Harry Gilmor

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Harry W. Gilmor, photographed ca. 1860–1865 by Mathew Brady.

Harry W. Gilmor (January 24, 1838 – March 4, 1883) served as Baltimore City Police Commissioner in the 1870s, but he was most noted as a Confederate cavalry officer during the American Civil War. Gilmor's daring raids, such as The Magnolia Station Raid gained his partisans fame as "Gilmor's Raiders".

Early life[edit]

Gilmor was born at "Glen Ellen", the family estate in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was the son of Robert Gilmor and Miss Ellen Ward, daughter of Judge William H. Ward. Harry was the fifth of eleven children.

Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, as a member of Captain Charles Ridgely's Baltimore County Horse Guards, Gilmor was arrested and imprisoned in Fort McHenry following the occupation of Baltimore by Federal troops. Upon his release, he traveled South and eventually rejoined the fighting serving, for a while, under General Turner Ashby. He was again captured during the Maryland Campaign and spent five months in prison. During the Gettysburg Campaign, Major Gilmor was assigned command of the First Maryland Cavalry and Second Maryland Cavalry, supporting Brig. Gen. George Steuart's infantry brigade. Gilmor was the provost marshal of the town of Gettysburg while it was occupied by the Confederates July 1–4.

The Magnolia Station Raid[edit]

After the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864, Colonel Gilmor's command, along with Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson's infantry, made a series of raids around Baltimore going as far east as Magnolia Station in Harford County, Maryland and Fork, Maryland. On July 10, 1864, Major Harry Gilmor of the 2nd Maryland Cavalry was given 135 men of the 1st and 2nd Maryland, and directed to cross Baltimore County into Harford County at Jerusalem Mill, and destroy the railroad bridge of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad at Magnolia Station, northeast of the city. (Today, the location is just off I-95 near Joppa.) Early on the morning of July 11, Gilmor's cavalrymen reached the station and proceeded to wreck two trains, one northbound and one southbound. After evacuating the passengers and looting the cars, the troopers set fire to one of the trains and backed it over the trestle, thus partially destroying the bridge. Aboard the northbound train was an unexpected prize — convalescing Union Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin. This raid was regarded as one of the most daring by detached cavalry on either side.

Later on July 11, Gilmore's advance group passed the home of Ishmael Day on Sunshine Avenue in Fork. Day, a Union sympathizer, had hung a large Union flag to greet Gilmor's troops. Confederate color bearer and Ordnance Sergeant Eugene Fields, a member of the advance guard unit, told Day to take the flag down. Day refused, an argument followed, and Day shot Field at close range with a shotgun. Gilmor's men burned Day's home and Day immediately fled, hiding under a cider press for days until the passing troops were gone. Gilmor accompanied Field to Wright's Hotel (operated by W.O.B. Wright on Harford Road), where the sergeant died.

Later raids[edit]

Gilmor was eventually ordered to take his command to Hardy County, West Virginia, and attack the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. There, he was captured on February 4, 1865, and was held as a prisoner of war at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor until July 24, 1865.

Postbellum life[edit]

Grave marker at Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland

After the war, Gilmor moved to New Orleans, where he married Miss Mentoria Nixon Strong, daughter of Jasper Strong and Eliza Julia Nixon. Gilmor and his wife had three children.

Gilmor wrote his war memoirs, entitled Four Years in the Saddle (New York, Harper & Bros., 1866). He soon returned to Maryland and was elected a colonel of the cavalry in the Maryland National Guard. He also served as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner from 1874 to 1879. Gilmor died in Baltimore, plagued by complications from a war injury to his jaw. He was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in an area now known as "Confederate Hill." At his death, Baltimore police stations flew their flags at half-staff. Gilmor's funeral was a large local event with many dignitaries present to honor this war hero.

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