Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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The Farmsteads of Antietam Tour

October 29, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

The Dunker Church and debris after the battle

For those that remember the PBS series “The Civil War” by Ken Burns, the opening scenes begin with this statement:
“The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places, from Valverde, New Mexico, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, to St. Albans, Vermont, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. More than 3 million Americans fought in it, and over 600,000 men—2 percent of the population—died in it.  American homes became headquarters, American churches and schoolhouses sheltered the dying, and huge foraging armies swept across American farms and burned American towns. Americans slaughtered one another wholesale, right here in America in their own cornfields and peach orchards, along familiar roads and by waters with old American names.”

Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg after the battle

No where was this more true than here at Sharpsburg.  The Battle of Antietam had effected everyone living in and around Sharpsburg. The battle only lasted one day but for the civilians living in the wake of this man-made disaster, the effects of the battle were felt for weeks’, months’, and even years.

Sharpsburg was the first organized community in the United States to suffer widespread damage from both the combat and the sheer presence of two opposing armies of more than 120,000 Rebel and Yankee soldiers and some 50,000 horses & mules.

 

The debris of battle

This would led to a tremendous threat of disease from the thousands of dead men and animals rotting in the warm September sun and the thousands of wounded left to be cared for in the field hospitals.

Combat and disease were not the only threats posed by the large battle. Economic devastation loomed as an all-too-real possibility. At Sharpsburg  soldiers from both sides raided farms and homes, carrying off valuables, destroying property, and confiscating livestock and crops as provender for the armies.

 

Joseph Poffenberger Farm

The Antietam National Battlefield is said to be one of the most pristine and well restored Civil War battlefields. When you look across the landscape little has changed since that fateful day of September 17, 1862. The preserved fence lines, fields and woodlots help us understand the ebb and flow of the battle. The details of the Battle of Antietam are well known to students of the Civil War, but as you survey the battlefield, you see scattered across the countryside the proof that battles are not fought in a vacuum. Several farmsteads dot the landscape as well. We tend to forget about the civilians that were caught up in the events swirling around the homes where for generations families lived, worked, played, and died.

Now you can join the Antietam Battlefield Guides for a Specialty Tour of “The Farmsteads of Antietam”.  Chief Guide, Chris Vincent has formatted a 3-hour guided tour of the historic Farmsteads of Antietam to learn about the families, their history, the farmsteads and how they recovered from the battle.

 

The tour will take you to each of the eleven farmsteads across the battlefield to discuss:

Who lived on the farmsteads at the time of the battle?

David R. and Margaret Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did the farm look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did the families do during the battle?

Fighting around Roulette Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happened to the families and farms after the battle?

Otho Poffenberger family, c. 1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about this tour and other Specialty Tours offered by the Antietam battlefield Guides, contact the Antietam Museum Store at 301-432-4329.

The Antietam Battlefield Guides

August 1, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

The carnage of the battle by the Dunker Church.

September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest day in American history. In twelve hours of horrific combat, soldiers from the North and the South fought the Battle of Antietam that would claim over 23,000 casualties.  Some historians believe that the Battle of Antietam was one of the key turning points of the American Civil War.  The battle ended Robert E. Lee’s first Confederate invasion into the north and it led to President Abraham Lincoln announcing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

 

 

The Henry Piper Farm at Antietam National Battlefield

But the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign of 1862 is more than statistics and facts. According to our esteemed local historian, John Schildt, “History is about people and places”.  Even though Antietam is one of the most pristine battlefields in the United States it is very difficult to understand the ebb and flow of the battle as you’re standing at one of the park stops. Looking at the fields, the wood lots and the roads, it can be very confusing and you cannot begin to put yourself into the shoes of the soldiers that stood on the very same ground without the assistance of a licensed Antietam Battlefield Guide.

 

The Antietam Battlefield Guides

Antietam Battlefield Guides

The Antietam Guides are a group of historians dedicated to providing outstanding interpretive tours of the Antietam Battlefield, as well as other sites related to the Maryland Campaign of 1862.   This is a group of incredibly talented and gifted professionals.  Many of the guides are published authors and have written articles for renowned Civil War magazines.  They are frequent lecturers at Civil War Roundtables and Historical Societies, as well as historical seminars and on forums, sharing their knowledge about Antietam and the American Civil War.  When not giving tours, many guides serve as volunteers at Antietam Battlefield.  You may find them at the Visitor Center desk, out on the field as Battlefield Ambassadors, on the Battery B, 4th US Artillery, (Antietam’s living history interpreters), or behind the scenes helping out with park maintenance during the off season.  The Guides also support the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, the local organization that works to promote the preservation and restoration of the scenic area in and around the Antietam Battlefield.  Guides are frequently out helping clearing brush or restoring a fence line during their work days.

