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Parade planned in Hancock to recognize Medal of Honor winner

August 28, 2013

The main character in David P. Bridges’ last three books, Maj. James Breathed, buried in Hancock, will be honored with a parade Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. on Main Street in Hancock. The parade route will pass by Breathed Memorial Park ending at his grave for the ceremonial awarding of the Confederate Medal of Honor.

Maj. Breathed, who was a doctor, is the recipient of the Confederate Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry, bravery, and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in action. It was awarded by Sons of Confederate Veterans on July 3.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the major’s cannon he used to fight with in the Civil War will fire remembrance shots over the Potomac River toward his hometown of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Berkeley Springs will celebrate the Apple Butter Festival and there will be many of these tourists also visiting Hancock, and coming to the parade.

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Immediately after the ceremony, there will be a book signing of “The Broken Circle,” 2 volumes and the biography “Fighting With JEB Stuart, Major James Breathed and the Confederate Horse Artillery” in the Parish Hall of St. Thomas Church with refreshments.

The cooperation of the Town Council members, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, where Breathed is buried, cavalry re-enactors with cannons and the Maryland Color Guard will give tribute to a forgotten hero of the Civil War. Re-enactors will be camped at Widmeyer Park outside of Hancock and will arrive Oct. 11 and depart Oct. 13.

On Jan. 5, 1862, Hancock was laid siege to by Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson from Brosius Heights across the Potomac River after his demand for the surrender was denied, by the Union forces and Hancock citizens. Union troops and artillery were positioned on a ridge behind St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and during the battle, the church was hit by counter- battery fire. The next major incursion on the town occurred on July 31, 1864, when Confederate Gen. McClausland’s cavalrymen tried to ransom the citizens for $30,000 and 5,000 cooked rations. (Little known fact: Hancock citizens were secretly proud that Hagerstown was ransomed earlier that month for less money,  $20,000).

Gen. Robert E. Lee said of Maj. Breathed of Stuart’s Horse Artillery: “He was the hardest artillery fighter the war produced.”

For more information on how you (or your re-enacting unit) can be involved, contact Dr. Ralph Salvagno, Hancock Town Councilman, at 240-313-5714 or dochipknee@gmail.com.

The event is being financially assisted by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information about Washington County, go to www.marylandmemories.com.

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