Hancock to commemorate 150th anniversary of Civil War

January 02, 2012

HANCOCK — The town of Hancock will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War through a series of events Thursday through Sunday.

The small town was the site of a Civil War battle from Jan. 5 to 7, 1862.

The opening ceremony will take place at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church Thursday at 7 p.m. with an introduction by event chairperson Lily Wolford, followed by a reading of the Hancock Historical Society’s winning student essay and a musical presentation by the Springs Chamber Ensemble.

Activities will continue Friday at 7 p.m. with the opening of several exhibits, including “Hancock’s Hall of Heroes” by Mac Elser, which includes pictures and biographical information about hundreds of soldiers who participated in the Battle of Hancock.

There will also be a talk by Dr. John Rathgeb on Battlefield Orthopedics, and a performance by the Hancock Arts Council Civil War String Band.

On Saturday, events begin at 9 a.m. with a 5K run/walk starting at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War.

Other events throughout the day will include speakers, authors, exhibits, cannon-firing demonstrations and re-enactors, followed by the Wildcat Regiment Band concert at 5 p.m.

Tickets for the concert cost $5 in advance and $10 at the door. The other events listed are free.

Commemoration events will conclude Sunday with a memorial service and gravestone dedication for soldiers buried in the St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church Cemetery, and a Civil War-era evening prayer service at 4 p.m. in the church.

The history and significance of Hancock in the Civil War is important to remember, and to retell. In early January 1862, Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson ordered the surrender of the town of Hancock. The town was an important transportation site, on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the National Road. Jackson had been disrupting activities on the canal, and also making raids on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Forces attached to Jackson also attacked Fort Frederick, just east of Hancock, on Christmas Day.

The Union commander in charge of the garrisoned town, Brig. Gen. Frederick Lander, refused to surrender Hancock. Confederate troops commenced firing from Orrick’s Hill, just across the Potomac River from Hancock. The ongoing cannon bombardment continued for two straight days. The Union troops held fast, and refused to give up the Town of Hancock.

On Jan. 7, having failed to find a suitable crossing into Maryland, the Confederate forces retreated and advanced on Romney. The winter was already bitter cold, and between the stubborn defenses of the Union Army and the frigid temperatures, Jackson withdrew. According to reports, there were 25 casualties.

The Battle of Hancock Sesquicentennial Commemoration will include a wide range of activities for people of all ages. A full schedule of events including dates, times and locations can be found on Facebook at “Battle of Hancock Commemoration Events” and on the Town of Hancock’s website at

Re-enactors are welcome.

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