The Battle that Saved Washington
In the summer of 1864, Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early launched a campaign down the Shenandoah Valley with a corps of approximately 15,000 troops. The campaign was a last attempt to carry the war to the north and relieve some pressure from General Robert E. Lee in the south. Early's ultimate objective was to march down the Valley, to swing to the east into Maryland, and to attack and capture Washington, D.C. from the north.
Learning of the advance of Early's troops, Union Major General Lew Wallace hastily organized a force of 5,800 men here at Monocacy Junction in an attempt to delay Early's advance on the Capital. On July 9, 1864 Confederate and Union forces met here on the battlefield. After a series of attacks throughout the day, the Confederates prevailed and drove the Federal troops back toward Baltimore.
Although this battle was a victory for the Confederates, it was also in a key respect a defeat. Time spent at the battle cost the Confederates a day's delay in marching on the Federal Capital, exhausted Early's troops, and provided time for the Union to reinforce Washington's defenses. Lieutenant General Early's raid was thus thwarted and the remainder of the war took place in the south. Because of Major General Wallace's valiant delaying action, the Battle of Monocacy has come to be known as the "Battle that Saved Washington."
Things to See and Do in the Park
Please enjoy a self-guided auto tour of the battlefield - about 6 miles round trip. The auto tour takes about 30 minutes with waysides at each of 5 stops. These waysides provide an overview of the battle in the order in which events unfolded. Here at Gambrill Mill, and at stops 3 and 4 on the auto tour, are walking trails to enhance your visit.