The following is a post by Valentine Brkich, RMU senior writer, who along with 27 other RMU staff members, students, alumni, and friends, is taking part in a 300-mile bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Over the next three days, leading up to and in honor of Memorial Day, Val will be writing about each stop along the way and its connection to the Civil War, which began 150 years ago…
Cumberland to Hancock (Md.)
Today is the third day of our pedal-powered journey to D.C., and we have now past the halfway point to our destination. Tonight we will rest our weary legs (and sore rear-ends) in Hancock, Md.
Other than being known as an old canal town along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Hancock can also lay claim to being located at the narrowest part of the state. The north-south distance between the Pennsylvania and West Virginia state lines here is a mere 1.8 miles.
During the Civil War, the Battle of Hancock occurred January 5–6, 1862, as part of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's campaign to disrupt operations on the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad and, therefore, cut off Union supply lines.
On January 5, after skirmishing with Federal troops, Jackson’s force reached the Potomac River opposite Hancock, where his artillery fired on the town but did little damage. As the bombardment continued for two days, Union forces under Brig. Gen. F.W. Lander stood strong, refusing the Confederate commander’s demands for surrender. Jackson, unable to locate a safe river crossing to take the town, decided to withdraw his forces and instead marched on Romney, W. Va.
Thanks to the brave fighting men under Gen. Lander, today we are able to enjoy this scenic hamlet from the safety and comfort of our Schwinns and Huffys and Treks.
Did I mention how lucky I feel to be living in the 21st century?
And now…off to Harper’s Ferry!