On the morning of September 17, 1862, Major General Joseph Hooker rode out from the Joseph Poffenberger barn where he had spent the drizzly night. When he reached the edge of the North Woods and looked to the south he could see the objective of his Union First Corps – a small rise of ground at the junction of Smoketown Road and the Hagerstown Turnpike. Nearly a mile away, this intersection was next to a small whitewashed building, thought to be a schoolhouse but was actually the Dunker Church. Confederate forces under Stonewall Jackson defended the intersection in a line extending from the Mumma farm northwestward across the Hagerstown Pike through the woods to Nicodemus Heights. Halfway between Hooker’s First Corps and his objective at the Dunker Church stood the farmstead of David R. Miller. During the morning of September 17, the majority of the fighting would take place surrounding D.R. Miller’s farm – at the Cornfield, in the East Woods, along the Hagerstown Turnpike, in the West Woods and around the Dunker Church.
Like the Joseph Poffenberger farm, the D.R. Miller property was once part of the tract granted to Joseph Chapline called ‘Loss and Gain’ that was bequeathed to his son, James Chapline. In order to satisfy his creditors, James began leasing and selling parts of his land in the late 1790’s. Although there is no recorded lease or deed, it is believed that a John Myers was occupying on a portion of Chapline’s tract, now call “Addition to Loss and Gain“. In 1796, James Chapline sold 40 acres to Jonas Hogmire and that deed refers to “the part of Addition to Loss and Gain that John Myers now lives on..” Hogmire would also purchased another 40-acre lot from Chapline in 1797.
In 1799, Hogmire sold 81 3/8 acres to John Myers for £610, 6 shillings and 3 pence. Around this time the main house was built. The log structure sat on a limestone foundation with a central chimney system. “The chimney served the fireplaces of several rooms on each floor and was indicative of traditional Pennsylvania German floor plans”. The additional ell on the north side of the building would include a dining room, kitchen and porch. By the end of 1812, John Myers would acquire another 150 acres and several other smaller lots from James Buchanan, who was the Trustee for the sale of James Chapline’s land.
John Myers lived on the property until his death in 1836. According to his will, he directed that the farm be rented out for five years and that his daughter Kitty, “is to have and enjoy the free entire use and benefit of the mansion house in which I reside”. Based on the information in the will, the property included the “mansion house” and the “old house”. It is likely that the “mansion house” was referring to the house that is standing on the property today and the “old house” may have been a dwelling first occupied by John Myers, but being utilized as a tenant house in the 1830’s. Other improvements on the property included a second tenant house, a blacksmith shop, an out-kitchen, a spring and two gardens. The farm was divided by the “big road” referring to the Hagerstown-Sharpsburg turnpike. Across the turnpike stood the barn, a stable, a corn crib-wagon shed and hog pens.
In January, 1842 the property was put up for sale by the executors of John Myers will. An advertisement in the Hagerstown Mail stated that the farm consisted of “265 Acres of first-rate Limestone Land; about 150 Acres of which are cleared, the balance in thriving timber.“ In addition to the buildings there was an orchard of “fine Fruit Trees”. On April 24, 1844, David R. Miller purchased the farm for $53.00 per acre. That same day, David transferred the property to his father, John Miller, who was one of the executors. Although John Miller continued to own the farm until his death in 1882, his son David, known as D.R., would live there.
D.R. Miller was given his name in honor of his grandfather David Miller. David Miller and his wife, Catherine Flick, were from the Rhinepfalze region of Germany. In the 1760’s they emigrated to Maryland and established the first store in the new town of Sharpsburg in 1768.
David’s son John, followed in his footsteps operating not only the store, but the town post office, a hotel, a gristmill and also owned several farms. During the War of 1812, John was a colonel in the militia and continued to be referred to as Colonel Miller.
The very wealthy Col. Miller helped establish his sons on farms throughout the Sharpsburg area. On April 2, 1846, his son D.R. married Margaret Pottenger. Together they set up housekeeping and started to raise a family on the recently purchased farm. By September 1862, they had seven children and like the neighboring farms, they worked hard to harvest their crops that fall. Near the west side barn a number of haystacks stood and the garden was “sprawling with pumpkins, potatoes, and beans.” Just to the south of the farm was Miller’s 24-acre cornfield with “stalks higher than a man’s head” standing ready to harvest.
As the converging Union and Confederate armies neared Sharpsburg, Miller had his livestock driven to safety before they arrived, “all except one angry bull that refused to be herded”. The day before the battle, D.R. and his family left the farm and moved closer to safety at his father’s house on the other side of Houser’s Ridge. They made sure to take along the family’s pet parrot – Polly. As the fighting raged closer and the family moved into shelter, they realized that Polly was still in her cage on the porch. Just as D.R. ran out to rescue the petrified parrot on the porch, a shell fragment sliced through the leather strip and the cage fell to the ground as the squawking parrot cried, “Oh, poor Polly.”
While the Miller’s were sheltered at his father’s house, the battle raged back and forth across their farm, the fields and in the woods. Some of the most vicious fighting occurred in and around D.R. Miller’s cornfield. Gen. Hooker would write in his official report that, “every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battle-field”. When Miller and his family returned to their home, the field was exactly how Hooker had described it, “not a single stalk left standing”. D.R. Miller’s field would forever be known as The Cornfield.
During the battle Union casualties gathered at the farmstead, but were quickly moved to an established hospital further to the north. The days following the battle, Union burial details swept across Miller’s property, first to bury their comrades, than to bury the Confederates.
Surprisingly there was very little damage to the house and barn, only the blacksmith shop was destroyed. The crops in the fields were ruined and the stacks in and around the barn were used for the wounded and feeding the horses. David R. Miller filed a claim of $1,237.75 for damages of which he received $995.00 from the Federal government for his losses on July 6, 1872.
D.R. Miller and his family continued to live and work on the farm for the next twenty years. When Colonel John Miller died in 1882, he left a large amount of real estate, with eight children and no recorded will. This would place D. R. and Margaret against several of the other surviving heirs. After a bitter court battle it was agreed to sell the property and divide the money among the heirs. In November of 1882, 150 acres around the house and the farm buildings were put up for public sale. It is unclear what happened to the remaining 100 plus acres at the southern end of the property, but it is possible that they were parceled off and sold as well.
Eventually a year later, in November 1883, D.R. and Margaret purchased the farm they had been living on for almost forty years. A little over two years later they would sell the farm to Euromus Hoffman on March 29, 1886. Unfortunately the Miller’s did not enjoy a long retirement from the farm, for on November 13, 1888, Margaret passed away at the age of 63. D.R. survived until the age of 78, when he died on September 10 1893, almost thirty-one years after the battle. Margaret and David R. Miller rest together at the Mountain View Cemetery in Sharpsburg, near their neighbors, Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger.
