Four Locks, Maryland was a small community located in Washington County and lying along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The town was on a peninsula known as Prather’s Neck. The locks which gave the town its name were built between 1836 and 1838 to avoid a four mile long loop in the Potomac River. As it was located about half way between Cumberland, Maryland and Washington, DC and was a frequent stop for canal boats.
With southern states moving toward secession, parts of Maryland held fast to the Union. A pro-Union meeting was held in Four Locks, Maryland January 31st 1861. About 200 people there put up a 113 foot tall “Union Pole” with a banner on the top reading “The Union Forever”. There many speaker including Lewis P Firey; a member of the Constitutional Union Party, whose speech caused “the wildest outburst of applause”.
That summer many of the residents enlisted in units that formed in the nearby town of Clear Spring, Maryland. Four Locks was also located on the path of Confederate cavalry on their way to raid Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 1864. The Confederate burnt several buildings on their way through.