Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg

To educate, to interpret and to preserve

"There is a large convent at Emmitsburg, with which is connected a school for young ladies, which has a reputation extending throughout the United States. It was on the domain of St. Joseph that I had placed my brigade." Colonel Philippe Regis de Trobriand, 3rd Brigade of Birney’s Division, June 1863.


Photograph of Major Oliver Horner, Cole's Cavalry

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About the Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg

"From Emmitsburg men serving in the Carolina's and Virginia for the defense of the Confederacy to Emmitsburg men who fought preserving the Union, from every raid carried into Maryland and Pennsylvania to every encampment, Emmitsburg witnessed it all..." John A. Miller, Battlefield Historian Monterey Pass Battlefield Association

Emmitsburg might seem like just a normal small town today, but during the Civil War it saw its fair share of action. All of the troops that traveled to Gettysburg and passed through Emmitsburg, left their footprint forever in the town's history. The Monterey Pass Battlefield Association and the Emmitsburg Historical Society are teaming up to create awareness of Emmitsburg's rich and vital Civil War history. We're hoping that Emmitsburg residents old and new, as well as tourists traveling through Emmitsburg to Gettysburg, will discover Emmitsburg's Civil War heritage. In honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War, we are proud to announce the development of the Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg.

The Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg combines the missions of the Emmitsburg Historical Society and the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association. The mission statement of the Emmitsburg Historical Society is “To identify and capture the history of the people, organizations, businesses and events that have shaped our community. And to provide this information to those seeking to learn more about our rich history, or their own local ancestral roots." Complementing this is the mission of the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association, which seeks to "identify and raise awareness to educate the public about the historical Civil War significance of the Monterey Area and the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike." The combined efforts of the two historical societies will serve to call attention to Emmitsburg’s Civil War heritage by working with community leaders, community organizations and businesses. By increasing public awareness of the Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg, we hope to achieve our goal of preserving this history for future generations.   

Emmitsburg is a classic example of small town America. Many of the families that founded the town still maintain their roots in Emmitsburg. Intertwined within these family histories lies the story of Emmitsburg, not just as a town that gets passed by on the way to a bigger destination, but as a close-knit community, one whose history deserves to be recognized and preserved. Emmitsburg has such an interesting story throughout it’s history even before the town was founded in 1785, when the area was known as the Tom's Creek Hundred. Since 1785, the town has proudly given it's men and women to fight our country’s greatest wars, but it was the Civil War that played a dramatic role in the formation of the town – from the troop encampments and their impact on the town's citizens, to the great fire which destroyed over half the town. Emmitsburg contributed her fathers and sons to both, the Union and the Confederacy, forcing many families to meet each other face to face on opposing sides of the battlefield. Even faculty and students of Mt. Saint Mary's College could not escape the divided loyalties of the Civil War. The Daughters of Charity ministered many wounded soldiers during the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Pennsylvania Campaign of 1863. Many of the town's Confederate veterans never returned home, afraid to face their neighbors after fighting for a lost cause.

By promoting the Civil War heritage of Emmitsburg and attracting tourism to Emmitsburg, Civil War enthusiasts will have a better understanding of the events that took place prior to and after the battle of Gettysburg. The tourist will also learn how Emmitsburg played an important part in the battle of Monterey Pass when the Union cavalry learned of the Confederate retreat on South Mountain. It is also same place where Confederate cavalry under General JEB Stuart learned about the battle of Monterey Pass, forcing him to once again detour away from General Lee's Army. Emmitsburg served as a vital point of communications for the Union Army in both the Pennsylvania Campaign and the burning of Chambersburg in 1864. With this knowledge tourists visiting Emmitsburg will be provided with a better understanding of the Pennsylvania Campaign and the role that Emmitsburg played during the Civil War.

As a community organization, we understand the importance of interpretation. Without it, you would not be able to understand the events that took place. This is why interpretational programs are very important. Our interpretational programs and guided tours provide our visitors with a wealth of knowledge regarding several different topics relating to the Civil War history of the area. We are continually creating new programs to educate the public about the different aspects of the Civil War and how they relate to our community. Our interpretational programs are based upon Maryland State Park guidelines and uniform standards. Are you hosting an event or looking for a speaker to discuss little known topics of the Civil War and would like more information, please contact the M.P.B.A. us by visiting our website.