The farm stayed within the descendants of the Hoffman family until 1933 when it was sold to John C. and Emma F. Poffenberger. In 1950, a widowed Emma Poffenberger would sell the farm to William and Lucy Barr who would only own it for two years before they sold the property to Paul and Evelyn Culler in 1952. On July 3, 1989, Paul Culler sold the farm to the Conservation Fund which would donate the property to the National Park Service in 1990.
Today, the D.R. Miller house has been stabilized and restored to its post-war appearance. A large portion of the farm is utilized by the National Park Service for their Living Farm program. The post-war outbuildings and fields are leased to local farmers to raise crops and livestock, generating some revenue but more importantly preserving the agricultural landscape of the battlefield.
The D.R. Miller farm was at the epicenter of the battle. According the a National Park Service ranger, the carnage here was some of the worst of the entire war. “There was a soldier killed or wounded every second for four hours straight”. This hallowed ground became the “bloodiest square mile in the history of the United States.” The D.R. Miller farmstead is a true eyewitness to history.
Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron, The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
Dresser, Michael, (September 13, 2012). 150 years later, Preservationists see victory at Antietam. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-antietam-anniversary-20120913-story.html.
Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
Downin, S. S., Survey of the property of George Poffenberger and Mrs. Nicodemus in Washington County, Md, 1883. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/item/2005625029/.
Gardner, Alexander, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Selected Civil War Photographs Collection, Washington, D.C., 1862. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?fi=name&q=Gardner%2C%20Alexander%2C%201821-1882
Reardon, Carol and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Antietam: experiencing the battlefield through history, places and people, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
Reed, Paula S., History Report: The D.R. Miller Farm, Hagerstown, MD: Preservation Associates, 1991: Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/anti/miller.pdf.
Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape, Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols, Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
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.
Antietam is said to be one of the most pristine and well preserved Civil War battlefields. When you look across the landscape little has changed since that fateful day of September 17, 1862. The preserved fencelines, 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 are caught up in the events swirling around the homes where for generations families lived, worked, played, and died. One of the most frequently asked questions from our guests is about the families that lived in and around Sharpsburg.
Each month we will explore one of the farmsteads at Antietam to help answer some of these questions: What did the farm look like? Who lived there before the battle? What did the families do during the battle? What happened to the families after the battle?
In the early 1700’s very few people lived west of Frederick. To induce immigrants into western Maryland, land was being offered at very low prices; and people with disposable wealth began to purchase large tracts of land. Since 1738, Joseph Chapline, Sr. had been acquiring hundreds of acres of land along the Potomac River through grants and purchases. When war with the French and Indians erupted in 1754, Chapline was called upon to assist his friend and Maryland Governor, Horatio Sharpe. As a Captain, Chapline would help finance and build forts along the frontier. For these efforts, Captain Chapline received over 10,000 acres adjacent to his existing estate from Governor Sharpe after the war in 1763. In honor of his good friend, Chapline established the town of Sharpes Burgh. Totaling more than 15,000 acres, or 24 square miles, in the Antietam Valley, Joseph Chapline was one of the largest landholders west of Frederick town.
Joseph Chapline died on January 8, 1769, and in his Last Will and Testament, the huge estate was divided among Joseph’s nine children. Just east of Chapline’s plantation estate, known as Mount Pleasant, lay a 1,484 acre tract called ‘Loss and Gain’ that was devised to his son, James Chapline (the Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead was originally part of the large estate). It is almost certain that it was occupied by a tenant when James inherited the property. Although there is no record, the architectural evidence indicates that the construction of the 1 1/2 story log house dates to 1770 with a 2nd story added circa 1790.
During this period James began leasing and selling family farm-sized tracts of 100 to 300 acres. Robert Smith purchased a number of these 100-acre tracts and in 1813 sold 272 acres to Christian Middlekauff. In addition to the house, the farm consisted of a shed, the wash house, and a wagon shed & corn crib. In 1820, Middlekauff’s daughter Rosanna married Daniel Finifrock and according to the census, it appears that Rosanna and Daniel moved onto the property. Over the next thirteen years they would have seven children together.
In 1828, Rosanna’s father, Christian Middlekauff died and her brother-in-law, David Neikirk was left in charge of the estate. The following year Neikirk sold the farm to Daniel, presumably to settle the estate. In 1833, Daniel mortgaged the property to his neighbor, Jacob Coffman, obtaining a $3,000 loan and given ten years to repay him. Several other structures were built around this time, suggesting that Daniel used the loan to pay for some improvements to the farm. The bank barn and equipment shed were built and an ice house and smokehouse were added completing the farm complex.
Tragedy struck that same year with Rosanna dying in August, followed by Daniel just two months later in October. With no disposition of the property recorded after the Finifrocks’ passing, it’s believed that the seven orphaned children remained on their parents farm for the next ten years. With the loan not satisfied, Jacob Coffman assumed ownership of the property in 1843. It’s possible that the Finifrock children remained for a while as tenants but by the 1850 census, Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger were living on the 124-acre farm.
On February 8, 1838, Joseph Poffenberger and Mary Ann Coffman were married. The youngest son of Adam Poffenberger, Joseph was born on July 26, 1812. Joseph’s grandfather, John was Washington County’s first resident with the Poffenberger name. As a skilled artisan, John operated blacksmith shops and forges which produced such a large volume of smoke, that the village built up around his works was called Smoke Town.
In 1852, Mary Ann’s father, Jacob Coffman sold his son-in-law the 124-acre area plus an additional 20 acres he had most likely parceled off his property along the Hagerstown turnpike to increase the farm to 144 acres. Over the next ten years, Joseph would increase the size of his farm to 166 acres. Mary Ann and Joseph had no children, but with the substantial number of Poffenbergers in the Sharpsburg and Washington County area, they would have taken in relatives in need. His nephew, Josiah Poffenberger is listed on the 1860 census as a farm hand and the couple also took in a young boy named Isaac Mallet. They had a tenant, Samuel Kretzer who most likely lived in a tenant house on the southwest corner of the property along the Hagerstown Turnpike.
Over the summer and into the fall of 1862, Joseph Poffenberger, like all of his neighbors had worked to harvest their crop of wheat, flax, corn and clover. Straw was stacked high in the barnyard and the produce from the orchard around the house filled Mary Ann’s cellar with “apple, peach, and plum butter, barrels of pickles and preserves of all kinds. Hundreds of pounds of smoked meat hung in the storehouse, and there was even a barrel of whiskey.” Unfortunately they would not stay to enjoy the fruits of their labor knowing that Union and Confederate forces were quickly approaching Sharpsburg.
