Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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Testimonials by our Guests

September 28, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Our goal at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn is to provide every guest with warm hospitality, comfortable accommodations, and gracious service. Before you book your stay with us, take a moment to read what our past guests have to say about their stay. We know you won’t be disappointed.

 

I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this place….beautiful place inside and out. Wonderful room, breakfast and hospitality. One of the best B&B’s we’ve every stayed.  – Reviewed by Barbara, November 2017 via Facebook.

My husband, my mother and myself had a fabulous experience at the inn. The Clara Barton suite was perfect for the three of us. Chris and Amy were so welcoming and took care of our every need while staying with them. The accommodations were comfortable and spotless. The breakfast we received each morning was delicious. I would highly recommend staying at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn and we plan to return there again.  – Reviewed by Karen, November 2017 via Facebook.

Great B&B. Room was very nice and clean.  Bed was extremely comfortable.  Inn keepers were very nice. That stay was exactly what I needed. /  Beautiful place.  The innkeepers are very friendly and helpful. I would definitely recommend this bed & breakfast to everyone who wants a relaxing getaway. – Reviewed by Richard & Dawn, November 2017 via Facebook.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The Generals Quarters was perfect for the two of us and our Goldendoodle Sophie. The suite included a small kennel (although we travel with our own), and full accessories for your canine companion😀 They even had a flashlight for those late night or early morning outings. I have a bad back and many allergies and I am hesitant to stay at many B&B’s. The Jacob Rohrbach Inn gets an excellent review from me. The pet free room was very clean and the bed very comfortable even for a princess and a pea type of person😀 The breakfasts at the Inn each morning were truly amazing. We will be back!   – Reviewed by Darlene, October 2017 via Facebook.

Thanks so much, we had a wonderful stay, so relaxing.  Can’t wait to come back! – Reviewed by Virginia, Patrick, & Sean, September 2017 via Guest Note.

Everything was wonderful – thanks very much… P.S. + the puppies too & breakfast was lovely.  – Reviewed by Paula & David, September 2017 via Guest Note.

Wonderful place. Definitely one of the best ever that we have stayed in. The room was General Quarters and really was a suite. The owners are fantastic people and what a wonderful breakfast the have. Can’t say enough good things about this place the two dogs are adorable too.   – Reviewed by Evelyn, September 2017 via Facebook.

We enjoyed our stay so much! Our only complaint, we couldn’t stay longer… you are much gracious hosts (all 4 of you!). We would highly recommend this B&B. Y’all just think of everything for you guests and make them feel like family.   – Reviewed by Bill & Sheila, September 2017 via Guest Note.

This is our 2nd visit here and we love it! We’ll be back! – Reviewed by Cathy, September 2017 via Facebook.

Amy and Chris were very friendly and welcoming to their establishment. They had great recommendations for the area. The B&B was clean and breakfast was delicious! It is definitely a must stay when in the area!  – Reviewed by Stephenie & David, September 2017 via Facebook.

Amazing b&b wonderful owners and fabulous breakfast. Can’t wait to go back – Reviewed by Greta, September 2017 via Facebook.

We stayed there for a few days for our 30th wedding anniversary. We couldn’t have been more pleased with our accommodations and food. Chris and Amy are wonderful. We absolutely adore Zoey and Maya….they are little sweethearts. We will definitely be going back often.  – Reviewed by Ed and Becky, August 2017 via Facebook.

This place is awesome! Super sweet people! Clean rooms, historical but modern conveniences. Easy to work with if you have special needs. Food is AMAZING…my boys like scones now! Highly recommend!   – Reviewed by Jamie, August 2017 via Facebook.

Great place to stay if you are visiting the the battlefield. My family and I highly recommend it!   – Reviewed by Shawn, August 2017 via Facebook.

Fantastic inn with cozy sheets and yummy breakfast.  – Reviewed by Julie, August 2017 via Facebook.

My husband and I and our 2 dogs really enjoyed our stay! The General’s Quarters were perfect, breakfast was amazing (french toast made from homemade raisin bread and homemade sausage!), my dietary restrictions were accommodated with a smile. Its obvious that Amy and Chris love what they do. It all made for the perfect relaxing getaway!  – Reviewed by Kate, June 2017 via Facebook.

Beautiful building and grounds, excellent food and wonderful owners. We will definitely be back!  – Reviewed by Connie, June 2017 via Facebook.

We had a wonderful overnight at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg! The historic building is beautifully configured for guests, Chris & Amy Vincent are welcoming hosts and informed about all of the many attractions in the area, and the breakfast was fabulous!! – Reviewed by Janet, June 2017 via Facebook.

Had another great stay at the inn! Their great breakfasts will power you through a long day of touring all the sights. Looking forward to staying again. – Reviewed by Randal, May 2017 via Facebook.

Lovely yet Quaint. Perfect location to tour Antietam and Harpers Ferry plus SO much more. Hosts Amy and Chris are VERY nice and SO knowledgeable about the area. We stayed in the Generals Quarters. Love everything about it! – Reviewed by Nancy, May 2017 via Facebook.

