Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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Dr. Tom Clemens – “Veterans’ Memories of Antietam”

May 24, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

Veterans of the 9th NY Vol. at the monument dedication in 1897.

On Wednesday, July 6, Dr. Tom Clemens joins us to present his summer lecture series program – “Veterans Memories of Antietam”.  Tom  will discuss excerpts from letters that veterans of the battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg sent the the Antietam Battlefield Board and to John M. Gould in the 1890’s. These excerpts include personal accounts that are both sad and humorous, some extremely detailed and some quite vague and confused. Ezra Carman, Antietam’s first official historian, used these letters to create his manuscript history of the battle, as well as the detailed black & white cast iron tablets that are still on battlefield today.

 

 

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.

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 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

Darin Wipperman – “A Damaged Friendship: McClellan and Burnside’s 1862 Correspondence”

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

On Wednesday, June 8th, Darin Wipperman will present his Summer Lecture Series talk, “A Damaged Friendship: McClellan and Burnside’s 1862 Correspondence”.

Meeting at West Point, George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside became good friends. Although McClellan was 31 months younger, he was a year ahead of Burnside at the Military Academy. Their lives intersected a great deal in the years before the Civil War, with McClellan saving his woebegone pal from financial ruin. Both men remained on good terms as they wore stars in 1861. As general-in-chief, McClellan gave guidance to Burnside during the North Carolina expedition. They shared missives through August 1862, retaining a warm friendship. After Lee invaded Maryland, however, strife began, which burst into the open at South Mountain. The course of a friendship can be seen in the messages the two men shared across the year, especially during tense weeks in September. What damaged their relationship? What defining moment gave McClellan hope in Burnside once more?

Darin Wipperman

This presentation, Darin Wipperman’s fourth for the Summer Lecture Series at the Rohrbach Inn, was inspired by research included in his second Civil War manuscript, currently titled Burnside’s Boys: The Union’s Ninth Corps and the Civil War in the East. Stackpole Books published First for the Union: Life and Death in a Civil War Army Corps from Antietam to Gettysburg, in December 2020. In the 1990s, Darin earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science. After nearly 17 years as a federal employee, Darin and his wife moved to northern New Hampshire, where he was a reporter and editor for weekly newspapers for more than four years. When resting from Civil War research and writing, Darin manages the 64-acre forested parcel he and his wife live on in Lancaster, NH.

Darin’s book, First for the Union is available at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

M. Chris Bryan – The XII Corps at Antietam: Tactical Details and Findings

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

Gen. Mansfield at Antietam

On Wednesday, June 1st, Chris Bryan will kick off our Summer Lecture Series with his presentation,  “The XII Corps at Antietam: Tactical Details and Findings”

The Union XII Corps formed in June 1862 as the II Corps, Army of Virginia. The corps, which joined the Army of the Potomac only a week before Antietam was small, numbering just over 7,600 men. Easily overlooked, Army of the Potomac leadership and historians since have largely glossed over this corps’ contribution at Antietam. Nevertheless, this small corps ended Confederate attacks into the Miller Cornfield and East Woods, successfully defended the Dunker Church Plateau from Confederate assaults, and captured the West Woods, which had been the goal on the Federal right all morning. This talk will examine the XII Corps’ fighting at Antietam and will focus on new findings discovered through recent archival research.

Chris Bryan

 

Chris Bryan is a native of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.S. in History from the United States Naval Academy, an M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis, and a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a focus on architectural investigations of Chesapeake region antebellum domestic and agricultural outbuildings. The former Naval Aviator works as a project manager in Southern Maryland. Cedar Mountain to Antietam is his first book.

Chris’ book, Cedar Mountain to Antietam is available at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Jacob Nicodemus Farm

February 4, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

Captain J. Albert Monroe

“We were awakened before daylight by the cook, who had brought up a pail of steaming coffee, some johnny-cakes and “fixins,” together with cups, plates and other table ware. A blanket was spread on the ground for a table-cloth, on which was placed the breakfast, and the officers gathered around it on their haunches. It was the early gray light that appeared just before the sun rises above the horizon, and we could little more than distinguish each other. We had not half finished our meal, but it had grown considerably lighter, and we could see the first rays of the sun lighting up the distant hilltops, when there was a sudden flash, and the air around us appeared to be alive with shot and shell from the enemy’s artillery – The opposite hill seemed suddenly to have become an active volcano, belching forth flame, smoke and scoriae.

Captain J. Albert Monroe of Battery D, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery was positioned on the hill just north of the Joseph Poffenberger barn among the United States Army First Corps.  Monroe described the first shots of the Battle of Antietam in the early morning hours of September 17th as Confederate artillery fire rained down on them from the distant hilltops of the Jacob Nicodemus Farm. Many visitors to the battlefield know about Nicodemus Heights, and every Antietam aficionado dream of getting up to the heights to see what the Confederate artillerymen saw, but very few know about the Jacob Nicodemus family and their experiences.

Johann Conrad Nicodemus was born in Bavaria, Germany and immigrated to America in the mid-1700’s.  After landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his family soon moved to Lancaster.  Johann would eventually marry, have eight children and fight in the American Revolution.  Two of his sons, Valentine and Conrad moved to Washington County, Maryland, settling near Boonsboro.  Valentine purchased 175 acres and built a house along Dog Creek where the Nicodemus Mill would be built in 1829. Conrad married Sophia Thomas, the daughter of Rev. Jacob Thomas of the United Brethren Church.  Rev. Thomas owned a large tract of land around Boonsboro and divided it into several farms, one would be given to his new son-in-law.  Conrad and Sophia would have 13 children over the next twenty-two years.  The second to last child, was Jacob, born on May 3, 1819.

 

 

Land Patents north of Sharpsburg

The area around what we know today as the Nicodemus Farm was once part of two land tracts.  These two patents were originally part of James Chapline’s “Addition to Loss and Gain” and part of Col. Edwin Sprigg’s “Resurvey on Addition to Piles Delight”. Some of the land that Jacob Mumma, the patriarch of the Mumma family, had been acquiring in the area included a large parcel of “Addition to Loss and Gain”.  Around this same time, John McPherson and John Brien, both well-known land speculators and owners of the nearby Antietam Iron Works, were selling off parcels of the “Resurvey on Addition to Piles Delight” tract.  Michael Havenar purchased a parcel just north of what we know today as the Alfred Poffenberger farm.

 

 

 

Jacob Coffman property on the 1859 Taggert map

In 1820, Jacob Coffman (Kauffman), future father-in-law to Joseph Poffenberger, purchased 100 acres from Jacob Mumma.  Coffman’s farm was adjacent to this tract and he continued to add to his holdings acquiring the acreage that had belonged to Michael Havenar.  By 1850, Jacob Coffman owned over 500 acres valued at $35,000.  One of the farms that he acquired would become the home of Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger which he sold to his son-in-law in 1852.

During this time Jacob Nicodemus married Amelia Drenner in 1844 and they were living in the Bakersville area according to the 1850 census. It appears that Amelia may have died during child birth.  Within a few months Jacob would marry Hannah Miller, the eighteen year old daughter of Jacob Henry Miller from the Keedysville area.  Hannah and Jacob may have been living with family or near the Hitt (Upper) Bridge in the 1850’s while they began raising a family.  According to the 1860 Census some of their neighbors included: Samuel Pry, Jacob Cost, Sarah Snyder, and Susan Hoffman; all residents along the Williamsport-Keedysville Road,  In 1852, they had their first child, Samuel. Two year later they had a daughter named Sophia, but Sophia died just before reaching her fourth birthday. They had two more sons, Jacob C. and Otho.

 

Approximate boundary of the Nicodemus farm property.

At some point after 1860, Jacob and Hannah moved with their three sons to the tenant farm owned by Jacob Coffman. With them was a twenty-one year old farm labor, Alexander Davis and his mother, Elizabeth.  They also owned a thirteen year old slave girl. Most likely the Coffman’s built the farm and one of Jacob Coffman’s children lived on the tract before the Nicodemus’ moved there.  Alexander Davis described the the farm as they “had a log house with two rooms downstairs and just a sort of loft divided by a partition up above. There was what we called a bat-house with a couple of bedrooms in it attached to the rear like a shed. In winter we used a room in the house for a kitchen, but in summer the kitchen was in another building off a little piece from the house. We had one of these old German barns with a roof that had a long slant on one side and a short slant on the other. The roof was thatched with rye straw”.  

