Units by State:
Units by State:
Welcome to Howard County, MD in the Civil War. This site documents the activity of every Civil War unit that spent more that a few days in Howard County during the War. Roughly 60 units spent between three days and eighteen months guarding the railroad in Howard County. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to volunteer to help transcribe War-time letters and articles to help make the information more accessible.
Howard County in 1861 was a peaceful, sleepy place. With a population of around 13,000 people, including 2,800 slaves and 1,300 free blacks, its largest town was Ellicott's Mills, with 1,444 people. Smaller towns, Annapolis Junction, Woodstock, Marriottsville, and Elk Ridge Landing, were situated along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad heading west along the Patapsco River, or the Washington Railroad, heading south towards the nation's capital. These rail links were a vital lifeline transporting men and matériel from the industrial and populous North to the fighting units on the border with the newly formed Confederacy.
The Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 began the Civil War. President Lincoln called for 90 day militia units to suppress the rebellion. On April 17, the 6th Massachusetts Militia, responding to Lincoln's call, arrived in Baltimore on their way to Washington D. C.. Two days later, while marching through the city, a mob attacked four companies of the Militia, killing four soldiers. In returning fire, twelve civilians were killed. General Benjamin F. Butler, of the 8th Massachusetts Infantry, was ordered to secure the railroad links between Baltimore and Washington D. C. He marched his unit, along with the 7th New York Militia to Annapolis Junction, in Howard County, where the Washington Railroad met a branch railroad to Annapolis. These soldiers became the first non-native soldiers to camp in Howard County.
Immediately after the Baltimore Riots, the Howard Dragoons - a cavalry company of roughly 60 men commanded by George R. Gaither, left Howard County and reported to Baltimore to patrol the city and restore order. However, upon being asked to take the oath to the United States, Gaither and most of his men rode to Virginia and enlisted in the 1st Virginia Cavalry, C. S. A. Gaither was a slave owner and Southern sympathizer. Three of his slaves eventually enlisted in the United States Colored Troops; one died in combat.
Throughout the War, detachments of over 65 units served at the various strategic locations in Howard County, guarding bridges, roads, and culverts along the rail lines. Relay House, in Elkridge, and Annapolis Junction, eight miles further south, served as mustering and training locations for locally recruited units later in the War.
The following orders from Colonel William B. Hayward of the 60th New York State Volunteers summed up the duties of the newly enlisted men:
“1st. All Bridges and Culverts between the Relay House, at Washington Junction, and the three city stations of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company…must be carefully observed, particularly between the hours of sunset and sunrise…
2nd. All the Switches, especially those upon the Main Track between the city limits and the Relay Junction, should be carefully observed, particularly between the hours of sunset and sunrise…it will be required of your sentinels and pickets to challenge and warn off all suspicious persons who may attempt to occupy, or even walk along the track…”
Enos B. Vail, writing in Reminiscences of a Boy in the Civil War, elaborates:
“Ten posts were established along the line of the road. The men were detailed from each company of the regiment, being divided into squads of from ten to fourteen men, stationed two or three miles apart. Our duty was to guard the railroad from attacks of the local Secessionists, and prevent them from destroying the bridges and tearing up the track…At night we were required to patrol the railroad, traveling in pairs, four men leaving the camp at the same time, two going east, the other two, west. Each pair walked until they met the patrol from the next station…”
The Union men settled into camp life quite well. Camps were initially established of rough canvas tents in straight lines, later on wooden buildings were erected. Local springs and the river provided drinking water, bathing, and fishing opportunities. Each unit named their own camps, mostly after commanding officers or other well-known men. Thus we have Camp Boardman and Camp Randall for the men of the 4th Wisconsin, Camp Cooper for the 1st Maryland Infantry, Camp Bradford for the 5th Regiment Maryland Volunteers, Camp Wool for the 118th New York, Camp Reynolds for the 20th New York, Camp Miles and Camp Kelsey for the 10th Maine.
