The Great Battles

Lesser-known Fights and Other Sites

Stone Sentinels

Civil War History As Told by Its Battlefield Monuments and Historical Markers

From 1861 to 1865 great armies fought in a terrible Civil War for competing visions of America. The places they clashed - Gettysburg, Antietam, The Wilderness - are written in blood in our nation's history. Today the armies are long gone, but they left behind sentinels that guard their memory, messages carved in stone for future generations.


Stone Sentinels tours the battlefield monuments and historical markers that tell the story of America's Civil War in the East. There are photographs of each monument and marker. Inscriptions from the monuments are provided as live text. Maps locate them on the battlefield, and background information puts them into context and helps fill in their story.


150 years ago this month • The Battle of Monocacy • "The Battle that Saved Washington"

On July 9, 1864, a hastily assembled force of 5,800 men under Union Major General Lew Wallace tried to stop 18,000 Confederates under Lieutenant General Jubal Early from marching to Washington D.C. After a hard fight they were defeated and retreated in some disorder back to Baltimore. But the day's delay they bought enabled veteran reinforcements from Grant's army around Petersburg to reach Washington, and Early's men returned to Virginia after sending bullets singing past the head of President Lincoln. Take a tour through a battlefield park that has grown quite a bit in the last twenty years in a beautiful setting outside Frederick, Maryland.

State of Maryland monument at Antietam
State of Virginia monument at Gettysburg

Antietam, or Sharpsburg
Over 300 monuments and markers commemorate the single deadliest day of American military history.

Robert E. Lee's greatest victory and Stonewall Jackson's last fight, it was the deadliest battle of the war until two months later at Gettysburg.

Over 1,200 monuments and markers remember the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and one of the turning points of history.

Battle of the Wilderness monument

Spotsylvania Court House sign
Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights

The Wilderness

The opening battle of Grant's 1864 campaign was a confused stalemate. But Grant refused to admit defeat and kept pushing on to Richmond.

Spotsylvania Court House

Grant's 1864 campaign continued with what may have been the most violent clash of th Civil War.

Harpers Ferry
Its siege and capture by 'Stonewall' Jackson was the largest surrender of U.S. troops until World War II.

State of Virginia monument at Gettysburg

North Carolina monument at South Mountain

Massanutton Mountain in th Shenandoah Valley

Brandy Station
The largest cavalry battle of the war marked the beginning of the Gettysburg campaign.

South Mountain
The prelude to Antietam took place in three strategic passes through Maryland's South Mountain.

Shenandoah Valley
A beautiful region of mountains, farms and streams, it was also a battleground at Front Royal, Winchester, New Market Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek.

14th New Jersey Infantry monument at Monocacy

The 1864 battle outside Frederick, Maryland saved Washington D.C. from a daring Confederate advance.

About the Author • ©2007-2014 Steve Hawks