 

 

In addition to these buildings, there was a wagon shed, corn crib, a blacksmith shop and several other dependencies with a small orchard stretching along the farm lane. The property stretched to the west over the a ridge line toward the Potomac River, where there was a 16-acre cornfield and a small woodlot in the northwest corner of the tract.  South of the farm buildings there was a 25-arce field used for the grain crops like oat, wheat and rye. These were typically harvested in the late summer and the fields reploughed for a winter crop. Hay was stacked near the barn, and wheat shocks dotted the fields. Rail fencing bordered the different fields across the farm with a few stone fences along the lane leading to and from the the farmstead.  As for livestock, Alexander Davis said they “had ’bout a dozen large hogs and mebbe eighteen or twenty pigs… quite a few cattle. I suppose there was over twenty head . . . We had four geese and ’bout sixty chickens,..  There was six horses”

 

Captain John Pelham

On September 15, 1862, the Nicodemus family was caught in a brewing storm as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began to converge on their community and the Union Army of the Potomac pursued them to the Antietam Creek. Initially on the 16th, the rebel line was anchored south of the Nicodemus farm at the edge of the woodlot between Jacob’s farm and that of Alfred Poffenberger with just the small 9th Virginia Cavalry, but later Major General J.E.B. Stuart reinforced the left flank with the rest of the cavalry regiments from Brigadier General Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade. They line stretched east across David R. Miller’s fields and the Hagerstown Turnpike into the woodlot between Sam Poffenberger and Samuel Mumma’s farm.  Later in the afternoon a cannonade began as Union soldiers from the First Army Corps that crossed the Antietam Creek advanced to the Joseph Poffenberger farm and into the East Woods where heavy skirmishing continued into the night.  Sensing that the fight would be renewed the next day on the left, Major General Thomas J. Jackson moved artillery batteries in the early morning hours onto Nicodemus Heights.  About fifteen cannons would be in position at first light under the command of Capt. John Pelham.

 

Carman-Cope Battlefield map, 5:30am, Sept. 17, 1862

At daybreak, the battle began just as Capt. Monroe described it, but soon his guns were returning fire onto Pelham’s guns on the heights and among the Nicodemus farm.  The family must have assumed they were safe where they were for Captain William Blackford, a staff engineer for Jeb Stuart recalled,

“Between our cavalry lines and the enemy stood a handsome country house in which, it seems, all the women and children in the neighborhood assembled for mutual protection… Between us and the house was a roughly ploughed field.  When the cannonade began [at dawn on September 17], the house happened to be right in the line between Pelham’s battery and that of the enemy occupying the opposite hills, the batteries firing clear over the top of the house at each other. When the crossing shells began screaming over the house, its occupants thought their time had come, and like a flock of birds they came streaming out… children of all ages stretched out behind, and tumbling at every step over the clods of the ploughed field. Every time one would fall, the rest thought it was the result of a cannon shot and ran the faster. … I galloped out to meet them and represented to them that they were safer probably where they had as many children as my horse could carry, I escorted them to our lines and quieted the fears of the party, assuring them that they were not in danger of immediate death”.

battlefield map

Carman-Cope Battlefield map, 10:30am, Sept. 17, 1862

Soon, Union forces were advancing south across D.R. Miller’s farm where they meet heavy resistance. The Union extended their line across Hagerstown Pike on to the Nicodemus farm to guard the right flank and work the Confederate guns off the heights.  Confederate counterattacks across Miller’s fields were met with more Union brigades coming into the fight.  By 9:00am Federal forces had driven the Rebels beyond the Dunker Church and were now advancing west across the Hagerstown Pike to roll the Confederate flank.  Just as they reached the far side of the West Woods, fresh Confederate troops from Maj. Gen. Layette McLaws’ division and others rolled through the West Wests into the flanks John Sedgwick’s Union brigades forcing them to retreat north across the Nicodemus and Miller farms.

 

Colonel Alfred Sully

Regiments from the lead Union brigade were directed to form a line along the stone fence on the Nicodemus farm as other regiments fell back.  Colonel Alfred Sully, of the 1st Minnesota wrote,

Our loss here was very heavy, yet the men bravely held their position, and did not leave it until after the two brigades in rear had fallen back and the left regiments were moving, when they received the order to retire. Retiring in line of battle, we again halted outside the woods, to hold the enemy in check while the rest were retiring. Here the Eighty-second New York with their Colonel and colors reported to me, and formed on my right. The Nineteenth Massachusetts also reported, and formed on my left. We were soon again engaged with the enemy, but, seeing that the enemy were turning my right, I ordered the line to fall back in line of battle. The regiment here also suffered greatly in killed and wounded. We again made a stand near some farmhouse for a short time, and there took up a strong position about 100 yards back, behind a stone fence, when a section of artillery was sent to assist us. We kept the enemy in check till they brought a battery of artillery on our flank, which compelled me to order the regiments back to join our line of battle”.

Colonel Henry Hudson, commanding the 82nd New York Infantry joined the 1st Minnesota in their stand across the Nicodemus farm.  Hudson stated,

We then fell back to the outer edge of the wood, and formed on the First Minnesota to hold the enemy in check, till ordered by Colonel Sully, to whom I had reported, to fall still farther back, which we did in good order. We again made a stand behind a stone wall, and poured in our fire upon the enemy till they brought a battery of artillery on our flank, when we were obliged to fall back and join the other regiments of the brigade in good order on the edge of the wood, not more than 500 yards from the spot where our right rested.” 

As the Confederate infantry pushed the Union troops out of the West Woods across the Nicodemus farm and toward the Miller barn they were supported by artillery.  Rebel batteries reoccupied the heights overlooking the farmstead, and guns were positioned in the ploughed field near the house and on the ridge by the Houser farm.

In their hasty withdraw across the Nicodemus farm a number of Union soldiers were killed or wounded.  Many of the wounded were seeking refuge in and around the buildings.  Captain Norwood Penrose Hallowell, a company commander in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry recalled,

Captain Hallowell P. Norwood

Before long I gained the little farmhouse marked on the maps as the Nicodemus House. The yard was full of wounded men, and the floor of the parlor, where I lay down, was well covered with them. Among others, Captain O. W. Holmes, Jr., walked in, the back of his neck clipped by a bullet.

The first Confederate to make his appearance put his head through the window and said : ” Yankees?” “Yes.” “Wounded?” “Yes.” “Would you like some water?” A wounded man always wants some water. He off with his canteen, threw it into the room, and then resumed his place in the skirmish line and his work of shooting retreating Yankees. In about fifteen minutes that good- hearted fellow came back to the window all out of breath, saying: ” Hurry up there! Hand me my canteen! I am on the double-quick myself now! ” Some one twirled the canteen to him, and away he went”. 

Hallowell and Holmes, along with many of the Union wounded would make it back to the Union hospitals that were quickly overwhelmed with the wounded from across the battlefield.

By the afternoon, the heavy fighting had shifted from left of the Confederate line to the right, southeast of Sharpsburg.  The left line was reestablished across the Nicodemus farm by Stuart’s cavalry supported by artillery batteries on the high ground.  Soon, nightfall ended the bloodiest single day of the war.  That evening both sides began gathering their wounded and burying the dead. This continued into the next day as there was no fighting. Later that day and into the evening the Confederates withdrew from the field back across the Potomac River.

Alexander Davis came back to the farm on Thursday before the family had returned.  Davis recalled the number of wounded and the fact they had no food in the house.  He said,

The house was full of wounded Northern soldiers, and the hogpen loft was full, and the barn floor. The wounded was crowded into all our buildings. I looked around to find something to eat, but there wa’n’t enough food in the house to feed a pair of quail. We’d left fifty pounds of butter in the cellar and seventy-five pounds of lard and twenty gallons of wine — fine grape wine — and half a barrel of whiskey. We had just baked eight or ten loaves of bread the day before, and pies, and I don’t know what else. Those things was all gone. So was every piece of bacon from the smoke-house.”

Antietam burial map

Gravestone of Pvt Grant, Antietam NC.

By the end of the week the dead had been buried. There were over twenty-five soldiers across the farm.   Fifteen of them were from Massachusetts. One of the soldiers that he buried may have been Private Alexander Grant, Company I, 19th Mass. Infantry. Grant was a 19-year old butcher from Boston. He now rests in the Antietam National Cemetery.  Davis remembered that “The stench was sickening. We couldn’t eat a good meal, and we had to shut the house up just as tight as we could of a night to keep out that odor.”  Although Davis did not indicate how many Confederates were buried on the farm, according to the Bowie List there were at least six, all unknown.