The majority of the men stationed in and around Howard County were on picket duty along the railroad, or serving as members of the Provost Guard, tasked with checking travelers' papers, arresting deserters, and keeping the peace in the camps. Upon arriving at their camp locations, generally situated on the high ground around the railway line, the men set about felling trees and leveling the ground.
Relations with the local citizens appear to have run hot and cold. John M. Gould, serving in the 10th Maine states that the citizens in the vicinity of Elkridge Landing were “generally indisposed to welcome us into their houses”, but Charles Walcott of the 21st Massachusetts reports that the men of the 1st Pennsylvania Reserve were reluctant to leave Annapolis Junction as “the whiskey was plenty, and the pretty girls and inhabitants generally had been very friendly to them.”
1861 was a busy time for Howard County. Thirty trains a day passed down the rails from Baltimore, units were relocated and relocated again. New units arrived, 90 day militia units disbanded, while other units were divided, some to serve locally, others to invade the Confederacy. The three main junctions in Howard County, Ellicott's Mills, Relay House at Elk Ridge Landing, and Annapolis Junction, saw the majority of activity during the War. In each of these places full regiments of men, upwards of 1,300 soldiers, were stationed. Here they lived, trained, and served.
At Annapolis Junction in late April, two regiments arrived and encamped on the picnic grounds and occupied the local Hotel. Troops were drilled in an open field close to the Junction. On May 4, a correspondent to the Baltimore Sun reported: “I found here the 69[th] regiment of New York..The closing scenes of our evening during our stay consisted of cotillons and jig dances around blazing bon-fires, in which the whole regiment participated.” The 69th New York soon moved to Washington, to be replaced by the 13th and 20th New York regiments of militia.
Eight miles further north, at Elk Ridge Landing, a similar scene was occurring. The 6th Massachusetts, still smarting from the death of four soldiers in the Baltimore riots, took possession of the Relay House. Their job was to guard the railroad and specifically the Thomas Viaduct, a massive railroad bridge crossing the Patapsco River. The Viaduct is an eight span railroad bridge, running over 600 feet and rising almost 60 feet in the air. Accompanying the 6th Massachusetts were the 8th New York State Militia, a company of the 1st Massachusetts, and several guns from Cook's Battery of the Boston Light Artillery. These guns were placed on the west side of the Viaduct, and along the railroad.
Another six miles northwest is Ellicott's Mills, the county seat of Howard County, and its largest city. Here were stationed more New York troops and, later in 1861, McGowan's Home Guards, a locally recruited unit. Sadly no issues of the local newspaper, published in Ellicott's Mills, have survived. Information about activity in Ellicott's Mills and Howard County comes largely from soldiers' letters, post-war reminiscences, and nearby newspapers.
The last permanent station in Howard County was at Elysville, west of Ellicott's Mills on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, guarding a bridge over the Patapsco River. Elysville did not have any full regiments guarding it, but 100-200 men were generally stationed at this location.
Throughout 1861 newspapers, both local to Maryland and as far away as Wisconsin and Maine, ran stories describing the various camps and camp life. On May 11, 1861, the New York Times gushed:
“GEN. BUTLER'S CAMP, CLERMONT HILL, Opposite Relay House, Md., Tuesday, May 7, 1861…The men…are encamped on one of the most beautiful spots the eyes could rest upon. The Relay House is situated in a deep valley, through which the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs, and from which the hills on either side slope gradually to a height commanding a full view of the surrounding country…The Eighth New-York occupy one of these magnificent hills, and the Sixth [Massachusetts] the other, the valley, which is lined with troops-detachments from the regiments-separating them…Numerous tasteful little barracks, made of limbs and boughs of trees, beautifully thatched and decorated with foliage, and well lined with straw within, are dotted all over the hill…The Boston Flying Artillery that accompanied the troops here, have planted two fine batteries, commanding both points of the road…One commands the Bridge of the Washington Turnpike across the Patapsco, and the other could rake…the magnificent stone railroad bridge…You have only to descend to the valley on the West side of Clermont hill, to find yourself out of sight of the troops, who are within a minute's walk on the hill”
At Relay House camps were established on Lawyer's Hill, so called because rich Baltimore lawyers maintained expensive mansions there. The lands of the late W. A. Talbot, George Dobbin, Dr. James Hall, John Latrobe, J. H. Luckett, P. O'Hern, and Thomas Donaldson were turned into encampments. A camp hospital was established in the center of a grove of trees on the land of the late W. A. Talbot. When the 8th New York Militia camped on the lands of George W. Dobbin, Dobbin visited the regiment and expressed his hope that “nothing of an unpleasant character would transpire so long as they occupy the place.”