I am in love with this building and it’s wonderful owners Amy and Chris! Such a warm and welcoming place to stay! The rooms are fantastic, modern conveniences with a historic feel. And the food? So inventive and different, yet down home and flavorful! The location is perfect too. Had such a great time and I look forward to coming back! And I will for sure!  – Reviewed by Lauren, May 2017 via Facebook.

Very much enjoyed our two nights here & hope to stay longer next time. Recommend bike rental to see Antietam (save the long hills for driving in auto later!) plus few C&O trail miles. Convenient to Shepherdstown.  – Reviewed by Becky, May 2017 via Facebook.

We would highly recommend the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.  We’ve traveled all over the world and stayed in a variety of places – yours was a top spot. – Reviewed by Barbara & Chris, March 2017 via Thank You note.

My husband, daughter, and I were driving home from a college visit and decided to stay in Antietam. Amy and Chris took us in at the last minute and it was wonderful!! We had the inn (and innkeepers and puppy dogs) to ourselves. We fell in love with the Harper’s Ferry room; it was perfect for our family of 3. We had ice cream at Nutter’s and then settled in for the night. Breakfast was delicious with fruit, scones, egg casserole, cheese toast, herb tomatoes, sausage, and juice. Once we got home my daughter said her favorite part of the trip was sitting in the common room with Amy Monday night drinking tea and talking and playing with Maya and Zoey. We’ve already booked a return trip for April. See you soon Amy and Chris (and Maya and Zoey)!!!  – Reviewed by Mary, January 2017 via Facebook.

Beautiful place, amazing food and wonderful owners. Kid and dog friendly. – Reviewed by Mary, January 2017 via Facebook.

Beautiful Inn operated by Amy and Chris Vincent – great place to stay and enjoy comfortable pampered lodgings and outstanding breakfasts.  Thank you for hosting our veterans.  – Reviewed by Sharon, November 2016 via Facebook.

What a great experience the four of us had at the Jacob Rohrbach B&B during our stay Oct 28th, 29th and 30th of this year. The Owner’s Chris and Amy were everything great Innkeepers you hope and expect from a stay at a great B&B. Clean, beautifully decorated throughout inside and for Halloween a bonus of outside tasteful decorations that not only delighted the guests but the Town of Sharpsburg’s residents. Breakfast were especially unique with creations of homemade scones, biscuits, egg casserole, French toast, apple bacon sliced thick from local butchers, your choice of juices and fresh fruit especially prepared to complement your complete breakfast. Their knowledge and recommendations for seeing the area history of the Antietam Battlefields were extremely helpful especially with Chris’ history and involvement with volunteering. They provided excellent recommendations for area restaurants that included their special ice cream parlor there in town. We will be sure to return for another visit to these wonderful folks.  – Reviewed by Bob, Debbie, Bill & Susan, October 2016 via Facebook.

Thanks you for all your hospitality and delicious food.  Added pleasure – Maya & Zoey!  – Reviewed by Marianne & Perry, October 2016 via Guest Survey.

The hosts Amy and Chris are amazing and the food is excellent. Highly recommend!  Reviewed by Dana, October 2016 via Facebook.

We enjoyed our stay at this lovely inn. Chris and Amy made us feel right at home. Our room, the General’s Quarters, was wonderful. Breakfast was delicious along with the afternoon cookies- even accommodating my ovo-vegetarian diet.The inn is conveniently located to all the historical sites. I highly recommend this inn for a getaway!  – Reviewed by Stacy, October 2016 via Facebook.

Excellent, Hospitable Welcoming, well worth a Second Visit, Need I say more, First Class.  – Reviewed by Catherine, October 2016 via Facebook.

We recently arrived home from our seven week odyssey and have to say that the evening at your Inn and the tour of the Battlefield with you were highlights on our trip. Thank you so much for the hospitality the accommodations, and your incredible knowledge and presentation of the Battle.  – Reviewed by Rebecca, September 2016 via email.

It is a wonderful place to stay and the breakfast is outstanding. – Reviewed by Christina, September 2016 via Facebook.

Great place with great history! The hosts (including the dogs) are very accommodating. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Dan, September 2016 via Facebook.

We just spent 3 days here for my husbands 60th Birthday. Love the Inn and its hosts Chris & Amy.  They were so welcoming and accommodating.  Atmosphere and food were awesome.  The location sets right in the middle of this historic area and adds to your experience. My husband is a Civil War enthusiast and his friend Ken, who also is, and Peg from North Carolina came to stay here for two days and tour Antietam Battlefield. A great time was had by all. – Reviewed by Donna, August 2016 via Facebook.

Wonderful stay, cordial hosts, delicious breakfast & interesting battle discussion. It was a comfort to return to the Rohrbach Inn after the sadness of the Antietam Battlefield tour. The rooms are lovely and luxurious without being froo-froo. Hosts Chris and Amy are cordial with smiles and conversation, skillful with a delicious breakfast, and interesting with a vast knowledge of the Civil War. We’d go again in a heartbeat if we didn’t live 1,000 miles away. Come to think of it, we might come anyway and stay longer.  – Reviewed by Kate & Julien, August 2016 via Guest Survey/Facebook.