In the proceeding days after a battle, soldiers can recollect the sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefield years later, just like it was yesterday.  Civilians that experience such a catastrophic event are the same way.  Alexander Davis remembered what all the Sharpsburg civilians experienced in those days, weeks and months after the battle.

“The battle made quite a change in the look of the country. The fences and other familiar landmarks was gone, and you couldn’t hardly tell one man’s farm from another, only by the buildings, and some of them was burnt. You might be out late in the day and the dark would ketch you, and things was so torn and tattered that you didn’t know nothin’. It was a strange country to you. I got lost three or four times when I thought I could go straight home.

Another queer thing was the silence after the battle. You couldn’t hear a dog bark nowhere, you couldn’t hear no birds whistle or no crows caw. There wa’n’t no birds around till the next spring. We didn’t even see a buzzard with all the stench. The rabbits had run off, but there was a few around that winter — not many. The farmers didn’t have no chickens to crow. Ourn [Ours] didn’t commence for six months. When night come I was so lonesome that I see I didn’t know what lonesome was before. It was a curious silent world.”

The farm was devastated. Most of the fence rails were taken for firewood and some of the others were used to burn the dead horses. The wheat and hay stacks were full of shell fragments and lead. A good portion of the corn had been trampled down and most of the potatoes were dug out of the ground by the soldiers.  When the shelling started, the cattle and hogs jumped out of their pasture and headed for the woods down by the river.

Seven months after the battle, Hannah and Jacob were overjoyed at the birth of a daughter, Budelia in March of 1863. Despite the damages to their farm, the Nicodemus family stayed on to raise their family.  A few weeks later Jacob purchased the farm for $5,992.50 from the heirs of Jacob Coffman who had died in 1859.  It seemed that they were on the road to recovery in 1863, but before the end of the year tragedy stuck the Nicodemus family three-fold.  In late November, seven-year old Jacob died. Less then two weeks later, little Budelia died followed by her brother, Otha just short of his fourth birthday.  No information is available as to what caused the loss of the Nicodemus children but it was most likely due to some epidemic like typhoid fever.

Aerial photo of Nicodemus farm, c. 1930

The unfortunate location of the Nicodemus farm sandwiched between the surging battlelines and artillery fire undoubtedly would have caused some damage to the buildings. However, the Quartermaster claim filed by Jacob Nicodemus in 1866 makes no mention of damage to buildings.  They did claim “12,000 pound of hay that was “taken form the barn” by Union forces occupying the farm following the retreat of the Confederate army.”  The claim that was finally paid in 1882, was for “$410.00 worth of corn, straw, and hay”. Even though they did not file a claim for damages to the building, there must have been enough for the Nicodemus’ to build a new home, closer to the barn, the one that exists today.

Nicodemus grave at the Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville, MD

Hannah and Jacob remained on the farm and had two more children, Alice (1866) and Millard (1869).  Jacob passed away at the age of 55, in 1875. Hannah and the two younger children stayed on the farm with the help of Alexander Davis.  In 1876, Samuel had married but moved to Kansas where he died ten years later.  William Remsburg purchased the farm from Hannah Nicodemus in 1887.  It may have been for his son, Cyrus Hicks Remsburg and his new wife, Alice Ann Nicodemus, the daughter of Hannah and Jacob.  About this same time, Hannah purchased 44 acres east of the farm from David R. Miller, the pasture just south of the famous Cornfield. A new farmstead would be built for the family and was the home of Hannah, her son, Millard, his wife, Minnie Agnes DeLauney they two daughters and of course Alexander Davis.  Unfortunately Millard died in 1910, a year after his mother passed away.  Hannah and Jacob Nicodemus were buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville.  This farm was sold and Minnie, the girls and “Uncle Alec” moved to Sharpsburg where Minnie ran the Nicodemus Hotel on Main Street.

 

In 1886, Alexander Davis purchased a 32-acre tract (blue outlined tract on map above) from Samuel Michael that was adjacent to the farm bordering the West Woods.  There was no home on the this property and it may have been lease by Jacob Nicodemus in the previous years. Whatever the reason Alexander may have bought it for is unknown. He only held on to it for ten years before selling it to Cyrus Remsburg in 1896 and it is considered part of the Nicodemus-Remsburg farm today.  Alexander Davis lived and worked for the Nicodemus family most of his life, staying with Minnie at the hotel until he died in 1929.

Photo of Alexander Davis taken by Fred W. Cross

In 1892, the farm was conveyed to Cyrus and Alice. Their daughter, Flossie Elizabeth would marry Otho Flook in 1919 and they purchased the farm in 1941.  The Nicodemus farm remains in the Flook family to this day.  Even though only a few of the buildings are original, the Nicodemus farm witnessed the some of the first and final shots of the battle, north of Sharpsburg.  Like the Samuel Poffenberger Farm, the Nicodemus-Remsberg-Flook farm has been in the family for over 160 years and remains a great example of private stewardship of the land and an eyewitness to history.

Site of the original house

View of house and barn looking south

Nicodemus Heights from Hagerstown Pike near the Cornfield

View of Nicodemus Heights from the west along Mondell Rd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: There is some discrepancy between two biographers of the battle of who Alexander Davis really was.  According to Clifton Johnson, the farm hand who worked for Jacob Nicodemus was called Alex Root and was described almost like a freed slave. Fred Cross, who visited the Sharpsburg area a number of times, refers to Alexander Davis as the retainer of the Nicodemus family. During his visits, Cross stayed at the Nicodemus Hotel in Sharpsburg, interviewed Mr. Davis and even took his photograph.  Also all the census data refers to a Alexander Davis in the Nicodemus household.

Also during the research of the property we attempted to contact the Flook family for an interview and to obtain permission to get on property to take photos.  We hope to make this happen in the near future and to update this post as needed.

 

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com, Jacob Nicodemus Family, Census Data 1840-1930.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Albright, Isaiah H., et al. Landmark History of the United Brethren Church …: Treating of the Early History of the Church in Cumberland, Lancaster, York and Lebanon Counties, Pennsylvania, and Giving the History of the Denomination in the Original Territory. United States, Press of Behney & Bright, 1911.
  • Cross, Fred Wilder. Antietam, September 17, 1862, unpublished manuscript, 1921.
  • Downey, Brian. Antietam on the Web, 2022  Retrieved from: https://antietam.aotw.org/.
  • Ernst, Kathleen. Too Afraid to Cry, Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 1999.
  • Huskey, Nancy. Coffman Farm: From Deer Path to Tourism – How a Transportation Network Shaped a Homestead. Masters Degree dissertation, University of Leicester, England. 2004.
  • Johnson, Clifton. Battleground Adventures: The Stories of Dwellers on the Scenes of Conflict in Some of the Most Notable Battles of the Civil War. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1915.
  • Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery, and 1869-1873 (Oden Bowie) Maryland. Governor. A Descriptive List of the Burial Places of the Remains of Confederate Soldiers: Who Fell In the Battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, And Other Points In Washington And Frederick Counties, In the State of Maryland. Hagerstown, Md.: “Free press” print, 1868.
  • Maryland State Archives. Maryland Land Records On-Line, Washington County, January 25, 2021. https://mdlandrec.net/main/dsp_search.cfm?cid=WA
  • Monroe, J. Albert. Battery D, First Rhode Island Light Artillery, at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862
    Providence: Published by the Society 1886. https://archive.org/details/05587901.3518.emory.edu/page/n16/mode/1up
  • New York Public Library, Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. “Map of the battlefield of Antietam” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1864. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/185f8270-0834-0136-3daa-6d29ad33124f
  • Nelson, John N.  “As Grain Fall Before the Reaper”, The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam.  Hagerstown, MD. 2004.
  • Newspapers.com. Alexander Davis obituary, Morning Herald, June 23, 1924. Retrieved from: https://www.newspapers.com/
  • Peters, Richard., Sanger, George Partridge., Minot, George. United States Statutes at Large: Containing the Laws and Concurrent Resolutions … and Reorganization Plan, Amendment to the Constitution, and Proclamations. United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1883.  Claim Payment for Hannah Nicodemus, 1883. United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/books/edition/United_States_Statutes_at_Large/QFh6ABpyZO8C?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Hannah+Nicodemus,+executrix+of+Jacob+Nicodemus&pg=PA668&printsec=frontcover
  • Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
  • 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.
  • Tracey, Dr. Arthur G. “Land Patents of Washington County, MD. Showing their location on the land-their adjoining tracts- the relationship one to another-plus other related information”. MDLANDREC. Maryland Historic Trust. Retrieved from http://mdhistory.msa.maryland.gov/tracey_fr_wa_cr/html/index.html.
  • Williams, Thomas J. C., A History of Washington County, Maryland​ From the Earliest Settlements to the Present Time, Including a History of Hagerstown, Vol. 2, Part 1​. Higginson Book Company, MA. 1906​. Retrieved from:   https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_Washington_County_Maryland/c9AwAQAAMAAJ?hl=en.
  • 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.
  • United States Congressional Serial Set.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Antietam National Battlefield, National Register of Historic Place, ANTI-WA-II-477, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990.
  • Williams, Thomas J. C. A history of Washington County, Maryland : from the earliest settlements to the present time, including a history of Hagerstown https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011262603

* Layout design of farmsteads are based on a combination of maps, aerial photographs, and off site visit

The Dunker Church – Alann Schimdt

May 17, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

The Dunker Church is one of the most iconic structures of the American Civil War. Few people know much, if anything, about its fascinating back story, the role it played within the community of Sharpsburg, and its importance during and after the Battle of Antietam.

