Battle of Maryland Heights

Battle of Maryland Heights (HM14I6)

Location: Knoxville, MD 21758 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 22.14', W 77° 40.201'

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Maryland's First Civil War Battle

— Antietam Campaign 1862 —

(Preface): After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's smashing victory over Union Gen. John Pope at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee decided to invade the North to reap the fall harvest, gain Confederate recruits, earn foreign recognition, and perhaps compel the Union to sue for peace. The Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac River on September 4, 1862. Lee divided his force, detaching Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's command to capture Harpers Ferry. At Antietam Creek on September 17, Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac fought Lee's men to a bloody draw. Lee retreated to Virginia September 18-19.

On September 12-13, 1862, Maryland's first battle of the Civil War ranged on the mountain in front of you. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had ordered Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to capture or destroy the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry that threatened the Confederate line of supply and communication during Lee's first invasion of the North. Jackson's subordinate, Gen. Lafayette McLaws, received the difficult task of seizing this mountain.

Four miles to your left is the Potomac River and a gap in the mountains of the Blue Ridge, where Harpers Ferry is located. There, 14,000 Union soldiers threatened the Confederate flank, and the problem had to be eliminated for Lee's advance to continue. McLaws and 8,000 Confederates marched into Pleasant Valley past this spot to help surround and attack Harpers Ferry from the north. When McLaws encountered the Union soldiers defending Maryland Heights on Friday, September 12, skirmishing commenced. McLaws directed Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade and Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade to ascend Elk Ridge at Solomon's Gap (the gap in front of you). The Confederates then turned left, encountering stiff resistance until nightfall. At dawn on Saturday, September 13, the Confederates attacked with fury. They faced "a most obstinate resistance" and "a fierce fire" from Federals behind log breastworks. After nine hours and more than 300 Union and Confederate casualties, the Federals withdrew into Harpers Ferry. Two days later, they capitulated to Jackson in the largest surrender of U.S. troops during the war.

(Sidebar): The pacifist Anabaptist German religious sect nicknamed Dunkers for their form of baptism arrived in Pleasant Valley in the late 1700s. Generations were baptized here in Israel Creek, where they were submerged three times in honor of the Trinity. The battles of Maryland Heights and South Mountain interrupted their peaceful way of life, but their church and farms were not wrecked like those of the Antietam Dunkers. The Dunkers still thrive in Pleasant Valley, worshipping here at the Brownsville Church of the Brethren (shown left as constructed in 1852).
HM NumberHM14I6
Series This marker is part of the Maryland Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2012
Placed ByMaryland Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 6:45pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 269987 N 4361127
Decimal Degrees39.36900000, -77.67001667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 22.14', W 77° 40.201'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 22' 8.40" N, 77° 40' 12.06" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1913 Rohrersville Rd, Knoxville MD 21758, US
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