Best Farm

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BATTLEFIELD ARCHAEOLOGY

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Best Farm
New Perspectives
Guns of Plowshares

 

Identification and Evaluation Study of L'Hermitage

also known as the Best Farm,
a 274-acre farmstead located at Monocacy National Battlefield

Project Summary by Joy Beasley and Paul Shackel
Center for Heritage Resource Studies and
Department of Anthropology
University of Maryland, College Park
2002
Monocacy National Battlefield was created by congressional legislation in 1934 to help preserve the location of the Civil War battle that took place there on July 8 and 9, 1864.  However, much of the property relevant to the battle remained in private ownership until the 1980s.  Thus, park lands were not opened to the public until 1991.  The Best Farm was among additional properties acquired by the Park Service in 1993.

The Best Farm is a multi-component cultural landscape that encompasses nearly the full range of human occupation in Maryland. The Monocacy River forms the southern and eastern boundaries of the farm property, signifying the area likely contained remains of prehistoric sites, which often were located near major water sources.  In the first decades of the 18th century, European settlers traded with the local Native American population.

In the mid-18th century, the town of Frederick was laid out and surrounding areas were divided into farmsteads.  During the Civil War, several important transportation routes through the Monocacy area (Georgetown Pike, major railroads, etc.) allowed significant troop movements through the region.  The Battle of Monocacy in 1864, led by Confederate General Jubal Early, was counted as a Confederate victory, but the battle helped prevent Early from making a successful assault on Washington, D.C.  John Best, the tenant on the farm at the time of the battle, continued his agricultural pursuits following the battle.

Project archaeologists are utilizing a number of different methodological and interpretive techniques, including GIS (geographic information system, see "New Perspectives" article), in the investigations and have developed a successful volunteer and public outreach program.  Test excavations thus far have produced artifacts ranging from the prehistoric through the historic period.

This multi-year projects is being conducted under the auspices of a cooperative agreement between the Center for Heritage Resource Studies and the Regional Archeology Program of the National Park Service, National Capital Region.  The results of this study will assist the National Park Service in short- and long-range planning, development, and interpretation at the Best Farm.

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