First Battle of Hagerstown

First Battle of Hagerstown (HM3WO)

Location: Hagerstown, MD 21740 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 38.563', W 77° 43.191'

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Vicious Fighting in the Streets

— Gettysburg Campaign —

Combat raged here in the town square and in adjoining city blocks for six hours on Monday, July 6, 1863. Holding Hagerstown was crucial to Gen. Robert E. Lee's retreat to Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg. If the Confederates lost this crossroads town, Lee's access to the Potomac River would be seriously hampered. The Federals recognized Hagertown's importance, and just before noon Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry division galloped north on Potomac Street. It charged into three Virginia brigades, and each side fed reinforcements into what became a wild melee of mounted charges and dismounted duels.

The fighting lurched from street corner to street corner, and ultimately into dismounted assaults from house to house, yard to yard, doorway to doorway, churchyard to churchyard, and gravestone to gravestone. The arrival of Confederate infantry - Gen. Alfred Iverson's North Carolina brigade - finally compelled the Federals to abandon their efford to seize Hagerstown.

Monday, July 6: "Afternoon. At this moment fighting is going on in our very own town and the balls are whizzing through the streets. ... Oh God, of Heaven, have mercy upon us and deliver us from this terrible war." - Louise Kealhofer diary

"The cutting and slashing was beyond description; here right before and underneath us the deadly conflict was waged in a hand to hand combat, with the steel blades circling, waving, parrying, thrusting, and cutting, some reflecting the bright sunlight, others crimsoned with human gore; while the discharge of pistols and carbines was terrific, and the smoke through which we now gazed down through and on the scene below, the screams and yells of the wounded and dying, mingled with cheers and commands, the crashing together of the horses and firey flashes of small arms presented a scene such as words cannot portray."
-W.W. Jacobs, civilian eyewitness
HM NumberHM3WO
Series This marker is part of the Maryland Civil War Trails series
Placed ByMaryland Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 12:19am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 266612 N 4391639
Decimal Degrees39.64271667, -77.71985000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 38.563', W 77° 43.191'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 38' 33.78" N, 77° 43' 11.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)240, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 45-99 MD-65, Hagerstown MD 21740, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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