Saturday, July 30, 2011

Under Occupation - Civil War Saturday

Frederick, Maryland, home of my husband's maternal grandparents, saw much of the Civil War at close range. Only 21 miles from John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry, 24 miles from Sharpsburg and Antietem Creek and 35 miles from Gettysburg, Frederick's citizens saw Union and Confederate armies march through its streets and fields, heard the cannons and nursed the injured. 

In 1864 the family of Dr. Charles Smith was living on 2nd Street in a house that had belonged to Maryland's former governor Enoch Louis Lowe. Lowe was a Confederate supporter who, shortly after the beginning of the war, had sold his home and moved to Virginia. The Smiths, too, had strong Confederate sympathies, but remained in Maryland. In addition to Dr. Smith, the household included his mother, Mary Eliza Jamison Smith, younger brother (and my husband's great-grandfather), Dr. Francis Fenwick Smith, and sisters Catherine, Mary, and Cornelia. A Charles Smith and a Mary Smith are listed on the 1860 census as slave owners, but it is unclear if they are the same Smiths. 

In July 1864 the Confederate army moved north and briefly occupied Frederick. One of the officers was Brigadier General Bradley T. Johnson, a Frederick native. He apparently knew Dr. Smith, for in the papers of Smith's sister-in-law was a very faded and worn bit of paper written pencil ordering that no harm or damage should befall Dr. Smith's property. The writing is faint, but as best I could manage, the transcription reads

“P__ __s Johnsons Brigad
July 6th 1864
Special Orders
No 3
Soldiers & others are
hereby ordered to respect the known
property of Dr Chas Smith – and
attention is called to the fact
that the penalty of a violation
of a “safe guard” is death -
By Cons_ _ of Brig Genl Johnson
_ _ ere_ _ _ Howard
1st Lt _ lect A R C”

The Confederate occupation was brief. The Battle of Monocacy took place July 9, 1864 and the troops moved on toward Washington, DC. Days later the younger brother of Smith's future sister-in-law, Maria Lee Palmer, left his school in Maryland to join General Johnson's troops. His sister became the family archivist, collecting and saving many documents relating to their lives during and after the Civil War.

Source: Confederate Order regarding House of Dr. Charles Smith, July 1864; privately held by descendent of Dr. Francis F. Smith, Frederick, Maryland. 1966. Papers of Maria Lee Palmer Smith. 


  1. What a treasure you have found. I love the scraps of life we find as family historians.

  2. those faint documents are frustrating but good to have anyway.

    Hmmm, guess I should post something about civil war era. i think it will have to be civil war sunday though because i have to do sepia saturday today.

  3. Fabulous history here, did you uncover this during your recent trip?? Oh, for such a treasure trove.

  4. In the midst of all that history with documentation to boot. Very nice.

  5. Neat story, Susan. Thank goodness for family archivists, then and now!


Comments related to the information shared here are most appreciated. All comments are moderated, and since I am not actively researching right now it many take a day or two for your comment to post. Please know that it will post, and that I much appreciate the feedback.