 

The First Guide and the start of the guide service 

O.T. Reilley, the first battlefield guide.

The Antietam Battlefield Guides trace their start back to the first battlefield guide at Antietam, Oliver T. Reilly.  O.T. Reilly was just five years old at the time of the battle and is said to have witnessed it from a hill near Keedysville where he lived.   When he was just 15, O.T. began giving tours of the battlefield.  In 1890, he moved to Sharpsburg, where he opened a store on Main Street, selling novelties,  battlefield guide books, postcards and Civil War relics.  Reilly served as a battlefield guide for seven decades, often taking veterans on tours of the field.  The current guide service was founded in 2005 by Stephen Recker in partnership with the Western Maryland Interpretive Association, a non-profit organization at Antietam.  In the fall of 2011, Jim Rosebrock became the new Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides.  Under Jim’s leadership the program envolved and expanded to include other areas associated with the Maryland Campaign.  Now visitors can experience the whole Maryland Campaign by visiting Harpers Ferry, the South Mountain Battlefields and Antietam National Battlefield.  At the beginning of 2019, Chris Vincent was honored to be selected to succeed Jim as the Chief Guide.  Chris looks forward to leading the guides into the next decade with their new parent association Eastern National, which is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cooperating association that manages the museum bookstore at the battlefield.

 

Becoming a Guide

Guides candidates out on the field as Battlefield Ambassadors

Becoming an Antietam Battlefield Guide requires enthusiasm, a desire to learn and much preparation. The standards are high but the rewards are worth the effort.  After successfully passing a written exam, guide candidates are paired with a certified guide-mentor to begin preparing for their 3-hour field test. During this phase, candidates become participants in the Battlefield’s Volunteers in the Parks (VIP) program. The experiences of volunteering provides the opportunity to interact with park visitors and get to know the rangers and other volunteers, many of whom are guides. It also affords the opportunity to spend time on the field and to sharpen interpretation skills.  Once candidates have completed all their requirements of the Mentoring Phase and feel they are ready, they take a 3-hour oral field test that consists of  a 3-hour tour with a National Park Service ranger and the Chief Guide. Upon successful completion of the field test, candidates become NPS Certified Battlefield Guides!

 

 

Guides walking the field

Antietam Battlefield Guides are constantly  researching and studying the  Maryland Campaign.  During the off-season, guides conduct professional development training by exploring seldom visited parts of the field and reviewing other aspects of the battle.  Guides can customize your tour to focus on a particular part of the battlefield or a specific unit.  If you had an ancestor who fought at Antietam your guide can tailor a part of the tour to those particular areas on the field where your ancestor’s unit fought.

 

Booking a battlefield tour

The Antietam Guides are booked through the Antietam National Battlefield Museum Store.  The guide will drive your vehicle so you can focus on the field areas that the guide is talking about and what they are describing to you. There are currently five basic tours you can take and the cost is based on the number of people in your group.

Highlight Tour (2 hours): This tour is designed for those with young children or people on a tight schedule, and will cover the Cornfield, Sunken Road and Burnside Bridge overlook.

Standard Tour (3 hours): This is the standard tour and includes an introduction to the Maryland Campaign at the Visitors Center as well as stops at the Cornfield, Sunken Road and Burnside Bridge. It is designed for individuals or groups seeking general knowledge of the battle and the battlefield.

Extended Tour (4 hours): This tour is designed for those visitors interested in exploring the battlefield in greater depth. It includes all parts of the Standard Tour however time is built in for additional stops or extended time at the 3 Standard Tour stops.

Antietam Plus Tour (6 hours): This 6 hour tour includes a Standard Tour of Antietam and a trip to one other battlefield, of the visitor’s choice, associated with the Maryland Campaign (either Harpers Ferry or South Mountain). All Antietam Plus tours originate at the Antietam Battlefield Visitors Center.

Campaign Tour (8 hours): The Campaign Tour covers all three battlefields of the Maryland Campaign (Antietam, South Mountain & Harpers Ferry). This tour originates at Antietam and travels to South Mountain and Harpers Ferry to explore the battles that preceded America’s bloodiest day. After touring South Mountain & Harpers Ferry you return to Antietam for the 3 hour Standard Tour.

