Battle of Monocacy
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Location: Frederick County, MD
               (near Frederick, MD)
Dates: July 9, 1864
Union Commander:  Lew Wallace, Major General
Confederate Commander:  Jubal Early, Lieutenant General

Battle Summary:
In early July, 1864, Lieutenant General Jubal Early's 2nd Corps was detached from the Army of Northern Virginia.  Robert E. Lee believed that by weakening his army, at Petersburg, and Richmond, by detaching Early's corps, and sending them north, that U.S. Grant would be forced to weaken his Army of the Potomac, to protect Washington, D.C.  Lee hoped that this action would pave the way to a Confederate breakthrough at Petersburg. 

Moving north, through the Shenandoah Valley in early July, Early's, Army of the Valley (Army of Northern Virginia's 2nd Corps) cleared the lower Shenandoah of Federal troops.  Early proceeded across the Potomac River in early July, desiring to hit Washington in the rear.

U.S. Grant, directing all the Union forces, dispatched Lew Wallace, with a division sized force, to get between Early and Washington D.C.  Wallace was instructed to hold Early in central Maryland, until Grant could get additional troops to the Washington D.C. defenses.

On the morning of July 9, Early had split his army, sending a division under Major General Robert Rodes east, from Frederick, on the National Road, towards Baltimore and another division under Major General Stephen Ramseur on the Georgetown Pike, towards Washington D.C.  Two additional divisions, and cavalry, were sent down the Buckeystown Road.

Major General Lew Wallace, not knowing whether Early's target was Baltimore, or Washington, D.C., deployed his two Federal divisions where the National Road and the Georgetown Pike crossed the Monocacy River.  This would allow him flexibility in reinforcing whichever division came under attack.

The order of battle for Early's Army was Rodes on the far left, on the National Road, Ramseur at the Georgetown Pike and B & O Railroad bridge, Major General John C. Breckinridge and Major General John B. Gordon, were the army's right flank.

The order of battle, as deployed by Wallace were: home guards under Brigadier General Erastus Tyler facing Rodes' division on the far right, with James B. Ricketts veteran VI Corps division facing Ramseur, Breckinridge and Gordon near the Georgetown Pike.

After an early morning skirmishing and artillery duals, over the river, Ramseur determined that he could not storm the covered bridge on the Georgetown Pike.  Finding a place downstream, Confederate cavalry under McCausland forded the river near the Worthington Farm.  Union infantry, hidden by a fence, pushed McCausland's dismounted cavalry back to the Worthington-McKinney Ford.  After regrouping his cavalry, McCausland hit the Union forces, further to the right, gaining ground all the way to the Thomas Farm.

Both commanding generals recognized the strategic importance of the area McCausland was attacking.  To protect his left, from collapse, Wallace sent the rest of Rickett's division to hold that part of the field, after burning the covered bridge on the Georgetown Pike.  Early sent Breckinridge with John B. Gordon's division to assist McCausland.

By 4:00 PM, with Ramseur and Rodes continuing to pressure the National Road and Monocacy Junction, Gordon's three brigades assaulted Rickett's division at the Worthington Farm.  Bitter fighting took place in Worthington's wheat field and at the Thomas farm.

Slowly, with increased pressure from Gordon's additional brigades (Brigadier General Zebulon York and Brigadier General William Terry) on their front, and enfilading fire from across the Monocacy, Rickett retired his division past the Georgetown Pike, north of the Thomas farm.  Sheltered by a  natural breastwork, the Union army held its ground.  According to John B. Gordon, "Nearly one half of my men and a large number of Federals fell there."

Wallace, understanding that the Confederates had a sizeable numeric advantage, ordered a withdrawal to the National Road, to unit with Tyler.  It was 4:30 PM.  With Wallace retiring north, the Confederates, under Ramseur, were able to cross the railroad bridge at Monocacy Junction and harass Rickett's rear guard.  This allowed Rodes and Ramseur to join forces facing the Wallace's army. 

Inexplicably, at this time, Early could have pursued Wallace - perhaps all the way to outer defenses of Washington - but he chose not to.  In post battle reports, Early claimed that he did not wish to be burdened with so many troops.

While the battle was clearly a Confederate victory, it was a strategic win for Wallace.  With roughly 1/3 the troops Early fielded, he held the Army of the Valley near Frederick, MD.   This essentially gave Ulysses S. Grant an extra day to send reinforcements to the outer works of Washington, D.C.

Campaign: Early's Valley Campaign

Outcome: Confederate victory

Troop Strengths
Union: 5,800
Confederate: 14,000

Casualties (estimated):
Union: 1,294 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
Confederate: 700-900 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)

Battle Aftermath:
Jubal Early continued to harass Washington D.C., bringing battle at Fort Stevens on July 11-12.  Early's weary rebels were pushed from Fort Stevens, losing 500 troops.  Fort Stevens was the "high water" mark for his campaign, after which he retreated into northern Virginia, pursued by Horatio Wright's, recently arrived, 6th Corps.  Wright would bring battle, against Early, at Cool Spring, VA before being beaten back. 
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