Places to Visit: Smithsburg

Smithsburg, MD was founded in 1813 by Christopher “Stuffle” Smith. Mr. Smith purchased a plot of land formerly known as “part of Shadrack’s Lot.” The community’s development was directly influenced by factors such as migration paths, the arrival of the railroad, and advances in agricultural technology. By 1923, much of the existing village had been erected. Smithsburg was incorporated in 1846.

Smithsburg played a small but significant role during the American Civil War. The engagement took place on July 5, 1863.

At the time of the battle, Smithsburg was a thriving community that had been influenced by factors such as migration patterns, the arrival of the railroad, and advances in agricultural technology. In 1862, it had served as a hospital town, treating wounded soldiers from nearby battles at South Mountain and Antietam.

On July 5, 1863, Confederate General James Stuart and Union General Kilpatrick exchanged artillery fire over Smithsburg. The town, which was still celebrating the Fourth of July, invited the Union generals to a meal while they waited for the Confederates to withdraw. However, unbeknownst to the Union officers, Stuart and his troops were approaching from Raven Rock Road and took up positions on Nicodemus Hill.

A fierce artillery duel ensued, with several Confederate shells and cannonballs striking many homes and businesses in the town. Stuart attempted to reposition his cannons, leading Kilpatrick to believe that the Confederates were withdrawing. He broke off the engagement and moved on to Boonsboro, missing the opportunity to cut into the retreating Confederate forces. Stuart and his troops then rode through Smithsburg and on to Hagerstown, effectively shielding Lee’s army as it continued on to Williamsport and the Potomac.

The Battle of Smithsburg was a significant moment in the Civil War, and it played a small but important role in the larger conflict. Despite its small size, the engagement had significant consequences and demonstrated the importance of even the smallest battles in determining the outcome of the war.