March lecture: “’The Rebels is running over our Parents’: Recruiting Virginia Unionists into the Potomac Home Brigade”


Above: Travis Shaw

Left: Potomac Home Brigade monument at Gettysburg


Presented by Travis Shaw,

Public Programs Coordinator at the Mosby Heritage Area Association

Sunday, March 10, 2:00 p.m.


On Sunday, March 10, we will hear the story of the Potomac Home Brigade, as the March feature of the Lovettsville Historical Society’s 2019 Lecture Series. Our presenter will be Travis Shaw, public programs coordinator at the Mosby Heritage Area Association (MHAA).

In the spring of 1861 Francis Thomas, former governor of Maryland, put out a call for the creation of a “Home Brigade” to defend western Maryland from rebel incursions. Three regiments of infantry and one of cavalry were raised, and these men spent much of the war guarding the vital transportation networks that ran through Maryland and West Virginia. Their war was primarily a guerrilla war, although occasionally the Home Brigade would be called into more active service when Confederates crossed the Potomac.

From the beginning the Home Brigade was also a refuge for numerous Virginia Unionists driven from their homes. About 600 men from Virginia and West Virginia served with the Potomac Home Brigade. Shaw’s research has also found over forty men from Loudoun County who served with the Home Brigade including several from the Lovettsville area, who were escaping the “reign of terror” around their homes.




The flag of Cole’s Cavalry (Maryland State Archives)




MHAA Public Programs Coordinator Travis Shaw will examine these Virginians in Union service by exploring the recruiting of these refugees, their motivations, and their combat experiences.

Travis Shaw is a native of Frederick County, Maryland, with a deep interest in the American Civil War. He received a B.A. in history from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an M.A. in public history from American University. He currently works with the Mosby Heritage Area Association as the public programs coordinator and is also a library associate at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg. Shaw has well over a decade of experience in the fields of historic preservation, archaeology, and museum education, working with both private and public institutions, including Historic St. Mary’s City, Mount Vernon, and Oatlands Historic House and Gardens. In his free time, Shaw enjoys visiting historic sites, blogging about the Civil War, and participating in 18th and 19th century living history events.

The lecture will be held at St. James United Church of Christ at 10 East Broad Way in Lovettsville. The program will be followed, as is customary, by questions and discussion.

Admission is free, but donations and are welcome to defray expenses of the program and to support the activities of the Lovettsville Historical Society.

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