Howard County did not have any major battles fought within its borders during the Civil War, but the war impacted the area in several ways. For example, Savage Mill, a cotton-weaving mill, was pressed into Federal service.
By the 1860’s the railroads were a major form of transportation in America. Trains carried tons of raw materials into manufacturing hubs and moved products into markets nationwide. Once war broke out between the states, the railroads in and around Baltimore became a key part of the network used to supply the Union army.
To prevent the Confederate army from sabotaging key points along the railroads in Howard County, the Union Army stationed troops to guard both the Thomas Viaduct in Elkridge and the B&O Railroad Station in Ellicott’s Mills (now Ellicott City) for the length of the war.
As was the case in many border states, sympathies were split between the North and the South. Oakland Manor in modern-day Columbia was home to Captain George Gaither, a commander of the Howard County Dragoons (mounted infantrymen). In April 1861 the dragoons rode into Baltimore to help quell the riots after the Sixth Massachusetts marched through town. Afterwards, due to Union sympathies of local politicians, the dragoons were forced to disband or march south. They eventually joined the Army of the Potomac to become the First Maryland Calvary. These and more stories from Howard County may be found in the Maryland Civil War Trails guide Baltimore: A House Divided – War on the Chesapeake.