Before leaving the farm Joseph moved all his horses and locked up the storehouses and cellars. It is unclear where the Poffenbergers went during the battle but with both having family in the area they may have stayed with relatives at a nearby farm. By the afternoon of September 16, the Union First Corps occupied the whole Poffenberger farm, with artillery taking up positions on the ridge directly behind the house. Major General Joseph Hooker, the First Corps commander, made his headquarters in the barn as the battle erupted in the East Woods at the southern edge of the Poffenberger property. As day broke on the morning of the 17th, Confederate artillery fire from batteries on Nicodemus Heights and near the Dunker Church began raining down on the Union positions. As the battle ebbed and flowed to the south through D.R. Miller’s cornfield, the Union First Corps soldiers found themselves back where they started twelve hours before; at the Poffenberger farmstead.
When Joseph returned that evening he recalled, “… my house it was completely empty. I had nothing left. I lived on army crackers that I found on the battlefield for five days.” The damage was significant according to Jacob Eakle, who visited shortly after the fighting ended, and he stated the “farm was a perfect wreck after the battle, crops destroyed, house riddle and every thing taken out.” The most significant damage occurred in the days after the battle as Union soldiers plundered his farmstead using his fields for horse’s of the army’s wagon trains, taking up the fences for firewood, and carrying off forty-ton of straw and hay for army stock and bedding for soldiers.
The Union army encamped on the farm until October 20, 1862, and used up the resources that Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger had stored for the coming winter months. According to Poffenberger’s claim against the Federal government, his losses included:
• 500 bushels of wheat
• 60 bushels of rye
• 150 bushels of oats
• 80 bushels of potatoes
• 20 tons of hay
• 240 pounds of bacon
• 28 acres plus 200 bushels of old corn
• 18 loads of fodder
• 14 tons of straw
• 20 acres of pasture
• 7 beef cattle
• 20 swine
• 13 sheep
• 5 cords of hickory wood
• 7 cords of oak wood
• over 5,350 fence rails (described as a worm fence, nine rails to the panel),
• 50 bushels of apples
• 4 four barrels of cider
• 4 bushels of peaches
• grapes on the vine
• 2 bushels of dried cherries and plums
• 10 gallons each apple, plum and peach butter
This claim of $2,277.55 was “disallowed” by the government “because the proof of the stores and supplies was insufficient” and they were “not convinced that the stores and supplies were actually taken and used by the United States Army.” Joseph would go to his grave without receiving reimbursement from the government. Five years after his death in May 1893, Lawson W. Poffenberger, the executor of Joseph’s estate was awarded $1918.00 for a resubmitted claim of $2,721.50.
The greatest loss of the Poffenberger family would be the death of Mary Ann, just two years later, on August 12, 1864. Like many of Sharpsburg residents, it is possible that her death was a result of the rampant disease that took many of Mary Ann’s neighbors following the battle. Joseph never remarried but continued to live and work on his farm. With help from his nephew Alfred Poffenberger, who had leased the Mary Grove Locher farm in the West Woods at the time of the battle, Joseph was able to increase production and add another 28 acres to the farm.
By 1880, Alfred had moved to Iowa and Joseph turned over the operation of the farm to his nephew, Otho J. Poffenberger and his wife Elizabeth. Joseph would move to the tenant house to allow Otho and Elizabeth room in the main house to raise their children.
Joseph Poffenberger passed away on June 13, 1888 at the age of 76. Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger rest together at the Mountain View Cemetery in Sharpsburg.
Otho had purchased the farm, updating the house and building on a rear addition. In 1895, the War Department purchased property from Otho in order to build a tour road known as Mansfield Avenue, which allowed for the placement of monuments, tablets and markers.
Otho would continue to live and manage the farm until his death in 1932, when his son, Joseph W. Poffenberger purchased the farm. In 1944, Joseph and his wife Bertha deeded the property over to Elmer L. Poffenberger who would later sell the farm to Fred and Renee Kramer in 1966. The last transfer of the Joseph Poffenberger farmstead occurred on June 8, 2000 when the National Park Service purchased the property from the Kramer’s. Since that time the Park Service has stabilized the structures and restored the landscape to its post-war appearance. Like the other farmsteads throughout the battlefield, the Poffenberger farm is an eyewitness to history.
Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
Maryland Historical Trust, Joseph R. Poffenberger Farm, WA-II-279, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, 24 January 2017
Tuomi, Suanne, One REALLY Big Family!: Information about John Poffenberger, 25 January 2017
U.S. National Park Service, Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead Cultural Landscape Inventory, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2007.
Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
Looking for an excuse to extend your stay? No matter what the season, we’ve got you covered! From Sharpsburg to Shepherdstown, Boonsboro to Hagerstown, there are plenty of things to do, featuring everything from theater arts to festivals to the awe-inspiring luminaries at Antietam. This Top 10 list of “Must-See” events is a great starting point for planning your ‘Bucket List’ of activities during your stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.
The Washington County Playhouse is a wonderful gem in downtown Hagerstown offering intimate dinner theater featuring various plays & musicals, plus shows for children. The productions are vibrant and well produced and the actors are also your waitstaff. Dinner includes a full buffet and salad bar and the drinks are fun and have theater themes. A little piece of Broadway, right here in Hagerstown! Definitely a MUST-SEE!
This year’s lineup includes:
Mel Brooks’ The Producers January 21 – February 25
Steel Magnolias March 17 – April 22
Dial M For Murder May 5 – June 10
Lerner And Loewe’s Gigi – The Broadway Musical June 30 – August 5
The Addams Family – A New Musical Comedy September 9 – October 29
A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story Of Christmas November 17 – December 16
Held every April at Fort Frederick State Park, Big Pool MD.
Come to historic Fort Frederick, an original stone fort built in 1756 during the French and Indian War, and travel back in time to an authentic 18th century market fair. A whiff of campfires fills the air and colorful entertainers are found strolling about the fair. Visit sutlers (period vendors) selling 18th century wares: pottery, tin and copper ware, clothing, material and patterns, books, fireplace and cooking hardware, muskets and accoutrements, paintings and prints, lanterns and other camp gear, etc. See hundreds of fair-goers of all ages dressed in colonial clothing: artisans, soldiers, ladies & gentlemen, Native Americans, longhunters, traders, servants, etc. With free entertainment for all this fair is a MUST-SEE!
