The Ransom of Frederick - July 9, 1864

In one of the more peculiar moments in the city's history, in July 1864 Confederate forces threatened to destroy the City of Frederick if it did not hand over $200,000 to the forces of General Jubal Early. The residents paid the ransom and staving off disaster. 

The History 

On July 9, 1864, Confederate forces under General Jubal Early ransomed the City of Frederick for $200,000, threatening the community with destruction if its residents did not pay.

Confederate ransom of Frederick in 1864Ransom note delivered to Frederick's city leadership on July 9, 1864 demanding $200,000 - Courtesy of Monocacy National Battlefield 

As the Battle of Monocacy raged just three miles south of Frederick, city leaders scrambled to raise the funds for the Confederate invaders. 

Jubal EarlyConfederate General Jubal A. Early, Library of Congress 

The city's banks were emptied and other requested goods were assembled here at what was then home to Frederick's Market House and City Hall. Following the delivery of the funds and goods, Confederate forces vacated Frederick and, following their victory at the Battle of Monocacy, proceeded south towards the nation's capital at Washington, DC in their bid to capture the Union capital.

Their attack on Washington proved to be a failure when US Army forces stopped them at gates of the capital in the Battle of Fort Stevens on July 12, 1864. 

Scenes in the aftermath of the Battle of MonocacyAftermath of the Battle of Monocacy, Princeton University via Crossroads of War 

This proved to be the last Confederate occupation of the City of Frederick during the Civil War. 



Brewer's Alley, a popular brewpub, now occupies the former site of Frederick's City Hall and Market House. This building has a post-Civil War history in its own right, serving as a theater and opera house in the late 19th and early 20th century. Among the famous historical figures who passed across its stage was Frederick Douglass, who spoke here in 1879. The building has been Brewer's Alley brewery and restaurant since that establishment's opening in 1996. Step inside the bar area and explore an exhibit on the ransoming of Frederick and other elements of the building's long and storied past. 

The rooftop bar at Brewer's Alley is a popular spot in hip and historic Downtown Frederick.


What's Nearby 

You are right in the heart of Downtown Frederick when stopping by Brewer's Alley. With more than 200 locally-owned shops, businesses, and restaurants, your never far from great shopping, food, and craft beverages. Experience the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Heritage Frederick, and Mt. Olivet Cemetery to learn more about the Civil War story in the City of Frederick. 

Visitors at the National Museum of Civil War MedicineDiscover the remarkable true story of Civil War medical care at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Make sure to visit Monocacy National Battlefield to explore the incredible story of the Battle that Saved Washington and walk the battlefield of July 9, 1864. 

Best Farm at Monocacy National BattlefieldThe Best Farm at Monocacy National Battlefield


More Resources

Want to read more about the Ransoming of Frederick? Explore the resources below: 

Books (access through and make sure to support Frederick bookseller Curious Iguana

Determined to Stand and Fight: The Battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864 by Ryan Quint 

Battle of West Frederick, July 7, 1864: Prelude to Battle Of Monocacy by Joseph Collins


"Summer of Retaliation and Ransom" - South Mountain Civil War 

"$200,000, or the city burns: The story of the Confederacy's ransom on Frederick" - Frederick News Post