Spur from the Gettysburg Campaign
Battle of Hagerstown, MD – Falling Waters. Recovered from the Site of Custer and Kilpatrick’s fight. Found in Ringold, MD. May of 1995 by Relic Hunter Ed Miller.
First Battle of Hagerstown
Vicious Fighting in the Streets
Combat raged here in the town square and in adjoining city blocks for six hours on Monday, July 6, 1863. Holding Hagerstown was crucial to Gen. Robert E. Lee's retreat to Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg. If the Confederates lost this crossroads town, Lee's access to the Potomac River would be seriously hampered. The Federals recognized Hagerstown's importance, and just before noon Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry division galloped north on Potomac Street. It charged into three Virginia brigades, and each side fed reinforcements into what became a wild melee of mounted charges and dismounted duels.
The fighting lurched from street corner to street corner, and ultimately into dismounted assaults from house to house, yard to yard, doorway to doorway, churchyard to churchyard, and gravestone to gravestone. The arrival of Confederate infantry -- Gen. Alfred Iverson's North Carolina brigade-- finally compelled the Federals to abandon their effort to seize Hagerstown.
Second Battle of Hagerstown
Custer Captures the Town
Six days had passed since the Federals had failed in their first attempt to seize Hagerstown as they pursued Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate army retreating to Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg. On Sunday morning, July 12, 1863, a decisive event occurred -- the Union army determined to secure its northern flank. The mission to capture Hagerstown was assigned to Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his Michigan cavalry brigade.
Custer's Wolverines rode into town from the east, scattering and capturing stunned Confederates, seizing almost 100 prisoners, and setting free nearly 40 Federal soldiers, missing after the fighting of July 6. Local citizens sympathetic to the Union cause had been sheltering these men.
After the victorious Custer led his column through town, doffing his hat to handkerchief-waving ladies, XI Corps commander Gen. Oliver O. Howard climbed into a church steeple and for the first time viewed the extensive Confederate fortifications located west and south of town. Difficult days remained ahead.
Inventory Number: GET 209 On-hold