On Wednesday, June 24, Alann Schimdt will discuss the subject of his new book, “September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield”.  Alann will look at the complete history of Antietam’s Dunker Church, including it’s background, role in the battle and aftermath, and the many ups and downs (figurative and literal!) it went through in the years since.

 

 

Alann Schmidt

Alann Schmidt spent fifteen years as a park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield. He earned degrees from theUniversity of Pittsburgh, Shippensburg University, Shepherd University, and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. While a severe case of Lyme disease forced him into early retirement, he currently serves as a pastor for the Churches of God, and lives with his wife Tracy (and their many cats) on their family farm near Fort Littleton, Pennsylvania.

 

 

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.

UPDATE: In light of social distancing recommendations, the talks will be conducted via Zoom video conferencing until the guidelines and safety allow for public gatherings.   The Zoom sessions will begin at 7:00 p.m.  The Zoom meeting link will be sent out to those signed up on our SLS Member list each week.  For those that can’t attend live, the presentation will be recorded and posted on our Facebook page.

To sign up for the SLS Member list email us at: info@jacob-rohrbach-inn.com.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.  The lecture schedule is subject to change.

The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary for Sharpsburg

May 6, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

Inn SignWith so many things to do in and around Sharpsburg, it can be hard to fit everything into three days. To make your trip-planning a bit easier, we’ve put together the perfect Sharpsburg itinerary that’ll make you want to extend your stay.  You’ll definitely want to make this an annual trip!

Day 1 in Sharpsburg

Veggie Frittata

The first thing you need to do before heading out is fuel up.  Indulge in our country-style breakfast which guests proclaim ‘will fill you up so you can slide right past lunch”.   The first morning you can expect one of our specialties like a loaded veggie frittata or maybe a stack of lemon ricotta pancakes.  The main course is always accompanied by a protein side such as our signature apple-maple sausage, thick-sliced bacon or cherry-wood smoked ham. After this breakfast experience, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running!

Antietam bloody lane

Your first day is dedicated to staying local and taking in the history.  One of the best ways to experience the pristine Antietam National Battlefield is on a private tour with an Antietam Battlefield Guide.  Your certified tour guide will lead you across the hallowed ground of Antietam so you can understand why it was a major turning point in the war.

And this is a small…

 

After your tour, you will probably still be full from breakfast, but who doesn’t like something to snack on.  Going to Nutter’s Ice Cream is a MUST while you’re staying at the Inn. With over 32 flavors of hand-dipped and soft served ice cream you will get a very generous portion for a ridiculously affordable price.

 

The Pry House

After your ice cream break head down the road to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.  The Philip Pry farmstead was an eyewitness to the Battle of Antietam.  It was transformed from an army headquarters to a field hospital within 24 hours.  Here you’ll see exhibits relating to the care of wounded, the effects on the civilian population in the area and the innovations in Civil War medicine, which continue to save lives today.  To wrap up your day stop by the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum to learn about our local history.  The museum takes you back to a time when the pace was a bit slower and life centered around the farm, family, and community.  See what life was like in Washington County, MD prior to 1940.

Since we’re staying local today, you’ll have plenty of time to take a break back at the Inn before heading to dinner. This evening we recommend taking a short stroll down the street to Captain Bender’s Tavern.  The tavern is our towns version of “Cheers”.  Steve, the owner, and his crew make you feel at home.  They have a great menu filled with appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and specialty drinks (Be sure to try the Pickle Fries).

Day 2 in Sharpsburg

Breakfast

Your second Jacob Rohrbach Inn breakfast will be a whole new adventure as different entrees are served every day.  If you enjoyed a sweet breakfast your first day, you will get a savory one on your second, and vice versa.   Alongside our freshly baked scones and fruit course you might be served a Cheesy Egg Scramble or some Caramelized French Toast.  You’ll have a selection of juices to choose from so you’ll always have a different experience!

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry

For Day 2, we’re heading to West Virginia!  (Don’t worry it’s just three miles away.)  First, lets head down to Harpers Ferry.  The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.  Taking a stroll along the picturesque streets of Harpers Ferry is like stepping into the past. The Lower Town offers a number of museums, exhibits and historic sites for visitors to see with quaint little shops and restaurants located nearby.  You’ll definitely work up an appetite walking around Harpers Ferry so stop at the Anvil Restaurant.  The Anvil is a cozy outpost specializing in crab dip, onion soup & other hearty dishes in a low-key setting.  Head back up to Shepherdstown for a little more sidewalk shopping.  Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia and is filled with boutiques and specialty stores like O’Hurley’s General Store, Four Seasons Books and Grapes & Grains Gourmet.

There are a surprising number of dining choices in Shepherdstown for Day 2.  Whether it’s casual, ethnic, cosmopolitan or locally grown fare you are sure to find something for your taste and budget. For our two favorites, you can choose a farm to table dinner at Domestic, or upscale contemporary American dishes at The Press Room.

Day 3 in Sharpsburg

Monument along the A.T.

War Correspondents Memorial at Gathland State Park

After a great night’s rest and another wonderful breakfast, you’re ready to venture out on Day 3 of your vacation. Today you’ll take a break from all of the hustle and bustle of the history and shopping and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.  Rent a couple of bikes at the Inn and enjoy the morning biking the C&O Canal.  This scenic tree-lined path will lead you past historic ruins, cliffs and caves along the Potomac River.  Shady biking conditions make this trip a great option for those hot summer days. In the fall the trail becomes radiant with the colors of changing leaves.  Pick up a picnic lunch and head up to South Mountain to hit the Appalachian Trail.  Whether you’re looking for some scenic beauty and wildlife, a taste of history, or a little exercise, the A.T. offers all these things and much more. Two ideal spots for your picnic on the trail are at the Washington Monument State Park or the Gathland State Park.

Antietam Creek Vineyards

 

Wrap up your afternoon by taking a break at our newest winery – Antietam Creek Vineyards!  This 55-acre farm is adjacent to the Antietam National Battlefield and the grapes are grown, processed, aged, and blended at the vineyard. Be sure to say hello to Joan & George (the owners) and enjoy your wine tasting.

 

For your final night treat yourself to some fine dinning.  Old South Mountain Inn is a beautiful, historic restaurant poised atop South Mountain at Turner’s Gap.  Specializing in Prime Rib, Beef Wellington and Fresh Seafood Old South Mountain provides the perfect dining experience for celebrating special occasions or to just enjoy a nice evening out.  Another fine dining choice is the Bavarian Inn,  known for its German cuisine and American fare.  The Bavarian sits overlooking the Potomac River at Shepherdstown and offers both a formal dining experience in the Greystone Manor or a more casual atmosphere in the Rathskeller.

Mark & Julia

 

If you still have energy for one more activity that evening take a Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour. These tours are based on the lives of Sharpsburg citizens who lived through the Battle of Antietam.  Mark and Julia Brugh will take you through the Confederate Soldiers’ Passageway or the Children’s Alley as they explain the ghostly images that still linger in the town, possibly remnants of souls who never crossed over.

 

In between all of these local excursions, you’ll need to rest and recharge.  This is essential because you’ll need the energy!   Enjoy the tranquility of relaxing on your porch, listening to the chirping birds and enjoy the views of the gardens.

Relax on your porch at the Inn

The Jacob Rohrbach Inn is an 1800s-era restored Inn and the only one in Sharpsburg. Make your stay a memorable one with the Jacob Rohrbach Inn and plan your small town getaway today!

