FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Visitors can experience the Civil War battle that saved Washington D.C. in a clearer context as the National Park Service begins efforts to restore historic views.
On July 9, 1864, Confederate and Union soldiers clashed on the grounds of the National Monocacy Battlefield, where the Union was outnumbered two to one. Their success was not winning the battle but rather delaying the Confederacy’s attempt to take over the nation’s capital.
“By their sacrifice here, they saved Washington, D.C. from invasion,” said chief of interpretation at Monocacy National Battlefield, Jana Friesen McCabe.
That history is still captured throughout the 1,600 acres of the preserved battlefield, but it’s also been dampened by development that picked up in the area in the 1970s.
“It really all starts to change when I-270 is constructed and it actually goes through one of the most critical parts of the battlefield where Union forces and Confederates had the most intense fighting, right between Worthington and Thomas Farms,” McCabe explained.
McCabe said it is hard now to picture how soldiers charged through the battlefield as the highway intersects the two farms. While the highway will still remain, the National Park Service is working to clear another block in the view.
Contractors will remove a small portion of trees on both farms where the properties meet the edge of the highway to create a cleared view from one end of the battlefield through to the other end.
“By restoring some of the sightline and by selectively removing trees between the two sites, we hope to restore some of that sense and help people to really get a sense of how close [the soliders] were and how hotly contested this battle was,” McCabe said.
Native plants and bushes that won’t grow too tall will replace the small portion of removed trees. By next spring, McCabe said visitors will behold the battlefield with a more accurate view of history.
The project also includes removing hazardous trees along the battlefield’s trails and boardwalks. Work is expected to be completed by the end of December 2020.
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