Jug Bridge was originally built in 1808-1809. In 1944, after a section had collapsed two years prior, the bridge was replaced. In 1955, a second bridge was built to carry travelers east, while the 1944 bridge carried travelers west. The 1944 bridge was closed permanently in 1985. The Jug Monument dedicated to the bridge builders was removed and relocated to its current location along Maryland Route 144, east of Frederick in 1965.
During the Confederate Raid on Washington, a battle had erupted at a place called Monocacy Junction on July 9, 1864. It was at this battle where less than 7,000 Union soldiers stubbornly held back a 15,000 man Confederate army under the command of Lieutenant General Jubal Early and saved Washington. It was along the river banks of the Monocacy River where Union soldiers, some veterans along with 100 days men bought the necessary time for the defenses of Washington to be reinforced.
As visitors today learn about this important Civil War battle, they don’t realize that the first or last shots of the battle occurred a few miles to the north at a place called Stone (Jug) Bridge. Jug Bridge was important for the Union defenders to hold, as the National (Baltimore) Road transverses there was going to be used in case of retreat. It was also the extreme right flank of the Union defenders at Monocacy. Major General Lew Wallace noted there were two areas of importance that needed to be held. One mile north of Jug Bridge was Hughes’ Ford and one mile to the south was Crum’s Ford. If the Confederates attempted to ford in either of these two places, they could turn the entire Union right flank. Situated between the two fords was Jug Bridge.
Holding the Baltimore Road since sunset of July 8, were seven companies of the 149th and three companies of the 144th Ohio National Guard, under the command of Colonel Allison Brown. He was deployed on the western side of the Monocacy River along Reich’s ridge. He also protected Hughes’ Ford, a mile to the north. The following morning, the 144th Ohio National Guard was ordered to Monocacy Junction. Captain Edward Lieb, commanding a detachment of the 159th Ohio Mounted Infantry would take its place.
Situated a mile to the south, at Crum’s Ford, between Jug Bridge and Monocacy Junction were companies B, G and H of the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. They were commanded by Captain Robert Bamford, and were positioned at the center of the Union battle line. Located behind the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade was a portion of the 3rd Maryland Potomac Home Brigade protecting the flanks of the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. They had taken up two positions located on the high hills overlooking Crum’s Ford. Covering the right flank was companies C, D, and E and covering the left flank was companies A, B, and K. The remaining companies F, G, H, and I of Colonel Charles Gilpin’s 3rd Maryland Potomac Home Brigade was detached elsewhere. Positioned to their left was the 11th Maryland Infantry, commanded by Colonel William T. Landstreet. They had taken position on a high ridge that overlooked the Monocacy Junction.
On July 9, at 6:00 a.m., the Confederate army advanced into Frederick. Major General Stephen D. Ramseur’s division was the first to move through the city. Major General Ramseur ordered Brigadier General Robert Lilley’s Brigade to move through the city on the Baltimore Road and picket the area. About a mile from the city, Brig. Gen. Lilley deployed his skirmishers and began attacking Colonel Brown’s command.
Guarding Hughes’ Ford was one company of the 149th Ohio National Guard under the command of Captain Charles McGinnis. He had orders to hold that ford at all costs. If the Confederates attempted to forded there, the route of the Union retreat to Baltimore may be cut off or the Union right could collapse.
About a mile to the north of Hughes’ Ford, at Worman’s Mill (Route26), was where Brigadier General Bradley T. Johnson’s cavalry brigade had bivouacked for the night. He was ordered to raid Baltimore, and if practical, move to Point Lookout and free several thousand Confederate prisoners there. Upon hearing the sounds of battle committing the Union army at Monocacy, he was ordered to proceed with the plan.
As Lilley’s Virginians skirmished, by 10:00 a.m., Colonel Brown saw Confederate cavalry closing in on Hughes’ Ford to the north. Colonel Brown quickly sent a dispatch to his brigade commander Brigadier General Erastus Tyler for additional troops. Colonel Brown then ordered Captain Thomas Jenkins’ company of the 149th Ohio National Guard to Hughes’ Ford to reinforce Captain McGinnis. Captain Lieb and his detachment of the 159th Ohio Mounted Infantry had been ordered from Monocacy Junction to Jug Bridge. From there, he quickly moved to Hughes’ Ford and helped to repel the Confederate attack. The Confederate cavalry fell back and remained in skirmish formation.