Check Our Availability

 

 

The Farmsteads of Antietam – The Joseph Sherrick Farm

April 23, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

The one farm house on the Antietam Battlefield that looks the same as it did on September 17, 1862 is the Sherrick House. When you stand in front of the house and hold up the historic photograph taken of the farmstead, it’s as if you traveled back in time.  The photo captures the Sherrick Farmstead; the bank barn, out buildings, fences, garden and the unique brick house.  Looking at it you can imagine what life was like on the farm.

Sherrick House

Photo of the Sherrick farm taken by Alexander Gardner, 1962

The property we now know as the Sherrick Farm was once part of the Smith’s Hills patent that was granted to James Smith on January 26, 1756.  As the French and Indian War was ending, Christian Orndorff, a millwright from Lancaster County, arrived in the area in 1762. Orndorff purchased 503 acres from James Smith along the Antietam Creek.  Of course, Christian Orndorff would establish a successful milling operation at the location of the Middle Bridge on what is known today as the Newcomer Farm.  Prior to his death in 1797, Christian Orndorff divided his holdings among his sons Christopher, Christian and Henry.

passenger list of the James Goodwill

Joseph Schurgh was listed as a passenger on the James Goodwill

Over the years as the milling industry grew along the Antietam Creek. That prosperity drew more and more migration from Pennsylvania.  In 1796, Joseph Sherrick, his wife Barbara Hertzler and their young daughter also named Barbara, left Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with his brother-in-law Jacob Mumma and his family.  The traveled down the Wagon Road to Sharpsburg.  Joseph’s grandfather was also named Joseph but the last name was spelled Shrek or Schurgh.  Born in Switzerland, Joseph and his wife Catherine “left Rotterdam Harbor, Holland in early July on the ship James Goodwill, commanded by David Crockatt, and arrived at Philadelphia on September 27, 1727″. From Philadelphia, they moved to Hempfield Township, Lancaster County.  It was here that the Sherrick family became friends with the Mumma’s, the Hertzler’s and many other families that would move southwest into the Antietam Valley.

Once they arrived to the Antietam Valley, Jacob Mumma would purchase over 300 acres from Christopher Orndorff which included the site of the mill, while Joseph Sherrick purchased the adjoining property to the south, 194 acres from Christopher’s brother, Henry Orndorff.

According to the 1796 deed that land may already have been established as a farm. In the deed there is reference to existing “houses, outhouses, barn, fields, woods, under woods, meadows, orchards, hereditaments and appurtenances“, and there is reference to a “water ditch that is made for the use of watering the meadow.” That ditch was the Town Run, a small stream that ran down from Sharpsburg, past another mill through the farm as it made it’s way to the Antietam Creek.   The Sherrick’s most likely stayed with the Mumma’s until they could establish their home on the property the following year, but it’s presumed that a log or timber frame structure served as their house.  Soon after setting up the home, Joseph and Barbara would have two more children, Jacob born in 1798 and Joseph, Jr. in 1801.

Barbara Hertzler Sherrick gravestone

Barbara Hertzler Sherrick gravestone in the Mumma Cemetery

 

 

Tragedy stuck the Sherrick family a few years later when Barbara Hertzler Sherrick died at the aged of 37 in 1804 leaving Joseph, Sr. with three children.  She was buried at a nearby cemetery that would become known as the Mumma Cemetery.  Needing a wife and a mother to raise his children, Joseph, Sr. married Barbara Mumma, Jacob’s sister.

 

 

 

Rohrback Bridge, cir 1862

Stone wall near the Rohrback Bridge, cir 1862

In 1833, the Washington County Commissioners contracted John Weaver to select a location to construct a bridge over the Antietam Creek on the Sharpsburg and Maple Swamp Road.  This road traversed Sherrick’s land along the Town Run to the Antietam.  Weaver selected a site near the edge of Sherrick’s southern property line, most likely due to the the fact that limestone could be quarried off the hillside.  The bridge was completed by 1836 for a cost of $2,300.  Soon after it’s completion the Sherrick’s constructed a stone wall on the east side of the creek.

boundary of the Sherrick farm

Approximate boundary of the Sherrick farm

 

 

Joseph, Sr., subsequently enlarged the farm by purchasing additional nearby parcels of land in 1821, 1826, and 1833.  On April 15, 1828, young Joseph, Jr. married Sarah Hamm.  It’s believed that young Joseph and Sarah ventured west to Ohio according to the 1830 census.  Their stay in Ohio was not long-lived and by 1836 the young couple had returned home with a daughter, Mary Anna.  Joseph, Jr purchased tracts of property around the family farm and in 1838 he acquired the land owned by his father.

 

 

Sherrick house plan

Side view of house showing basement

It is around this time that the home the Sherricks had been living in for over thirty years was replaced with the brick structure we see today.  Like their neighbors across the Antietam, the Pry’s, this new house reflected the “most current trends in architectural design, incorporating vernacular elements of Greek revival style of the 1830’s”.   The Sherrick’s house would be very unique, it was built into the slope much like their traditional Pennsylvania bank barn but it was also constructed over a fresh water spring.  This fresh water flowed into a spring room in the sub-basement.  Water could be drawn from the  spring room to a kitchen just above in the basement.  Also in the basement was a large fireplace and an adjoining room that was used as a small pantry.

 

Sherrick floor plan

Sherrick House Floor Plan

Sherrick Hall

Park volunteers touring the large hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first floor consisted of a dining room, parlor, bedroom, a servery and large stair hall.  The impressive hall included a “wide entry door, crowned by a divided transom”, “high ceilings, gracious moldings, and wood grained doors”.   But the staircase was the most striking, as the broad staircase lead to a landing, “The risers of these stairs and the baseboard moldings throughout the hall were painted to look like marble, a technique common during the Greek revival period”.  (This style was replicated in the foyer at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.) Three bedrooms and a nursery were on the second floor and another unique aspect included service stairs from the nursery to the servant room and down to the kitchen.  The Sherrick house “was one of the most well appointed farmhouses in the Sharpsburg area”.

Sherrick farm

Joseph Sherrick Farm, 1862

Behind the house was their 1 1/2 story brick summer kitchen with a large hearth fireplace, bake oven and a staircase to the upper story where meats were hung.  A stone-built smokehouse was located just behind the summer kitchen and was probably built as a “dependency of the original Sherrick house’.   The large 45′ x 90′ Pennsylvania-style bank barn sat on the hill beyond the house.  This was the original barn that was constructed by either Henry Orndorff or Joseph Sherrick, Sr. between 1790 – 1800. On the northwest side of the barn was a fenced 2-acre orchard and adjoining garden. A number of other outbuildings and structures were on the property but today there is only evidence of a few.

 

Sherrick side

Rebuilt walls

barn

Barn Foundation

corn crib

Corn Crib

 

 

 

 

 

fireplace

Kitchen Fireplace

nursey

Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

The Sherrick farm prospered over the next decade.  According to the 1850 census the farm was valved at $12,000.  The Sherrick’s were members of the German Baptist Brethren or “Dunker” congregation.  The Dunkers had been meeting in the private home of Daniel Miller, the father of Elizabeth Miller Mumma. In 1851, Samuel Mumma donated a small plot of land at the edge of a woodlot that would become known as the West Woods.  Daniel Miller, Samuel Mumma and Joseph Sherrick supervised the construction of the new church. It was constructed with hand-made clay bricks from John Otto, Joseph Sherrick’s neighbor.

In May, 1858, Mary Anna Sherrick married Victor Newcomer, a merchant.  The following year they would have their first child and continue to live with her parents.  According to the 1860 Census, the family was still residing on the farm. A young female servant named Ellen Ward and Samuel Gift, a farm hand lived at there as well.

1860 census

1860 Census, Joseph Sherrick Family

Around this time Joseph Sherrick retired from farming and leased the farm to a young man named Leonard Emmert.  “At that time, the farm consisted of 200 improved acres and 20 unimproved acres and was valued at $14,000. Livestock was valued at $500. During the year ending that June, the farm produced 1,500 bushels of wheat, 20 bushels of rye, 1,000 bushels of Indian corn, 150 bushels of oats, 100 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of potatoes, $20 in orchard products, 500 pounds of butter, 25 tons of hay, and 12 bushels of clover seed”.  It is unsure where the Sherrick family moved to, possibility Boonsboro, but Leonard Emmert was still leasing the farm in the fall of 1862.

