the town teemed with spies and blockade runners. Union forces occupied the town in the summer of 1861.

Piney Point Lighthouse
Trails sign off Route 249 in the state park
    Huge amounts of material destined for the Confederacy crossed near here during the war.

Sotterley Plantation
Trails sign off Route 245 at front gate to site
    Home to Dr. Walter Hanson Stone Briscoe and three of his sons who served in the Confederate army. A plantation slave, George, later joined the United States Colored Troops and faced one of the Briscoe sons at Petersburg.

Charles County

Camp Stanton
Trails sign south of Route 231 (turn on Benedict Avenue, then right at Mill Creek)
    This area was a recruiting and training post for the United States Colored Troops established in 1863 in the heart of Maryland's Southern sympathizer country.

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

Annapolis: The U.S. Naval Academy Museum has some Civil War content; the Banneker-Douglass Museum honors African-American heroes Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass; and the Maryland General Assembly meeting in the State House was the first to emancipate its slaves by legislation in 1864.

Owens Memorial
Trails sign on Ed Prout Road off Route 408 north of Route 4
    Monument here honors Pvt. Benjamin Welch Owens, who joined the Confederate armed forces in 1863 and was recognized for heroism at Stephenson's Depot near Winchester.

Belair Mansion
Trails sign on Belair Avenue (take the Belair Avenue exit west from US 3 north of US 50 intersection)
    Plantation owner George Cooke Ogle and family struggled to survive amid political turmoil and the heavy hand of Union authorities hoping to keep the area's Confederate sympathy in check.

Sandy Point Farm
Trails sign at Sandy Point State Park north of Route 50 on the Bay
    The story of more than 100 area slaves who joined the United States Colored Troops is told here.

Prince George's County

Fort Washington Park (NPS)
Suburban Washington DC
Capital Beltway I-495 Exit 3A to Fort Washington Road
301-763-4600
    This massive 1820s fortification was the only Washington DC Potomac River defense early in the war. Living history and monthly artillery demonstrations offered here. Open 9 am–5 pm April-September and until 4:30 pm rest of year. Grounds open 8 am–dark. $5 per vehicle.

Fort Foote
South of Fort Washington
Take Route 210 south to Old Fort Road, then west
    Another of the Federal Potomac River fortifications designed to protect Washington DC. Named to honor Adm. Andrew H. Foote, who was famous for his actions on the Mississippi River. Part of the Fort Washington Park.

See also Booth Escape Tour


Western Shore
Baltimore Trail

Cecil County

Port Deposit (Snow's Battery)
Trails sign on Route 222
    Port Deposit men organized a battery of artillery here and joined the Union Army in the spring of 1862. The gunners saw action in many of the major campaigns in the East and were in the thick of things during the Battle of Antietam.

Mule SchoolRoger's Tavern (Perryville Mule School)
Trails sign off Route 327, south of Route 7
    Often overlooked in the study of Civil War history is the importance of horses and mules to the armed forces. Beyond the obvious cavalry uses, millions of horses and mules were needed to pull artillery and wagons during the war. The animals needed training and this was the location of one such facility. An estimated 1.5 million mules and horses were wounded or killed during the war.

Perryville
Trails sign located in the Perryville Community Park
    This tiny waterfront town became a vitally important Union staging area in the first weeks of the war as Confederate sympathizers tried to cut area rail lines and burn bridges to prevent Federal troops from reaching Baltimore and Washington.

Harford County

Bel Air Court House
Trails sign at courthouse, Main Street and Business U.S. Route 1
    On July 31, 1861, Union troops occupied the courthouse grounds, then dispersed to "round up" suspected Confederate sympathizers. The effort resulted in several arrests.

See also Baltimore Tour.


Eastern Shore
Booth Escape Trail

Queen Anne's County

Queenstown
Trails sign on Route 18 at the old courthouse just east the US 50 intersection
    Divided loyalties plagued this area throughout the war. Many of the large land-and-slave owners ended up losing everything. Many blacks gained their freedom due to state emancipation or recruitment into the United States Colored Troops.

Caroline County

Hillsboro
Trails sign south of Route 404 on the east bank of Tuckahoe Creek
    Many of abolitionist Frederick Douglass' "tales of horror" about his life in slavery were based on his experiences near Hillsboro in the 1820s.

Greensboro (Letter to Lincoln)
Trails sign in front of the police station on off Route 313
    A letter sent by a loyal Union resident here pleaded with President Abraham Lincoln to help loyalists against secessionists in their midst, often their neighbors.

