Whether you are a history buff, a military history fan, or looking for an adventure for the whole family, Maryland’s Civil War Trails have something for everyone. Some of the most decisive battles of the Civil War were fought on Maryland’s soil, a state whose citizens were just as ideologically divided as the soldiers on the battlefield. To honor this heritage, five unique trails span the state, each with an extensive number of sites of interest.
This trail includes sites and stops in Sharpsburg and Hagerstown and culminates at the Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest single day of fighting in the War. While exploring the battlefield, you can get a sense of just how much of a role the diverse terrain played, from the Sunken Road to Burnside Bridge to the Roulette Farm. Take in an exhibition on battlefield medicine at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, in the same building used as a hospital to treat injured soldiers during the Battle of Antietam. Just south of Sharpsburg, visit the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Exhibit and Visitor Center, and then stop into Nutter’s Ice Cream or Captain Benders Tavern (both on East Main Street in Sharpsburg) to fuel up for more museum and battlefield touring.
This trail details the routes taken and stops made by both Confederate and Union troops during June and July 1863, leading up to and directly following the Battle of Gettysburg. Key points of interest include Frederick’s National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the First and Second Battles of Hagerstown, where citizens witnessed fighting in the streets of this now thriving arts and entertainment district. Stop off for a meal at the Gourmet Goat and take in the town’s cultural arts scene.
The Baltimore Area Civil War Trail includes the Baltimore Riot Walking Tour, which chronicles the high tensions among Baltimore’s divided residents. Pick up a guide to this walking tour at the Baltimore Civil War Museum, on the former site of the President Street railroad station where fighting erupted in what today is downtown Baltimore. Minutes from downtown you’ll find Fort McHenry, known primarily for its role in the defense of Baltimore from the British in the War of 1812, but which was utilized during the Civil War as a prison for Confederate soldiers and sympathizers. The historic sites of Jerusalem Mill, Cockeysville and New Windsor are also on this trail, each of which fell victim to looting and raiding during Early’s raid on Washington.
Nowhere is the division of Maryland citizens more apparent than on the John Wilkes Booth Trail. Booth, born and raised at Harford County’s Tudor Hall, did not grow up with Southern sympathizers. It is even rumored that Booth’s father had connections to the Underground Railroad and assisted enslaved people. Nonetheless, Booth held differing beliefs which ultimately led him to assassinate President Lincoln.
There are various points of interest to visit related to Booth along this trail. See the Surratt House Museum in Clinton where Booth stopped for supplies after Lincoln’s assassination. Visit the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum in Waldorf where Booth received medical care for his broken leg from the unsuspecting Dr. Mudd. In a clearing leading into the woods in Bel Alton, see if you can spot the Pine Thickett marker that denotes the location where Booth spent several days hiding while receiving supplies from Confederates. For history buffs interested in Booth’s early years, the property and first floor of the historic Tudor Hall are open to visitors, and tours are conducted by the Spirits of Tudor Hall.
In July 1864, Union and Confederate troops clashed at the Battle of Monocacy in Frederick. While considered a loss by the Union, it delayed the Confederate attack on Washington, D.C., enabling troops to protect the capital city. This last raid at Monocacy has become known as the “Battle That Saved Washington.”
Not part of an official trail but still notable is Point Lookout in St. Mary’s County. Today, Point Lookout State Park is an ideal destination for camping, water sports and fishing. Historically, however, its roots are a prison camp where about 50,000 Confederate soldiers passed through during a two-year period of the Civil War. History enthusiasts can see the monument at Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery in Ridge listing the names of the 3,382 Confederate soldiers, sailors and civilians who died there. Stop by the Civil War Museum where programs are offered in the park’s Civil War history. Reenactments are held at Point Lookout’s Fort Lincoln throughout the year.
This itinerary is compliments of the Maryland Tourism Office.