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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Druid Hill

Strategic Union Encampment

 
 
Druid Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, May 4, 2008
1. Druid Hill Marker
Inscription. Within a year of the April 1861 Baltimore Riots, the first of several U.S. Army camps and fortifications began encircling Druid Hill, and important location high above the city and adjacent to the Northern Central Railroad. The 114th and 150th New York Infantry Regiments occupied Camp Belger (Fort No. 5) here, named for Col. James Belger, quartermaster for of the Middle Department headquartered in Baltimore , March 1862. At least fifteen regiments eventually encamped here near the intersection of Madison and North Avenues, in the shadow of the park's main gates.

In July 1863, Druid Hill became known as Camp Birney, after Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton assigned Gen. William Birney, son of an abolitionist, to recruit African Americans for U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) regiments. Birney freed 16 shackled slaves from a Pratt Street slave pen when they promised to enlist. He also organized the 7th USCT here, as well as the 4th and 39th USCTs in 1864. The most notable member of the 4th USCT was college-educated Sgt. Maj. Christian Abraham Fleetwood, born free in Baltimore on July 21, 1840. He enlisted on August 17, 1863, and was one of 14 USCTs awared the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm near Richmond, Virginia.

[sidebar]
At the October 1860 ceremonies opening 745-acre Druid Hill Park,
Marker, with the old Druid Hill Park gates in the background image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, May 4, 2008
2. Marker, with the old Druid Hill Park gates in the background
Mayor Thomas Swann said, "We are here to proclaim the equality of rights to all, and to dedicate this park, now and forever, to the people of this great city." Fast-growing Baltimore had burgeoning industry, a majority foreign-born population, and the largest number of urban free blacks in the country. Druid Hill, funded by taxing privately owned horse-drawn railways, was the nation's third large urban "country park" after New York's Central Park (1858) and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park (1859).
 
Erected by Maryland Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails, and the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
 
Location. 39° 18.946′ N, 76° 38.444′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is at the intersection of Swann Drive and Druid Park Lake Drive, on the right when traveling north on Swann Drive. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Baltimore MD 21217, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. These Citizens by Subscribing for the Park Stock in 1860 (within shouting distance of this marker); Eli Siegel (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); William Wallace (about 600 feet away); A Memorial Rose Garden
View from the marker to the Druid Hill Reservoir image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, May 4, 2008
3. View from the marker to the Druid Hill Reservoir
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Breaking the Back of Segregation (approx. 0.4 miles away); In Memory of Harvey J. Burns, Jr. (approx. 0.4 miles away); A Sense of Sanctuary (approx. 0.4 miles away); Wagner (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Baltimore.
 
More about this marker. A drawing of Camp Belger, Baltimore, Md., 114th Regiment New York Volunteers Courtesy Maryland Historical Society is on the lower left of the marker. The upper center contains a photograph of the Druid Hill Park entrance gateway, circa 1875, credited to the Maryland Historical Society. The marker also displays portraits of Gen. William Birney, Christian A. Fleetwood, and Thomas Swann (in the sidebar).
 
Also see . . .  Camp Belger / Belger Barracks. Lithographs of, and links to letters from, Camp Belger during the Civil War. The web site is part of that dedicated to the 150th Regiment, New York Infantry, mentioned on the marker. (Submitted on September 18, 2008.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 3,164 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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