150th anniversary of Monocacy Battlefield to be commemorated under threat of incinerator

Dotting the fields along the Monocacy River in Frederick County, Maryland, roughly thirty miles northwest of Washington, DC, the cannon lay silent, and the monuments to the fallen stand at attention – distant echoes of a battle that raged here 150 years ago. On July 9, 1864, a makeshift Union force under Major General Lew Wallace attempted to halt Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s advance north toward Washington.

MNBsoldiersAlthough defeated, the Union army’s stand at Monocacy bought General U.S. Grant enough time to shift troops to the capitol, earning Monocacy the moniker “The Battle that Saved Washington.”

A century and a half later, while much land has been preserved as Monocacy National Battlefield, this battlefield has become one of the most threatened Civil War sites in the country. Located just south of the rapidly growing city of Frederick, Monocacy is faced with a constant flurry of nearby development. Additionally, Interstate 270, a major transportation corridor for the region, slices through the heart of the battlefield.

As if these threats weren’t enough, the site of the battle that saved our nation’s capital is threatened by a proposed (and approved) “Waste to Energy” incinerator that represents the most dangerous intrusion on this battlefield to date. Slated for development along the Monocacy River, directly across from the hallowed fields, the incinerator would significantly undermine the remaining integrity of this historic site.

The incinerator’s 275 foot tall smokestack would tower over the battlefield, destroying viewsheds from much of the park. The massive complex would have the capacity to burn 1,500 tons of garbage a day, spewing visible and invisible pollution and diminishing the visitor’s experience.


Perhaps most importantly, the facility would be located within a few hundred feet of trails along the river at Worthington Farm, which are among the most popular and scenic trails in the park.

MNBworthingtonhouseUnfortunately, environmental permits were approved in early February 2014, moving the project closer to fruition.

For years, the Civil War Trust and its partners, battlefield preservationists, and environmental groups have voiced their opposition and attempted to stop or delay the project. The threat is real, but now preservation proponents have some reason for optimism. That’s because Carroll County, which had partnered with Frederick County to construct and utilize the incinerator, recently backed out of the agreement (April 2014). If Frederick County cannot find a new partner for the 1,500 tons per day incinerator, the project will be seriously jeopardized.

The Civil War Trust has advocated against this proposal since 2008. We will continue the fight to stop this incinerator from permanently blighting these hallowed grounds.

You can voice your opposition by encouraging elected officials in Frederick County to abandon this short-sighted proposal. Visit our website to take action today!



Monocacy National Battlefield on the National Park website

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The Battle that Saved Washington

“Join the fight against this proposal by writing to the Board of Commissioners of Frederick County, asking them once and for all to kill this misguided, expensive, and unnecessary project.”