Although they arrived at Relay House in a driving rain and without tents, the 6th Massachusetts' equipment soon caught up with them. The Richmond Enquirer reported “The 8th regiment of New York Militia, 1,000 men…are encamped in 80 tents on the heights in the rear of the Relay House. The 6th regiment, Massachusetts, are encamped in 108 tents, on a high bluff, half a mile west of the Relay House, and near the railway. The Boston Light Artillery are doing service here. They have six pieces, 75 horses, and number 105 men.”
In June the 6th Massachusetts and the 13th New York were brought into Baltimore City to maintain the peace on election day. A few days later, they rode the trains back to Relay House. In late June they again went to Baltimore for a few weeks duty. Upon their return, three hundred citizens of Baltimore accompanied them, marched up the hill to the residence of Dr. James Hall, and presented the companies with an American flag.
In late July the 4th Wisconsin Infantry arrived at Relay House. An article in the Calumet Republican newspaper of Gravesville, Wisconsin reported: “We occupy the grounds and residence of an old, secessionist, who is now dead…The Massachusetts 6th (who were here before us,) took possession of it, and used the house, which is a very large and well constructed one, for a hospital. The house is in the midst of a splendid grove, in which our tents are pitched”, obviously describing the lands of W. A. Talbot. Several of these historic houses still stand on Lawyer's Hill. The 6th and 8th Massachusetts left Relay House for good in July, replaced by the 1st Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry.
In August 1861 a Fort was established at Relay House, overlooking the Viaduct. Named Fort Dix, after General John A. Dix, who had served in the War of 1812, the earthen fort consisted of a block-house made of timber and earthworks to protect the battery. Initially occupied by six cannon of Cook's Battery of the Boston Light Artillery, it was also manned later in the war by elements of the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery, and the 8th and 9th New York Heavy Artillery.
John M. Gould, a major in the 10th Maine Infantry, which arrived at Relay House in November, kept a diary of his military service. Of Relay House he said, “Here are the river Patapsco, a deep ravine, a ponderous stone bridge or viaduct, a waterfall, mills camp and scenery over which Hudson the artist grew frantic. I would enlist to serve forever in such a place as this.”
After spending the summer in tents upon the Elk Ridge heights, in December the 10th Maine began building permanent barracks. Tools were sparse, and the construction lasted two weeks. Gould, of the 10th Maine, states, “Each company had one building in which the officers and sergeants had each a room in one end. The cook had a kitchen pretty well fitted up on the other end, and the bunks were in the second story. The sheds up on the line were nearly all different, but not one of the ten could be kept warm in a windy winter day.” After the War the government sold off a dozen barracks and buildings which had been built at the Relay House. The main barracks was 100 feet long and 18 feet wide. The officers' building was 50 feet by 20 feet.
Officers sent for their wives, who were lodged with local residents. Richard Eddy, the regimental chaplain for the 60th New York State Militia, also served as its Postmaster. In December 1861, the five companies stationed at headquarters mailed 4,917 letters! Soldiers also received many letters in return; Abial H. Edwards, serving in the 10th Maine at Relay House, reported having “…fifty letters that I have had from Maine since I came out here…” in the two months he had been serving. However, he cautioned his sister on sharing the letters: “I hope you do not share my poor letters to any one…be sure and not to any more.”
