During the Civil War, Maryland was a slave state with sympathizers on both sides of the conflict. Many Montgomery County residents enlisted in the Union Army, but others journeyed to Virginia in order to fight for the Confederate cause. Union troops were stationed in the county to protect Washington, D.C., and soldiers from both armies traveled through the county on their way to battles such as Antietam and Gettysburg.
On June 28th, 1863, a troop of Confederate soldiers led by General J.E.B. Stuart came to Rockville on their way to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The soldiers raided stores and homes for supplies, such as food and horses. They also took five civilian Union sympathizers captive, including storekeeper John Higgins. Dora Higgins, John’s wife, attempted to save her husband by hiding him from the soldiers. Although her efforts to hide her husband proved unsuccessful, she was able to keep the Confederate soldiers from looting her store by standing guard in front of it for six hours. Fortunately for the Higgins family, the soldiers released their prisoners in Brookeville, about twelve miles from Rockville, and John Higgins made his way back home on foot. After her husband’s safe return, Dora Higgins wrote a long letter to her mother detailing her and John’s harrowing experiences.
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Click on the links below to learn more about the Civil War in Montgomery County and to read Dora’s amazing letter.