Held the first weekend after Memorial Day in Hagerstown, MD.
The Western Maryland Blues Fest serves up an annual community celebration centered around one of America’s most enduring musical forms – “The Blues.” Set amidst raw-boned guitar riffs and emotionally charged vocals, Blues Fest represents a unique partnership between City government, event volunteers and local business sponsors as they team together to present four incredible days of musical entertainment and family fun. A very musical MUST-SEE!
Held the first Saturday of July near Sharpsburg, MD.
Since 1986 the Maryland Symphony Orchestra has presented a free “Salute to Independence” Concert at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD. The evening concert attracts nearly 30,000 people from all over and is capped off by a spectacular fireworks display, one of the largest in the region. The “Salute” has been billed as “Maryland’s Most Patriotic Event” and “One of the top 100 Events in North America”. Absolutely a MUST-SEE!
Held during the month of July in Shepherdstown, WV.
Founded in 1991, the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) is a professional, nonprofit theater company hosted on the campus of Shepherd University. It focuses on new works by American playwrights, most often premiers, or second and third productions. Each July, it presents five new plays in a rotating repertory, accompanied by free workshops, talks and discussions. In 2015, The New York Times recognized CATF as one of “50 Essential Summer Festivals.”
Several plays which originated at the Festival (like Stickfly, Uncanny Valley, H20, The Insurgents, and Dead and Breathing) have been staged on or Off-Broadway. Farragut North–by Beau Willimon, the mastermind behind House of Cards–was produced by CATF in 2009 and later adapted for the silver screen as The Ides of March. Clearly a MUST-SEE!
Held the second weekend in November – Shepherdstown & Jefferson County, WV.
Start your Christmas Shopping during the annual Over the Mountain Studio Tour. Visit 10 different studios showcasing the works of 25 juried artisans. The show includes Stained Glass, Silver Art Jewelry, Blacksmithing, Woodcarving, Heirloom Baskets, Pottery, and Wooden Toys and more. Including live demonstrations, snacks, and wares for sale this tour is completely free! Unmistakably a MUST-SEE!
Held late August in Hagerstown, MD.
The annual Augustoberfest pays tribute to the area’s rich German heritage and supports scholarships for exchange students to Hagerstown’s Sister City—Wesel, Germany. This exciting event is run by the nonprofit organization, the Augustoberfest Charitable Foundation. Augustoberfest is a two-day festival that boasts festivities found at traditional Oktoberfest celebrations in Bavaria. The attendance of this event has doubled in size over the last few years and is becoming one of the most anticipated festivals in Washington County. Clearly a MUST-SEE!
Held the second weekend of September in Boonsboro, MD.
Sponsored by the Boonsboro Historical Society, Boonesborough Days is a festival devoted to showcasing handmade crafts by more then 150 venders. Browse through historic and picturesque Shafer Park and shop for traditional and Early American handmade crafts, paintings and unique gifts. Experience demonstrations of colonial candle making as well as age old skills of blacksmithing, chair caning, basket weaving, broom, soap and pottery making. The festival also features a Civil War display with artifacts, the Tri State Astronomers, horse-drawn wagon rides, great food and a classic and antique car show on Sunday. A really fun MUST-SEE!
Held the end of September in Shenandoah Junction (Harpers Ferry), WV
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce invites you to come and enjoy the Mountain Heritage Arts & Craft Festival in the rolling countryside of Jefferson County, WV. Leisurely stroll among the tents as you admire the many crafts, fine arts, and wine. Meet approximately 200 artisans and craftspersons carefully selected and prejudged, demonstrating and showcasing their work at this nationally acclaimed festival. Enjoy listening to the best live bluegrass music, taste wines from the area’s foremost wineries and enjoy the many varieties of food that are available. Clearly a MUST-SEE!
Held the first Saturday of December at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD.
On the first Saturday of December for over 25 years volunteers spend the day placing luminaries along the park roads and the rolling hills of the Antietam National Battlefield. By twilight, 23,110 luminaries will be lit, one for each soldier who was killed, wounded or missing during the bloodiest day in the American Civil War. The free 5 mile driving tour is the largest memorial illumination in North America. The first Illumination was held in 1988. Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, will host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. A very touching MUST-SEE!
Check your calendar and make your reservations now so that you can be sure to include one of these MUST-SEE events during you stay at the Inn!
A New Year usually brings with it both a sense of reflection and the possibility of change and, for us, 2016 was no exception. We entered our second year of Innkeeping last January with a lot of big plans for the Inn, and we wanted to finish the year by looking back and celebrating all of the events and changes that took place.
From all of us at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn: “THANK YOU!” Thank you for your business, friendship, loyalty, and support in 2016 and we look forward to seeing you again in 2017!
As you drive through the Antietam National Battlefield you will see the monuments across the low rolling hills, in woodlots, along cornfields and old farm roads. They are dedicated to the men who fought here over 150 years ago. You may wonder, how are we connected to the past through these monuments in our backyard? Here is the story of one connection.
September 17 marks the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. An estimated 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of some of the most savage fighting of the Civil War. The Battle of Antietam ended General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North and led to the issuance of President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
For many Union soldiers, Antietam would be their first sting of battle or ‘baptism of fire’. For one young man named Henry Vincent it would be his first such action. Henry was born on Christmas Day, 1844, in England. In 1852, his father Job immigrated with his family to America where they settled in Montour County near Danville, Pennsylvania. Henry worked in the local roller mills from the age of ten until he answered President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more volunteers in July 1862.
Henry enlisted in the Danville Fencibles, which was comprised of men mostly from the Danville Iron Works. By mid August, they joined other recruited companies from Wyoming, Bradford, Carbon, Luzerne and Columbia counties at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg where they were mustered into service as a ‘nine-month regiment’ and organized as Company A, 132nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. Richard A. Oakford of Luzerne County was appointed colonel of the regiment and within days the regiment was moved to the front on the outskirts of Washington. For the next two weeks the regiment encamped near Fort Corcoran, just across the Potomac, where they drilled intensely amidst the sound of the guns from the plains of Manassas.
On September 7, 1862, Henry and the men of the 132nd marched twenty-two miles in seven hours to Rockville, Maryland, which was an amazing feat for any regiment, especially a green one. Here the 132nd was assigned to Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball’s First Brigade alongside of three veteran regiments, the 8th Ohio, 7th West Virginia and the 14th Indiana. The First Brigade was part of the Maj. Gen. William H. French’s Third Division of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner’s Second Corps in the reorganized Army of the Potomac under the command of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan.