Life in camp wasn't always enjoyable. Louis LeClear, serving in the 93rd New York National Guard at Relay House often complained of thieving in the camp - “One night when I was sleeping in the guard-house one of them stole a shoelace from my shoe & when they do that they are pretty mean.”
Similar activities were occurring at Annapolis Junction in 1861. Troops were stationed at the Junction as early as April 24, when 100 men were reported there. The next week the 69th New York State Militia arrived and camped on the picnic grounds. The officers appropriated Fitzsimmon's Junction Hotel as their headquarters and armory. More New York units arrived in May, including the 5th and 20th New York State Militias.
While serving at the Junction, the troops were often called out in the middle of the night to respond to possible threats. In June 1861, “mounted rebels” fired upon a Union picket. Return shots were fired and the camp was roused, but the rebels escaped. In October a lieutenant of the 21st Massachusetts regiment was shot and killed by unknown assailants. The 1st Pennsylvania Reserve, heretofore stationed at the Relay House, moved to Annapolis Junction in late July 1861. In August information reached Colonel McPherson that two wagons loaded with contraband destined for the South were passing through the county. McPherson sent a detail to wait in the woods. Near 11 o'clock they stopped a wagon driven by three men. Two of the men were immediately arrested while the third escaped into the woods. In the wagon were found medical supplies which, the men confessed, were headed to Richmond. They had been promised $150 for the clandestine delivery.
Despite regular nighttime alarms, the duty wasn't arduous, and the men soon settled into camp life. They gathered acorns, chestnuts, cherries, and mulberries and caught gudgeons [a small freshwater fish] and bullfrogs in the Patapsco River. Enos Vail, of the 20th New York describes fishing for bullfrogs:
“We had little to do in the daytime. After drill, the time was our own, and we employed it fishing for bullfrogs. They were plentiful and took the hook readily. It was great sport, catching them with pole, line and fishing-hook to which a piece of red flannel had been attached. The frogs were so greedy that they would often jump a foot out of the water to get the bait. After the catch, we cut off the legs, and after soaking them in salt water, fried them in pork fat. The flesh was white and very tender; I never tasted anything nicer…”
Two hours of company drill was held in the morning for those not on duty, and an additional two hours of battalion drill in the afternoon. At sunset, a dress parade. On some nights, one or more companies were assigned to search the neighborhood for hidden arms and ammunition. Vail describes one such search:
“One night my company, in charge of Captain Lent, found a quantity of arms concealed under a haystack, and a drum belonging to the Sixth Massachusetts regiment. The man in whose possession the drum was found was arrested, taken to headquarters, and asked to explain how he came by the drum…”
Tragic events occurred at the Junction. In September Lieutenant Charles K. Stoddard of the 21st Massachusetts was shot by a camp picket. The picket, Henry C. Wester related his story:
“I ordered him to halt four times before I fired; he made no answer, and did not stop; when I first halted him he was twenty or thirty feet off, the last time he was nearly at the point of my bayonet; he had on an overcoat buttoned up to the chin, and I did not know him, but thought he was a secessionist, and was afraid of my life. I fired and he fell, his coat flew open and I saw who it was. I fell down beside him and took his hand and said 'Why didn't you answer.' I should not have killed him if I had known him; he was my best friend. I thought I was doing my duty and no more.”
Private Henry Brown, of the same unit, wrote about the shooting in a letter to his parents on October 30th. “Our first Lieutenant was shot Monday night. He disguised himself and tried to run through the beat of the sentinel. He halted him four times. He would not stop. He fired and hit him in the bowels. He died in about an hour. He will be sent to Worcester today. We have orders to halt a person three times and fire if they do not stop.”
Private Wester was exonerated by his colonel in the subsequent court martial, partially due to the testimony of Lieutenant Stoddard before he died.
