Monterey Pass is located in the southeastern portion of
Franklin, County Pennsylvania on South Mountain and is made up of
two geographical mountain peaks. Mount Dunlap is 1,760 feet above
sea level and Monterey Peak is 1,420 above sea level. The Monterey
Pass area extends into four counties and is divided by two states
along the Mason and Dixon Line. Franklin and Adams Counties make
up the Pennsylvania side while Frederick and Washington Counties
make up the Maryland side. Situated in the middle of Monterey Pass
is the community of Blue Ridge Summit.
Monterey Pass was a very important transportation route.
Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Pike was a major road that traveled over
South Mountain and it intersected with several roads that led into
Smithsburg, Fairfield Pass, Pennersville and also Ringgold. The Emmitsburg and
Waynesboro Turnpike was completed on September 21, 1820 as part of
the Waynesboro, Greencastle and Mercersburg Turnpike Company.
On July 3rd, 1863, the 6th U.S. Cavalry led by Major Samuel Starr was
sent to Fairfield to attack the Confederate wagons that were in
the area. They ran into Jones' Brigade of Cavalry that was
guarding the approach to Cashtown from Fairfield on modern day
Carroll's Tract Road. During this battle, Major Starr's Cavalry was
overran by the Confederate Cavalry who charged and forced the 6th
U. S. Cavalry Regiment to retire with heavy losses.
After the battle of Fairfield on July 3rd, Jones’ Brigade had
completed their objective. Which was to hold the mountain passes
of Cashtown and Fairfield and picket the left flank of the
Confederate Army as the Army of Northern Virginia. Now the long road home would begin
through Fairfield Pass then onto Monterey Pass. Generals Jones and
Beverly Robertson would have to pull together their small brigades
to get the supply wagons of the Army of the Northern Virginia back
During the battle of Monterey Pass on July 4th into July 5th,
General Kilpatrick stopped
at the Monterey House where David Miller and Jacob Baer were held
as prisoners by the Confederates. General Kilpatrick dismounted
and walked up on the porch where Mr. David Miller and Mr. Jacob
Baer were. Mr. Baer and General Kilpatrick started to discuss the
roads of the area and where they led. Mr. Miller informed General
Kilpatrick of the Mount Zion Road that led into Smithsburg and Leitersburg. General Kilpatrick then asked Mr. Miller who he knew
that could guide a regiment of his cavalry down the western side
of the mountain so they could try and cut off the Confederate
wagon train. David Miller saw Charles Burhman talking to some of
the Union officers, and he turned to General Kilpatrick and told
him that Mr. Buhrman was the man for the job. Charles Buhrman had
escorted General Kilpatrick's men up the mountain from
Fountaindale where he lived on a farm.
General Kilpatrick then asked Mr. Buhrman where he thought the
wagon train was going. Mr. Buhrman later recalled: "Kilpatrick
asked me which way I thought the wagon train was going, and where
I supposed they would strike the river. I told him they could go
by Smithsburg and Boonsboro, and cross the river at Sharpsburg, or
go by Leitersburg and Hagerstown and cross at Williamsport. He
asked me if there was any road that I knew of that I could take a
regiment and head off that wagon train. I told him there was that
I could take them by Mount Zion and then down the Raven Rock
Hollow and strike Smithsburg, and if they had not taken that road,
we could cross to Leitersburg and there we would strike them for
General Kilpatrick then ordered Lt. Colonel Preston of the 1st
Vermont Cavalry to take Mr. Buhrman as his guide and travel
through Blue Summit and take the road leading to Smithsburg. This
wooden road took them through modern day Blue Ridge Summit and
Cascade to Smithsburg. Arriving at Smithsburg everything was
quiet. Mr. Buhrman then told Colonel Preston to take the road
leading to Leitersburg and by daylight they captured several
prisoners and wagonloads of supplies.
As soon as Colonel Preston and the 1st Vermont Cavalry rode of
toward Smithsburg, General Kilpatrick ordered Colonel Town to take
a regiment of his battalion to head off the retreating wagon
train. Near Clermont House, the 1st Michigan Cavalry under Lt.
Colonel Peter Stagg was sent upon a road leading to Fairfield Pass
near Pine Mountain to head off the Confederate wagon train coming
out of Fairfield.
