York's hometown heroes helped save Washington
As Confederate Gen. Jubal Early approached the green Monocacy River on the road to Washington in the hot, dry summer of 1864, he wasn't expecting much of a fight.
But instead of green militia at the river bridges, Early's army ran into 10 seasoned Union regiments — including the 87th Pennsylvania, York County men who would face their fiercest fight of the Civil War this day.
And 150 years later, Jeremy Murphy, chief ranger at the Monocacy National Battlefield, doesn't quite know what to expect this week when commemorations begin for the battle credited with saving the national capital 150 years ago. Certainly not the tens of thousands who descended on Gettysburg last year for its anniversary. But for a park that counts its busy summer days in hundreds of visitors, it could be quite a spectacle, replete with historians, a full battery of artillery and dashing Southern horsemen.
“We just don't know,” Murphy says matter-of-factly.
But like the soldiers 150 years ago, the National Park Service is doing what it can to get ready. Staffers, park volunteers and youth conservation corps members have been clearing brush, ripping up non-historic fence and readying exhibits for home tours and other special programs related to the 150th.
July 9 marks the anniversary of the battle, fought just south of Frederick. There will be a reading of the names of the casualties at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick — including the 96 York County men of the 87th killed, wounded or captured at Monocacy, barely 70 miles from home.
Heavily outnumbered, the Union positions at Monocacy finally crumbled, leaving about 1,200 casualties, killed wounded and captured, behind. The Confederates, who lost somewhere between 800 and 1,000 men, could claim their first and only victory on “Union” soil.
Still, the defeat bought the Union a precious day to reinforce Washington, and while Early pressed his forces forward to the capital, he got no further than the ring of forts defending the District of Columbia.
The anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy is July 9, but the National Park Service is sponsoring a number of events, tours and living-history demonstrations beginning this weekend.
Events begin Saturday morning with a 9 a.m. orientation on how the battle was fought and won. Events the first weekend focus on the battle, while those of July 12-13 concentrate on the stories of slavery, civilians and a historic home tour.
The July 9 anniversary events include an opening ceremony in the morning, “real-time” battlefield hikes and an evening “Remembrance of the Fallen.”
On July 11, a bus tour will travel from Monocacy to Fort Stevens in the District of Columbia, where the Confederate attack on Washington faltered and President Lincoln came under enemy fire. Registration is required for this $50 tour.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor
- Manchin, Toomey to seek greater flexibility for veterans’ career counselors
- Comcast cuts showings of anti-pigeon shooting commercial featuring Barker
- Police: Suspect Frein in Pa. trooper ambush ‘extremely dangerous’
- Retiring circuit judge, a Carnegie native, ‘helped tutor generations’
- Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
- Police: Drunk prowler stole only Altoona couple’s candy
- ‘Racy’ emails could stay hidden under Pennsylvania open records law
- State police trooper shot dead outside northeastern Pa. barracks
- Activist spotlights nation’s food waste with Pa. stop
- Man charged in slaying reported voices, police say