Soldiers died from accidental shootings like Lieutenant Stoddard. Soldiers died from mishap - Dunbar Schoonmaker of the 20th New York was bending over to grab his musket, when his pistol fell out of his coat, discharging and hitting him directly in the heart. More tragic was the death by disease of John C. Elmendorf, 13 years old and a drummer boy in the same unit. Trains ran over soldiers who inexplicably fell asleep on the tracks. Soldiers broke legs jumping from trains, and soldiers killed comrades in fights over card games.
One area where the Union soldiers had little to complain about was their diet. Theodore B. Gates, in the 20th New York, recalled “Foreign officers were amazed to witness the abundance of food and clothing that were issued to our soldiers. I am satisfied the men could have lived well on two-thirds of the Government ration…” Private Brown, of the 21st Massachusetts, described his diet in camp. “We have coffee for breakfast and bread, salt hoss [described by Harper's Magazine as “a half-de-saltpeterized, half-washed, half-cooked article”], pickled beef or fresh once in a while, or salt pork. Sometimes potatoes or beans, water, coffee and rice. We have sugar for coffee, vinegar, molasses, pepper and salt to season our vitals and milk for 8 cents a quart. We have hard bread on Sunday.”
That “hard bread on Sunday” fueled the soldiers for Divine worship. Open air services were held every Sunday, and soldiers also attended local churches. H. S. Chapin, of the 144th Ohio Infantry attended service in Savage, along with a number of his company. Chapin saw little difference between services back home and in Maryland, except for the fact that the clergyman made no reference to the Government or the rebellion. From this Chapin inferred that the clergyman was a Southern sympathizer. In addition to Sunday worship, some camps held evening prayer. E. D. Knight, Jr., serving in the 8th Massachusetts recalls one such service, held at Annapolis Junction:
“It was an impressive scene - eight hundred men closed en masse upon the hill-side, around that man of prayer who, with uplifted hands, invoked upon is the blessing of the God of battles. I saw the tears that glistened in many an eye at thought of home, and there was a silence that seemed sad in camp for an hour after.”
Although the lack of existing copies of the local newspaper make documenting the activities at Ellicott's Mills difficult, soldiers' letters report them attending services at Emory United Methodist and St. Paul's Catholic churches.
Gilbert Haven, later to be a Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, served as Chaplain to the 8th Massachusetts Infantry. He believed in the absolute equality of all people, regardless of race. He held services every Sunday for the men under his care, but ended his attempts at nightly prayer services, frustrated at the men's lack of decorum, and despite the good review of E. D. Knight above. Haven spent his time in Howard County talking to slaves and slave owners, including “Brother Shipley” who would “free the slaves if any body would guarantee their being well taken care of.” Upon leaving Howard County at the end of their 90 day term of service, Haven had this to say, “I was very willing to leave Relay. I had got tired of the place and the people. I had been so free in expressing my dislike of slavery that some of them threatened to string me up.“
Ellicott's Mills was the third major railroad station in Howard County. Here the railroad extended to Harper's Ferry, and served as a vital east-west lifeline of men and supplies for the Union. In late May 1861 a small number of advance guards were reported at “Hallafield”, just a few miles from Ellicott's Mills [Ellicott's Mills would not become Ellicott City until a few years after the War.] By the end of the year, Captain McGowan's company of Home Guards were stationed in Ellicott's Mills, along with detachments of the 60th New York. It is likely that these units, along with elements of other local units and recently recruited Maryland troops, served as the local guard for Ellicott's Mills.
In 1862 the 12th New Jersey Infantry came to Ellicott's Mills to begin a three month stay. Elements of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry were also present on Provost duty, stopping trains, checking papers, escorting prisoners, and keeping the peace. Writing in his History of the Men of Company F… of the 12th New Jersey Volunteers, William P. Haines describes that units arrival in Ellicott's Mills on September 8, 1861:
“…we take the Baltimore and Ohio train for Ellicott's Mills, twelve miles away, where we unload at 3.20, march up a high hill, or young mountain steep as a house roof, form camp, and pitch tents on the level, grassy summit: and here we spend two happy months amid surroundings beautiful and romantic.”