Once they joined the ranks of the Army of the Potomac there was no rest for the regiment. Just days before, Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland and now McClellan was moving to intercept Lee. By September 13, Henry’s regiment had marched to an open field near Frederick, MD to bivouac for the night. The same field had been occupied by Confederate soldiers a few nights before as the rebel army was on the move to South Mountain and McClellan was on their tail. The next day the regiment was on the march again. By the time they reached Fox’s Gap on the evening of the 14th, the battle for South Mountain was over, with the exception of some artillery batteries firing back and forth at each other. It was here that Henry and his fellow comrades would witness the sight of their first dead soldiers, an image that would stay with them the rest of their lives.
On the morning of September 15, the Army of the Potomac began their “chase” of the rebel army through the gaps of South Mountain as they marched toward the small village of Sharpsburg. The next day the regiment made its way to Keedysville, along the Antietam Creek, where it bivouacked for the night in preparation for the next day’s battle. That evening the camp was still–no singing or fires, except to make some coffee. As one man from the regiment wrote, ‘Letters were written home–many of them last words–and quiet talks were had, and promises made between comrades.’ Colonel Oakford had asked his adjutant to ensure the regimental rosters were complete for ‘We shall not all be here to-morrow night.’ That night a light rain fell as they lay on the ground under their gum blankets.
The next morning on September 17, the men quickly awoke to the simple call from their sergeant or corporal. They were on the march about 6:00am, wading across the waist deep Antietam Creek. Soon the cannonading and the shrieking of shells could be heard. One veteran wrote they knew they were approaching the ‘debatable ground’ when they heard the rattle of musketry which sounded ‘like the rapid pouring of shot upon a tinpan, or the tearing of heavy canvas, with slight pauses interspersed with single shots.’ The Second Corps had been ordered into battle in an effort to turn the Confederate left flank and assist the Twelfth Corps near the West Woods. Maj. Gen. Sumner had escorted his lead division, under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, on the attack as French’s division was directed to support on the left flank. When Sedgwick’s division came into contact in the West Woods, Gen. Summer had sent French orders to press the attack toward the Sunken Road. French had moved to the south of Sedgwick’s attack and ran into Confederate skirmishers near the swales around William Roulette’s farm. Seeing an opportunity for a fight he ordered his men forward.
As the men of the 132nd were ordered into line of battle behind the other two brigades of French’s division, they were marching past the Roulette farm when a shot from a Confederate battery slammed into the Roulette’s yard. The men quickly moved through the yard trampling over the family garden and smashing into some white crates in the yard which were the Roulette’s bee hives. The annoyed bees engulfed the regiment. Some men dropped their muskets and ran into nearby fields, while others slapped their clothes and batted at the angry honey bees. In the meantime, more Confederate artillery shells and bullets were finding their marks among the Union troops. One soldier wrote, “Soldiers were rolling in the grass, running, jumping, and ducking.” Concerned that the hysteria that gripped the 132nd could rapidly spread to wholesale panic among the rest of the brigade, Brig. Gen. Kimball barked out a “double quick” order allowing the Pennsylvanians to advance past the Roulette farm and eventually outdistance the bees.
Kimball’s staff and regimental officers hurried to rally the regiment back into battle lines with the rest of the brigade. The regiment advanced across open fields toward the Sunken Road just to the east, the lane that led to the Roulette farm. They were slightly to the rear between the two smaller veteran regiments of the 8th Ohio and the 7th West Virginia. As they crested the hill the Confederates opened with a terrific volley of musketry that brought down many of the Union line. Colonel Oakford died in the first volley from a minie ball that struck an artery in his left shoulder. Henry’s own First Sergeant, 1st Sgt J. M. Hassenplug was killed. With no cover from the fire, the 132nd was ordered to lie down and crawl toward the Rebel lines below the crest of the ridge where they reloaded and fired individually. One soldier that was next to the adjutant, “inadvertently stood up, a minie ball struck his rifle in the forestock and prostrated him. Regaining his senses, the fellow discovered he was only bruised. He picked up another gun and returned to the line.”
The regiment held their ground as the men of Maj. Gen. Israel B. Richardson’s division came up to support their attack. The famed Irish Brigade continued the assault past the 132nd toward the Rebels. To their left flank another Union brigade was able to hit the flank of the Confederate line seizing a knoll overlooking the Sunken Road forcing the Rebels to withdraw.
Seeing them run, the men of the 132nd rose up and pursued the Rebels into the lane. Richardson’s brigades pursued the retreating Confederates toward Sharpsburg until Confederate Generals James Longstreet and D.H Hill personally led a counterattack with artillery and 200 men. Richardson was forced to withdraw back to the lane.
The fighting around the Sunken Road had ended around one o’clock. The men of the 132nd continued to hold the line the rest of the day and into the next. According to the official report after the battle, they had taken over 750 men into battle; thirty men were killed, one-hundred and fourteen wounded and eight were missing from the ranks. At least thirty of the wounded would die from their wounds within days after the battle. More than 5,600 casualties were inflicted on both sides around the Sunken Road. The carnage was so horrifying that the Sunken Road would be forever known as the ‘Bloody Lane’.
As for Henry Vincent, he made it through his ‘baptism of fire’ unscathed. According to the county history, “his coat sleeve was completely shot off at Antietam.” Henry would continue to serve with the 132nd and participate at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was promoted to Corporal in March 1863 and was mustered out with Company A on May 24, 1863. Henry returned home to Danville, to become a successful businessman, lawyer and a father to eight children. He was an active member in both the 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Regimental Association and the Goodrich Post No. 22, of the Grand Army of the Republic until he passed away in 1916.
For many of us, the monuments in our backyard connect us to the past. The 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment monument at the Sunken Road and Henry Vincent, will forever be my connection to the Battle of Antietam, as Henry was my great-great-grandfather.
Our goal at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn is to provide every guest with warm hospitality, comfortable accommodations, and gracious service. Before you book your stay with us, take a moment to read what our past guests have to say about their stay. We know you won’t be disappointed.
We would highly recommend the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. We’ve traveled all over the world and stayed in a variety of places – yours was a top spot. – Reviewed by Barbara & Chris, March 2017 via Thank You note.
My husband, daughter, and I were driving home from a college visit and decided to stay in Antietam. Amy and Chris took us in at the last minute and it was wonderful!! We had the inn (and innkeepers and puppy dogs) to ourselves. We fell in love with the Harper’s Ferry room; it was perfect for our family of 3. We had ice cream at Nutter’s and then settled in for the night. Breakfast was delicious with fruit, scones, egg casserole, cheese toast, herbed tomatoes, sausage, and juice. Once we got home my daughter said her favorite part of the trip was sitting in the common room with Amy Monday night drinking tea and talking and playing with Maya and Zoey. We’ve already booked a return trip for April. See you soon Amy and Chris (and Maya and Zoey)!!! – Reviewed by Mary, January 2017 via Facebook.
