Hagerstown's strategic location at the border between the North and the South made the city a primary staging area and supply center for four major campaigns during the Civil War. In 1861, General Robert Patterson's troops used Hagerstown as a base to attack Virginia troops in the Shenandoah Valley. In the Maryland Campaign of 1862, General James Longstreet's command occupied the town while en route to the Battle of South Mountain and Antietam. In 1863, the city was the site of several military incursions and engagements as Gen. Robert E. Lee's army invaded and retreated in the Gettysburg Campaign. In 1864, Hagerstown was invaded by the Confederate Army under Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. On Wednesday, July 6, Early sent 1,500 cavalry, commanded by Brig. Gen. John McCausland, into Hagerstown to levy a ransom for $200,000 and a large amount of clothing, in retribution for Federal destruction of farms, feed and cattle in the Shenandoah Valley. McCausland misread the amount, instead collecting $20,000. This is in contrast to neighboring Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, which McCausland razed on July 30 when the borough failed to supply the requested ransom of $500,000 in U.S. currency, or $100,000 in gold.
Throughout the Civil War, private physicians and citizens of Hagerstown gave assistance or aid to men from both the North and South in a number of locations, including the Franklin Hotel, Washington House, Lyceum, Hagerstown Male Academy, Key-Mar College, and a number of private residences. The spread of smallpox by returning soldiers to families and friends was a substantial problem during the war. The Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church volunteered the use of its church as a smallpox hospital when an epidemic spread throughout the town. Following the war, in 1872 Maryland and Virginia cooperated to re-inter Confederate dead from their impromptu graves to cemeteries in Hagerstown, Frederick and Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Roughly 60% however, remained unidentified. In 1877, 15 years after the Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, approximately 2,800 Confederate dead from that battle and also from the battles on South Mountain were re-interred in Washington Confederate Cemetery, within Rosehill Cemetery in Hagerstown.
Visit: Hagerstown, Maryland