After the battle of Antietam on September 22nd, 1862, the 12th New Jersey received word of Rebels advancing down the Frederick turnpike (Ellicott's Mills main street). They quickly mustered only to find the “Rebels” to be Union “skulkers and stragglers” from the battle. They were arrested and brought back into town. Later, in November, they captured four men with a wagon full of guns and ammunition.
When the time came for the 12th New Jersey to leave Ellicott's Mills, in December 1862, they did so with great regret. David Borton, of Company F, recalled ”…the time has come for the regiment to leave the pleasant hills and associations of Ellicott's Mills, but not to forget the beautiful (girls) and healthful location, with that memorable spring gushing forth from the rocks, supplying the whole regiment with its clear, pure waters.“
In April of 1862, Harper's New Monthly Magazine printed an extensive article describing “Camp Life at the Relay.” The article describes the locale and soldiery in glowing, idyllic terms.
“The view from our camp was charming. At our feet lay a narrow valley through which crept the slumberous Patapsco, covering its face with willows…The walks around the camp were as delightful as its out-look. Deep ravines, heavily shaded, covered the northern and western sides. Through each of these trickled a tiny brook dancing down to the river.”
In June 1862, Relay House became a mustering-in point for local recruits. An advertisement in the Frederick Examiner stated, “Recruits for the two new Regiments…will at once be received and mustered into service…The extensive Barracks of the 10th Maine Regiment, stationed near the Relay House…will be taken possession of to Drill, Clothe, Subsist, and organize the two Regiments.” These regiments were to be the 4th and 6th Regiments of Maryland Volunteers. Also in June the 8th New York Cavalry repaired to Relay House from dismounted duty at Harper's Ferry. At Relay House they received their horses and drilled for several weeks, before being ordered back to Harper's Ferry, this time with their horses.
More New York and Pennsylvania soldiers arrived at Relay House during 1862. The 8th New York Cavalry, 15th New York Independent Light Artillery, 118th New York Infantry, and the 138th and 147th Pennsylvania Infantry began their service in Maryland. The 7th Maryland Infantry also served at Relay House for a brief time.
Annapolis Junction was also a busy location during 1862. In July the Government established a hospital there, which was later called the Rulison U. S. A. General Hospital. It consisted of twenty seven buildings, the seven main wards were 102 feet by 20 feet in size. Although the hospital could house a large number of wounded, in January of 1864 there were only 33 patients. However, a few months later, after a particularly large prisoner of war transfer from Southern prisons, close to 200 patients were sent to Annapolis Junction. In June another 250 soldiers were transferred.
James A. Peifer, of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers, spent seven months at the Annapolis Junction hospital in 1863. In a letter to his sister he related “It is a God forsaken place…We are quartered in poor barracks where snow and rain strikes in on us. It is hardly fit to keep cattle in, much less sick men. For instance, yesterday we had quite a snow storm…In our barracks…the snow laid inches [deep] on some of the beds and floor…it is so cold…that the vinegar freezes on the table…”
In September a camp of instruction was established at Annapolis Junction. In 1863 it was designated the rendezvous point for soldiers drafted from Maryland.
Howard County was threatened by Confederate invasion three times, each year from 1862-1864. The Confederate invasion of 1862, leading to the battle at Antietam, had the local troops on high alert. Captain W. E. Beardsley, of the 6th New York Cavalry, sent the following dispatch to Union Major General Halleck:
“SIR: Left picket at Cooksville, with whom General Wool's cavalry communicated last night at 9.30 o'clock, to ascertain whether General Burnside's advance were at Cooksville. They consisted of a company of the First Pennsylvania. Twelve men were seen at Poplar Springs this morning. It is reported an advance of 200 will be made to Cooksville this morning. Communicated with Lieutenant Patterson this morning. So far all quiet. Please send rations and forage. Have thought it expedient to stop the passing of citizens to our rear and return this morning. Surrounded with rebels in disguise. We trust no one will endeavor to reconnoiter to Lisbon this p. m.”
