Gordon: Historical facts you might not know about Corbit's Charge, Civil War battle in Westminster

A check written by John Boyle for $3,000 prior to the events of Corbit’s Charge on June 29, 1862.
A check written by John Boyle for $3,000 prior to the events of Corbit’s Charge on June 29, 1862. (Courtesy photo / Thomas S. Gordon family collection)

Saturday marks the 156th anniversary of the Civil War skirmish known as Corbit’s Charge, which occurred on June 29, 1863 here in Westminster.

The event occurred between two companies of the 1st Delaware Cavalry and the Confederate Cavalry, commanded by General J.E.B. Stuart, in the streets of Westminster near the intersection of East Main Street and Washington Road.


There are numerous historical facts about Westminster which played an important part in the execution of Corbit’s Charge and the Civil War. In 1861, Westminster had 2,500 residents, three banks, several factories, and roughly 40 retail stores. The railways were significant and later became an important supply line during the Gettysburg campaign in 1863.

One interesting detail that occurred on the day of Corbit’s Charge is that John Boyle, who served as secretary and treasurer of the Western Maryland Railroad, withdrew $3,000 during that day from the Bank of Westminster.


The check was made out to “Self.”

While one can only surmise the timing of the withdraw and the circumstances, it does make one question if Boyle had been given advanced notice and removed funds prior to the Confederate Cavalry arriving in Westminster.

During the Civil War, two of his sons served in the Confederate army, and $3,000 was a significant sum of money at the time.

During the June 29, 1863 arrival of Stuart’s cavalry, a United States flag was taken from the Westminster courthouse and removed by several men under Stuart’s command. The flag was the handwork of several resident Union women and each star included the names of the local women who made it.

In the early 1900s an article was published in the Confederate Veteran magazine appealing for the return of the captured flag to Westminster.

As of today, the whereabouts of this flag still remain a mystery.

In 2003, to commemorate the 140th anniversary, the Mayor and Common Council of Westminster established the Corbit’s Charge Commemoration Committee. The weekend-long event has grown to include live music, Civil War re-enactors, historical tours, live demonstrations by artisans, lectures, exhibits, and more.

With the 160th anniversary of the Corbit’s Charge skirmish coming in 2023, it would be an opportune time for a joint partnership between the county, city of Westminster, and historical organizations to begin preparations for a live skirmish re-enactment event on the city streets.

This type of event could capitalize on local history and tourism for the community as whole while also serving as an educational tool in the community.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about our local history in Carroll County this weekend is the opportune time to attend the Corbit’s Charge event being held at Westminster City Hall, located at 1838 Emerald Hill Lane in Westminster.

Saturday’s events begin at 10:45 a.m. with a parade to the Corbit’s Charge Monument, followed by a memorial service, tours of historic sites, and an afternoon artillery demonstration at Westminster City Park.

Sunday’s events begin at 10 a.m. with a Civil War church service and include carriage rides, and a ladies tea as well as lectures and other events during the day.

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