Walk-in service is available for the 2 hour and 3 hour tours, however with walk-in service a guide cannot be guaranteed. To guarantee a guide, make a reservation in advance of your visit to Antietam.

To book your Battlefield tour, call the Antietam Museum Store at (301) 432-4329.  Check the guide biographies on the website. If there is a particular guide you are interested in securing, let the bookstore associate know who you would like to lead your tour.

If you have other questions and inquiries, you can email the guides at AntietamTours@easternnational.org.  Follow along on the Antietam Battlefield Guide Facebook page for updates about the programs, what the guides are up to, and information about Antietam National Battlefield.

If your staying at the Inn take advantage of our Civil War Tour Specials and we’ll book one of these outstanding tours with the Antietam Battlefield Guide for you.  We hope to see you soon!

“Antietam in Their Own Words: Letters from the veterans describe the Battle” – Dr. Tom Clemens

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Tom Clemens

Dr. Tom Clemens holds a Doctorate in College Education-History from George Mason University, Professor Emeritus from Hagerstown Community College. He is a Tour guide for the Maryland Campaign for the past 30 years. Tom is the Editor of Ezra Carman’s Maryland Campaign of September 1862, 3 Vols. 2010, 2012, 2016. Author of numerous essays and Magazine articles, appeared in several documentary films as on-screen historian, including the orientation film in the NPS Visitor Center.

On Wednesday, July 3rd, Dr. Clemens will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Antietam in Their Own Words: Letters from the veterans describe the Battle Tom’s talk will focus on excerpts from both Union and Confederate veterans  who served at Sharpsburg in the bloodiest single battle in US history, in their letters to Ezra Carman and John Gould in the 1890’s.​

 

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

“Following footprints and memory: Reexamining assumptions about the fight for the West Woods”​ – Jim Buchanan

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

James Buchanan

Jim Buchanan

James Buchanan is a graduate of the University of Maryland, (College Park) with a M.A. History and Antioch University, with a M.A. Teaching​.  Jim was a Program Director, National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law and recently retired as a Sr. Education Specialist, Federal Judicial Center (U.S. Courts)​.  Jim is a volunteer at the C&O Canal at Great Falls and has been volunteering at Antietam National Battlefield since 2007. Jim is a Licensed Battlefield Guide and is our resident expert on the West Woods (his blog: www.Walkingthewestwoods.blogspot.com)​.

On Wednesday, July 17th, Jim will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Following footprints and memory: Reexamining assumptions about the fight for the West Woods“.  At just after 9 a.m. on September 17, 1862, the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, 606 men of all ranks, met and engaged troops of the Confederate brigades of Paul Semmes, Jubal Early and William Barksdale in the West Woods. An hour later, less than half of the 15th Massachusetts would be left standing. Other regiments, both north and south, fared little better. When the West Woods struggle ended, four thousand casualties lay in the meadows, ridges and ravines of those woods. This presentation will use contemporary letters and diaries and post-battle reminiscences from both sides to better understand what happened in the woods that day. Drawing on an emerging body of new research this presentation will reexamine old assumptions about the battle for the West Woods.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

“John Pope at Antietam: His influence on the Maryland Campaign and the Final Attack at Antietam”​ – Steve Stotelmyer

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Steve Stotelmyer

Steven R. Stotelmyer, a lifetime student of the Maryland Campaign, is a native of Hagerstown, Maryland. After a stint in the U.S. Navy he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Frostburg State College and a Master of Arts from Hood College. Mr. Stotelmyer currently serves as a volunteer and tour guide at the Antietam National Battlefield. From time to time Mr. Stotelmyer has also served as a part-time volunteer and historical consultant for the South Mountain State Battlefield. In 1992 he published The Bivouacs of the Dead: The Story of Those Who Died at Antietam and South Mountain, Toomey Press, Baltimore, MD. With the recent publication of Too Useful To Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam, Savas Beatie LLC, New York, NY, Steven R. Stotelmyer provides a fresh examination and debunking of the negative stereotypes surrounding this capable commander during one of most crucial phases of the Civil War.​

On Wednesday, July 31st, Steve will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “John Pope at Antietam: His influence on the Maryland Campaign and the Final Attack at Antietam“.  The Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam did not occur in a vacuum. The campaign began within days, and Antietam less than 3 weeks after the disastrous Union defeat of Second Manassas on August 30, 1862. The Union commander of that battle, Maj. Gen. John Pope cast a large shadow over the events of early September 1862. This talk will explore some of the unknown and overlooked influences of John Pope at work from the beginning of the campaign to close of battle at Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862.​

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

“Confederate artillery commanders at Antietam” – ​Jim Rosebrock

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

James Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock is the former Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides.  Jim currently serves as a volunteer and tour guide at the Antietam National Battlefield. Jim is a retired army officer and currently works for the Department of Justice. He is currently conducting research for a book that will tell the story of the regular artillery companies during the Civil War.  Jim also discusses interesting topics about the Maryland Campaign on his blog South From the North Woods.

