Military Operations of Woodsboro

During the outbreak of the Civil War Woodsboro, Maryland was mainly sympathetic to the Union cause. Several men from Woodsboro joined many of the Union units including the 7th Maryland Infantry and the First Potomac Home Brigade (Cole’s Cavalry). On November 14, 1861, for protection of loyal Union men at the polls of the late election, Major Stone served as the provost Marshall of Woodsboro and a few other election precincts. Because Maryland was so divided in it’s political views, no armed men went near the polls.

In October of 1862, Confederate General JEB Stuart and his cavalry made their way across the Potomac. Their objective was to capture the Union depots at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. After completing his objective, General Stuart led his men back toward Hagerstown when he realized that a portion of Union Cavalry is following him. General Stuart orders his men to march toward Gettysburg. After passing through Cashtown, General Stuart decides to travel to Fairfield and make his way to Emmitsburg, Maryland. Just one hour before the Confederate arrival in Emmitsburg, 140 men of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry known as Colonel Rush’s Lancers had passed through the town. A courier was captured carrying dispatch to Colonel Rush notifying him that 800 Cavalrymen under Union General Pleasonton was in pursuit of Stuart’s Cavalry.

At a half past 10 p.m. on the night of October 11th, a company of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry observed General Stuart’s column marching through Woodsboro. Corporal John Anders of Company D, Rush’s Lancers gallantly scouted the Confederates at Woodsboro. He dismounted and entered Woodsboro on foot. He talked freely to the men of Stuart’s Cavalry until he was detained for suspicion of being a Union Loyalist. Corporal Anders managed to escape and rejoined his unit shortly after midnight. Two prisoners that were taken at Fairfield, Pennsylvania by the names of Hartman and Sheads made their escape at Woodsboro, Md.

Before the battle of Gettysburg, on June 29th, 1863, marching orders at 4 a.m. were carried out. Portions of the Union Army would march through Woodsboro on their way to Middleburg. The 12th Corps and the 3rd Corps along with their corresponding Artillery would march through Woodsboro followed by General Meade’s Headquarters wagon train. General Farnsworth’s Brigade of Cavalry also traveled through Woodsboro as they headed toward Taneytown.

Union General Slocum commanding the 12th Corps wrote to General Meade at Woodsboro about delays occurring with the Union wagon trains upon Woodsboro Pike. Because of the wagon situation, this was slowing his Corps and they would not make it to Middleburg on time and would be forced to encamp at the double Pipe Creek near the Frederick and Carroll County line. Colonel Warren Packer commanding the 5th Connecticut Volunteers also encamped for the night at Woodsboro.

After the battle of Gettysburg, Woodsboro witnessed many of the same troops marching to Frederick, trying to get in front of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army. On July 7th, the 12th Corps and 2nd Corps marched through Woodsboro on their way to Frederick. Many officers were impressed with the beauty of Woodsboro and how well were the condition of the roads. At 8 p.m. the Artillery reserve was ordered to encamp at Woodsboro and would resume their march to Frederick early in the morning of July 8th.

In June of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent a corps of men under the command of General Jubal Early northward from Petersburg, Virginia to conduct a campaign that would threaten Washington. Many Maryland towns would see troops from both sides come through their towns much as they did during the Gettysburg Campaign a year earlier. Woodsboro was not exception. On July 9th, 1864 during the battle of Monocacy, the Chairman of Executive Committee David Willis reported that Confederate Cavalry had scouting parties at Woodsboro and were reported stealing horses and robbing stores.

Today, Woodsboro still holds the same appearance as it did during the Civil War. Although Woodsboro has grown over the past decade, the modern day convinces and the quarry has not taken any of the historical aspects on Main Street. Woodsboro is located on modern day Route 194 where it connects to modern day Route 550.

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General Meade and the Defense of Emmitsburg

Shortly after the Pennsylvania Campaign in the summer of 1863, General Daniel Sickles, commander of the Third Corp, tried to bring General Meade up on charges. The charges were related to General Meade’s plan for the Pipe Creek Defense Line during the opening phases of what would become the Battle of Gettysburg. After a short hearing on the charges, General Daniel Sickles was removed from field command. General Sickles however remained in the military until after the Civil War.

