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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.

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

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Steve Stotelmyer

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

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

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

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

“Confederate artillery commanders at Antietam” – ​Jim Rosebrock

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

James Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock

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

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

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

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

Ethnics in the Confederacy and at Sharpsburg

June 11, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Ted Alexander

Ted Alexander

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

 

Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination

June 5, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Dennis Frye

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Antietam Hospitals – John Schildt

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

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

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Joe Stahl

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Jim Rosebrock

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

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