Although I live less than 10 miles away, I have to admit I had never visited the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park site until this week. Now that I’ve explored it, I will be recommending this hidden treasure to anyone who visits Gettysburg. It’s about 20 miles away from there, but the route is scenic and follows the Confederate retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg, so it provide a good overview of that ordeal as well.
The Battle of Monterey Pass may not be famous, but it is the second largest Civil War battle in Pennsylvania and is the only one to have been fought in two states since it spilled into Maryland. It also took place on treacherous roads at night during a violent thunderstorm.
The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum is a 125 acre natural, cultural and historical park with lots of walking trails and wayside exhibits to explain the history.
I started with the Monterey Peak Trail, which is a little steep, but all of the other trails in the park are quite easy. As you can see, the climb is worth the effort!
History of the Battle
Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederates headed south with 60 miles of wagons loaded with supplies needed to sustain Lee’s arm. Twenty miles of those wagons made their way via Monterey Pass, and were attacked on the night of July 4th, by 5,000 Union troops in the middle of a raging thunderstorm.
There are many accounts from surviving soldiers of the terror the night induced because of the steep and treacherous roads. The sheer number of wagons is almost incomprehensible.
For several hours in the rain and darkness, the opposing forces engaged in some of the most confusing and chaotic fighting of the Civil War. In some instances, the soldiers could only tell where the enemy was by muzzle flashes or lightning that illuminated their positions.
The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park is located less than 20 miles from Gettysburg in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
The history of the area dates back to 1747, when immigrants looking for a new life traveled through the area to Appalachia on the Great Wagon Road. There’s lots of history and lots to see!