Fighting for Time Along the Monocacy

A setting summer sun sets behind the Worthington Farm House at Monocacy National Battlefield, Frederick, Maryland. Photo by Chris Heisey

Under a scorching sun, the Battle of Monocacy raged on July 9, 1864, across the 300-arce farmstead of John Worthington. He had purchased the Maryland property that borders the sluggish-moving Monocacy River in 1862 and his wife, Mary, and their three young sons farmed the land. A ripe wheat crop was in the field that torrid July 9th morning, so Worthington ordered his seven enslaved workers to cut as much of the wheat down as possible to avoid its pending destruction in the coming clash of armies some 50 miles outside Washington, D.C. That wheat was later used to give ground cushion to wounded Union soldiers.

The family watched the battle unfold from the cellar windows, and the battle seared into six-year-old Glenn’s mind the horrible sights of wounded Union troops littered around his house. Many years later he recounted his experience in his timeless book entitled Fighting for Time.

After the Union armies retreated toward Washington after their defeat, Glenn tried to take a bayonet as a battlefield memento, which he found in a burning pile of rifles left behind by fleeing soldiers. A paper cartilage packet exploded in the boy’s face as he yanked the bayonet from the flames. Though blinded for several hours, his sight did return. It was his vision later in life to have the farmland battlefield at Monocacy preserved for future generations to learn about the battle that happened in his boyhood front yard.

7 Responses to Fighting for Time Along the Monocacy

  1. Nice “teaser,” encouraging readers to learn more about the Battle of Monocacy and its significance.

    1. The book mentioned in the above report, “Fighting for Time” by Glenn Worthington (1932) contains a thoroughly researched, surprisingly accurate description of the Battle of Monocacy and its participants. The importance of railroads in moving troops; immediate response to “a developing emergency” and innovative reactions to that emergency are presented. The employment of cavalry and artillery (by both sides) is discussed; as are “unforeseen events” that occur, briefly obscured by the fog of war, often due to poor communications (in this case, telegraph communications.)
      Also of interest: “On this day 158 years ago, nothing happened in Washington, D.C… due to the stand – and subsequent LOST battle – engaged in by Major General Lew Wallace in vicinity of Frederick, Maryland.”
      “Fighting for Time” by Glenn Worthington (with maps of Monocacy Battlefield included in back):

    2. And on this day 158 years ago President Lincoln stood atop the parapet at Fort Stevens and observed the contest taking place between hastily cobbled together Union troops and Rebel forces that had been delayed arriving, due to fighting MGen Lew Wallace at Monocacy…

  2. A trip to Frederick, Md. is well worth the effort! Three of us reenactors from Indiana visited four years ago and had a great time there. The Monocacy Battlefield Park is well maintained and the troop movements are easy to interpret and appreciate. Being from the Hoosier State, we were interested in the fact that Gen. Lew Wallace, of Crawfordsville, IN and the author of Ben Hur, commanded the Union Army forces at the battle. After visiting the park we stopped at a medical museum in Frederick that was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. The artifacts and displays viewed and the information we gleaned made that stop definitely worthwhile. It was our collective opinion that Frederick should be on the destination list of any Civil War buff.

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