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1864 July 16: Jubal Early’s Raid Results in Two Battles—Leetown and Monocacy

July 18, 2014

From the July 16, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

On July 3, 1864, the Battle of Leetown was fought in and around Leetown, Virginia between Union Major General Franz Sigel and Confederate Major General Jubal A. Early. Federal troops were retreating in the face of Early’s relentless advance down the Shenandoah Valley during his Second Valley Campaign. Hoping to buy time to concentrate Union forces and supplies, Sigel ordered Mulligan to hold Leestown for as long as humanly possible and then conduct a fighting retreat as slowly as possible to cover the other withdrawing Union units.

The Battle of Monocacy was fought on July 9, 1864, outside Frederick, Maryland, as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864.  Confederate forces under General Jubal A. Early defeated Union forces under General Lew Wallace.  The battle was part of Early’s raid through Maryland, attempting to divert Union forces away from General Robert E. Lee’s army under siege at Petersburg, Virginia.



The Inquirer publishes a special dispatch from Gettysburg of the 4th stating that much excitement prevails there and in the country south of Harrisburg, in consequence of rumors that a large body of rebels are making a raid on Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, and had already crossed the Potomac.

Yesterday morning at 6 o’clock Sigel was attacked at Leetown and Darkville, Virginia, by a large force of the enemy, said to be under Early and Ransom,¹ and driven from his position with slight loss.  Sigel says there were 2,600 cavalry.  The number of infantry is not known.

A dispatch just received by the Government says that fifteen rebel cavalry men were seen within five miles of Hagerstown this p. m.  Other reports considered reliable say there are no rebels this side of the Potomac.  It is the object of the enemy to advance as far as possible into Pennsylvania and steal horses.


It was reported and believed yesterday morning that Hagerstown was in the possession of the rebels, telegraph operators having left their post under alarm.  The operators, however, returned about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and reported all was quiet, and that there were no rebels nearer than Falling Waters and Williamsport, from six to ten miles distant from the Potomac, where it was said fighting was going on yesterday afternoon.  The same account also says fighting was going
on at or near Sharpsburg.  The Federal forces being commanded by Gen. Sigel.

Previous reports from Harper’s Ferry had located Gen. Sigel during Sunday night at Shepardstown, to which point he had fallen back from Martinsbnrg, and where a junction was formed with him by Mulligan [James A. Mulligan] with a force from the Leetown.  The fight on Sunday was ten miles below this point.  A force, it was thought, would move to the Maryland side of the Potomac to secure the Maryland Heights if attacked by the rebels.

An attack was made on Harper’s Ferry about 9 or 10 o’clock yesterday morning by a force estimated at 7,000 cavalry with more than as many infantry.  Gen. Webber [sic: Max Weber], however, set about making a vigorous defence, and up to last accounts was holding his own.

Nothing had been heard up to 2 o’clock p. m. at Harper’s Ferry from either Sigel or Mulligan’s forces, which is accounted for, perhaps, by the Hagerstown story of their being again engaged opposite Shepardstown, to which point they must have been followed by the rebels.  After 2 o’clock in the p. m. the wires were interrupted near Harper’s Ferry on the east side, and the operator at
Point of Rocks was understood to report that a body of rebel cavalry had crossed the Potomac there, and interrupted the telegraph.  In the mean time the excitement at Frederick, Md., continuing.  All the sick from the hospitals with the provost guard of the town were removed, the former going to Annapolis.—Government stores, also horses removed from Frederick, as they had been previously successfully removed from Harper’s Ferry.  No reason is given for this movement from Frederick as no hostile force were known to be within 20 miles of the place, except a cavalry detatchment near Point of Rocks 12 miles off.

General Tyler [Erastus B. Tyler] remained at Monocacy, in command of Gen. Wallace’s forces at that point, being the extreme western limit of that department.  He is protecting the great rail road bridge of the Monocacy river three miles from Frederick.

"Bridge over Monocacy, Scene of Lew Wallace battle with Early, 1864," from Library of Congress

“Bridge over Monocacy, Scene of Lew Wallace battle with Early, 1864,” from Library of Congress²

No sign of the enemy had appeared up to last night.  The true object and extent of the whole
movement are as yet all a mystery.

It is known from refugees from Martinsburg, Winchester and other places in Virginia, that the rebels are remorselessly and relentlessly enforcing the conscription.  The capture of supplies and the division of the re-inforcements going to Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] are very probably the reason of the raid.  Provisions and all kinds of supplies are no doubt very scarce in Virginia at present, and the rebels hope to make a large haul on this side of the Potomac, but they have evidently been disappointed thus far.

Major Gen. John [sic: Jubal] Early commands the expedition, which is composed of cavalry, infantry and artillery.  Gen. Ransom is believed to have charge of the cavalry, as he is said to be Stuart’s successor [J.E.B. Stuart].  The object of the enemy may be inferred to be an important one on the part of Gen. Lee.

The infantry force said to be under command of Gen. Early himself.  Ewell’s late corps probably now numbers not less than 12,000 men [Richard S. Ewell].

From Point of Rocks we learn that the entire rebel force that visited that place yesterday did not exceed 1,000 cavalry, supposed to be under command of Mosby [John S. Mosby], whose object was to rob and destroy __ captured after committing many robberies the same way they came.  The telegraph operators restarted last night from the mountains where he had concealed himself, and sent __ __ dispatches announcing the extent of the rebel depredations.


Intelligence from the upper Potomac states that the citizens of upper Maryland are terribly frightened, and are fleeing with their property in all directions.  The danger thus far seems apprehended more than real, for for Frederick even is not occupied as reported, and a rebel command has not occupied permanently any town on the Maryland side of the Potomac.  The enemy is supposed to be part of Ransom’s (late Stewart’s [sic: Stuart]) cavalry, with infantry from Ewell’s Corps.

ALBANY, July 5.

The President informs Gov. Seymour [Horatio Seymour] that a rebel force, estimated at 15,000 or 20,000 strong, have invaded Maryland and taken Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry, and are threatening other points ;  that the public safety requires a call upon state executives for a militia force to repel the invasion, and he calls upon the state of New York for 12,000 militia as its quota, to serve one hundred days.

 1.  Robert Ransom, Jr. (1828-1892) graduated from West Point in 1850, attended cavalry school at Carlisle Barracks (1850-1851), and was assistant instructor of cavalry tactics at West Point (1854-1855). He resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on January 31, 1861, and initially served as a captain in a North Carolina regiment before being appointed colonel of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry. In March 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general and fought in the Peninsula. He led his North Carolina brigade in the September 1862 invasion of Maryland and participated in the capture of Harpers Ferry and the Battle of Antietam. He was placed in temporary command of the division and led it through the Battle of Fredericksburg, where the division successfully defended Marye’s Heights. In May 1863 he was promoted to major general. In May 1864 he led a division in the defense of Drewry’s Bluff. During the summer of 1864, Ransom was sent to command the cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley, under Jubal A. Early, where he participated in the battles of Monocacy and Fort Stevens. He was relieved of command in August 1864 due to illness and never returned to front line service.
2.  Drawing of the “Bridge over Monocacy, Scene of Lew Wallace battle with Early, 1864,” by Alfred R. Waud, from the Morgan collection of Civil War drawings in the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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