The Brilliant Little Battle of Monocacy

October 5, 2019

A 2019 BGES Day of History Program

This program was originally scheduled for July 21st. Due to the dangerously hot weather heat we rescheduled it for Saturday, October 5, 2019.

Bridge over Monocacy, Scene of Lew Wallace battle with Early, 1864
Alfred R. Waud
Inscribed lower left: “Destroyed at fight on a temporary structure.”
Courtesy Library of Congress

U.S. Grant had a massive plan to smother and suppress the combat life of the Confederacy. In June 1864, it appeared he would succeed. And then, Gen. David Hunter was repulsed outside of Lynchburg, Virginia. His retreat into the western Virginia mountains released Lee’s Corps commander, Jubal A. Early, who was operating in the Shenandoah Valley, to enter Maryland behind all of Grant’s firewalls. With unconstrained movement, Early burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and moved on Frederick–little more than a day’s march from Washington. Here he was met by a scratch force led by a man whom Grant had already cast aside–Lew Wallace had been blamed for the loss at Shiloh and shipped back to an administrative command in Baltimore. From here, Wallace met Early on the banks of the Monocacy River. This tour is about that day.



Gloria Swift was born in Washington, D.C., to parents who were very interested in Civil War history. On Sundays, her father would pile the family into the car and off they would go to a battlefield. She remembers telling her father, “Oh Daddy, this is boring,” but something must have rubbed off because she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in American history. Specializing in military history and the Civil War, Gloria pursued an exciting career for over 30 years with the National Park Service as an interpretive park ranger conducting tours, and as a museum curator working on two museum renovations. She has worked at Gettysburg National Military Park, the C&O Canal National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, and Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, in addition to others. She took the opportunity for an early retirement from the National Park Service in December 2014. Residing in Frederick, Maryland, she currently works part-time for Blue and Gray Education Society (BGES) as the membership coordinator and travel associate on the history tours. She is also the creator and editor of the BGES membership quarterly newsletter, “Along the Monocacy.”