General Daniel Sickles was born in 1819 in New York. As grown man, Daniel Sickles went into the law practice. Three times he was indicted for legal improprieties. He was known to be as womanizer, and married a young beautiful girl who was 15 years younger than him. In 1857 Daniel Sickles was elected to Congress. In those days when you went into politics you spent a lot of time away from home. It was acceptable for a man to have affairs with other women, but it was un-lady like for a married woman to have an affair with a man. Daniel Sickles had asked his friend Philip Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key (who is a relative of mine), to escort his wife to the balls and dinners that were always held in Washington, D.C. Philip Key was caught having an affair with Daniel Sickles’s wife and in an act of rage Daniel Sickles shot and killed Philip. He stood trial and became the first American to be acquitted on a murder charge pleading temporary insanity. Daniel Sickles moved back to New York until the out break of the Civil War.

During the Gettysburg Campaign, General Hooker choose to be relieved of command and General Meade was appointed the new commander of the Army of the Potomac. General Meade and General Sickles could never mask their ill feeling for each other. During the Chancellorsville battle, which was held in the spring of 1863, General Hooker gave the order to Daniel Sickles to surrender the high ground. The Confederate Army subsequently took possession and began to shell the federal lines. General Sickles vowed never take an order like that again. That was a promise which, General Sickles kept even in Emmitsburg. On June 30th General Meade had made his headquarters near Taneytown, located about seven miles east of Emmitsburg on Route 194. While General Sickles’ made his headquarters at Bridgeport which was part of a series of entrenchments made by the Federal army known as the Pipe Creek Defense Line. Bridgeport is situated five miles east of Emmitsburg on the Frederick and Carroll County border.

The Pipe Creek Defense Line ran from Middleburg, Maryland to Union Mills, Maryland. The Pipe Creek Defense Line included the major roads that led to Baltimore and Washington. D.C. Routes 30, 97, 140, and Bull Frog Road were the major arteries to Baltimore. The reserves that were held in Middletown and Frederick were protecting the road to Washington, D.C. The Western Wing under the command of General Reynolds was ordered to advance to Emmitsburg in on June 29th, to engage the Confederate Army head on rather than hitting them from the rear in the Cumberland Valley.

The intentions of the Confederates were uncertain. General Meade did not want to take a chance to prevent Washington or Baltimore from being targeted. Meade created the Pipe Creek Defense Line and deployed it on July 1st. General Sickles criticized General Meade for this defensive line for the reason that it predicted a Union defeat. (However at that time, General Meade did not know that the whole western wing of his army was already being deployed at Gettysburg.) If this was true, then Gettysburg would have never happened.

Some people surmise that the battle of Gettysburg should have happened near Taneytown, Maryland because of the Pipe Creek Defense Line. Some guess that General Meade took the wrong road and met the Confederates by accident. However if this was the case, General Buford would have never engaged the Confederate at Gettysburg. To prove this point, if the Pipe Creek Defense Line was created in case of a Union defeat then why was the order given to General Reynolds to advance to Emmitsburg. This order supports the idea there would be a major battle preparing to be fought in Emmitsburg and not Taneytown.

The Confederate Army was outside of Gettysburg from the directions of Cashtown, Carlisle, and York. A.P. Hill’s Corp came down Chambersburg Pike toward Gettysburg. Generals Early and Ewell moved down from the north and east on the York and Harrisburg Turnpikes. If General Buford had never engaged the Confederate at Gettysburg, the main parts of the Confederate Army would have moved toward Emmitsburg. Since General Reynolds received a message from General Buford that the Confederates were spotted in the direction of Fairfield, General Reynolds had the First Corp move north of Emmitsburg to Marsh Creek leaving behind the Eleventh Corp and a reserve of artillery at Emmitsburg. This was the protection of the town of Emmitsburg.

On the evening of June 30th through the morning hours of July 1st, The Third Corp under General Daniel Sickles was at Bridgeport, Maryland just east of Emmitsburg. It is here that the controversy begins with General Meade and General Sickles while the Third Corps was encamped at Bridgeport, Maryland. General Sickles was ordered by General Reynolds (his wing commander) to advance onto Cat Tail Branch facing Gettysburg, however due to General Meade’s orders a series of events would follow when General Sickles disobeys orders directed to him while he was at Emmitsburg on July 1st. The following Union correspondences state the specific orders given to General Sickles from General Meade and General Reynolds.

HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, At Moritz Tavern, June 30, 1863.

Major-General Sickles, Commanding Third Corps:

General: Major-General Reynolds directs me to say he wishes you to camp upon Cat Tail Branch with your command, and for you to also send a staff officer to these headquarters.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant, Edward C. Baird, Captain, and Assistant Adjutant-General

[P. S.]-General Reynolds wishes, when you take up your position upon Cat Tail Branch, to face toward Gettysburg, and cover the roads leading from Gettysburg.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD CORPS, Bridgeport, on the Monocacy, June 30, 1863-7. 45 p. m.

Captain E. C. Baird, Aide-de-Camp, Headquarters Left Wing:

Captain: By direction of the general commanding, I have gone into camp here, countermanding a previous order to go to Emmitsburg, and I am to await here further orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac. When these orders were received, I sent Captain Crocker, of my staff, to communicate them to Major-General Reynolds, and to inform him of my position. My First Division and two batteries are farther toward Emmitsburg (across Middle Creek).

D. E. Sickles, Major General

HEADQUARTERS THIRD ARMY CORPS, Bridgeport, on the Monocacy, June 30, 1863.

Brigadier General S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:

General: Enclosed please find communication from Major-General Reynolds. It is in accordance with my written orders, received from headquarters Army of the Potomac at 1 p. m., but in conflict with the verbal order given me by the general commanding while on the march. Shall I move forward? My First Division is about a mile this side of Emmitsburg.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. E. Sickles, Major General, Commanding

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863

Commanding Officer Third Corps (General Sickles):

Major-General Reynolds reports that the enemy has appeared at Fairfield, on the road between Chambersburg and Emmitsburg. I am, therefore, instructed by the commanding general to say that it is of the utmost importance that you should move with your infantry and artillery to Emmitsburg with all possible dispatch.

Very respectfully, S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant-General”

Upon reaching Emmitsburg on July 1st, General Sickles received an order to hold Emmitsburg in case of a Confederate break through at Gettysburg. Subsequently another order came for the Third Corp to move forward to Gettysburg. Once the Third Corp began to break camp, yet another order was issued to disregard the order, to march to Gettysburg, hold Emmitsburg at all cost.

General Meade must have felt that if a Confederate breakthrough occurred, the Confederate army would try to out flank the Union army, by way of Emmitsburg. General Sickles pressed forward to Gettysburg, completely disregarding the order of holding Emmitsburg. This was also General Sickles’ testimony when he tried to bring General Meade up on charges. General Sickles felt that the order of holding Emmitsburg, was preparing the Army of the Potomac to retreat back toward Emmitsburg.

General Sickles arrived at Gettysburg and took action in the Wheat Field. Here, another order given by General Meade was disobeyed. General Sickles was ordered to retreat back toward his original position giving up the ground gained by the Federals. General Sickles disregard for that order resulted in him being carried off the field, his leg shattered by a Confederate bullet. He was carried off the field smoking his cigar. His Third Corp holding of its position may have been significant in the Union victory at Gettysburg.

On July 7th, after the battle of Gettysburg, General Meade rode through Emmitsburg and briefly stopped to visit the town. The residents hailed him, thanking him for all that he had done to protect the town from the main Confederate Army. Since General Meade drew up the Pipe Creek Defense Line the Confederate Army really never had a chance of attacking Washington, D.C., considering that the Western Wing of the Army of the Potomac heavily protected Emmitsburg.

General Meade rode out of town heading down Old Frederick Road. The commander crossed Loyds Station-Covered Bridge and made his headquarters in the small community of Creagerstown. This cleared Emmitsburg of the hell and gore of the American Civil War to begin the healing and rebuilding.

