Middletown in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Advance, Retreat, and Refuge in Middletown
In the Path of War
By the time of the Civil War, the National Road—later US 40—had long been the principal east-west turnpike in the region, eventually linking Baltimore with St. Louis. This renowned "Road That Opened the West" allowed armies to move masses of men, artillery, and supply wagons across the mountain passes and valleys.
In September 1864, just west of town, Confederates turned the bridge over Catoctin Creek to impede the Union drive toward South Mountain. The Koogle House, used as a Rebel headquarters by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, was spared.
Hospital Volunteer Isabella Fogg, a volunteer with the Maine Camp Hospital Association, visited the emergency hospitals in Middletown after the Battle of Antietam. She spoke highly of the care her New England soldiers received here.
Zion Lutheran Church
This iconic structure just across the street was built in 1809 and witnessed the passage of thousands of Civil War soldiers. After the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. In 1862, the U.S. Army set up a major hospital inside. In 1865 Middletown held a memorial service here for President Abraham Lincoln.
Baer House — Surgeon's Quarters
This house once stood on the corner beside the Lutheran Church. When hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers poured into town in September 1862, the U.S. Army's Chief Surgeon William Thompson and many of his medical staff moved in.
Burials in the School Yard
Hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers who died here were buried beside the public school. This building shown here replaced the old school in 1881. After the war most of the bodies were moved—the
Middletown changed little during the 1900s. This 1890 photo of an Odd Fellows parade reflects the appearance of the town when the troops marched through. On the right is the Lutheran Lecture Hall, used as a hospital in 1862 and 1864.
Tradition holds that outside her home here on September 6, 1862, Nannie Crouse defied the Confederate cavalry. She wrapped herself in a Union flag and refused to surrender it until a Confederate soldier put a gun in her hand.
In September 1862, Union commander Gen. George B. McClellan climbed the bell tower to watch the Battle of South Mountain unfold. Both the church and the adjacent Reformed Academy served as hospitals.
Signal Corps officers, positioned in the bell tower of the Reformed Church, could send coded messages to other signal stations using "wig-wag" flags.
The Maryland Campaign
Although you could see the soldiers in the streets here throughout the Civil War, the most dramatic scenes unfolded in the fall of 1862. Confederate cavalry clashed with lead units of the Union Army of the Potomac headed toward Antietam. Townspeople took cover as bullets flew in all directions.
In late June, Union troops flooded into Middletown in pursuit of Lee's Army threatening Pennsylvania. Along the way soldiers noted fresh graves and bullet holes in their buildings here from the 1862 street fighting.
After the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg on July 3, Union commander Gen. George Meade sent several divisions through Middletown to engage Lee.
Early's Maryland Invasion
After Union forces devastated the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Confederate General Jubal Early brought the war to Maryland farms and towns. On July 7, he drove Union units out of Middletown and across the mountain toward Frederick. He hoped that an attack on Washington, D.C., might save the beleaguered South.
On July 8, Confederates demanded a $5,000 ransom from Middletown: Pay or see the town go up in flames. Town officials asked for more time, and General Early agreed to $1,500 to be delivered by 7:00 AM the next morning, with the balance due that evening. Fortunately for Middletown, the Confederates had to leave on the 9th before collecting the remaining $3,500.
Erected by Main Street Middletown.
Marker series. This marker is included in the The Historic National Road marker series.
Location. 39° 26.63′ N, 77° 32.8′ W. Marker is in Middletown, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is on West Main Street (Alternate U.S. 40) just east of South Jefferson Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 28 West Main Street, Middletown MD 21769, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Middletown (here, next to this marker); Middletown in the Path of War (here, next to this marker); In Commemoration (a few steps from this marker); 29 West Main Street (a few steps from this marker); Valley Savings Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); 31 West Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 13 West Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Main's Ice Cream Factory (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Middletown.
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Credits. This page was last revised on December 29, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 29, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 34 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 29, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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