Beautiful place, amazing food and wonderful owners. Kid and dog friendly. – Reviewed by Mary, January 2017 via Facebook.
Beautiful Inn operated by Amy and Chris Vincent – great place to stay and enjoy comfortable pampered lodgings and outstanding breakfasts. Thank you for hosting our veterans. – Reviewed by Sharon, November 2016 via Facebook.
What a great experience the four of us had at the Jacob Rohrbach B&B during our stay Oct 28th, 29th and 30th of this year. The Owner’s Chris and Amy were everything great Innkeepers you hope and expect from a stay at a great B&B. Clean, beautifully decorated throughout inside and for Halloween a bonus of outside tasteful decorations that not only delighted the guests but the Town of Sharpsburg’s residents. Breakfast were especially unique with creations of homemade scones, biscuits, egg casserole, French toast, apple bacon sliced thick from local butchers, your choice of juices and fresh fruit especially prepared to complement your complete breakfast. Their knowledge and recommendations for seeing the area history of the Antietam Battlefields were extremely helpful especially with Chris’ history and involvement with volunteering. They provided excellent recommendations for area restaurants that included their special ice cream parlor there in town. We will be sure to return for another visit to these wonderful folks. – Reviewed by Bob, Debbie, Bill & Susan, October 2016 via Facebook.
Thanks you for all your hospitality and delicious food. Added pleasure – Maya & Zoey! – Reviewed by Marianne & Perry, October 2016 via Guest Survey.
The hosts Amy and Chris are amazing and the food is excellent. Highly recommend! Reviewed by Dana, October 2016 via Facebook.
We enjoyed our stay at this lovely inn. Chris and Amy made us feel right at home. Our room, the General’s Quarters, was wonderful. Breakfast was delicious along with the afternoon cookies- even accommodating my ovo-vegetarian diet.The inn is conveniently located to all the historical sites. I highly recommend this inn for a getaway! – Reviewed by Stacy, October 2016 via Facebook.
Excellent, Hospitable Welcoming, well worth a Second Visit, Need I say more, First Class. – Reviewed by Catherine, October 2016 via Facebook.
We recently arrived home from our seven week odyssey and have to say that the evening at your Inn and the tour of the Battlefield with you were highlights on our trip. Thank you so much for the hospitality the accommodations, and your incredible knowledge and presentation of the Battle. – Reviewed by Rebecca, September 2016 via email.
It is a wonderful place to stay and the breakfast is outstanding. – Reviewed by Christina, September 2016 via Facebook.
Great place with great history! The hosts (including the dogs) are very accommodating. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Dan, September 2016 via Facebook.
We just spent 3 days here for my husbands 60th Birthday. Love the Inn and its hosts Chris & Amy. They were so welcoming and accommodating. Atmosphere and food were awesome. The location sets right in the middle of this historic area and adds to your experience. My husband is a Civil War enthusiast and his friend Ken, who also is, and Peg from North Carolina came to stay here for two days and tour Antietam Battlefield. A great time was had by all. – Reviewed by Donna, August 2016 via Facebook.
Wonderful stay, cordial hosts, delicious breakfast & interesting battle discussion. It was a comfort to return to the Rohrbach Inn after the sadness of the Antietam Battlefield tour. The rooms are lovely and luxurious without being froo-froo. Hosts Chris and Amy are cordial with smiles and conversation, skillful with a delicious breakfast, and interesting with a vast knowledge of the Civil War. We’d go again in a heartbeat if we didn’t live 1,000 miles away. Come to think of it, we might come anyway and stay longer. – Reviewed by Kate & Julien, August 2016 via Guest Survey/Facebook.
My husband and I just spent a night at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn and we were blown away by the experience. The room was immaculate and expertly decorated and the breakfast was absolutely delicious. The best part of the experience by far was the warm and welcoming Innkeepers, Chris and Amy. You can really tell that they put love into every aspect of the Inn. We will definitely be booking at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in the future. Reviewed by Felicia, August 2016 via Facebook.
My wife and I just returned home after spending 3 delightful nights at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg, Md. The Inn is comfortable and very cozy, centrally located, and the innkeepers are the best. If you love history, and want to stay at a historic property close to the Antietam battlefield and Harpers Ferry, you need to come to Sharpsburg, Md. and definitely stay with Chris and Amy at their Inn! By the way, breakfast is delicious! Reviewed by Allen, August 2016 via Facebook.
My husband and I just returned from a weekend stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. Our stay could not have been more delightful! The inn itself is brimming with historical character and lovely gardens. And Amy and Chris, the owners and hosts, are totally charming and really good cooks! – Reviewed by Dee, July 2016 via Facebook.
Our stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn was relaxing and delightful all around. During our most recent trips to Maryland to visit our daughter, we stayed in hotels. Our time at the B&B was much more of a vacation. My husband loved the multi-course gourmet breakfasts and we enjoyed the quiet atmosphere. The covered deck was perfect for early morning reading or a glass of wine at the end of the day. The beautiful gardens, historic attractions, and charming main street were also highlights of our trip … and the sweet and friendly little dogs were an added treat. – Reviewed by Carolyn & Tom, June 2016 via Guest Survey.
We stayed for a weekend with our daughter. An amazing inn and an amazing home cooked breakfast everyday. Great location and so beautiful! A must stay!! Reviewed by Susie, June 2016 via Facebook.
We highly recommend this beautiful B&B as a great place to start our exploration of the National Park and the surrounding historic area. The Inn Keepers, Amy and Chris, are great hosts providing comfortable beds, lots of Civil War reading material, a full snack bar, lovely grounds and delicious breakfast. Reviewed by Janet, June 2016 via Facebook.
A great place to stay with wonderful hosts, Amy and Chris. – Reviewed by Bill, June 2016 via Facebook.
Could not be happier with lovely rooms and grounds of the Inn. We enjoyed our stay very much and are booked to return in July. Our enjoyment of the surrounding was only exceeded by the graciousness of our host and hostess. – Reviewed by Anna, June 2016
We loved our stay at the Inn! The innkeepers were amazing, friendly and knowledgeable and the food was awesome. It was perfectly secluded for our wedding night in the General’s quarters. I would recommend this place to anyone. It was a night I will never forget and I’m glad that we spent it here. – Reviewed by Holly, June 2016 via Facebook.