General Sickles could have been court marshaled for disobeying orders given by a superior officer. Instead he was responsible for saving the Union on July 2nd at Gettysburg. General Sickles was awarded a medal of honor three decades after his actions at Gettysburg. The famous leg that was amputated at Gettysburg is still preserved today in Washington, D.C. Daniel Sickles returned to Washington to visit his leg whenever the opportunity existed. After the Civil War, he went to Gettysburg annually to pay his respects for all those who died there. Daniel Sickles is noted responsible for the preservation of those fields in Gettysburg, spending his own money to see it become a memorial. People in Emmitsburg today are reminded of his dedication to Civil War memorials and preservation work by the signs placed next to the U.S. Post Office.

The Effects of the Maryland Campaign on the Home Front

While the people of the South rejoiced over the Confederate victory at Second Manassas in late August of 1862, the people in the North saw their morale sink even further as fear sat in. The Confederate army followed up on their victory with an attempt to cut off General John Pope’s Army of Virginia at Chantilly, Virginia, and prevent his retreat to the fortifications of Washington. By September 2nd, the Confederate cavalry attacked Union cavalry at Leesburg, opening a clear route to the Potomac River. By September 3rd, the main body of the Confederate army was encamped near Leesburg. With permission from the Confederate government, Lee was now ready to march his army across the Potomac River into Maryland.

Up until now, the Army of Northern Virginia fought their battles in Virginia, taking a toll of the civilian population in the South. No major battles or campaigns had been waged north of the Potomac River and because of that, the northern people had no idea of the devastation caused by the armies. By taking the war northward into Maryland it would provide Virginia farmers time to harvest their crops, and at the same time disrupt the daily lives of the northern population. If victory could be obtained, the Confederate government could get European recognition and additional manpower from Marylanders enlisting in the Confederate army. A victory on northern soil could turn the northern population against its leaders in Washington, demanding peace by putting an end to the war.

By September 4th, the Confederate army began fording the Potomac River. It was important for the Confederate army to be seen as liberators, and orders were issued to the Confederate soldiers respecting the people of Maryland. While the Confederate army was marching into Maryland, the alarm was sent out all along the countryside. Even in Pennsylvania, the civilian population began to panic. Many boat keepers along the C&O Canal fled with their animals to Frederick upon seeing the Confederate army fording the Potomac River.

As the fleeing civilians entered Frederick city, they told the people about the men of Lee’s army coming. Rumors spread all the way to Baltimore and Philadelphia about an invasion. In Philadelphia, a state of emergency was issued preparing people for the worst. Rumors have been rapidly here since June of 1862. But when farmers of the countryside ran into Frederick saying that a Confederate force would occupy the city in twenty-four hours, the rumors turned into a state of emergency. The people of Frederick that were Union loyalists began packing their belongings and fleeing the city, traveling north to Emmitsburg and Gettysburg. Several newspaper accounts stated that hundreds of fugitives were seen all along the Mason & Dixon Line. Other accounts stated that some ran in fear to Baltimore. Rumors of a Confederate invasion were old news to the people of Maryland.

By September 6th, Frederick city was occupied by Confederate cavalry, followed by infantry, and some artillery. Colonel Bradley Johnson was made Provost since he was a Frederick city resident before the war broke out. As the Confederate soldiers entered Fredrick, many pro-southern citizens watched in disbelief that this ragtag army of men were the same soldiers who achieved the recent victories in Virginia. Many descriptions were written about how dirty these Confederate soldiers were. While the pro-southern civilians stood in disbelief, the pro-Union civilians who could not escape were upset by the fact that there was no Union army to rid Frederick from the threat of the Confederate invaders.

Speeches were made to the civilians, many of which listened, but turned their backs on the Confederate plea. The soldiers were told to purchase items needed and not steal, but Confederate money was worthless in Maryland. As the Confederate soldiers ran door to door begging for food, many people kept their doors locked, including many of the pro-Southern people who upon seeing the dirty men, could not bear the smell and vermin that came with them.

The recruitment of men to serve in the Confederate army was less than one hundred and at that point. To Lee, it looked as though Frederick and Frederick County had already made its choice in favor of the Union. It wasn’t that Marylanders didn’t believe in the Confederate cause, the problem was that Maryland had already given up thousands of its sons and fathers, brothers and uncles to the Confederate cause. One example was the 500 men who left Maryland to fight in Charleston in December of 1860. Many Marylanders served in other areas of the Confederacy as well.

