Narrative of a Private Soldier » Chapter I » Frederick City, Maryland

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Lewis Francis, arrived from Wales in 1860, at age 17, and shortly thereafter participated in the action of the Civil War. In 1879, he wrote and published a memoir of this period. I’ve scanned in the text and made it available as raw PDF scans and as an incomplete full-text PDF. As I correct the OCR’d chapters, I’ll be posting the sections to my blog. This is the sixth section of Chapter I.

I remember that I had not been back to the capital long when I started to go to Frederick City. I travelled on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to a point within three miles of the city, and there left the cars on perceiving the signs of an army being near by. Then I advanced, with military prudence, until I entered regular lines. The camp proved to be that of a brigade commanded by General Abercrombie.

Col. Fletcher Webster (1813-1862)
Eldest son of Daniel Webster.
Wounded, captured, and died at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

The camp was situated on high ground and in thick, wild woods, the whole overlooking the Monacacy river and the city beyond. I proceeded through the various regimental grounds, and saw, among other celebrities, Colonel Fletcher Webster, of the Twelfth Massachusetts Infantry, who was pointed out to me as a son of the great Expounder of the Constitution, of which I made due note, and have remembered it to this day.

Proceeding on to the west, I came in sight of the city, but before reaching it I had to pass over the old stone bridge which spans the Monocacy river, a short distance from Frederick. I might have crossed by the railroad bridge nearer, but the sight of the old stone structure took my fancy. I was an old-fashioned affair — no one could inform me as to its age; in solidity and plainness it reminded me of some of the old bridges I had seen in Wales, say that over the Usk river at Abergavenny. On either end there were two large urn-shaped ornaments of stone, and I was gravely told by a “Pennsylvania Dutchman,” who was my guide, that enclosed in each was a large package of whiskey that had been placed there at the time the bridge was built.

Barbara Fritchie (1766-1862)
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country’s flag,”

The Monacacy river was more rapid than deep, but the signs on the banks were that during a rainy season the stream might swell to large proportions. The road I was on led directly to the main street of town, and I walked up that thoroughfare until I arrived at headquarters. I think General Banks, of Massachusetts was in command. At any rate, I received a pass which enabled me to move pretty much as I pleased. Frederick is situated in a delightful country. Rich and well cultivated fields surround the town, especially on the north and west sides. The people who inhabited it were largely made up of the descendants of the Germans who long ago settled in Pennsylvania, and who are vulgarly called “Pennsylvania Dutch.” They all hail from Adams County, and if one could say, and prevail upon the rest to believe, that his name was “Schmidt,” or any one of its German variations, he had almost a sure pass to the aristocratic portion of the town. This is the place where Barbara Fritchie made herself immortal; or at least the poet says she did.

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