The ‘Federals Take A Stand’ wayside marker is about 0.5 mile south of the National Park Visitor Center just north of the Monocacy River crossing. The marker is on the west side of Urbana Pike. It can be reached by a short driveway that leads to a parking area for both the marker and the nearby 14th New Jersey monument. The narrow (and easy to miss) drive is between the railroad and river bridges. (39.37092° N, 77.392097° W; map)
The railroad has been in this location since before the Civil War. The main road to Washington at the time of the war was behind the photographer along the west side of the parking area and crossed the railroad at grade.
From the marker:
Federals Take a Stand
7:00 a.m., July 9, 1864
After skirmishing on July 8 with Confederates west of Frederick, MD, Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace’s 5,800 Union troops—many of them “raw and untried”—took a stand at the Monocacy River. Wallace carefully chose this critical intersection of the river, road, and railroad to prevent Jubal A. Early’s 15,000 to 16,000 Confederates from attacking Washington.
Wallace positioned Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts’ veteran troops on the river’s south bank. He sent 300 skirmishers to the north bank and a strong contingent to protect the road to Baltimore—his retreat route.
“All the gateways of the Shenandoah Valley—its roads, passes, gaps—were standing wide open, with Washington exposed, its very nakedness inviting attack. I lost no time also in picketing and placing strong guards over the bridges, especially the wooden one.” —Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace.
“Wallace and some of his troops raced by train from Baltimore to Monocacy Junction the night of July 4-5.”