This past weekend me and few of my classmates here in Frederick took a break from studying and went for a visit to Harpers Ferry. Most people might recall Harpers Ferry as the location where the abolitionist John Brown made his attack against the federal armory. Harpers Ferry was also a highly valued strategic geographic point by both the Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War, changing hands several times during the corse of the war. After the war, the economy never really returned to the small town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and as a result left the area frozen in time.
What is there today is a great example of what a small town in the mid 19th Century would have looked like. Nearly the whole of the downtown and the surrounding area covering the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland is now a National Historic Park.
On our part, we couldn't have picked a finer fall day for a visit. My roommate Jake, along with Heather, Steven, and Rubin spent the day there taking in the sights. We also got our daily dose of exercise as the walk from the main parking area to downtown then across and up to Maryland Heights was quite the workout!
I did discover a link to my personal family history while I was there. I noticed that the Confederate General that commanded the troops in the battle of Maryland Heights in 1862 was General Joseph B. Kershaw from South Carolina. Since my family is from the Kershaw and Lancaster County area, I wondered if my ancestor William Joseph Flectcher (my grand father's great grandfather) might have been apart of this battle.
Knowing that he was sharp shooter in the Flat Rock Guard, Company G, of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers it didn't take very long to find out that he probably did fight in that battle (As a side note, the company was also present at the battle of Antietam, Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, and Gettysburg, and many others). I also found a map of troop movements before and after the battle of Maryland Heights that show that he most likely marched right through Frederick and the streets that I now ride my bike to work upon. The Flat Rock Guard was apparently a rough and tumble group of soldiers. One of it's members "cut and wore a pair of cuff buttons from a fragment of his own skull." Yikes!
Skull jewelry aside, I recommend that if you ever get the chance to visit Harpers Ferry. It's rich history and natural beauty are well worth the effort. Check out a mix of photos taken by Jake and I here and at Stephen's photo stream here.