Monocacy National Battlefield has been in the news recently because Frederick County, MD planned to build a waste to energy facility, basically an incinerator, within sight of many core areas of the battlefield. The board of supervisors recently dropped the proposal by a vote of 5-1. While this is certainly good news, we can only hope the idea never resurfaces.
I visited Monocacy briefly at the end of April. Changes in the park over the last few years are impressive and exciting. The new visitors center expands on the exhibits available in the former Gambrills Mill facility, from a more attractive display of the fiber optic map to interactive displays for younger visitors. A new tour stop now exists on the Best Farm, site of the skirmishing north of the Washington Turnpike Bridge and also of several Confederate battery positions.
With the addition of the Best Farm to the Thomas and Worthington Farms already included in the park, it now encompasses most of the corps areas of the battlefield where Early’s troops struggled against veterans of Rickett’s division of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Sadly, with the exception of a small city park featuring several Civil War Trails markers, the Jug Bridge (northern) sector has not been preserved.
While visiting, I purchased B.Franklin Cooling’s Monocacy, The Battle that Saved Washington. Cooling’s work places the campaign in context, captures Wallace’s desperation as commander of a hastily assembled defense force, and explains the reasons for Early’s failure to seize the Washington fortifications following his victory at Monocacy. It is a serviceable account with sufficient tactical detail, though the maps are a bit lacking. I look forward to the upcoming account (2010?) by J.D. Petruzzi and Eric Wittenberg. Given their previous work, we can expect a first rate tactical account, as well as a driving/hiking tour of campaign and battle sites.
I plan to spend more time at Monocacy this summer, and will likely post on the Thomas and Worthington Farm trails, where most of the heavy fighting occurred.
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