First stay at a B&B and loved it, very personalized service. Rooms are nice size, Civil war memorabilia everywhere gives it a nice unique flavor. And breakfast of cherry and chocolate scone, strawberries and blackberries, with egg soufflé and bacon was delicious. Will be back. – Reviewed by Debbie, June 2016 via Facebook.
A beautiful, bed and breakfast, the room was outstanding, we chose the General’s Quarters. The owners are friendly and attentive, ask about food allergies, 24 hour beverages and snacks. Wonderful experience, highly recommend. – Reviewed by Dee H. May 2016 via Facebook.
The accommodations, food and location are excellent. Chris made us feel welcomed from the start. We look forward to returning in the future. – Reviewed by Gina, May 2016 via Facebook.
We had a wonderful stay! It was the perfect getaway for our anniversary. We have stayed in a few B&Bs, this is our favorite! Loved the outside entrance from the rooms and breakfast was delicious! – Reviewed May 2015 via Guest Survey.
Amazing place with wonderful accommodations! Innkeepers Amy & Chris are a delight and very knowledgeable about the area. Breakfast was outstanding!!! I would recommend this place in a heartbeat!! – Reviewed by Kathleen, March 2015 via Facebook.
Lovely, comfortable rooms, friendly innkeeper, Chris and Amy. Great breakfasts, beautiful grounds. We enjoyed our stay there very much. – Reviewed by Kathy, April 2015 via Facebook.
Summer Lecture Series
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, August 24th , Dr. Tom Clemens will present his Summer Lecture Series talk on “Ezra Carman and the Battlefield”. No single person has had more effect on the Antietam Battlefield than Ezra Carman. A veteran of the battle, he was hired in 1896 as “historical expert” to create the maps, layout the tour route, mark the points of special interest and create a “pamphlet” to guide the government in future modifications to the battlefield. His “pamphlet” became an 1,800 page manuscript providing the most detailed account of the campaign ever written. It is the guide still today for most histories of the battle. He also authored all the cast iron tablets seen on the field today, using official and private sources, and amassing over 2,800 accounts from veterans of the battle. Although at times imperfect, his work on Antietam still guides us today.
These Wednesday evening programs are free and open to the public. They will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn at 7:oo p.m. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit around the event tent. In case of inclement weather talks will be moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.
Looking for a relaxing and enjoyable bed and breakfast experience? Come visit the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg, Maryland. An eyewitness to history since 1804, this historic Bed & Breakfast is located near the Antietam Battlefield and provides large comfortable rooms, friendly hospitality, free wifi, and a 24hr coffee station loaded with cookies and snacks! Come stay with us to experience the Civil War, explore the outdoors, discover your new favorite restaurant, tour a great winery, or just sit back and unwind at the end of the day.
Watch our new video and see how the Jacob Rohrbach Inn offers the perfect destination for a vacation to remember.
We would like to take this opportunity to invite each of you to a unique Civil War experience. Learn about the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the single bloodiest day in American military history through the “Maryland, My Maryland” tour package hosted by the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.
“Maryland, My Maryland” – Confederate soldiers enthusiastically sang this tune as they crossed over the Potomac River into Maryland in September 1862. Thus began Robert E. Lee’s first Southern invasion into the North. Less than two weeks later, his army was glad to be back in Virginia after the devastating Battle of Antietam.
We have recently partnered with the Antietam Battlefield Guides to provide a special tour package for small groups. The Antietam Battlefield Guides are a group of historians dedicated to providing outstanding interpretive tours of the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Led by Chief Guide Jim Rosebrock, the list of guides includes renowned authors such as Tom Clemens, Gordon Damman, John Hoptak, Justin Mayhue, John Priest, Joe Stahl, Steven Stotelmyer, and John Schildt.
During your three night stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, you will follow in the footsteps of the Blue & Gray as you journey to South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam and Shepherdstown. Certified by the National Park Service, the Antietam Battlefield Guides will provide a historically accurate and compelling interpretation of the events, personalities, and major themes of the Maryland Campaign of 1862.
Your Civil War tour package includes:
• Historian guided tour of the Maryland Campaign including “off the beaten path” locations.
• Tour transportation provided by first class air-conditioned motor coach
• 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner and a Welcome Reception
• Maps, handouts and tour packet
• All entrance fees to museums and attractions
• Civil War era wet plate photography demonstration
• Private tour of the Pry House Field Hospital Museum
• Unique evening dining in historic locations
• Free time for shopping at local boutiques
• 10% Discount at the JRI Gift Shop
The price of this tour package is only $425 per person and is offered once a month from March thru November. A minimum of six participants is required per tour. Tour package does not include cost of accommodations. All room rates are double occupancy and current rates can be found on our website. We offer a 10% room discount for participants staying four nights or longer.
Being centrally located in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage area, the Inn provides a great location as a base of operations to explore additional Civil War sites. Winchester and Gettysburg are just an hour away, with Manassas and Washington, only an hour and a half drive. All are perfect for an additional day trip during your stay.
To request your brochure and more information about this exclusive Civil War tour package email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find Your Park
The National Park Service turns 100 years old this year and everyone is invited to take part in the celebration!
The centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs by inviting you to Find Your Park.
Over the next year we’ll help you Find Your Park and discover the national parks and programs here in our own backyard!
This month we are featuring the Antietam National Battlefield. Antietam is located in Sharpsburg just one mile from the Inn. It commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862.
The Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest one day battle in American history. During that one fateful day, more than 23,110 men were killed, wounded, or listed as missing. Approximately 4,000 were killed, and in the days that followed, many, many more died of wounds or disease. The peaceful village of Sharpsburg turned into one vast hospital and burial ground extending for miles in all directions. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion of the North and led to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
The park was established by the War Department as Antietam National Battlefield Site on August 30, 1890. At that time the park was centered around the Antietam National Cemetery, but the War Department would create the park roads which are still used today with over 300 tablets scattered throughout the battlefield to mark the location of different parts of each army during the battle. With the creation of these park roads many veterans returned for reunions and to place monuments for their regiment or states to commemorate their sacrifices here. There are 96 monuments at Antietam. An Observation Tower was built in 1896 as an open-air classroom for military study. Today the tower provides a commanding 360 degree view of the rural agricultural landscape for visitors just as it did at the turn of the century.
The park was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. Since that time the park has expanded its boundary to over 3,000 acres which include the Dunker Church, the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge and many of the pre-war farmsteads like the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. This expansion helped make Antietam one of the best preserved battlefields in America.
