2011-10-21 / Travel

History & Culture in Hagerstown

Part 1: Fort Frederick
By Warner M. Montgomery
WarnerM@ TheColumbiaStar.com


Fort Frederick is a large stone quadrangle with bastions at each corner. Each wall is 179 feet long, 17.5 feet high, and three feet thick. Fort Frederick is a large stone quadrangle with bastions at each corner. Each wall is 179 feet long, 17.5 feet high, and three feet thick. Linda and I went to Hagerstown, Maryland, last June for the annual International Torch Club convention which, as always, includes several interesting tours of historical places. This year we toured Fort Frederick and the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Battlefield.

Fort Frederick, a Maryland state park on the Potomac River, featured a restored fort from the French and Indian War. The Maryland colonists built the stone star- shaped structure in 1763 as a fortification against Chief Pontiac’s rebellion. During the Revolutionary War the fort was used as a P.O.W. camp for captured British and German soldiers. ( Note: there is also a Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve in Port Royal, SC, built in 1730 to protect againsta a possible attack from the Spanish at St. Augustine.)


The tour of Fort Frederick included a demonstration of loading and firing a musket. The tour of Fort Frederick included a demonstration of loading and firing a musket. In 1791 the fort was abandoned until the Civil War when it was first used to protect the nearby C&O Canal and B& O Railroad from marauding Confederates. After 1862, it was mainly used as a P. O. W. camp. In 1922, it became Maryland’s first state park. It was restored during the 1930s by the CCC.

I was on the tour with Torch President Ed Latimer and his wife Dot from Columbia and 40 other Torch members. Linda chose to visit historic homes in Hagerstown that day. We were ushered through the fort by a guide in full Redcoat regalia who explained the construction, barracks, CCC building, and demonstrated firing of muskets and cannons.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, a piece of history with which I had not been familiar. Of special interest was the Friends of Fort Frederick, a volunteer group that sponsors an 18th Century Market Fair, French and Indian War Reenactments, Colonial Childrens Days, and Junior Ranger Programs.


The reenactment of a cannon firing was successful in chasing off an attack by Chief Pontiac’s warriors. The reenactment of a cannon firing was successful in chasing off an attack by Chief Pontiac’s warriors. Next week: Antietam Battlefield

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