On Wednesday, July 24th, Jim will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Confederate artillery commanders at Antietam“.  Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, John Bell Hood and A.P. Hill are well known names in the story of the Battle of Sharpsburg.  However lesser known men are men like James Walton, Bushrod Frobel, Lindsay Shumaker and William Pogue. These are the gunners who commanded the Confederate artillery at Sharpsburg.  They played a decisive role in preventing George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac from overwhelming the rebels and permitting Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to live to fight another night.  Learn about Lee’s artillerymen and the crucial role they played at the Battle of Sharpsburg.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

Ethnics in the Confederacy and at Sharpsburg

June 11, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Ted Alexander

Ted Alexander

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Ethnics in the Confederacy and at Sharpsburg – although the Civil War is traditionally viewed as a struggle between white Anglo Saxon Protestants, a variety of ethnic groups fought in the armies of both sides. This talk will focus on the ethnics who served with the Confederacy. Our speaker will discuss Hispanics, American Indians, Asians, Jews and other groups who wore the gray. This includes Confederates at the battle of Sharpsburg. Our speaker is the co author of National Park Service publications on both Hispanics and Asians in the Civil War.

Our Speaker – Ted Alexander is the Historian (retired) of Antietam National Battlefield where he served for more than 30 years. Mr. Alexander is the author or co author of 10 books on the Civil War, including ANTIETAM: THE BLOODIEST DAY. He is also the author of more than 200 articles and book reviews for numerous publications such as Blue and Gray Magazine, Civil War Times and The Washington Times. Mr. Alexander is a veteran of two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V for valor.

On Wednesday, July 11th, Ted will talk about the different ethnic groups who served with the Confederacy and fought at the Battle of Antietam, during his Summer Lecture Series talk – Ethnics in the Confederacy and at Sharpsburg.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

 

Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination

June 5, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Dennis Frye

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Dennis Frye has been studying Antietam and the 1st invasion of the North for nearly 50 years. From his earliest days as a NPS volunteer at the Dunker Church (Dennis is a Dunker), and as a native of the Antietam area, Dennis has immersed himself into the Civil War. Known for his challenges to conventional history, Dennis’ newest book is assured to stimulate provocation and debate as he explores uncertainties and unknowns in Antietam Shadows.

On Wednesday, July 4th, Dennis will discuss  his book “Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination”  during his  Summer Lecture Series talk.

Dennis E. Frye is the Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Writer, lecturer, guide, and preservationist, Dennis is a prominent Civil War historian. Dennis has numerous appearances on PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, C-SPAN, Fox News, A&E, and Voice of America as a guest historian. He helped produce Emmy award-winning television features on the Battle of Antietam, abolitionist John Brown, and Maryland during the Civil War. Dennis is one of the nation’s leading Civil War battlefield preservationists. He is co-founder and first president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, and he is co-founder and a former president of today’s Civil War Trust, from whom he received the Trust’s highest honor – the Shelby Foote Award. Dennis also earned the prestigious Nevins-Freeman Award for his lifetime achievements in the Civil War community. Dennis is a tour guide in demand, leading tours for organizations such as the Smithsonian, National Geographic, numerous colleges and universities, and Civil War Round Tables. Dennis also is a well-known author, with 99 articles and ten books. His most recent book is Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination. His book Harpers Ferry Under Fire received the national book of the year award from the Association of Partners for Public Lands; and September Suspense: Lincoln’s Union in Peril, was awarded the 2012 Laney Book Prize for distinguished scholarship and writing on the military and political history of the war. Dennis has written for prestigious Civil War magazines such as Civil War Times Illustrated, America’s Civil War, Blue & Gray Magazine, North and South Magazine, and Hallowed Ground, and as a guest contributor to the Washington Post. Dennis resides near the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland, and he and his wife Sylvia have restored the home that was used by General Burnside as his post-Antietam headquarters.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

 

 

Antietam Hospitals – John Schildt

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Rev. John Schildt (photo credit: fredericknewspost.com)

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

John Schildt hardly needs an introduction. He is well known for his many books relating the various aspects of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and local history. Reverend Schildt graduated from Shepherd College, Wesley Theological Seminary and has studied at Western Maryland College, Gettysburg Seminary and West Virginia University.