J. B. McIntosh, commanding the 1st and 2nd Brigades, tasked with the defense of Maryland, reported:
“I have sent one regiment to Cooksville, one to Lisbon, and one to Poplar Springs. I have not yet heard from the advanced regiment that was sent to Cooksville. It is reported that Stuart, with five brigades, was making for Cooksville. A rebel prisoner captured, and with whom I conversed this morning, says they were to encamp there (at Cooksville) last night.”
A few weeks later, during the battle of Antietam, cannon fire was reportedly heard by members of the 118th New York Infantry, stationed at Relay House. Immediately after the battle a train load of Confederate prisoners stopped at Relay House. The 118th “rendered them any kindness we could and concluded that they were not be despised as armed enemies.” On the 24th, President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was read in the evening at dress parade. Despite some dissension, one soldier said “That proclamation completes our Declaration of Independence; puts honesty into our professions of liberty.”
1863 was much like the previous year and a half at Relay House. Trains were stopped, units drilled, men recruited. Nighttime alarms continued. Units arrived and left; the Pennsylvania and New York troops were replace by 90 day recruits from Delaware, along with the 3rd Potomac Home Brigade, a Maryland unit recruited on the Eastern Shore, and the Purnell Legion, another Maryland unit, recruited from the Pikesville area.
The invasion of the North during the Gettysburg campaign was the occasion of the first of two skirmishes to occur in Howard County. Confederate Generals J. E. B. Stuart and Fitz Lee, with 10-15,000 men, tore up track and destroyed bridges at Sykesville, Mount Airy, and Cooksville. A brief skirmish at Cooksville between Stuart's cavalry and Captain R. E. Duvall's company of the Purnell Legion, along with two guns from the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery occurred on June 28. Thirty years after the war, the Gettysburg Monument Commission described the skirmish as follows:
“On the 28th of June, 1863, while en route for Baltimore accompanied by a section of the Third Pennsylvania Artillery, commanded by Captain Wm. D. Rank, and having reached near Cooksville, they threw out pickets and encamped for the night; near 11 o'clock the pickets were driven in, and from a prisoner captured by them information was obtained of the advance of Stuart's Cavalry Corps, some 15,000 strong. Duvall, being in a tight place, concluded to retire, but with the loss of his baggage, camp equipage and four horses. He, however, as his first important duty, took the precaution to send Sergeant Andrew Duncan and private Norris, two discreet and trustworthy men, to inform the Commander of the army of Stuart's flank “movement.”
The next day, Stuart's men had another skirmish at Westminster, where two companies of the 1st Delaware Cavalry (partially headquartered at Relay House), charged headlong down main street into the leading elements of Stuart's three brigades. More than half of the 100 men in the charge were captured, including the Captain and the company commander of the second company. Despite the defeat, it is thought that this brief skirmish caused Stuart to remain at Westminster for the night, delaying his arrival for the Gettysburg battle, and perhaps altering the course of the War.
Activity in Howard County continued as described for the remainder of 1863 and 1864. During Confederate General Jubal Early's Maryland Campaign in July 1864, a large number of Confederate cavalry was reported 5 miles from Elysville, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad west of Ellicott's Mills. At Elysville were the 1st Eastern Shore Volunteers, who sent off a squad to investigate the report. The resulting skirmish led to the Union Volunteers taking two prisoners and killing a Confederate lieutenant. These were the last shots to be fired in Howard County by organized units of the North and South.
The end of the War in May of 1865 led to the disbanding and shipping home of Northern troops stationed in Maryland. Barracks and unit buildings built in Annapolis Junction and the Relay House were sold off, and the county soon returned to normal life. Many citizens of the area, previously secessionist in leaning, learned not to discuss the War in public. Rebecca Pue Penniman, who was a young child on Lawyers' Hill in Elkridge during the War recalled ”…we all determined not to let the question of the North and South be discussed among us - a most wise decision…“