Civil War News Review

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Monocacy: A Hidden Treasure

Monocacy, outside of Frederick, Maryland, has been one of those neglected battlefields. Like those two battlefields, a lot of the land within the park boundaries remained in private hands until recently when the Civil War Preservation Trust stepped up to preserve the land and open it to the public for interpretation.

Monocacy, much like Manassas, is surrounded by urban sprawl. Two very busy major highways cut through the main field – Interstate 270 and Maryland 355 – complicating historical interpretation and making visiting parts of the field a bit hazardous. Interstate 270 cuts right through the Worthington and Thomas farms, obliterating historic fencerows and the original Worthington farm lane. Route 355, which the visitor has to cross to reach the Best Farm on one side and  then recross to go to Gambrill’s Mill. The 14th New jersey monument is well worth visiting but not with a bus nor a car that is not running well. The entrance is on the reverse slope of a hill on the south side of 355 with a very limited line of sight toward Frederick. Turing right onto Araby Church Road to get to the Worthington or left to go to the mill can also be intimidating because of drivers shooting over the ridge toward Frederick. Despite these challenges, the field is well worth visiting.

The Visitor Center on 355 is one of the best I have ever seen. Located on the second floor, it contains great walkthrough exhibits, an excellent electric map, and an overlook. The walking trails, while in need of more historical markers, will give the visitor a great view of the field as the soldiers saw it.

The ground is surprisingly rough and steep on both sides of the field. The trail up Brooks Hill on the right of the Confederate line is literally breathtaking and not for anyone with breathing or heart problems but well worth the view of Baker Valley on the other side. The trails, while designed for nature lovers and hikers, put the Civil War student on the ground over which the men fought. 

The bookstore has a nice selection of interpretive brochures and books about the battle, mine being Benjamin Franklin Cooling's, The Battle That Saved Washington. Tour this near pristine battlefield. The experience is simply remarkable.


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