Westminster: A Ransom Cancelled

History: Late in the afternoon on July 9, 1864, Maj. Harry Gilmor and his band of twenty men came from New Windsor and charged into Westminster with reckless abandon. In less than fifteen minutes, the town and telegraph line were secured and the line was cut. The residents largely welcomed the Confederates, but many townspeople greeted them with drawn shutters and locked doors. Confederate Gen. Bradley T. Johnson had ordered Gilmor to summon Westminster’s mayor and make certain random demands, among them 1,500 units of clothes. Mayor Jacob Grove made every effort to satisfy Gilmor. Several hours later, when Johnson arrived in town, Gilmor persuaded him to drop the demands. The next morning, Johnson’s brigade rode away in the direction of Reisterstown. Soon, he and Gilmor reunited with Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early and the main army.

More to Explore: Downtown Westminster is brimming with tea houses, coffee houses and pubs that feature a vibrant music and arts scene. Take in a film or theater production at the Carroll Arts Center or check out a concert or workshop at Common Ground on the Hill, a traditional arts festival held in early July at McDaniel College. For something totally unusual, don’t miss the annual “Peep Show” where enormous sculptures made from marshmallow peeps are on display in the spring. South of Westminster amid rolling farmland, you’ll find Serpent Ridge Vineyard, which specializes in small lots of handmade wine. The Maryland Wine Festival, held in September at the Carroll County Farm Museum, is another venue for tasting a wide variety of award-winning local wines and food. The farm museum provides a unique view into 19th-century farm life with guided or self-guided tours of the farm house and grounds, which exhibit period artifacts, antiques, horse-powered machines and farm implements to complete the rural experience. There’s just so much to see and do in Westminster!

Photo Credits:

1. “Shellman House.” Courtesy of Historical Society of Carroll County.

2. “Mayor Jacob Grove.” Courtesy of Historical Society of Carroll County.

3. “Maj. Harry Gilmor.” Courtesy of Historical Society of Carroll County.