By September 9th, Lee issued Special Orders No. 191, moving his army into Washington County and sending more than half of his army to begin its part in besieging Harper’s Ferry. This was done to keep communication and supply routes open with no fear of Union soldiers attacking the rear of the Confederate army while it was in Washington County. The Confederate cavalry was busy. Many of them took to the mountain passes on the Catoctin Mountain, overlooking the country side toward Emmitsburg, Mechanicstown and Lewistown. Several Confederate cavalrymen were spotted as far east as Carroll County.

By the 12th of September, the rear of the Confederate army was moving through the streets of Frederick when the advance units of the Army of the Potomac were marching into the city. Clashes in the streets occurred. The next day, McClellan was hailed by the Frederick residents and was seen as the liberator. General George McClellan received a copy of General Robert E. Lee’s orders. But McClellan had to find out how accurate they were. McClellan ordered General Alfred Pleasanton to send out cavalry patrols. Many of those Union cavalry companies were spread across the country side. Upon their arrival in Emmitsburg, many civilians thought that these Union men were Confederate soldiers.

As the Confederate army marched into Washington County, many pro-Union civilians were afraid they would be turned into the Provost by their pro-southern neighbors because of their political views. Fear of being sent to a Confederate prison or being conscripted into the Confederate army as laborers, drove many of the pro-Union men to leave their families and flee to Pennsylvania taking valuables, livestock, and horses with them.

As a small portion of the Confederate army occupied South Mountain at Turner’s Gap and Fox’s Gap, the Wise family would have to leave their farmstead to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of the two opposing sides. They loaded up a wagon and headed west to a local church to take refuge there. As they left, an artillery shell came bursting through the woods, and General Daniel Harvey Hill, seeing one of the Wise children frightened and crying thought about his own child of the same age. He said a few soothing words to the young Wise girl and went back to work.

Allen Sparrow had taken many of his valuables to Pennsylvania. Upon arriving in Wolfesville, he heard the sounds of cannon firing. These sounds were from the Battle of South Mountain. At Wolfesville, receiving accurate news was hard to come by. He had heard that Middletown was torched by the Confederates but seeing the church steeples in the background in Middletown, he knew it wasn’t true.

The Battles on South Mountain were heard far and distant. Near Emmitsburg, Maryland, Right Reverend Monsignor James T. Dunn of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary recorded “The battle of South Mountain, which lasted all day Sunday, the 14th of September, 1862, could be plainly heard at the College. As we were going up to Mass to the old church on the hill and as we were returning from Mass, we could hear the firing distinctly. Yet, recreation went on on the terraces and the ordinary routine of college life was followed, as if nothing unusual was happening. After vespers, which were held in the church on the hill, at 3 p. m., a few of us, under the care of Mr. John Crimmens, went down the Frederick pike, along the mountain side, to a place where a stream crossed the road well on towards Mechanicstown, and stood listening with awe to the sharp, ringing volleys of musketry and then the quick, sullen booming of the cannon, as they came along the reverberating sides of the mountain. The falling shades compelled us to tear ourselves away, as the rules required us all to be at home in time for supper. Again and again we stopped, as one report louder than another followed us, as if begging us to stay.”

The civilians in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania also heard the gunfire during church services. The sounds of artillery fire echoed up the Cumberland Valley and the citizens of Waynesboro knew that they must prepare to assist in any way they could. The women of the town hurried that evening to get supplies and comforts together for the wounded. During the night one woman screamed upon finding out that her son had been killed at South Mountain. This was only the beginning of what was to come.

The morale of the northern people was at its lowest point and the Maryland Campaign would change that, in that the Battle of South Mountain would be the turning point. As September 14th, dawned the citizens of Maryland had not seen the death and destruction that war brings with it. The battles on South Mountain would be the forefront of what the Maryland population had never experienced before with the sounds of gunfire, the loss of life, and the care for the wounded. The battles of South Mountain would be a political turning point of the American Civil War, although today, Antietam has that distinction. It could be argued that South Mountain was one of the most important battles to be fought, after all if it wasn’t for South Mountain, then Antietam wouldn’t have been fought and the Emancipation Proclamation would have been delayed.

