The Battle That Saved Washington, D.C.
Some 15,000 Confederate troops under the command of Jubal Early* surged northward into Maryland in the summer of 1864, reaching the outskirts of Frederick, Md., hoping to slide around toward the lightly defended nation's capital. The Confedreate surge northward came amid a bid by Robert E. Lee to pressure Washington, D.C., even as the Union was plunging deep into Virginia. But Northern railroad agents, detecting the Confederate incursion, quickly alerted federal authorities. By July 9, 1864, the rival sides were battling each other fiercely along the Monocacy River in Maryland, the Union throwing some 5,800 fighters into the fray. It would be the final time the Confederates took the battle to the North. "INVASION!!" a headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer blared. "EXCITING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON. THE NATIONAL CAPITAL IN DANGER." Fighting raged for hours that day, but the Union pressure on the Confederates gave the Union time to reinforce defenses around the nation's capital. The fight subsequently became known as the "Battle That Saved Washington." And an Associated Press, in a dispatch July 12, 1864, confirmed the Confederates had been driven out of Frederick, Maryland. One smaller outcome, AP noted, Frederick residents complained hungry rebel foraging parties had rounded up their livestock and horses. "At times the main streets of Frederic were literally filled with horses and cattle, all of which were driven down to the fords and sent across into Virginia," AP noted.
*Did you know that actor Nathan Fillion says he is a descendent of General Jubal Early? In the final episode of Fillion's short-lived series Firefly, "Objects in Space," the bounty hunter was named Jubal Early after Fillion's ancestor. Early was played by Richard Brooks (who is, ironically, an African-American).