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150th Anniversary of Middletown and Frederick Ransom Commemorations Planned For July



Frederick, MD – Special events have been planned to commemorate the 150th anniversaries of the Ransom of Middletown and the Ransom of Frederick City in early July.  Both towns were ransomed during Confederate General Jubal Early’s Invasion of the North in July of 1864; Middletown on July 8 and Frederick on July 9.


When the Confederate army traveled North during the summer of 1864, it introduced ransom as a way to gain much needed supplies and funds. On July 8, Lieutenant General Jubal Early set up camp east of Middletown, just one day after his cavalry advance met a small Federal force in the town. The Town Burgess William Ervin was summoned and $5,000 was demanded from Middletown, which was about $8 for every person in the town of approximately 600 residents. Ervin explained that compliance was impossible and after negotiations, Early demanded $1,500 from the town by 7 a.m. the next day. The remaining $3,500 was to be provided by the next evening.  The town paid the initial amount on time and the Confederates left town before they could collect the remainder.


On Wednesday, July 9, 2014, at the Middletown Valley Bank, the Middletown: In the Path of War exhibit featuring the original ransom note from 1864 will be unveiled. Civil War historian, author and lecturer Dennis Frye will present a lively discussion on the Civil War, while local author and former Middletown resident Stephen Bockmiller will provide human interest stories on Middletown during the war. A limited amount of tickets are available for the preview event.


Middletown is having its Commemoration Day on Saturday, July 12. This family event will illustrate life in the town during the Civil War with re-enactors demonstrating the Ransom of Middletown. Music, food, guided walking tours and hands-on activities for children will be available. The Middletown: In the Path of War exhibit will be open throughout the day at Middletown Valley Bank. Tickets are available for Middletown’s annual Taste of the Town event that evening from 5-9 p.m. Visit the Middletown Ransom website at for more information.


On July 9, 1864, as the Battle of Monocacy waged on south of town, Frederick city was under threat of a ransom demand from Lieutenant General Jubal Early. The initial demand by the Confederates was for supplies, but when it was clear the town could not provide them, the demand was made for $200,000. Mayor William Cole protested that the amount was absurd but the demand was met when five banks provided the cash after assurances from the municipal government were made that the amount would be repaid. The ransom was paid at Town Hall, now the site of Brewer’s Alley in Downtown Frederick. The city was spared from harm and it took the City of Frederick until 1951 to pay off the debt with interest.  


Downtown Frederick Partnership is commemorating the ransom of Frederick during July’s First Saturday. While visiting downtown Frederick for shopping, dining, arts activities and commemoration programs on July 5, earn special Ransom Dollars along the way that can be turned in at special locations throughout the day. An opening ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. on the front steps of the Museum of Frederick County History. The 26th North Carolina Regimental Band will process from the National Museum of Civil War Medicine to the Museum of Frederick County History, where living history interpreters, along with Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, will announce the ransom demand as 1864’s Mayor Cole. The original ransom note is part of the Huzza for Liberty! 1864 in Frederick County exhibit at the Museum of Frederick County History. From 3-7:30 p.m., living history interpreters will stroll along the streets of downtown Frederick. Regimental band musicians will provide impromptu music-making throughout the town and there will be living history vignettes at various locations starting at 5 p.m. An 1860-period regimental brass band will give a concert outside Brewer’s Alley at 7:30 p.m., leading into the  re-enactment of the ransom payment at 8:30 p.m.


Ransom Ale, produced by a partnership between the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and Monocacy Brewing Company, will be available from noon-4 p.m. at the Historical Society of Frederick Heritage Garden. Enjoy Ransom Ale, cigars and take home a commemorative pint glass. Ransom Ale will also be available at Brewer’s Alley.


For additional information about Frederick’s First Saturday Ransom Commemoration and how to collect and turn in Ransom Dollars, visit the Tourism Council of Frederick County website at Ransom interpretive programs are being offered at Monocacy National Battlefield on July 7 at 2 p.m. and July 8 at 12 noon. For more information visit the Monocacy website at On July 8 there will be an Eve of the Ransom 150th Commemoration at Brewer’s Alley where new markers telling the story of the ransom will be unveiled at 7:30 p.m.  Prior to the unveiling there will be a 6 p.m. panel discussion at Frederick City Hall where historians Brett Spaulding, Gail Stephens, B. Franklin Cooling and Dennis Frye will speak about the 1864 campaign.


The Tourism Council of Frederick County (TCFC) is the recognized Destination Marketing Organization for Frederick City and Frederick County, Maryland. It operates the Frederick Visitor Center and related programs that include Destination Marketing and Group Tour Marketing.  For information about more things to see and do in Frederick County, visit or call 1-800-999-3613.




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