Rev. Schildt was introduced to Civil War history by his great-grandmother who fed Union troops on the way to Gettysburg when she was a little girl. John has been a lecturer and guide for the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute, Bud Robertson’s “Campaigning with Lee”, the Chicago Civil War Round Table, and many other groups. He was the main speaker at the 125th anniversary of Antietam. Outside of Civil War history, John has led three educational excursions to Normandy and took part in the American and French commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the D-day landing in 1994. While leading explorations, he likes to make history come alive by sharing human interest stories about people and places. Having been a lifelong student of Antietam, John has written many books on the subject, including “September Echoes,” “Drums along the Antietam,” “Roads to Antietam,” and several others.

On Wednesday, June 27th, John will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Antietam Hospitals”

The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, was fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first field army-level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil and is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.  The wounded soldiers were treated in various field hospitals set up in the areas of the battle – in the homes and barns of the locals.  John will tell this story and talk about the places they were cared for like the Smoketown Hospital, Poffenberger’s Farm – where Clara Barton worked, the Rohrbach’s Barn, Jacob Miller Hospital,  Samuel Pry’s Mill, Hoffman Hospital, Crystal or Locust Spring Hospital, and the German Reformed Church.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

 

Images from BG James Ricketts’ 1st Corps Division – Joe Stahl

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Joe Stahl

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Joseph Stahl retired from the Institute for Defense Analyses where he authored or coauthored more than 50 reports on defense issues. Since his retirement he has become a volunteer and Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam. He grew up in St. Louis, where he earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, SHAF, the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and is co-author of the first book on ID discs Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War. He has spoken to various Civil War groups including the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters, South Mountain Coin and Relic Club, Rappahannock, York and Hagerstown Round Tables, Chambersburg Civil War Tours, Save Historic Antietam Foundation and the NPS Antietam. In addition Joe has authored more than two dozen articles about items in his collections for the Gettysburg Magazine, the Washington Times Civil War Page, Manuscripts, America’s Civil War, Military Collector & Historian the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, the Civil War Historian and the Skirmish Line of the North-South Skirmish Association. Displays of items from of his collection have won awards at several Civil War shows.

He has been a member of the North-South Skirmish Association for more than 20 years and has shot civil war type muskets, carbines and revolvers in both individual and team competitions.

On Wednesday, June 20th, Joe will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Images from MG James Ricketts’ Division”

BG Ricketts Division was reported to consist of 3037 officers and men in 12 veteran infantry regiments. The division would report losses of 172 killed, 946 wounded and 86 missing for a total of 1204 including two artillery batteries assigned attached to the division. During Joe’s presentation he will shown the faces and history of 10 soldiers, one from 10 of the 12 regiments in General Ricketts’ Division.  He will also shown images of the Division and Brigade commanders.  Each of these soldiers has a story and Joe will tell you a little of that story.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

“Gunners in the Corn – Federal and Confederate Artillery in the Cornfield” – Jim Rosebrock

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Jim Rosebrock

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Jim Rosebrock is the Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides. Jim is a retired army officer and currently works for the Department of Justice. He is currently conducting research for a book that will tell the story of the regular artillery companies during the Civil War.  Jim also discusses interesting topics about the Maryland Campaign on his blog South From the North Woods.

On Wednesday, June 13th, Jim will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Gunners in the Corn – Federal and Confederate Artillery in the Cornfield

As the sun rose over the fields and woodlots north of the Dunker Church on the morning of September 17th 1862 thousands of infantrymen of Joseph Hooker’s First Corps supported by the Twelfth Corps of Joseph Mansfield crashed into Jackson’s wing of the Army of Northern Virginia reinforced by D.H. Hills division.  The key role played by the artillerymen of the Federal and Confederate armies in the fields and woodlots north of the Dunker Church on the morning of September 17th 1862 is not often as well told. While the story of Battery B of the Fourth Artillery is well known, the fact is that in the early hours of the battle the Confederate guns actually outnumbered the Federals.  This is the story of that early morning gunfight.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Joseph Parks Farm

April 16, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Joseph Parks Farmstead

While traveling on the roads running through the battlefield you can see most of the farmsteads at Antietam except for one – the Joseph Parks farm.  In order to see this farm, visitors have to walk out the Three Farms Trail from the Newcomer House.  Although the land had been cultivated for more than 100 years before the battle, in 1862 the house and farm were fairly new.  Originally part of James Smith’s property and patented “Smiths Hills”, this 160 acres is known today as the Joseph Parks Farm.