Using a local guide by the name of James McCullough, Colonel Stagg’s 1st Michigan Cavalry past the old
Benchoff farm which led to the old Furnace road. From there it
would it connect to the Devils Racecourse about two miles to
Monterey Pass. Emmitsburg resident James McCullough was hired by
General Custer on June 27th, when the Michigan Brigade encamped at
the Toll House south of Emmitsburg before heading to Hanover.
The Benchoff farm was originally owned by Christof Freidrich
Benchoff. He was a German native who came to America in 1764. When
the Revolutionary War began, he joined the British Army and was
later captured by the Washington’s Forces and placed in prison at
the Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. In 1781 he was released
from prison and was given the choice of being sent back to Germany
or taking up land in Pennsylvania. He chose to stay and settled in
Charmian near modern day Blue Ridge Summit. The Benchoff Farm is
still owned by members of the Benchoff Family today.
As all of this was happening at the same hour, General
Kilpatrick had made plans of an attack from the east and west
which was already underway; he now had to concentrate on gaining
the actual pass of Monterey in order to dislodge Captain Emack and
This is Fairfield Pass,
where the Old Maria Furnace Road made its cut between Wildcat
Rock and Pine Mountain. This road is the Devil's Racecourse
and follows to the Rolando Lions Club Property.
Meanwhile, as Lt. Colonel Stagg's portion of the 1st Michigan
Cavalry traveled eastward toward Fairfield Gap, he ran into
Confederate soldiers belonging to the 5th North Carolina Cavalry
and two companies of the 11th Virginia Cavalry under the command
of Captain A. J. Ware that were protecting the rear of General
Ewell’s wagon train and guarding the Fairfield Pass. Captain A. J.
Ware commanding the Bath County Squadron (Company F, 11th Virginia
Cavalry) was ordered to scout the enemy’s movements coming from
the direction of Emmitsburg Pike.
As Captain Brevoort’s squad leading Lt. Colonel Stagg’s advance
they took on a few Confederate prisoners as they headed westward
toward Monterey Pass from the old road. During the advance, the
Confederate’s brought up a cannon belonging to Mooreman’s Battery
and fired grape and canister at them. Captain Brevoort, seeing the
cannon ahead, ordered his men to follow the side of the road. When
the cannon fired it missed the front portion of Captain Brevoort’s
column, but injured many that brought up the rear.
In the same weather conditions as Monterey, Captain Wells’
squadron of the 1st Michigan Cavalry was ordered to dismounted and
deployed as skirmishers. Fighting raged for three hours as the 1st
Michigan Cavalry fought their through the Confederate battle
lines. As the Confederates held their ground, Lieutenant Colonel
Stagg against superior numbers ordered Captain William Elliott’s
squadron to charge the Confederates.
In leading the charge, Colonel Stagg’s horse was killed, and
Colonel Stagg himself was seriously injured by the falling horse.
Captain Elliott was mortally wounded and Lieutenant James S.
McElhenny and twenty men of Captain Elliott’s squadron were killed
during the fight. Captain Ware’s men charged the 1st Michigan
Cavalry back toward the Emmitsburg Pike.
Colonel Lomax, commander of the 11th Virginia Cavalry mentions
that such a fight took place near Fairfield on the night of July
4th and 5th: "Found a regiment of adversary cavalry advancing,
which I drove back nearly to the junction of the road with the
During the Confederate Infantry portion of the retreat,
Fairfield Pass was subject to many Federal Cavalry actions.
General Meade commander of the Army of the Potomac knew on July
5th, that General Lee was in full retreat. He ordered Sixth Corps
under the command of General Sedgwick to follow the rear of Lee's
Army through Fairfield. General Sedgwick pursued Lee's Army as far
as Fairfield Pass, when he gave up the chase.
that General Lee’s Army had begun to build breastworks at
Fairfield Pass. General Sedgwick felt that with a Confederate
strong hold at Fairfield Pass, they could hold any pursuing force
for a long period of time. Because of that General Meade would
follow General Lee by a flank movement and try to head him off in
the Middletown Valley. General Meade ordered McIntosh's brigade of
cavalry and Neill's brigade of infantry to continue harassing the
rear of General Lee's Army. At Fairfield Pass William A. Harn's
guns of the 3rd New York Independent Battery concentrated their
fire on Lee's troops, as they were marching over the mountain. No
major damage was done and Lee's Army spent the next few days
marching to Hagerstown and Williamsport beating General Meade's
Army of the Potomac.
to visit the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association's