The armies would meet on the farm fields surrounding Sharpsburg during the evening of September 16th. The bloodiest single day of the Civil War would start at daybreak on the 17th. Many civilians prepared for this by hiding personal belongings and even fleeing their homes. One farmer hid eight horses in his cellar by tying feed sacks to their hooves to muffle their sounds. Upon a knock on a door by a soldier, one man hid under his wife’s crinolines to avoid detection.

Right Reverend Monsignor James T. Dunn wrote in reference to the Battle of Antietam: “The battle of Antietam followed immediately after South Mountain. During two days, the 16th and 17th of September, the battle raged, and more men were killed than in any previous battle of the war. The New York papers of the time even asserted that it was as great as the battle of Waterloo. As studies and classes and recreation succeeded one another, during those fearful days, little attention was paid, if even the students were conscious of it, to the battle.”

In Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, the town’s people wrote about the earth shaking throughout the day, as the percussion from artillery made it seem as if an earthquake had hit. Windows rattled, floors shook, and objects fell off the walls inside of homes. The carnage revealed the next day would be devastating and would not be experienced again until ten months later when the Confederate army invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania, meeting at Gettysburg.

After the Battle of Antietam, every community in the north and south were affected in someway or another by the amount of bloodshed that occurred at Antietam. Whole regiments were almost wiped away from the earth. Here, in Maryland as well as in portions of Pennsylvania, communities were turned into hospitals, caring for the wounded and dying. Women were turned into nurses, assisting in saving the lives of others. One organization that helped was the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as they were called upon by Washington.

Elizabeth Ann Seton, was the founder and first Superior of the Sisters of Charity in the United States. Just after the Battle of Antietam, the Maryland state authorities petitioned the Sisters at Emmitsburg for help. The bodies of the blue and gray were scattered along the ground until many of them were moved into hospitals. For several days the Sisters went from site to site helping with the care of the wounded men. The soldiers were surprised to see the Sisters and bestowed upon them the nickname of the “Black caps.”

After the Battle of Antietam, the Confederate army forded the Potomac at Shepherdstown. There again the armies would meet. The civilians of Shepherdstown would be caught in the crossfire of war. Rumors spread throughout the town, but with so much confusion, people there didn’t know if these rumors were true. All communications leading to the town had been cut, due to the war being waged in the Shenandoah Valley before Manassas. The railroads lay in waste. By September 13th, the citizens of Shepherdstown awoke to see that their town was occupied by stragglers of the Confederate army.

By September 15th, thick fog covered the town and the people there had no idea of what was to come. Casualties from the Battle of South Mountain began to pour in. Everyone in town prepared for the massive hoard of Confederate wounded. By the 17th, the sounds of war were close, and the surge of wounded soldiers completely overwhelmed the town. The citizens were so fatigued with the care they provided to the Confederate soldiers. By September 19th, the war had approached them as the Confederate army began entering the town followed by the reserves of the Union army. Artillery fire aimed at the Confederates and their counter fire placed Shepherdstown right in the middle.

As a result of the Maryland Campaign, the war was brought to the civilian population in the North. The sites of the carnage, and the moans of the wounded and dying were now imprinted into the memories of those who experienced it. The sites of war took months and years to erase. Even in 1864, several Confederate soldiers with General Early’s army still saw damages suffered from the Battle of Antietam that took place almost two years earlier.

Although the war moved back into Virginia, the Union army still laid in wait. By October, General JEB Stuart and his Confederate cavalry launched a raid that now took the war north of the Mason & Dixon Line to Chambersburg. From there he would enter back into Maryland at Emmitsburg, where he was hailed and received additional recruitments. These recruits were the men who were previously afraid to leave their homes to enlist, for fear of pro-Unionists punishing them. Now they had protection.

Because of the Maryland Campaign, many things changed, although the fear was still there. Politically, the people of the north saw the war take on a new agenda. This was not only a war to preserve the Union, but it became a war with a political agenda that included the freeing of slaves. The war would enter Maryland several more times and by 1864, Maryland citizens saw a path of destruction and the ransoming of its towns, including a threat to Washington, itself.