Smith Hills

Plat map of Smiths Hills and surrounding region.

In 1739, James Smith, a planter from Prince George’s County received a patent of 208 acres.  It’s believed that Smith lived in the area, as he was surveying lands in the future Frederick and Washington counties and was an attorney for the Frederick courts.  Over the next fifteen years, Smith continued to add land to his holdings.  In 1754, Smith surveyed 12 acres of Porto Santo, another nearby patent. In 1756, a  “Resurvey of Smiths Hills” was done adding 302 acres for a total of 510 acres and a Resurvey of Porto Santo was done to correct several errors which increased its size to 23 acres.  During the resurvey it was found that the Porto Santo “included ‘improvements’ of one acre of cleared land, 400 fence rails and a log house”.  Smith’s holding of these two patents would become the properties of what we know today as the Newcomer and Park Farmsteads.

 

Knowing that colonial interest and the French and Indian War led to more permanent inroads into the backcountry, Smith petitioned Frederick County in 1755 for the building of both a ford across the Antietam Creek and a new road, because he intended to build a mill along the creek on his land.  Smith also knew that an improved roadway through his property would not only increase the value of his land but that of the surrounding area.  Although Smith did not build a mill, “he had set the groundwork for the future development of the milling industry on the property” and a new road would eventually be built from Red Hill to Swearingen’s Ferry on the Potomac at Shepherdstown.

As the French and Indian War was ending, Christian Orndorff, a millwright from Lancaster County, arrived in the area in 1762.   Now that the region was safe and open for settlement, Orndorff was looking for a suitable site to build a grist mill, and he found it along the Antietam Creek.  Christian Orndorff purchased 503 acres of Resurvey on Smiths Hills and 11 acres of the Porto Santo. 

Over the next thirty years the Orndorff family turned the property into a substantial industrial complex.  In addition to a large house and barn, there was a grist mill, a saw mill and a workshop near the Antietam Creek.  The mills were powered by water diverted from the creek through a mill race that Orndorff built.  They also farmed crops of wheat and corn and later established a plaster mill, a cooper shop and other tooling shops.

In 1796, the Orndorff’s sold 324 1/4 acres  for £5500 to Jacob Mumma.  This purchase included portions of several patents, but 303 acres were part of the Resurvey of Smiths Hills.  The Mummas had arrived in Philadelphia in 1732 and settled in Lancaster County.  Like other Germans settling in the area, the Mumma family traveled down the Wagon Road to Sharpsburg.  They were accompanied by Joseph Sherrick, Sr. and his family.  Sherrick would also purchase property along the Antietam from the Orndorff’s.

Photograph taken on Sept. 22, 1862, by Alexander Gardner’s assistant, James F. Gibson. The Parks Farmstead can be seen in the upper right hand corner. (LOC)

Jacob Mumma and his sons continued to run the mill and farming operations.  Over the next several years Mumma would acquire “two-thirds of the large land tract amassed by the Orndorff family decades earlier”.  This area incorporated what is known today as the Mumma Farm, Newcomer Farm and the Parks Farm.   In 1831,  Jacob Mumma and his wife Elizabeth transferred ownership of the mill property to their son John.  Around this time, it is believed that a house and barn were constructed just north of the mill along the creek for John’s eldest son – Elias Mumma. This became known as the “lower farm”, the future Parks farmstead.   Business at the Mumma mill was booming, but John Mumma died suddenly in 1835 and without a will.  His father, Jacob purchased the property back from John’s estate and resold the mill and farm to his younger son, Samuel in 1837.

 

Barn

Main House (vinyl siding covering original wood siding)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Kitchen

Kitchen

Cooking Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parks farm

Parks Farm layout in 1862

 

Samuel and his wife had been living at the house on the Mumma Farmstead, but they moved back to the mill complex and continued the operations of the mill and farm.  Samuel sold 151 acres of the mill complex portion of the property to Jacob and John Emmert in 1841 to pay off debts, but he retained 190 acres of the “lower farm”.  By 1843, Samuel was forced to put the “lower farm” into a Deed of Trust to pay off other creditors.

 

Parks property

The “lower farm” that Phillip Pry named Bunker Hill Farm. The red line shows the property line.

