Urbana - Capture and Escape after the Battle of Monocacy 

Following the defeat of US forces at the Battle of Monocacy, retreating soldiers fled through the Frederick County farming village of Urbana with Confederate forces hot on their heels as they headed toward the Union capital at Washington, DC. 

The History 

As the US Army lines collapsed during the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864, Union soldiers mostly ran east along the railroad tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The 8th Illinois Cavalry, however, headed south towards Washington, DC along the Georgetown Pike (modern day Route 355). They had Confederate soldiers in hot pursuit. 

Scenes in the aftermath of the Battle of MonocacyMonocacy Battlefield in the aftermath of the July 9, 1864 battle - Princeton University

In the village of Urbana, about four miles south of the smoking, debris-strewn battlefield of Monocacy, Confederate troopers caught up with the survivors of the 8th Illinois. In the streets of the tiny farming community, a short skirmish took place in which the flagbearer of the 27th Virginia Cavalry was shot from his horse and killed. The 8th Illinois successfully evaded capture and later rejoined the main force of the US Army. 

A day after the skirmish in Urbana, General Jubal Early's Confederate army marched through the village on its mission south toward the capital at Washington, DC. They brought along Union soldiers who had been taken prisoner following the Battle of Monocacy. The tired and footsore soldiers of Early's Confederate forces moved toward the northern suburbs of Washington. Their mission: capture the capital.

Battlefield at Fort Stevens

However, due to delays caused by the fight at Monocacy on July 9, 1864, as Confederate soldiers approached the forts defending Washington, they found them defended by Union reinforcements. The Battle of Fort Stevens on July 12, 1864 represented the only attempt by Early's army to breach the US Army's defenses. They were unsuccessful and, days later, re-crossed the Potomac River into Virginia. The last Confederate invasion of Maryland had ended. 

Confederate forces retreating across Potomac RiverConfederate forces retreating across the Potomac River, July 1864 - National Park Service


The once rural village of Urbana has become a vibrant, growing community. You'll find vestiges of the town's rural heritage sprinkled in among more recent development. Make sure to stop by the historic Zion Church and Cemetery, preserved by the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation.

What's Nearby

With the growth in recent years around Urbana, you'll find plenty of delicious food options. For an outdoor experience, you'll find hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain (along with more Civil War history) and great opportunities for walking and biking on the towpath at C&O Canal National Historical Park. 

Monocacy Aqueduct on the C&O CanalMonocacy Aqueduct in C&O Canal National Historical Park 

More Resources 

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

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