In the summer of 1864, Confederate troops led by General Jubal Early had their sites set on capturing Washington, DC. In the process, they won the only Confederate victory of the Civil War on Union soil - one of the war's most significant, yet little known battles.
When you plan a trip to Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, you'll be in the midst of the most hotly contested locations of the war, surrounded by battlefields and stories of bravery. The Battle of Monocacy(also known as the "Battle That Saved Washington, DC") is just one of those stories.
In July of 1864, Early's troops took advantage of a swath of undefended territory leading north through the Shenandoah Valley toward Frederick, Maryland. From there, they hoped to move on DC, but met resistance from Union troops led by General Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur). After a fierce day of fighting at Monacacy, Early's men pushed past Union troops.
Two days later, Early sat astride his horse outside the gates of Fort Stevens and made a fateful decision. Usually manned by capable troops, Washington's forts were occupied by a ragtag collection of walking wounded and raw recruits that day-easy pickings. But Early hesitated. His men were exhausted from their recent fight and the ensuing march.
That gave General U.S. Grant just enough time to reinforce the federal capital's defenses with thousands of veteran troops. Had Early arrived a day sooner, the war may have ended differently. But Early was too late.
The Civil War is full of similar stories and Fairfax County occupies a central hub around which these stories unfold. When you visit the National Capital Region, you will have ample opportunity to see our Civil War attractions and hear tales of bravery, rebirth, and a stronger united America.