In 1850, the property was returned to Samuel Mumma by the trustees and it believed that Samuel’s son, Jacob H. Mumma was living on the farm as a tenant at this time.  According to the 1860 census, Jacob had moved to Boonsboro and the farm was tenanted by a Jacob Myers (Meyer).   In 1861, Samuel Mumma sold the “lower farm” for $10,500 to Phillip Pry who renamed the 166 acre property the “Bunker Hill Farm”.   Phillip and his brother Samuel already owned a large amount of land north of the Bunker Hill Farm along the Antietam Creek, including a large grist mill.  Phillip and his family continued to live at his farm just across the Antietam but rented the Bunker Hill Farm to a tenant named Joseph Parks and his family.

Parks had owned a house in Porterstown which was just on the other side of the creek.  According to the 1850 census he lived there with his wife, Mary and their young children Rosean, Elizabeth, Mary and Martha.  His wife Mary would pass away in 1855 and shortly after that Joseph married Aletha Ann Harmon and they would have six more children together.

On the morning of September 15, 1862, as they withdrew from the Battle of South Mountain, Confederate soldiers marched along the turnpike and across the Antietam toward Sharpsburg.  General Robert E. Lee had decided to make a stand along the Antietam Creek to consolidate his divided army.  Later that day as the Union army advanced to the east side of the Antietam Creek, the Bunker Hill Farm and the Parks family stood between the two warring parties.

Daybreak map of the Battle of Antietam.

The next morning, three companies of Federal troops crossed the bridge and deployed across the Newcomer property, securing the bridge as a future crossing point for the next day’s battle.  Throughout the day the Bunker Hill Farm was in the center of a cannonade between the Union artillery on the east side of the Antietam and the Confederate guns along the ridge east of Sharpsburg.  It is not known where the Parks went during the battle, but most certainly they departed like their neighbors, to the safety of friends or relatives in the area.

 

1030 am map of the Battle of Antietam as Union forces begin to move across the Parks farm.

The next morning on September 17, as the battle raged to the north of Sharpsburg, more Union forces were sent across the Pry Mill ford just north of the Parks farm.  Two divisions of the Second Army Corps moved west toward the East Woods and then pushed into the West Woods and southward across the Mumma and Roulette farms.  About an hour later Major General Israel Richardson’s division crossed the creek just below Phillip Pry’s house and marched toward the Neikirk and Kennedy Farms before turning toward the fighting in the Sunken Road.  Brig. Gen. John Caldwell’s brigade marched in a line of battle across the upper fields of the Parks farm before shifting to the right to support Gen. Meagher’s Irish Brigade.

1:00 pm map of the Battle of Antietam with Union artillery positioned on the Parks Farm.

 

Once the Confederates were driven out of the Sunken Road, Union artillery arrived to help hold the line along the high ground of the Parks farm and the Newcomer fields.

 

 

This enlarged 1862 Gibson photo shows five buildings and the fence surrounding the main house.

Although no specific source has identified the Parks farm as a field hospital, it seems likely that the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment of Caldwell’s brigade would have used it as a temporary one.  Col. Edward Cross, the commander of the 5th New Hampshire reported the situation of his surgeon, Dr. William Child and described the conditions of the battlefield hospitals, “The barns and sheds in all this region were occupied as hospitals by the Union army, and many Confederate wounded were retained here, and I believe were as well cared for as the Union Men.  The barns were filled with flies, and wounds were sure to gather maggots about the dressings and even within the raw surfaces. To avoid this disgusting evil Assistant Surgeon Child personally gathered a few scores of shelter tents left on the battle-field, brought them to a suitable location, and with them built very comfortable hospital quarters and into them moved all the wounded of the Fifth, where they remained until able to be sent to Frederick city or were sent to Antietam hospital, which was finally established upon the western borders of the battle-field. Child was detailed for service in this Antietam field hospital, where he remained until about December 10…”

In this magnified photograph, soldiers can be seen walking along a road leading to the Parks farm.

 

Through the trees on the right the Observation Tower can be seen just beyond the Parks barnyard.

There are no known damage claims submitted by Joseph Parks, but several were submitted by Phillip Pry starting in 1865 and another in 1872.  It is believed that the Quartermaster claim was for his home farm only and not the “lower farm’ or Bunker Hill Farm.

