On to the Monocacy: “First Warning”

John W. Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road during the Civil War.

John W. Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road during the Civil War.

Guest post by Ryan Quint.

A little while ago, I finished up my series on Lew Wallace and the Battle of Monocacy, fought July 9, 1864. In the three pieces I did on those hectic days of July, I looked over the campaign from a bird’s eye view. Now, as we close in on the 150th Anniversary of this crucial, yet over-looked battle, I would like to narrow the focus and look at some individuals who proved pivotal in the “Battle that Saved Washington.”

On July 2, Maj. General Lew Wallace, commander of the Middle Department, was at his headquarters in Baltimore when he received a guest who would set Wallace on the road to the Battle of Monocacy.

That guest was John Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and he had been getting reports lately of a large Confederate force moving into Maryland. Garrett had passed those reports onto military officers in Washington, who, up to that time, had not done much to answer or assuage Garrett of any of his worries.

Garrett was not a man to just sit by and let the rebels under Jubal Early threaten his rail lines, however. So he called upon Wallace on July 2, in what the latter would term his ‘First Warning.’

“On this occasion, he [Garrett] told me his agents… had notified him of the appearance of detachments of Confederate troops, and as such appearances theretofore had been precursors of serious operations in the Shenandoah Valley, he anticipated trouble,” Wallace later wrote in his massive autobiography.

After further discussion, Wallace told Garrett, again according to his autobiography, “It is very clear… that your iron bridge over the river at the Monocacy… is essential to communication… I will assume guardianship [of the bridge]… only keep me posted that I may get there in time.”

The Battle of Monocacy was exactly a week away.

Theater of Operations, Summer of 1864. (Map created by Hal Jesperson.)

Theater of Operations, Summer of 1864. (Map created by Hal Jesperson.)

Ryan was born and grew up in Maine, and fostered an interest in the Civil War since very early in grade school. After he graduated high school, Ryan chose the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg because of its proximity to the battlefields and National Park Service. He has been a volunteer at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP since September, and this fall will be heading into junior year of undergraduate.

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One Response to On to the Monocacy: “First Warning”

  1. Pingback: Ryan Quint: The Other Exiled Commander at Monocacy | Emerging Civil War

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