Several critical battles occurred on Maryland soil, changing the trajectory of the war and the United States’ history. Explore several of these sites on this road trip.
Distance: 3 day, 6 stops, 121 miles
Antietam National Battlefield
302 E. Main St., Sharpsburg, Md
In 12 hours of combat, 23,000 soldiers were left dead, wounded, or missing during the grueling fighting on September 17, 1862, in Sharpsburg. Antietam National Battlefield tells the story of these brave troops and commemorates their sacrifice. The newly remodeled visitor center just opened this fall, and its interactive exhibits and historic artifacts help bring the battle to life. Visitors can wander the battlefield and National Cemetery; visit Dunker Church, Burnside Bridge, and the Pry House Field Hospital; and hike on the surrounding trails.
South Mountain State Battlefield
6620 Zittlestown Rd., Middletown, Md
The first battle of the Civil War fought on Maryland ground was the Battle of South Mountain in Middletown. The South Mountain State Battlefield stands in testament to that fight, which occurred as a prelude to Antietam on September 14, 1862. Guests can visit the first monument to our inaugural American president at Washington Monument State Park, as well as explore Turner’s, Crampton’s, and Fox’s Gaps. The Appalachian Trail also intersects the battlefield here, providing a great chance to hike a famous path.
Monocacy National Battlefield
5201 Urbana Pike, Frederick, Md
Known as the battle that saved Washington, D.C., Union troops held off the Confederates at what is now Monocacy National Battlefield during the summer of 1864 long enough for reinforcements to pour in and defend the nation’s capital. A five-stop audio tour will give you a comprehensive overview of the conflict, as well as expose you to the rural farmland south of Frederick that remains largely unchanged from 150 years ago. You can also visit the battlefield’s historic farmhouses when you follow one of several hiking trails.
National Museum of Civil War Medicine
48 E. Patrick St., Frederick, Md
Major advances in battlefield medicine were made during the Civil War, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, located in historic Frederick, tells that story to gory effect. You will learn about the doctors, surgeons, and nurses who cared for thousands of wounded soldiers, along with the tools and techniques they used. Many of the neighboring buildings in town were used as hospitals during the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, and you can explore these, unique shops, and delicious eateries after you finish your museum tour.
The John Wilkes Booth Trail
Washington, D.C., Clinton, and Waldorf – Pictured Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum (3725 Dr Samuel Mudd Rd, Waldorf, Md)
Within hours of Abraham Lincoln’s April 9, 1865, assassination at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., a manhunt was on for shooter John Wilkes Booth. To learn more about the trail Booth and law enforcement both traveled, follow the John Wilkes Booth Trail. Wilkes stopped briefly at Clinton’s Mary Surratt House, today a Museum, to gather supplies, before heading to Waldorf. There, he visited Dr. Samuel Mudd for treatment of his broken leg. The Mudd House is also a museum today, where you can learn more about the fate of one of history’s most notorious men.
About the Author
Heidi Glatfelter Schlag is a marketer, history lover, and traveler who can often be found exploring museums, parks, small towns, and farms. She founded Culture-Link Communications, where she helps local nonprofits and small businesses build their brands. Heidi lives in Frederick, MD, with her husband and two dogs.