Denton (Revolution or Fraud)
Trails sign at the courthouse
    Signs here tell the story of a possible vote fraud that led to the narrow passage of a bill in the Maryland state legislature emancipating Maryland's slaves in 1864.

Old Hartford Town Maritime Center (Nest of Traitors)
Trails sign at the site (turn left on Business 404 south of the Choptank, then left onto 328)
    On Aug. 17, 1862, 12 local citizens were arrested for alleged pro-Southern sympathies and packed off to Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Linchester Mill (Underground Railroad)
Trails sign at the site (turn onto Route 817 from Route 331/318)
    Two major stations on the Underground Railroad were located near here. One operated by Harriett Tubman.

Talbot County

Trappe (Nathaniel Hopkins)
Trails sign on Main Street at US 50
    This was home to Nathaniel Hopkins, born a slave, who later served in the United States Colored Troops. He returned home to help establish a celebration of Emancipation Day.

Unionville (7th US Colored Troops)
Trails sign 3 miles west of Easton on Route 370
    Eighteen local slaves and free blacks answered an early call for the United States Colored Troops in 1863. Becoming part of the 7th US Colored Troops, the men were recognized for their bravery. After the war, the soldiers returned home and formed this community.

Oxford Wharf
Trails sign located at the Oxford Museum, 100 S Morris St, Oxford MD 21654
 Road Map 
    Recruitment efforts for the United States Colored Troops were successful throughout Maryland’s Eastern Shore and this wharf became the main debarkation point for those recruits for a training camp on the Patuxent River. Troops from that camp later served in Virginia and saw combat at the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg and on Lee’s Retreat to Appomattox.

Dorchester County

Bucktown (Harriet Tubman)
Trails sign at Bucktown and Greenbriar roads
    Celebrated Underground Railroad figure Harriet Tubman spent her early years at a plantation near here. In addition to that role, she served as a nurse with the U.S Army and helped recruit United States Colored Troops.

Cambridge (Anna Ella Carroll and Eastern Shore Infantry)
Trails signs at All Trinity Church, six miles west of Cambridge on Route 16,
and at the Cambridge Town Library, Pace and High streets
    Anna Ella Carroll, born on the Eastern Shore in 1815, was an avid Union supporter, newspaper reporter and author. Often called an unofficial member of Lincoln's cabinet, her research on geographical features in the Tenneesee and Mississppi Valleys helped formulate Union military campaigns. The 1st Regiment Eastern Shore Maryland Volunteers were raised near here and helped protect Union interests in the area. The soldiers were called to fight at Gettysburg in July 1863. The site also highlights Maryland Gov. Thomas Holliday Hicks (1858-1862, who helped keep the state in the Union during the critical days in 1861.

Worcester County

Berlin (Cpl. Isaiah Fassett)
Trails sign south of US 50
Turn onto Route 113 then east on Branch Road
    Before the Maryland legislature emancipated all slaves in the state on Nov. 1, 1864, slave men could gain freedom if they joined the United States Colored Troops. But the former owners of the new soldiers had to be compensated. One such case was Isaiah Fassett, born a slave near here. He became a soldier in 1863. The U.S. Army paid his owner $300.

Worcester County Courthouse
Trails sign located at 104 W Market St, Snow Hill MD 21863
 Road map 
   In a show of Union strength on the Eastern Shore, about 4,500 US Army soldiers assembled here in early November 1861 for a march south to Virginia. The Federals encountered a few Confederates, who promptly fled. Among the Union soldiers' other task was to repair lighthouses and reassure the civilian population. The expedition ended Nov. 22 and was considered a success.

See also Booth Escape Tour


Eastern Shore
Baltimore Trail

Chestertown

Kent County Courthouse (John Leeds Barroll)
Trails sign at the Kent County Courthouse
    Newspaperman Barroll was arrested by Federal officials for publishing a treasonous article in 1863. He was imprisoned in Fort McHenry, later released and banished from Union-controlled territory.

Monument Park (White, Black, Blue and Gray)
Trails sign in Monument Park on High Street
    Monument here, commemorated in 1917, bears the names of Civil War soldiers from Kent County — who served on both sides. Many of the same family names can be seen serving the Union and the Confederacy.

Charles Sumner Post, G.A.R.
Trails sign on Queen Street south of Cannon Street
    This meeting hall is a rare example of surviving Grand Army of the Republic buildings that were erected by and served United States Colored Troops veterans.

See also Baltimore Tour.