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 the Baltimore City Police Commissioner, head of the Baltimore City Police Department in the 1870s, but he was most noted as a daring and dashing Confederate cavalry officer during the American Civil War. Gilmor's daring raids, such as The Magnolia Station Raid through north-central Maryland in July 1864 during the third major Confederate invasion of the North gained his partisans fame as "Gilmor's Raiders".

Early life[edit]

Gilmor was born at "Glen Ellen", the Jacobethan/English Tudor-styled "Castle" family estate, near the village of Warren, (now beneath the surface waters of the Loch Raven Reservoir), just north of Towsontown in central 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 the "Baltimore County Horse Guards" under Captain Charles Carnan Ridgely, Jr.'s (of Hampton Mansion, near Towsontown), Gilmor was arrested and imprisoned in Fort McHenry following the "Pratt Street Riots" of April 19th, 1861, with the subsequent occupation of Baltimore and Fort Federal Hill by Federal troops under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler of the 6th & 8th Massachusetts state militia in May 1861. 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 of June–July, 1863, 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 Baltimore County/Magnolia Station Raid[edit]

As part of the third major Confederate invasion of the North, this under commanding Gen. Jubal Early with several corps of troops on a mission to attack the national capital at Washington, D.C. and possibly liberate Southern prisoners-of-war at Camp Point Look-Out in southern Maryland at the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River in St. Mary's County. After the Battle of the Monocacy, along the Monocacy River on July 9, 1864, southeast of Frederick in Frederick County, Maryland, Colonel Gilmor's command, along with Frederick's Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson's Maryland Confederate infantry and cavalry, 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 northern Baltimore County into Harford County at Jerusalem Mill, and destroy the railroad bridge of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad at Magnolia Station, across the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers northeast of the city, in Harford County, which funneled the major route into the City at the President Street Station, site of the earlier infamous April 1861 anti-Union riots. (Today, the location is just off I-95 near Joppa). In the meantime, while crossing his home county, he stopped and visited his family at the family estate "Glen Ellen", then near the former village of Warren, now beneath the surface of Loch Raven Reservoir. 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 during the war 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 strong Union sympathizer, had hung a large United States 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 then burned Day's home and Day immediately fled, hiding under an apple cider press for days until the passing troops were gone. Gilmor accompanied Field to Wright's Hotel (operated by W.O.B. Wright on the Harford Road), where the Confederate sergeant later 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, three and a half months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

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" (published in New York, Harper & Bros., 1866). He soon returned to Maryland and was elected a colonel of the cavalry in the reorganized Maryland National Guard. He also served as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner from 1874 to 1879, (a position which his Civil War predecessor, Police Marshal George Proctor Kane was arrested by Federal authorities in 1861, he also later was elected as Mayor of Baltimore). Gilmor died in Baltimore, plagued by complications from a war injury to his jaw. He was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery[1] in the southwest section of the city between Frederick Road and Wilkens Avenue, in an area of the cemetery now known as "Confederate Hill." At his death, Baltimore City Police Department central and district stations flew their flags at half-staff. Gilmor's funeral was a large local ceremonial event with many dignitaries present to honor this war hero.

There is also a Gilmor Street laid out between Calhoun Street running south to Cole Street in West Baltimore's Upton, Sandtown-Winchester, Poppleton neighborhoods.