Union artillery and infantry units go into position on the evening of Sept. 17, 1862 across the Park farm

Although Phillip Pry received some payment, his claims became bogged down in legal proceedings and in 1874 he sold the remainder of his property and moved his family to Tennessee.  During the investigation into Pry’s claim it was uncovered by Agent Sallade about Pry’s Bunker Hill farm and he reported, “Mr Pry owned two farms, one the [“Home”] farm containing 170 acres, and one the “Bunker Hill” farm of 166 acres separated by the Antietam Creek, and 1/2 mile apart… all his fencing was burned, his corn and wheat fed, together with a large quantity of hay… His wheat I find was cut in 1862, and put in 4 large stacks, some was in the barn.  These stacks contained not less than 800 bushels this quantity was arrived at by the number of loads – 40 – averaging 20 bushels per load, placed in the stacks. Messrs Joseph Parks, Henry Gettmacher and Wm. Lantz who cut, hauled, and put up this wheat fully confirm this fact. The Affidants of other parties, neighbors and ex-soldiers also confirm this, and also that a portion of the wheat in the barn was used.  Mr. Pry lost about 150 bushels on the farm across the Antietam Creek.  Mr. Pry fully sets this forth in his affidavit”.

Parks grave

Joseph and Aletha Parks grave at Rose Hill

According to records, a few years after the battle Joseph Parks had “to mortgage his household furniture and personal belongings against a debt that he owed to Phillip Pry” most likely for the tenancy.  Joseph Parks had moved several miles north of Sharpsburg, probably to Fairplay or Hagerstown, and became a full time shoemaker.  He died in 1891 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown along with his second wife Aletha.

 

 

The 1877 Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland, District 1, Sharpsburg. The red dot shows the J. F. Miller properties

In 1867 Bunker Hill Farm was sold to Jacob F. Miller.  Jacob Miller’s son, Otho H. Miller was living at the farm according to the 1870 census.  During this time “a gabled dormer was added to the forebay of the barn  most likely to accommodate improved threshing machines” and a second story was added to the north section of the main house.

In 1884, Jacob Miller sold the Bunker Hill farm to Henry and Laura Rohrer.  The Rohrer family would operate the farm for the next 76 years.  According to the 1910 census, their son-in-law Harry O. Clipp, his wife Stella and their two daughters, Ruth and Edna were living at the farm.  Harry Clipp’s occupation was listed as a “House Carpenter” and he may have been the one who made improvements on the farm.   During the Rohrer’s time at the farm a tenant house is built around 1905 and a corn crib / wagon shed was added onto the barn along with some other out buildings.  In 1914, Henry Rohrer died leaving the farm to his wife Laura, who died in 1919.  The farm was then transferred to her daughter and son-in-law.

Foundation of the tenant house.

The Clipp’s continued to make improvements to the farm, shifting their operation to dairy farming with a
concrete milking area added.  Ruth Clipp and Edna (Clipp) Dorsey who inherited the farm from their parents, sold the farm to William Cunningham in 1960.  In 1988, Cunningham sold the farm to the National Park Service with a life estate for himself.

After the death of Mr. Cunningham in 2000, the Park Service  removed post-war out buildings including the tenant house, repaired the log out-kitchen, restored the barn, stabilized the farm house and recently replaced the roof on the house.   A new recreational trail, the Three Farms Trail was created in 2006 that connects the Parks Farmstead to the Roulette Farmstead and the Newcomer Farmstead.

The Parks Farmstead is a another eyewitness to the history of the battle and the families that lived in the Antietam Valley.

Sources:
  • Find A Grave, Joseph Parks and family, Retrieved from: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49395745/joseph-parks
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, Antietam, Md. Another view of Antietam bridge. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/cwpb.01133/
  • Library of Congress Geography and Map Division; W.S. Long and Washington A. Roebling/Battle of the Antietam fought September 16 & 17, 1862/Washington, D.C./ Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3844a.cw0246000
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Cunningham Farm, WA-II-331, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, 24 March 2018
  • U.S. National Park Service,  Joseph Parks Barn,  Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2008.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Parks Farmstead Cultural Landscape InventoryAntietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2011.
  • U.S. National Park Service,  Newcomer Barn,  Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • Western Maryland Regional Library, The Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland was published in 1877. Lake, Griffing & Stevenson of Philadelphia, 1877.  Retrieved from http://whilbr.org/Image.aspx?photo=wcia053s.jpg&idEntry=3497&title=Sharpsburg+-+District+No.+1
  • U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908.   Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Pl. XXVIII: Antietam, Suffolk, Gettysburg, Franklin Washington, Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.  Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3701sm.gcw0099000/?sp=53
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