On the morning of September 15, 1862, Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee were falling back from their defeat at South Mountain.  But when Lee reached the Antietam Creek he stopped.  His small army went into a defensive mode around the town of Sharpsburg in order to wait for the rest of Lee’s men under General Stonewall Jackson to arrive from Harpers Ferry.  Near the Sherrick farm, Confederates under General David R. Jones’ division were positioned.  By the Rohrbach Bridge just down the road from the farmstead a Rebel brigade was posted on the heights above the bridge and along creek to prevent Union forces from easily crossing.  They were supported by Confederate artillery on hilltop across the Otto farm and on Cemetery Hill.  Confederate skirmishers were stationed across the fields waiting for the pending battle.

The battle on September 17 began at daybreak, but it seemed that it was happening to the north of Sharpsburg with the exception of the artillery batteries dueling back and forth.  About mid-morning, the Union Ninth Corps under General Ambrose Burnside began their assault against the Confederates to take the bridge and cross the Antietam Creek.  The Rebel forces were able to hold off the Federals for about three hours before they finally gave way and withdrew to the high ground along the Sherrick farm lane.  To the north of the Sherrick house Union forces crossed over the Middle Bridge at the Newcomer or Mumma Mill and began pressing skirmishers and artillery forward.

battlefield map

Sherrick Farm, Sept. 17, 1862 at 4:20pm

By 3:00 pm, the Union Ninth Corps was across the Antietam and in position to began their assault against the Confederate right.  The Union battle line stretched for almost a mile, from the Sherrick’s 40-acre cornfield in the south, to the Otto farm, across the Rohrbach Bridge Road and through the Sherrick farm. Burnside’s right flank tied into elements of the Union Fifth Corps as they advanced up the Boonsboro Pike through Sherrick’s fields north of the farmstead.  The 79th New York Infantry advanced in a double line of skirmishers across the farm as they spearheaded the advance of Colonel Benjamin Christ’s brigade.  When the 79th New York reached the Sherrick house and outbuildings they met stiff resistance from South Carolinian’s in an apple orchard and around the building of the Solomon Lumm mill.  Heavy artillery fire from Rebel guns on Cemetery Hill stalled the advance as Christ deployed his three other regiments to move west across the Sherrick farm.

With support from Union artillery batteries, Christ advanced as Col. Thomas Welsh’s brigade pushed up the Sharpsburg Road to his left, dislodging the Confederates, forcing them to withdraw.  As Welsh’s men continued to fight their way to the outskirts of town, the far right flank of the Ninth Corps line was being stuck by General A.P. Hill’s Confederate troops in the middle of the 40-acre cornfield.  With the line slowing collapsing and men running low on ammunition, the Union troops were forced to fall back to their starting point.

Union causalities were being treated at the Sherrick and Otto farms as ambulances evacuated the wounded further to the rear to field hospitals at the Rohrbach and the J.F. Miller farms back across the Antietam.  As the sun set on September 17,  both sides settled in posting pickets in and around the Sherrick farm.  Neither side renewed the battle on the 18th but there was substantial picket firing throughout the day.  That evening the Confederates withdrew across the Potomac and Union forces moved into Sharpsburg.  One young Union soldier, Private R.G. Carter of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry  wrote about the scene at the Sherrick house.

Pvt. Carter

Private R.G. Carter, 22nd Mass.

“the sun came out bright and beautiful … The enemy had now, it was soon discovered, left our front … Upon visiting Sherrick’s house this morning, we found it quite a sumptuous affair. It had been hastily evacuated, as it was between the lines. The foragers ahead of us had pulled out what edibles it contained, and among them a splendid assortment of jellies, preserves, etc., the pride of every Maryland woman’s heart, but now scattered all about. The orchard was filled with the choicest fruit. What a feast! Our stomachs just beginning to become accustomed to “salt horse” and “hard tack,” earnestly opened and yearned for this line of good things. No crowd of schoolboys, Let loose from the confinement of a recitation room, ever acted so absurdly, as did these rough, bronzed soldiers and recruit allies, on that death-strewn ground about Sherrick’s yard and orchard. They would seize a pot of jam, grape jelly, huckleberry stew, or pineapple preserve, and after capering about a while, with the most extravagant exhibitions of joy, would sit upon the ground, and with one piece of hard bread for a plate, and another for a scoop, would shovel out great heaps of the delectable stuff, which rapidly disappeared into their capacious mouths …

Dead soldier at Anteitam

Photo taken by Alexander Gardner of dead Confederates near the Sherrick farm

The buildings did not suffer much structural damage but the crops were ruined, and soldiers from both sides pillaged personal possessions. Joseph Sherrick claimed damage to his home of $8 from an artillery shell and $1,351 in damages from occupying Federal troops.  According to a letter written by Jacob Miller in October 1862, the Otto and Sherrick farms were full of encamped troops.  Miller noted that he had sown nine acres of wheat on his land and if not for the army’s presence, he would have been able to sow upwards of a hundred acres.  The foraging of Union soldiers immediately after the battle caused more destruction to the Sherrick farm than the actual battle did.  Although the Sherrick farm was not used as a hospital the fields and farmland became a burial ground for soldiers from both sides.

But the damage that the Sherrick farm received was nothing in comparison to their close friends, the Mumma family.  Their house was deliberately set on fire by the Confederates and that fire bled to almost all the other buildings. Joseph opened the house up for Samuel and his family to reside until their home was rebuilt in June 1863.

Bridge

Benner-Spong Farm cir. 1910. LOC

By 1863, Joseph and his son-in-law Victor Newcomer were living in Funkstown about ten miles north of Sharpsburg.  After the Mumma family moved back to their farm it is unsure who lived on the Sherrick farm.  The property was most likely rented out to other tenant farmers.  It’s also possible that in an attempt to recoup some of their financial losses the Sherrick’s sold some of their land holdings.  That year following the battle, John Benner had been purchasing property from the Rohrbach family on the west side of the Antietam Creek.  In 1866, Benner acquired 9 acres from Joseph and Sarah Sherrick for $730.  A new farmstead was constructed there near the bridge and would be known as the Benner-Spong Farm.

Joseph and Sarah Sherrick gravestone

Joseph and Sarah Sherrick at the Mumma Cemetery

 

Victor Newcomer continued to seek money for the damages long after Joseph died in 1871, but he received very little compensation from the Federal government.  Joseph Sherrick, Jr. died on August 10, 1871.  Almost three years to the day, Sarah passed away in 1874.  Joseph and Sarah Sherrick are buried in the Mumma Cemetery, with Joseph’s parent and their friends the Mummas.

 

 

Sherrick Farm 1940

Sherrick Farm 1940

 

Sherrick Farm 1958

Sherrick Farm 1958

Sherrick Farm 1967

Sherrick Farm 1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next several decades the property remained in the Sherrick-Newcomer family, eventually being inherited by Anna Newcomer’s children, Frank S. Newcomer and Virginia S. Nicodemus.  During this time, parcels were sold to both veteran’s associations and the Federal government for monument placements.  In 1925 the property was purchased by James A. Dorsey.  The property stayed in the Dorsey family until 1964 when the 186-acre Sherrick farm (known as the Dorsey tract) was sold to the National Park Service.  The following year, as part of the Mission 66 project, work began on the Burnside Bridge Bypass Road.  By redirecting local traffic past the Sherrick farm and off the bridge, the National Park Service was able to restore the bridge and complete an interpretive tour stop.

The Sherrick House remains as it was originally configured when it was build in 1835.  The summer kitchen was restored and the stone walls have been rebuilt.  Unfortunately the historic Sherrick barn was destroyed by fire in 1985, but the park service has been able to restore the foundation of the the barn.  Today the farmstead is beautifully maintained by the National Park Service and you can  hike the trails across the farmstead to the Burnside Bridge and walk the tour road around the Sherrick farm.  Not only was the Sherrick Farmstead an eyewitness to the terrible fighting that occurred there, but it is a reminder of how the families of Antietam were connected for generations and how they survived the ordeal of war.