In 1962 the Visitor Center was constructed with an Observation deck from which you can see 2/3 of the battlefield. You can explore the museum exhibits about the battle and the Civil War, watch a short orientation film or listen to a park ranger interpretive talk at the Visitor Center. The visitor center is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
You can experience the rural landscape, much unchanged since 1862, by hiking one of Antietam’s ten trails. An audio tour is available for purchase to accompany the self-guided 8.5-mile driving tour of the battlefield with eleven stops. The best way to fully understand and appreciate the Battle of Antietam is to book a tour with the Antietam Battlefield Guides by the book store. This group of devoted historians will provide you with a complete historical interpretation of the battle and the Maryland Campaign.
There are always special events and activities happening at the park. Volunteers are out every weekend to assist visitors, and there are often living history programs. Each July the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s Salute to Independence Concert is held at the battlefield to celebrate July 4th. The first weekend of December the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those 23,110 soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. These two events are a must-see; so be sure to add them to your bucket list.
Now get out and Find Your Park, visit the Antietam National Battlefield.
The Antietam Battlefield Guides is a group of devoted students of the history of the Maryland Campaign who provide historical interpretive services to the public. Successful guides demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Maryland Campaign history and possess the outstanding interpersonal and communication skills needed to guide members of the public around the battlefield. All guides successfully pass a detailed written examination and an evaluation of their interpersonal and communicative skills before joining the program.
NEWEST ANTIETAM GUIDE
The latest member to join the ranks of this esteem group of historians is our very own Innkeeper! Born and raised in Benton, Pennsylvania, a small farming community much like Sharpsburg, Chris enlisted and began his adventure in the U.S. Army in 1984. His 24-year career was spent in and around light infantry units like the 10th Mountain Division, the 25th Infantry Division, and the 101st Airborne Division including combat operations during the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) and Kosovo. During his career as a senior non-commissioned officer, he held a variety of leadership and staff positions at all levels.
Chris holds an undergraduate history degree from Excelsior College and a Master’s Degree in Military History from the American Military University. Upon his military retirement Chris continued to serve as a defense contractor for both the Army and the Navy. After moving to Maryland he started to volunteer with the National Park Service at the Antietam National Battlefield as a Battlefield Ambassador throughout the park. Chris was recently recognized as a member of the Volunteer Master Ranger Corps. Over the years he has led military staff rides and guided scout groups on hikes across Shiloh, Chickamauga, Manassas, Gettysburg and Antietam.
After successful passing the written exam in the spring of 2014, Chris’s preparation and practice for the final evaluation was put on a temporary hold while we were pursuing the purchase of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, Bed & Breakfast.
Chris’s interest in the American Civil War and the Battle of Antietam in particular occurred many years ago when he was told the story of a young man named Henry.
In August of 1862, Henry, who was from Montour County, Pennsylvania answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 300,000 nine-month militia. Henry enlisted in the ‘Danville Fencibles’ which was comprised of men mostly from the Danville Iron Works. Before the end of the month they were mustered into service as Company A, 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment and in defensive works outside Washington.
With General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate invasion into Maryland, they were quickly assigned to Brigadier General Nathan Kimball’s First Brigade, 3rd Division, Second Army Corps, alongside three veteran regiments. In just over a week’s time Henry and the 132nd Pennsylvania would receive their ‘baptism of fire’ fighting for a Sunken Road among the fields and farmsteads that reminded them so much of home.
Henry survived the battle at Antietam as well as the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville unscathed. After being mustered out he returned home to Danville to become a successful businessman, farmer, and family man. This story was passed down to Chris through the generations, as Henry Vincent was his great-great-grandfather.
BOOK A TOUR
Come join Chris at the Antietam National Battlefield to walk the Sunken Road and the pristine countryside to hear the stories of other men like Henry Vincent and understand their experience during the bloodiest day in American history.
If you would like to schedule a battlefield tour with Chris or one of our other outstanding Antietam Battlefield Guides you can call the Inn or you can call the museum store located at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor’s Center, at 301-432-4329.
There are so many wonderful things to do during an Antietam Christmas Season in our area. Check out this small sampling of events happening over the next few months. As the saying goes, “There is no place like home for the holidays”, and the Jacob Rohrbach Inn is your perfect home away from home. Make sure to book your stay today to experience the many holiday festivities.
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
The Town of Sharpsburg will ring in the holiday season with an enchanting tree lighting ceremony. The magic in the air, colorful lights and the festive sounds of the season will be put you in the holiday spirit. There is also a rumor the Good Ole’ St. Nick may pay a visit to good girls and boys. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments and fun with your neighbors! This event will be held in the town square on Friday, December 9.
THE TRAINS OF CHRISTMAS
Do you remember the old train you had around your Christmas tree as a kid? At the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, you can reminisce and show your children what Christmas’ were like for you as a kid. “The Visions, Sounds and Snows of Christmas Past and Present” features an “O” scale, 3-rail Christmas layout with steam and diesel trains by Lionel, MTH, Williams, Weaver, and others operating in a snow scene ON FOUR LEVELS! You’ll also see new construction on the “O” scale, plus additions to the Miniature Western Maryland Roundhouse on the “HO” trains – All in full operation! Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 1-5 p.m.
AN ANTIETAM CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE
After twelve fabulous years of Cowboy Christmas, Antietam Recreation is pleased to bring you an all-new holiday experience. Complete with thousands of lights, picturesque decorations, a home-style feast and award-winning vocalists and dancers, this evening is the perfect way to celebrate the season with family and friends. They will have you laughing and crying as they explore the wonder of Christmases past and are reminded of the hope yet to come. The Christmas Experience
ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD MEMORIAL ILLUMINATION
On the first Saturday of December for over 25 years volunteers spend the day placing luminaries along the park roads and the rolling hills of the Antietam National Battlefield. By twilight, 23,110 luminaries will be lit, one for each soldier who was killed, wounded or missing during the bloodiest day in the American Civil War. The free 5 mile driving tour is the largest memorial illumination in North America. The first Illumination was held in 1988. Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, will host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. Antietam Memorial Illumination
CHRISTMAS IN SHEPHERDSTOWN
The Historic town of Shepherdstown will kick off its annual ” Christmas in Shepherdstown” celebration on Friday after Thanksgiving. The schedule includes evening events such as a bonfire, a chili and cornbread supper, the lighting of the town tree, arrival of Santa, free carriage rides, a live nativity and a Christmas concert at O’Hurley’s General Store. Check out the annual Christmas parade on the first Saturday of December at 11 AM in downtown on German Street. Many events throughout the weekends including Nutcracker Ballet, Tuba Christmas, Irish Christmas in America and a Civil War Christmas.