Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Jul 11 2004 - Monocacy Battlefield Easy Day Hike (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Colin Babb
Participants:Brian Marron, Rebecca Frankenberger, Ian Wright, Young Kim, Kristen Buck, Ian Preuss, Laura Hustead, Gwen Savage, Katie Stofer, Colin Babb, peggy clapp, Brian Loughery, Laura Loughery, Kristen Larson

Write Up:
This day was very hot and humid. It was also a day of multiple carpools and caravans. We began with meeting at the little visitors' center at the battlefield, a place that probably doesn't get more than a few dozen people a day normally, from the small size of the parking lot. This day, however, was part of the 140th anniversary weekend of the battle (the Battle of Monocacy took place on 9 July 1864). So that meant there were a more than a few Civil War reenactors present-”and consequently, lots of other people as well. Most of these extra people, thankfully, stuck to the visitors' center and were not at the spot farther away where we actually did the hike.

As people gathered for the hike, I directed everyone up the hill from the parking lot where a group of artillery reenactors were preparing to demonstrate the firepower of their Civil War cannon. The 'commander' of the battery provided an interesting narrative as his men prepared to fire the gun. Several blasts wowed the crowd and signaled the time for us to get on the trail.

The Worthington Farm Trail is about a mile from the visitors' center, and is the heart of the preserved portion of the battlefield (most of the battlefield is not part of the national park). Just a few miles south of downtown Frederick, some of the local folks present in the group hadn't been there before; in fact, thousands of people pass the battlefield every day along I-270 but have no idea it is there. The battle, between about 15,000 Confederate soldiers and 6-7,000 Union soldiers, was part of the third and final Confederate invasion of Maryland. The Southern forces, under Jubal Early, one of Lee's lieutenants, beat their outnumbered Federal opponents, but so much time was taken on Early's subsequent march on Washington that fresh forces were rushed to defend the city. Early, who reached as far as Silver Spring, attacked for several days (including getting several opportunities to shoot at Abraham Lincoln, who personally watched the fighting) but then retreated south empty handed.

We hiked on the part of the battlefield where the Confederates launched their final flanking attack that won the day for them at Monocacy. The site today is a series of farm fields and pastures largely unchanged from the last century. It's also a relatively brief loop trail of about 4 miles and change-”not much for MOC veterans, but more than a formidable jaunt with the ridiculous humidity. After reaching the historic Worthington House, a restored home that was present at the battle, we hiked up Brooks Hill and then back down to a path along Monocacy River before heading back to the parking lot. Along the way we said hello to a small herd of cows.

Afterward, we got back in the cars and headed back to the visitors' center, where we collected the rest of our cars before heading into town to Brewer's Alley (the restaurant- unfortunately, there is no actual street by that name in Frederick, though perhaps there should be one). We ended the day at a long table enjoying lots of cool beverages and decent chow. Many thanks to all those who came out and I hope everyone had fun.

--Colin Babb



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