As Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson rode through Middletown on September 10, two very pretty girls with ribbons of red, white, and blue in their hair and small Union flags in their hands ran out to the curbstone, and laughingly waved their colors defiantly in the face of the General. He bowed and lifted his cap with a quite smile and said to his staff, “We evidently have no friends in this town.” –Henry Kyd Douglas, "I Rode with Stonewall"
There are several ways you can get to the battleground from Alexandria. I chose I-270 and Alt. 40 so I could travel on some of the “National Pike,” also known as the “Old National Road.” Congress appropriated money in 1811, making it the first Federally-funded highway. I made stops at Middletown and Boonsboro -- two small, picturesque towns lying close to the mountains. Both armies marched through and used both places to care for the wounded.
Middletown in particular has that kind of small-town fancy that does silly things to my heart. Boonsboro, seven miles closer to Sharpsburg, counters with its own beautiful setting at the foot of South Mountain and bragging rights for its favorite daughter and mega-selling author Nora Roberts. “Turn the Page Bookstore and Café,” ran by her husband, is a temple for her books and fans. The store held a book signing for Roberts, who was born and raised in Silver Spring, and other romance novelists. The line was already 20 or more at 8:30 am.
Talked to a couple of re-enactors. One lady from Leesburg was a “camp follower.” With their man away at war, women had to keep things going back home. They would find work at the camps. She said a good book on the subject is “Winchester Divided.”
Jeff Shaara, the best-selling author who needs no introduction, signed books, including his latest, “A Blaze of Glory.” I told him I enjoyed reading his book, “Civil War Battlegrounds.” A great companion if and when you go to the battlefields.
Appeared to be a very successful event. Real slow going as the cars plodded along single file to the parking lot. Even that was reflective, as the troops during the Civil War had to slow down sometimes when marching.