THE CIVIL WAR
Middletown was swept along with the rest of Maryland in the upheaval of the Civil War; not only was Middletown held for ransom days before the Battle of Monocacy, wounded soldiers from both sides of the conflict were cared for in the homes and make-shift hospitals in the aftermath of the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. Future president, Rutherford B. Hayes was injured in the Battle of South Mountain and cared for in a private home in Middletown.
Summer 1864: Over three years of Civil War have taken their toll on the Middletown Valley. Like much of Maryland, the small farming community of Middletown was divided in its loyalty. The town witnessed first-hand the blood of battles, the sorrows of lost family and neighbors. Soldiers have taken food, livestock, supplies, and fences. Confederate General Jubal Early is marching nearly 15,000 troops up the Shenandoah Valley, intent on capturing Washington, DC and toppling the US government. Middletown’s citizens hear the cannons, and refugees from Hagerstown tell tales of Confederate demands.
July 7-8, 1864: On July 7, Major Gilmor’s advance unit occupies Middletown and demands a loaf of bread and a piece of meat from each household. General Ransom’s artillery and cavalry follow on July 8 and demand 8,000 rations to be supplied within two hours for the main part of the army, encamped in the area by evening. There is widespread looting, and the cavalry scours the valley for horses, food, and clothing. General Early demands a ransom of $5,000 to spare the town from burning. Burgess William Irving and town citizens lead a door-to-door collection and negotiates an initial payment of $1500 – the town was spared and the troops moved on towards Frederick before demanding the remainder. Early’s troops were defeated in the Battle of Monocacy, coined “the battle that saved Washington.”