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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sandy Hook in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Civil War Campgrounds

 
 
Civil War Campgrounds Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
1. Civil War Campgrounds Marker
Inscription. For more than three years - May 1862 through July 1865 - Union soldiers lived, worked, and played on Maryland Heights. They built numerous campgrounds on this inhospitable mountain that lacked water, level ground, or adequate sanitation conditions.

The stone walls, visible across this plateau, perhaps marked a camp boundary; they may simply be rock mounds piled by soldiers while clearing a camp site. As you continue along the trail, look for clues of encampments such as stone foundations and ground depressions.

A soldier's quarters could vary greatly, from primitive canopies and tents to elaborate log cabins. Whatever the style, all quarters on the Heights were built to protect the soldier from the weather - a nearly impossible task.
"After a varied experience of wind, snow, sleet, hail, rain, and mud, the men came to the conclusion that it was nowhere else than up here among these mountains that the weather was made and tried on."
-Joseph Kirkley, 7th Maryland Infantry

Heavy artillery units assigned to specific fortifications resided in huts or cabins weathered to withstand the harsh winters. This 1864 charcoal drawing of a Signal Corps campground reflects the elaborate quarters built on Maryland Heights.
"Our little group of five built our cabin on a bow of a hill, we dug down about three feet
Camp Diagram image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
2. Camp Diagram
The original is somewhat faded, but one can still make out the major sections of the fortifications and camp locations.
and leveled a space about eight by ten feet, the sides were built with logs and the chinks filled with clay; the roof was laid with saplings covered with the earth which we dug while leveling the space. We made a stove out of a piece of heavy sheet iron picked up in the ruins of the old arsenal at Harpers Ferry..."

-Frederick Wild, 1862
Baltimore Battery of Light Artillery

Sibley tents, often adjusted to suit the soldiers' needs, served as basic shelter for infantry regiments.
"The boys have raised the tent about 2 feet with logs and put the tent on top. The cracks they will plaster shut and then we can keep warm."
-William J. Reichard, October 1862
128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
 
Location. 39° 20.275′ N, 77° 43.315′ W. Marker is in Sandy Hook, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from Sandy Hook Road. Click for map. Located on the Stone Fort Trail loop of Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Marker is in this post office area: Knoxville MD 21758, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Charcoal Making on Maryland Heights (approx. mile away); Exterior Fort (approx. mile away); 100 - Pounder Battery - Heaviest and Highest
Civil War Campgrounds Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
3. Civil War Campgrounds Marker
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Interior Fort (approx. 0.3 miles away); Making a Mountain Citadel (approx. 0.3 miles away); Stone Fort (approx. 0.4 miles away); 30-Pounder Battery (approx. half a mile away); Hiking Maryland Heights (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Sandy Hook.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left of the marker is a "Plan of campgrounds and fortifications on Maryland Heights, by Col. P.A. Porter, 8th New York Heavy Artillery, July 1863." On the right is a photograph of an infantry camp using a Sibley Tent and a charcoal drawing of a heavy artillery camp.
 
Regarding Civil War Campgrounds. This marker is one of a set along the National Park Service's trail to the top of Maryland Heights. You can see the other markers in this set through the Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers link below.
 
Also see . . .
1. Maryland Heights. National Park Service details about the heights and the hiking trail. (Submitted on January 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers
Debris Stones image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
4. Debris Stones
These stones lined along the path, mentioned on the marker, could be a camp boundary or clearing line.
. A set of markers relating the history of Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. (Submitted on February 2, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Rock Piles on the Heights image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 22, 2007
5. Rock Piles on the Heights
Rock piles are common in this section of the heights. These could be remnants of tenting and cabin area, or just debris piled up to the side by the soldiers clearing the ground.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,283 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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