Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America. 1974. National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
Built by the Maryland colony in 1756 during the French and Indian War, Fort Frederick’s stone walls surrounded three large buildings. The colonists abandoned the frontier fort in 1759, when the threat of Indian raids subsided. During the Revolutionary War, the fort confined hundreds of British prisoners. The state auctioned the fort and about 100 acres in the 1790s. The property changed hands several times, in 1860, Nathan Williams, a free African American, bought the  place and farmed the land. By then, time and scavengers had demolished the buildings. With the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861, the area around Fort Frederick again became strategically significant. The U.S. Army acted to protect the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal a quarter mile south of the fort and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad across the Potomac river in the present day West Virginia. The 1st Maryland Infantry (U.S.) under the command of Colonel John Kenly arrived in December 1861 to guard the canal and the fords and ferries between Four Locks to the east, and Cherry Run, to the West. Company H occupied Fort Frederick. On Christmas Day 1861, the regiment skirmished nearby with Confederate raiders who tore up the railroad. Company D relieved Company H here in January 1862 then crossed the river at the end of February to protect the railroad while it was under repair. In October 1862, a 12th Illinois Cavalry picket guarded the canal “immediately south of the old Fort Frederick,” and other Federals later occupied the area.

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With the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1861, the area around Fort Frederick again became strategically significant.

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