Sherrick farm

Joseph Sherrick farmstead today

Sources:
  • Ancestry.com, Joseph Sherrick Family, Census Data 1850-1880.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Biscoe, Thomas Dwight and Walt Stanley. The view from the Conf. side of Antietam Creek near Burnside Bridge looks probably about North,. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, 1884.  Retrieved from: http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/civ/id/132/rec/25
  • Civil War Talk. Sherrick House at Antietam Interior Photographs/Tour  Retrieved fromhttps://civilwartalk.com/threads/sherrick-house-at-antietam-interior-photographs-tour.158270/
  • Carter, Robert Goldthwaite Four brothers in blue; or, Sunshine and shadows of the War of the Rebellion; a story of the great civil war from Bull Run to Appomattox. Washington, Press of Gibson Bros., Inc., 1913. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/details/cu31924032780623/page/n283/mode/2up/search/Antietam
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, Antietam, Maryland. Battlefield near Sherrick’s house where the 79th N.Y. Vols. fought after they crossed the creek. Group of dead Confederates, MD. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/cwpb.01112/
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Sherrick House, WA-II-334, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978.
  • Oehrlein & Associates Architects, Sherrick House Historic Structures Report. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1995.
  • 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.
  • Schmidt, Alann and Terry Barklery. September mourn: the Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield, El Dorado Hill, CA: Savas Beatie LLC. 2018.Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
  • Summerfield, Mark. Sherrick House. Retrived from: http://msummerfieldimages.com/sherrick-farm/
  • U.S. National Park Service, Burnside Bridge Area Cultural Landscape InventoryAntietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2016.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Burnside Bridge Area Cultural Landscape ReportAntietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2018.
  • Walker, Kevin M., Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • Wolfe, Robert and Janet.  Robert and Janet Wolfe Genealogy  – Joseph Sherk. Retrieved from: https://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/person/g5803.htm
  • 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.

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Phillip Pry Farm

February 28, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

The Pry House built in 1844

As discussed in early Farmstead blogs, Joseph Chapline had been acquiring hundreds of acres of land along the Potomac River through grants and purchases.  After the French and Indian War ended, Chapline was rewarded for his contributions and service.  Maryland Governor Horatio Sharpe granted Chapline over 10,000 acres adjacent to his existing estate in 1763.  Joseph Chapline was one of the largest landholders west of Frederick town with more than 15,000 acres, or 24 square miles in the Antietam Valley, 

 

 

Map of the early land tracts including “Resurvey of Hills and Dales and Vineyard”

Joseph Chapline died on January 8, 1769, and in his Last Will and Testament, the huge estate was divided among Joseph’s nine children.  A large portion of the tract of land known as the Resurvey of Hills and Dales and Vineyard lay to the east of the Antietam Creek.  Several of the children sold parts of the land tracts that they received and Abraham Baker purchased 140 acres of the Resurvey of Hills and Dales and Vineyard tract on March 18, 1812.  Just over a month later on April 26, 1812 Baker sold 126 3/4 acres of the property to Philip Pry, Sr., a relative newcomer to Washington County.

 

Philip’s father was a German-born immigrant of Huguenot descent named John DeBrie.  John immigrated to colonial America with his siblings and mother as an indentured servant when he was six years old.  Unfortunately, John’s mother died on the voyage across the Atlantic.  In New York,  John served out his indenture and was raised by a gentleman named Mr. Rohrer. On his twenty-first birthday, John was given a horse and he moved to Pennsylvania.  Once there he changed his last name from DeBrie to either Bryen or Bryan and later to Bry.   John married and in 1760 had a son, Philip.

Philip’s first wife, Anna Elizabeth died early in their marriage leaving no children. His second wife Susannah would bear him three children: Samuel (1814), Susannah (1815) and Philip, Jr. (1817).  Philip arrived in Washington County, Maryland in 1810.  It was here that Philip changed his name to Pry, purchased the property from Abraham Baker, started farming and began his family.  Philip Sr. most likely farmed his lands until his death on May 1, 1823.  He was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville.  According to his will, he left this land to his wife, Susannah to manage.  When Philip Jr., who was six years old at the time, reached the age of twenty-one the estate would be divided between the two sons – Philip and Samuel.

Philip and Samuel Pry

Approximate boundary of Pry Farm

 

Philip and his brother Samuel would continue to add land to their family holdings.  In April 1839, the Pry brothers purchased an eighteen acre parcel of land from the tract of Resurvey of the Hill and Dales and the Vineyards owned by Catherine Hershey.  According to the land records, this was “adjoining the lands owned ‘by the heirs of Philip Pry deceased'”.

 

 

It is unknown if this addition included the rise of high ground just east of the Antietam Creek with a commanding view to the west, but it is on this crest where Philip and Samuel would build a two-story brick house in the summer of 1844.  This Greek Revival architectural style was very popular at the time.  The bricks were manufactured on site and Philip carved his name and date on two of them, one on each side of the main entrance.

The Pry House

Back ell of the house

Tree lined drive

 

 

 

 

 

Once the house was completed a large bank barn was constructed just down the hill from the house with stalls, feeding mangers, and “run ins”  to manage the livestock on the lower level.  The upper level was used to process field crops and storehouses for fodder and grain.  A spring was just off to the side of the barn.

 

barn

Bank barn

Wagon shed and corn crib

Spring

 

 

 

 

 

Just to the west side of the house was the kitchen and domestic building.  To the front of the house at the bottom of the slope stood a few stone buildings and the root cellar.

Kitchen ruins

Root cellar

site of stone buildings

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel and Barbara Keedy Cost, a prominent Keedysville family were good friends of the Prys.  Samuel was a lifelong resident of the area, a successful shoemaker and farmer, and would amass a farm of more than 450 acres.  Samuel and Barbara had six children and two of their daughters – Mary Ann and Elizabeth Ellen, would eventually marry the Pry brothers.

Philip and Elizabeth Pry

 

On December 17, 1844 Mary Ann and Samuel would be married and have seven children.  Just three years later on December 2, 1847, Elizabeth Ellen and Philip were also married and had seven children, five by the time of the battle: Samuel Cost (1848), Alfred Luther (1850), Ellen Elizabeth (1853), Jacob Alexander (1857), Charles Webster (1859), Annie Deaner (1861) and Mary Elizabeth (1866).  All but Ellen Elizabeth survived to adulthood.

 

 

The Pry Mill

Just a year earlier, the property along the Little Antietam and the Antietam Creek, adjacent to the the Pry’s was subdivided into a 20.25 acre tract (with the Hitt mill) and a 130 acre tract (Hitt farm).  Mary Ann and Elizabeth Ellen’s older brother, Jacob Cost would purchase the 130 acre farm and on December 17, 1847, Samuel and Philip Pry purchased the mill property.  Samuel Pry would become the sole proprietor of the mill in 1850 and rebuilt the two-story stone mill with brick, and the mill assumed the shape it still has today . The first two levels are the coursed stone of the original mill.  The mill property would remain in the Pry family until 1941 although milling operations ceased in 1926.

Location of the “Bunker Hill Farm” that Philip Pry purchased

The Pry and the Cost families were members of the Reformed Church and very active in the congregation of the Mount Vernon German Reformed Church of Keedysville.  As the Pry’s raised their families, the farm and the grist mill prospered in the years prior to 1860.  According to the 1860 census, Philip’s farm was valued at $14,000 with another $1,800 in personal property.  Samuel’s mill was listed at $12,000 with $1,500 in personal property.  In 1861, Philip purchased more than 160 acres from Samuel Mumma, what he called “lower farm”, for $10,500.  Phillip renamed the 166 acre property the “Bunker Hill Farm”.  Phillip and his family continued to live at their farm just across the Antietam but rented the Bunker Hill Farm to a tenant named Joseph Parks. (Learn about the Joseph Parks Farm)

Philip had his two older boys to help with the work around the farm, but he also hired a farm hand that lived with them, 22 year old William Gitmaker.  It is unclear whether or not the Pry’s owned any slaves in 1860 but two African-American women lived in the household—Amanda Samper, age twenty, and Georgiana Rollins, age twelve.  Amanda served as the house keeper and  Georgianna served as a domestic servant.

Pry farm

Layout of the Philip Pry farm in 1862

Like many of the local families in the Antietam Valley, they began to gather at their places of worship on Sunday morning, September 14, 1862.  Just a few miles away on South Mountain, the Confederate Army clashed with Union forces moving west from Frederick.  Throughout the day and into the early evening the battle raged. Despite the Confederates attempt to hold the mountain passes, General Robert E. Lee’s army suffered heavy losses and was forced to withdraw back toward the Potomac River.  Wagons of wounded men moved down the Keedysville Pike past the Pry Farm heading to Shepherdstown, VA while the remainder of Lee’s army would hold up just across the Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg along the cemetery ridge.

The next day on September 15, the Union army under Major General George B. McClellan pursued the rebel rear guard through Boonsboro and Keedysville to the Antietam Creek.  There the Federals began to converge along the Keedysville Pike.  As it was getting too late in the day to begin any advance across the creek the Union Second Corp under Major General Edwin V. Sumner went into camp around the Pry farm.

