By John A. Miller
Emmitsburg News Journal
Blue Ridge Summit, PA – Seven miles west of Emmitsburg, Maryland lays a Civil War battlefield site that most people have never heard of. And yet, it was fought in the most unusual way. In fact, it was the only battle to be fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, in the middle of the night, during a severe thunderstorm. The Battle of Monterey Pass is its given name, and was fought on July 4 and 5, 1863, following the close of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is one of many Civil War battles and engagements to be fought during the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg.
There is a brief mention of this battle on the July 4, 1863, Army of the Potomac itinerary sign in front of the Emmitsburg Post Office. Emmitsburg witnessed Union General Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry as they moved to Monterey Pass. Emmitsburg was also where Confederate General JEB Stuart learned of the Battle of Monterey Pass, forcing him to detour toward Creagerstown, and then to Smithsburg. A few Emmitsburg men fought at the Battle of Monterey Pass, serving as a Union guide or fighting with a portion of the Confederate 1st Maryland Cavalry.
After the Battle of Monterey Pass, the majority of the Confederate army marched through the area, while seven miles to the south, the majority of the Union army marched through Emmitsburg. Many soldiers dubbed Monterey Pass as “Mount Misery,” due to the recent rains making road conditions almost unbearable.
Today, a small 501c3 non-profit organization known as the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield, Inc. (FMPB, Inc.) is working hard to preserve this forgotten battlefield. Several projects are in the works and are close to being completed. Projects include replacement interpretive markers along the driving tour route, a new interpretive center and the Michigan state sponsored marker.
In honor of the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Monterey Pass, several individuals in the state of Michigan, Washington Township, and the FMPB, Inc. have completed the research and paperwork necessary for a Michigan state sponsored marker. This marker is one of five located outside of the state of Michigan, and is one of two located along the ridge of South Mountain. The Monterey Pass marker will commemorate General George A. Custer’s Michigan Brigade.
After leaving Emmitsburg on the afternoon of July 4, Custer’s brigade engaged the Confederate forces at Monterey Pass during the night of July 4 and into the early hours of July 5, before aiding in the destruction of nine miles worth of Confederate wagons and capturing over 1,000 Confederate soldiers. This marker is in production and will arrive in Washington Township shortly before the 150th Monterey Pass event. The 3 foot by 6 foot marker will be unveiled on July 5 at 7:00pm during a dedication ceremony. For more information on this program or a complete listing of 150th commemoration events located near Blue Ridge Summit, please log onto the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park’s website http://www.montereypassbattlefield.org.
Civil War Round Table of Gettysburg donated $500.00 to the “Markers Project”.
Three students from the University of Shippensburg have volunteered their time to lead a project for their preservation class, and could use your help. Several years ago, seven markers for the driving tour were installed and have fallen in disrepair. The Shippensburg students need to raise $3,500.00 to replace those existing markers, and within a month they have raised a total of $1,010.00. The largest donation came on March 28, when the Civil War Round Table of Gettysburg donated $500.00 to the markers project with a check presentation held at their headquarters in Gettysburg.
The FMPB, Inc. would like to thank Andrew Askins, Marty Zimmerman, and Braxton Berkey for their hard work and dedication on the marker project as well as the Civil War Round Table of Gettysburg for their generous contribution. If you would also like to donate to this project, please send your contribution to FMPB, Inc. c/o Marker Project 13013 Welty Road, Waynesboro, PA 17268. Please note in the memo line of the check “Marker Project.”
The FMPB, Inc. is also in the planning stages of the development of an interpretive center. A total of $75,000 is needed for the construction of an interpretive center at the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park. This facility will be the focal point of the Battle of Monterey Pass, including interpretation of the ten days that followed the Battle of Gettysburg. The interpretive center will help to identify other areas of interest during the Confederate Retreat and the Union Pursuit. Artifacts of the battle will also be exhibited and the center will be fully interpreted with panels that feature several themes that relate to the battle as well as the retreat.
The Blue Ridge Summit Sportsman’s Assocation, Inc. Small Games of Chance donate $25,000.00 for construction of interpretive center.
The FMPB, Inc. is now in reach of moving forward with the interpretive center. On April 2, the Blue Ridge Summit Sportsman’s Association, Inc. Small Games of Chance contributed $25,000.00 to the FMPB, Inc, bringing this project within $15,000.00 to being completed. Currently, the FMPB, Inc. has just over $60,000.00 for the project. The FMPB, Inc. would like to extend a heart felt thank you to Blue Ridge Summit Sportsman’s Association, Inc. Small Games of Chance for their contribution.
As with any battlefield, land purchases are one of the most important aspects to any preservation project. At the same time, land purchases are also the most expensive. The FMPB, Inc. has a chance to purchase 110 acres of battlefield land for $200,000. This land is where hundreds of Confederate wagons moved upon during the retreat. It also saw heavy fighting during the battle itself. After the battle, several thousands of soldiers marched upon this ground and hundreds bivouacked there. The goal is to raise enough money to purchase this privately owned piece of ground and preserve it. At the same time, the FMPB, Inc. would interpret this ground and establish a walking trail for public access.
For more information about these projects, how you can help, or to join the organization, please go the FMPB, Inc. website http://www.montereypassbattlefield.org.