At around 11:00 a.m., Confederate Major General Robert Rodes’ Division marched into Frederick. Rodes’ Division was ordered to relieve Brig. Gen. Lilley’s position so they could rejoin their division along the Georgetown Pike. Upon relieving, Brig. Gen. Lilley, Major General Rodes’ was ordered to keep pressure on Colonel Brown’s position at Jug Bridge to force Major General Lew Wallace at Monocacy Junction to send reinforcements away from the Union center.
Major General Rodes quickly orders his sharpshooters to deploy, freeing up those skirmishers from Brig. Gen. Lilley’s Brigade. The sharpshooters deployed about 500 yards from Colonel Brown’s main position along the crest of a hill. While under fire, Rodes’ will begin deploying his division. As the sharpshooters went to work, Union Lieutenant Edward Goldsborough recalled “So accurate was their fire that it was dangerous for our men to even show their heads above the hilltop.”
Confederate Brigadier General William Cox’s Brigade deployed on the left of the Baltimore Road, and Brigadier General Philip Cook’s Brigade deployed on the right of the road. The remaining brigades of Brigadier General Bryan Grimes and Brigadier General Cullen Battle’s Brigade, commanded by Colonel Charles Pickens, were kept in reserve.
At 11:30 a.m., Maj. Gen. Rodes launched his first attack, increasing the pressure on Colonel Brown’s line. Brigadier General Cook’s Brigade attacked the Union left, pushing them back to within 100 yards of Jug Bridge. Colonel Brown received the three companies of the 144th Ohio National Guard just in time. The Confederate sharpshooters who had taken position earlier in the morning in Simpson’s log house still pinned down the Ohioans.
At 12:00 p.m., the 149th Ohio National Guard, Company B was ordered to charge the Confederate skirmishers in an attempt to regain lost ground. The charge was repulsed. Colonel Brown, then ordered the three companies of the 144th Ohio National Guard to attack. This attack pushed Rodes’ skirmishers back, and the Ohioans managed to retake the ground that had previously been lost. Colonel Brown wrote “During this charge my loss was quite severe owing to the fact that the enemy was posted behind a fence, while my men were compelled to charge across an open field, up the hill in Fairview, and within short range of his guns.” Colonel Brown immediately began extending his line along Reich’s ridge.
Between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., Maj. Gen. Wallace had ordered Colonel Brown to his position “to the last extremity.” The road that lay east of the Jug Bridge was to be used for the retreat of the Union defenders at Monocacy. Once Colonel Brown had bought enough time, he would then abandon his position on Reich’s Ridge. Shortly after being ordered to hold his position, Colonel Brown could hear the sounds of the battle dieing to the south.
At 6:00 p.m., Maj. Gen. Rodes launched his final attack on Jug Bridge, attacking the left flank. Soon, word came that Maj. Gen. Wallace had already made his escape and that Confederate infantry had already penetrated into the woods and were making their way toward the Baltimore Road. Reports of Maj. Gen. Ramseur’s division moving from the south, upstream to the rear of Colonel Brown’s position were also heard.
Colonel Brown and his Ohioans were on the verge of being cut off from their retreat. As soon as Rodes’ artillery opened on the Ohioans, they quickly began to abandon their positions, and make a dash for the bridgehead. Shells came thundering down, and with rumors of the Confederate movement from the south, the soldiers began throwing down their weapons and loosing their accoutrements as they ran across the bridge.
Colonel Brown was able to rally 300 men before the total collapse of his line. He was able to stall Rodes for a short time, but was forced to give up the bridge, as the Confederates overwhelmed the position. Colonel Brown retreated to New Market.
Captain Leib’s detachment of 159th Ohio Mounted Infantry tried to hold the bridgehead. But soon afterward realized that his position was being cut off, and he was forced to retreat northward along the western banks of the Monocacy River to Hughes’ Ford, where he forded the river. There, Captain Leib directed Captain McGinnis’ company of the 149th Ohio National Guard to the best route to use for the retreat. They took the Linganore Road to Mount Pleasant.
The ridge line has been developed, but the fields still exist. A golf driving range is located on one side, and the Maryland National Guard is located on the other side. It would be great to eventually see interpretive waysides explaining this portion of the Battle of Monocacy, or even having this portion of the battlefield preserved as part of the NPS unit or a regional park.