Maryland Heights Fortifications

I just finished documenting and posting several markers on Maryland Heights, above Harpers Ferry. The visit was back in September – an indication of the fast pace of the author’s life recently. The markers are listed with this grouping: Maryland Heights Virtual Tour by Markers. A bit more useful to the traveler, here’s the markers overlaid to a Google maps display. In the ‘hybrid’ or ‘satellite’ mode, there’s a nice Easter Egg – a plane caught transiting the heights. (The satellite image has since been updated.)

Maryland Heights caught my attention many years back on a family vacation. One look up that mountain from the point of Harpers Ferry, and I wanted to climb. I’ve now made several trips and come away each time with new perspectives.

The fortification ruins currently on the Heights were largely part of a system constructed in reaction to the debacle of September 1862. The Federals viewed the capture of Harpers Ferry as part inconvenience, but it seems from the reaction, a prick on their pride. A survey by Lt. Cyrus B. Comstock produced recommendations to ring the high ground around the town with trenches, batteries, and blockhouse. Interlocking fields of fire would stop any attacker, regardless of compass point. Of all the proposed works, those on Maryland Heights were given the most resources. So while Bolivar Heights was not fortified until late summer of 1864, and Loudoun Heights received only one major work, the fortifications on Maryland Heights were completed before the Gettysburg campaign.

Four major works supported artillery batteries on Maryland Heights – The Naval Battery, Six-gun Battery (30-pdr Battery), 100-pdr Battery, and the Stone Fort/Interior Fort/Exterior Fort complex. Over the next few posts I’ll break out my notes on each. Then I’ll look at the significance of these fortifications with regard to the Gettysburg Campaign of ’63 and Early’s Raid of ’64.


2 thoughts on “Maryland Heights Fortifications

  1. Craig,

    I enjoyed very much your HF photos and text. I also plan on making use of some of your photos from other spots such as S. Mountain and Sugarloaf in a paper I’m working on. My wife and I have hiked these spots and enjoyed them. I look forward to seeing more.

    Thank you,

    Larry Freiheit

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