General Thruston at Fort Hill, Tableland Trails
Excerpts from the Allegany Almanack
Atty. W. A. Gunter has loaned the editor an interesting booklet entitled "The Allegany County Letter League" published by the Monarch Press in 1945. It was an Almanack containing much relevant history of Allegany County which was sent to the boys overseas during World War II along with a monthly mimeographed letter. Mr. Gunter supervised and edited most of the material from his law office, and was assisted by Judge Sloan and Mary C. Kelly, their Secretary:
"Allegany High School is located on a tract of land that was used by Union soldiers during the Civil War. This tract is known as Campo Bello, which translated means 'War Camp.'
"At the time of the Civil War, Fort Hill High School was not in existence. The land on which it is located was known as 'Fort Hill.' Confederate Generals McCausland and Johnson had burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, had exacted a tribute from Hagerstown, had demanded $30,000 from Hancock, and then started for Cumberland. On learning of the approach of the Confederate Army great excitement prevailed. A public meeting was held on Sunday night for the purpose of organizing a local militia to assist General Kelley and his soldiers in the defense of the city. Three companies were formed consisting of two hundred men under the command of General Charles M. Thruston, a retired army officer living in Cumberland. On Monday afternoon the rebel army was reported in the vicinity of what is now the Ali Ghan Club on the Baltimore Pike (The Old National Pike). The merchants loaded their goods and sent them to places of safety. The railroad companies moved their trains to the West. Men were rushing about the streets arming themselves with muskets, rifles, and shotguns. Thousands of residents climbed to the hill tops for the purpose of obtaining a view of the expected conflict. Meanwhile the regular army, under General Kelley took up its position at the Shrine Club in sight of the enemy. General Thruston, with his volunteers, took up his command on Fort Hill.
"Local historians report that the 'minute men' were a bit jittery and in need of stimulants. Whereupon two colored men were sent to the center of town to obtain a supply. They soon returned, carrying three two-gallon-demijohns of firewater on a long pole. Just as they reached camp one of them, unfortunately, stumbled. The pole broke, and so did the demijohns, much to the disappointment of the 'minute men.'
"Sometime in the late afternoon General Thruston sitting in front of his tent on Fort Hill was advised by the scouts that the rebel hordes were coming in his direction from the Williams Road. General Thruston replied: 'Damm them—let them come— everything's hunkadora.' A few hours later the scouts made a second report stating that the enemy was moving South making their way to the Potomac at Green Spring.
"Whereupon the General replied: 'Damm them—let them go—everything hunkadora!' Hence this near-battle on the site of Fort Hill was named by the townsmen of that day as the 'Battle of Hunkadora;' the land was known as 'Hunkadora Heights;' and to this day 'hunkadora' is still used as a local expression to indicate that everything is O. K.
Included in Tableland Trails, edited by Felix Robinson, 1953. More Allegany stories can be found at Tableland Trails - Allegany
Ruth Enlow Library
W. A. Gunter
Allegany County (Md.), History. Civil War, 1861-1865; Cumberland (Md.), History, Civil War, 1861-1865.
Cumberland (Md.), 1864