The following morning a heavy fog blanketed the Antietam Valley as more Union troops and artillery took up positions along the east side of the Antietam.  By mid-day the fog began to burn off and Confederate gunners on Cemetery Hill started to shell the Union forces.  At the Pry farm, the family were in the middle of their daily chores when according to family lore a young captain by the name of George Armstrong Custer knocked on their door.  Captain Custer, being a staff officer on McClellan’s staff, informed them that their farm would serve as a forward command post for Gen. McClellan.

Battlefield map showing Union forces around the Pry farm

Soon the Pry farm became a hub of activity and a gathering place for Gen. McClellan, his staff and other officers.  A system of signal stations had been established at Red Hill, the high peak on Elk Ridge and other locations across the Union line to observe the Confederate positions and movement on the west side of the Antietam.  Couriers were continually riding in with reports and updates.  Telescopes had been set up on the bluff by the house to observe the field.  That afternoon, McClellan accompanied Major General Joseph Hooker and his First Corps as they crossed over the Antietam Creek at the Upper Bridge past Samuel Pry’s Mill and the Samuel Cost farm.  Later that evening McClellan returned to the Pry house after ordering the Union Twelfth Corps, under Brigadier General Joseph Mansfield, to take the same route of march to support Hooker’s men.  The stage had been set for the next days battle that would become the bloodiest single day in American history.

The battle began at daybreak on Wednesday, September 17 with some skirmishing in the East Woods that turned into a major engagement.  Soon the artillery joined in from both sides. Gen. McClellan and his staff watched the opening salvos from the bluff as Hooker’s men moved south from the North Woods.  Soon wounded officers and men began to arrive at the farm which was quickly being turned into a hospital.  McClellan ordered an ambulance to take Mrs. Pry and the children to the home of Jacob Keedy near Keedysville.  Philip Pry stayed at the farm during the entire battle.  During the early morning fight a Mr. Rohrer from Keedysville was brought to the bluff ‘to plot smoke from artillery burst on a large map in the yard’. It is said that several times during the fighting McClellan went up to the attic to stand on a barrel out the trapdoor to look over the field from this vantage point.

Alexander Garner photo of the Pry House

Around  7:30am, McClellan gave orders to Gen. Sumner to move the Second Corps over the Antietam to join in the fight.  Dr. J.H. Taylor, stayed behind to begin setting up hospitals not only at the Pry Farm but at the Cost Farm and Samuel Pry’s Mill.  Gen. Hooker arrived with a wound to his foot that morning.  He was treated in the parlor and taken to Keedysville. Soon the barn and outbuildings were filled with wounded soldiers and Union officers were being brought to the house.  Major General Israel B. Richardson, a Second Corps division commander was severely wounded by a shell burst near the Sunken Road.  Richardson was evacuated to the Pry Mill for initial treatment before taken to the Pry House.  He was taken to the large bedroom on the second floor.   “General McClellan sent Dr. Horace, a member of his staff, and Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Letterman to examine Richardson. Both men feared shrapnel had lodged in his left lung and deemed the wound mortal”  Two weeks after the battle on October 2nd, during a visit to the battlefield, President Abraham Lincoln stopped at the Pry house to visit the wounded General Richardson. Under the care of Dr. Taylor and Richardson’s wife Fannie, he started to recover but tragically Richardson succumbed to his wounds and died in the upstairs room of the Pry house on November 3, 1862.

By night fall on September 17 the battle would be over but the wounded were still coming to the farm.  An estimated 1,500 injured soldiers were cared for at the Pry farm.  Gen. McClellan left that night to return to his headquarters west of Keedysville. On September 19, the Union army pursued Lee’s retreating army to the Potomac and the campaign would come to an end with a battle at the Shepherdstown Ford the following day.   Like many, if not all the Pry’s neighbors and friends in the area, the war had come and gone but they were left with the remnants.  Several weeks later when Dr. Elijah Harris of the U.S. Sanitary Commission came to inspect the hospital, he reported that 250 wounded and sick men were still receiving attention.    The Pry farm would remain a hospital for at least two months.  Their crops had been eaten, fields destroyed, and their fences were cut down for firewood.

Damage Claim submitted by Philip Pry

The Prys would do their best to recover after the battle but it almost ruined Philip Pry.  According to Mr. Pry a board of appraiser would be around to appraise the value of the property used, but the army had moved on before the task could be completed. He had to wait until November 27, 1865 to receive his first payment in the amount of $2,662.50 for military damages.

When the claim was submitted, an agent came to investigate.  They questioned several individuals loyalty to the Union during wartime and character witness were interviewed.  “Jacob Cost, C. M. Keedy, Samuel Keedy, Alfred N. Cost, Ezra Lantz, F. Wyand, and David Bell testified that they were farmers and neighbors of the Prys. They reported visiting the Pry farm frequently in the fall of 1862, and personally knowing that Philip lost heavily.”  Philip stated that Union horses consumed 900 bushels of wheat and twenty acres of corn, 85 acres of the farm was used as a pasture by the Union horses, and fifteen hundred feet of lumber had been taken to build Union hospitals.  Phillip also sought rent for the use of his house as a hospital during and after the battle.

Two other claims were paid out seven years later in 1872 for a total amount of 1,581.03, a full decade after the Battle of Antietam. However there was a claim made by the government that this was an overpayment. Unfortunately, the government deemed part of this to be overpayment and Philip Pry was forced to repay $1,209.38.  With this financial burden of overpayment, legal fees, and attempting to get the farm back into shape the Prys were forced to sell the farm and move to Tennessee in 1874.

Maryland Senator, William T. Hamilton, writing from the U. S. Senate Chamber on February 25, 1874, said of Philip Pry:  “Before the war he was a prosperous man, owning one of- the finest farms in the county lying in the vicinity of the battlefield of Antietam. He is now in serious circumstances. I have known him for thirty years, an upright, honest man and good citizen. His loyalty is unquestioned”.

The Pry Memory Quilt

The farm was sold to Daniel W. Wyand of Washington County for the sum of $14,172.50 containing 141 ½ acres.  Before departing for eastern Tennessee, friends and family in the community gathered and made a Memory Quilt as a parting gift. Many of the friends and neighbors that Elizabeth and Philip had known all their lives personalized a block of the quilt with their signatures or brief sentimental notes.

 

Pry gravesite

Elizabeth and Philip Pry’s gravesite at the Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville

The Prys lived near Johnson City, Tennessee until Elizabeth passed away on February 1, 1886.  Upon her death, Elizabeth wished to return home to Keedysville, so Philip and their daughter Annie accompanied her remains back to Maryland to be buried next to her family at Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville.  After the service, Philip stopped one last time to visit the home he had built over forty year before on that bluff overlooking the Antietam Creek.  Annie’s daughter Elizabeth Jones wrote of this return visit, “As you enter the house to your left is a room then from that room you enter a room–that was where all the children were born. Mamma told me when she and her father visited the house he stopped in that room and cried“.  Philip passed away on February 3, 1900 and was buried alongside his wife.

The farm changed hands eight times until January 31, 1956 when Leo B. and Vila M. Wyand purchased the farm and 123 acres from Victor and Ruth Stine.  The Wyand’s continued to farm the property until 1971 when the land was resurveyed and a parcel of 155.68 acres was sold to Recreational Properties Associates.  Three years later on March 7, 1974, the Recreational Properties Associates sold a tract of land containing two acres around the Pry house and barn to the United States Government with 24.67 acres scenic easement for $62,500.

In the fall of 1976 an electrical fire damaged part of the first and second floors.  The National Park Service restored and renovated the structure.  In 2005 the Park Service partnered with the National Civil War Medicine Museum to establish the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.  Today the Pry House is one of the two farmsteads on the battlefield that are open to the public.  Visitors to the  Pry House Field Hospital Museum are able to explore the house, barn and grounds of the farm.  Here they learn about the medical aspects of the battle and they hear the tragic story of the Pry family and how their farm became an eyewitness to history on September 17, 1862.

The Philip and Elizabeth Pry Farm today.

Sources:

  • Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron, The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
  • 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
  • The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Pry House and Family History, Frederick MD. 2020.  Retrieved from http://www.civilwarmed.org
  • Washington County Historical Trust, Pry Mill, circa 1820, west of Keedysville, MD, Hagerston, MD 1998. Retrieved from http://washingtoncountyhistoricaltrust.org/pry-mill-circa-1820-west-of-keedysville-md
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Hitt’s Mill Complex, WA-II-120, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, July 2003.
  • 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.
  • Schildt, John W., Drums Along the Antietam. ParsonMcClain Printing Company, 2004.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Antietam National Battlefield, National Register of Historic Place, ANTI-WA-II-477, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Philip Pry House, Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • 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.
  • 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

 

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.

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