The American Revolution 1776 - 1783
These barracks served as the first public building for the new state. Founded in 1777, the limestone twins stood tall two years later, thanks to contractor Abraham Faw and local craftsmen. Set atop strategic ground, the Barracks controlled the Georgetown-Philadelphia highway and key crossroads in the town below.
Upon completion of the Barracks found their intended occupants — Maryland troops — at war in the Northeast. So Governor Thomas Lee opened the property to military prisoners. For the duration of the Revolutionary War, the site served as a prison camp, recruiting center, market place, and civilian rendezvous.
Under Brigadier James Hamilton, 984 British prisoners occupied the camp first in December 1780. They brought along 180 women and 247 children, who lived in outdoor huts. Five months later, the group moved to Fort Frederick and Lancaster.
Then 1,400 German soldiers took occupancy in February 1792. For the next 15 months, the men coped with boredom and uncertainty, waiting for peace. For relief, some joined the Continental Army, worked on local farms and in businesses, or deserted. Meanwhile, dozens of wives arrived from Germany. British paymasters in Lancaster funded regular paydays.
Major Frederich H. Scheer and 20 fellow German officers lived in town with family and servants.
Guests at the best functions, the officers wore their colorful uniforms complete with sabre and pistol. Meanwhile, junior lieutenants took turns here as duty officer, supporting American guards under Major Mountjoy Baily.
Peace freed the Germans on April 28, 1783. Two weeks later, as locals "wished us luck and cried," they marched off into history.
1777 — As the American Revolution unfolded, the Maryland General Assembly authorized construction of the Barracks.
1782 - 1783 — German prisoners of war captured by the Americans were quartered here at what later became known as the "Hessian Barracks."
1802 — Lewis and Clark used the barracks as a depot for supplies gathered to outfit their Corps of Discovery expedition to the American West.
1812 - 1815 — By April 1812 United States troops were quartered here, among them the 6th U.S. Infantry, as well as militia from Maryland and Virginia.
1850s — The Agricultural Society of Frederick County held their annual exposition here. This evolved into what is now the Great Frederick Fair.
1861 - 1865 — Doctors nurses and volunteers cared for soldiers wounded at South Mountain, Antietam, Gettysburg, Monocacy, and other Civil War battles.
1868 — The Maryland School for the Deaf occupied
the barracks and surrounding property. To make way for the school's Main Building, the west wing of the barracks were dismantled.