You're invited to take a journey through the Maryland's Heart of the Civil War.
The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (HCWHA) is an area rich in history, covering portions of Carroll, Frederick and Washington Counties. It is located just below the Mason-Dixon Line, generally viewed as the dividing line between North and South, and above the Potomac River. With one foot in the north, and one foot in the south, the story of the Civil War can be told nowhere better than in this part of Maryland.
No state experienced the Civil War quite like Maryland. Residents of this border state contributed significant resources to both sides of the war effort. Although large portions of the state’s economy relied upon slavery, Maryland lawmakers did not vote to secede from the Union at the outset of the war—though many did not have the opportunity to vote, as they were detained by the federal government because of suspected Confederate sympathies.
Between 1861 and 1865, the Civil War impacted nearly every Maryland resident. Some families faced financial ruin after troops ravaged their land. Thousands of fathers, sons and brothers became casualties of war. For enslaved Marylanders, the conflict ultimately brought about freedom as the new state constitution of November 1864 abolished the practice.
Marylanders witnessed three major military movements during the Civil War: the Maryland (also known as Antietam) Campaign in the fall of 1862, the Gettysburg Campaign in the summer of 1863, and the march to Washington led by Jubal Early in the summer of 1864. Geocachers can visit significant sites from each of these three operations on the Heart of the Civil War GeoTrail.
The mission of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area is to promote the stewardship of our historic, cultural, and natural Civil War resources; encourage superior visitor experiences; and stimulate tourism, economic prosperity, and educational development, thereby improving the quality of life in our community for the benefit of both residents and visitors.
The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Geotrail launched October 1st, 2016 with 15 geocaches within Maryland's Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties. A trackable geocoin will be awarded to the first 200 geocachers, (while supplies last), who find the locations of at least 13 HCWHA caches. To be eligible for the coin, geocachers must download a passport from the Heart of the Civil War website, and record the code word from at least 13 HCWHA geocaches. Geocachers may have their passports validated in person at the Newcomer House at Antietam National Battlefield or at the Visitor Centers in Westminster, Frederick, or Hagerstown. Please refer to the passport for Visitor Center hours and complete validation instructions.
Please note following change. A free prize will still be given to a geocacher who goes to at least 13 HCWHA geocaches and records the code in each of the geocaches on their passport. In addition, geocachers may purchase a trackable Geocoin for $10 at one of the following locations: Frederick Visitor Center, Hagerstown-Washington County Visitor Welcome Center, or Antietam Museum Store. Each of these locations will verify passports by mail and send a coin for a modest handling fee. Call for more information.
Participating in the HCWHA geotrail is fun and we hope that many people join in. However, it is not a requirement for logging your find on this cache once you find the container.
The Union Mills Homestead was home to six generations of Maryland’s Shriver family and represents a microcosm of a “house divided" during the Civil War.
In 1797, brothers Andrew and David Shriver, Jr. bought a tract of land along Big Pipe Creek in a joint business enterprise. They built a grist mill and saw mill that were powered by the creek’s strong flow of water, and a four-room house for both families. After David left to pursue other opportunities (becoming Superintendent of Construction for the Reisterstown Turnpike and then the National Road) Andrew added other ventures at Union Mills, including a tannery, blacksmith’s shop, cooper’s shop, post office, schoolhouse, and inn. Enslaved laborers, indentured servants, apprentices, and paid labor ensured the homestead's constant operation. A prime example of a self-contained industrial enterprise, this mill community became an important stop for travelers between Baltimore and Pennsylvania. Over the years the family prospered and the old home grew to the 23 rooms it has today.
During the Civil War era, another set of Shriver brothers—Andrew K. and William—operated Union Mills. Andrew sided with the Union, although he owned slaves. William, who did not own slaves, supported the Confederacy. Their sons fought on opposite sides during the war.
Located 17 miles south of Gettysburg, troops from both sides of the conflict encamped at Union Mills during the same 24-hour period just prior to the battle culminating Lee’s 1863 invasion of the North. Confederate Cavalry commanded by Major General J.E.B. Stuart arrived late in the night of June 29, 1863. Stuart’s cavalrymen were fed flapjacks out of the kitchen at the back of old homestead (Andrew Shriver’s home), and Brigadier General Fitzhugh Lee slept in the family’s orchard. On the morning of June 30, 1863, Stuart’s Cavalry left Union Mills after Stuart and his senior officers were entertained by William Shriver’s family at breakfast. Just a few hours after the Confederates departed, the Union Army’s Fifth Corps arrived at Union Mills. Brigadier General James Barnes made the Andrew Shriver homestead his headquarters that evening.
The nonprofit Union Mills Homestead Foundation operates the campus as a museum of American culture. The working grist mill offers visitors a chance to not just see history, but to smell, touch, hear, and even taste it. Proceeds from the foundation's annual events are dedicated to the preservation and operation of the complex. Tours of the historic site are offered seasonally, from May through September.
For further reading, see “Pastime: Life and Love on the Homefront During the Civil War, 1861-1865,” 2013, edited by Helen Drury Macsherry; "Just South of Gettysburg: Carroll County, Maryland in the Civil War," 1963, edited by Frederic Shriver Klein.
Thanks to the following members of the Maryland Geocaching Society in placing the hides for this Geotrail: deepdish23, GeoAPPs, lpyankeefan, Phos4s, and ZombieHNTR.
The cache is only available during daylight hours. Please be discrete and respectful when events are occurring at the homestead.