My husband and I just spent a night at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn and we were blown away by the experience. The room was immaculate and expertly decorated and the breakfast was absolutely delicious. The best part of the experience by far was the warm and welcoming Innkeepers, Chris and Amy. You can really tell that they put love into every aspect of the Inn.  We will definitely be booking at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in the future.  Reviewed by Felicia, August 2016 via Facebook.

My wife and I just returned home after spending 3 delightful nights at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg, Md. The Inn is comfortable and very cozy, centrally located, and the innkeepers are the best. If you love history, and want to stay at a historic property close to the Antietam battlefield and Harpers Ferry, you need to come to Sharpsburg, Md. and definitely stay with Chris and Amy at their Inn! By the way, breakfast is delicious!  Reviewed by Allen, August 2016 via Facebook.

My husband and I just returned from a weekend stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. Our stay could not have been more delightful! The inn itself is brimming with historical character and lovely gardens. And Amy and Chris, the owners and hosts, are totally charming and really good cooks!  – Reviewed by Dee, July 2016 via Facebook.

Our stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn was relaxing and delightful all around. During our most recent trips to Maryland to visit our daughter, we stayed in hotels. Our time at the B&B was much more of a vacation. My husband loved the multi-course gourmet breakfasts and we enjoyed the quiet atmosphere. The covered deck was perfect for early morning reading or a glass of wine at the end of the day. The beautiful gardens, historic attractions, and charming main street were also highlights of our trip … and the sweet and friendly little dogs were an added treat.  – Reviewed by Carolyn & Tom, June 2016 via Guest Survey.

We stayed for a weekend with our daughter. An amazing inn and an amazing home cooked breakfast everyday. Great location and so beautiful! A must stay!!  Reviewed by Susie, June 2016 via Facebook.

We highly recommend this beautiful B&B as a great place to start our exploration of the National Park and the surrounding historic area. The Inn Keepers, Amy and Chris, are great hosts providing comfortable beds, lots of Civil War reading material, a full snack bar, lovely grounds and delicious breakfast.  Reviewed by Janet, June 2016 via Facebook.

A great place to stay with wonderful hosts, Amy and Chris.  – Reviewed by Bill, June 2016 via Facebook.

Could not be happier with lovely rooms and grounds of the Inn. We enjoyed our stay very much and are booked to return in July.  Our enjoyment of the surrounding was only exceeded by the graciousness of our host and hostess.  – Reviewed by Anna, June 2016

We loved our stay at the Inn! The innkeepers were amazing, friendly and knowledgeable and the food was awesome. It was perfectly secluded for our wedding night in the General’s quarters. I would recommend this place to anyone. It was a night I will never forget and I’m glad that we spent it here.  – Reviewed by Holly, June 2016 via Facebook.

First stay at a B&B and loved it, very personalized service. Rooms are nice size, Civil war memorabilia everywhere gives it a nice unique flavor. And breakfast of cherry and chocolate scone, strawberries and blackberries, with egg soufflé and bacon was delicious. Will be back.  – Reviewed by Debbie, June 2016 via Facebook.

A beautiful, bed and breakfast, the room was outstanding, we chose the General’s Quarters. The owners are friendly and attentive, ask about food allergies, 24 hour beverages and snacks. Wonderful experience, highly recommend.  – Reviewed by Dee H. May 2016 via Facebook.

The accommodations, food and location are excellent. Chris made us feel welcomed from the start. We look forward to returning in the future.  – Reviewed by Gina, May 2016 via Facebook.

We had a wonderful stay!  It was the perfect getaway for our anniversary.  We have stayed in a few B&Bs, this is our favorite! Loved the outside entrance from the rooms and breakfast was delicious!  – Reviewed May 2015 via Guest Survey.

Amazing place with wonderful accommodations! Innkeepers Amy & Chris are a delight and very knowledgeable about the area. Breakfast was outstanding!!! I would recommend this place in a heartbeat!!  – Reviewed by Kathleen, March 2015 via Facebook.

Lovely, comfortable rooms, friendly innkeeper, Chris and Amy. Great breakfasts, beautiful grounds. We enjoyed our stay there very much.  – Reviewed by Kathy, April 2015 via Facebook.

 

You can find more guest reviews on   Google +     TripAdvisor    Yelp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antietam Creek Vineyards

August 12, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

The newest vineyard in Washington County is right here in Sharpsburg – 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.

 

About Antietam Creek Vineyards

Antietam Creek Vineyards

Antietam Creek Vineyards (ACV) is owned and operated by Joan Larrea and George Warmenhoven.  Since 2008, these world travelers have been working to turn this former 55-acre dairy farm into a vineyard.  In 2011 George planted their first 4 1/2 acres.  By 2015, the grapevines had reached full production and this husband and wife duo began retrofitting their 100 year old barn into a tasting room.  The next year, George’s dream of opening a winery came true and they opened to the public in August 2016 for weekend tastings.

Distilling At Antietam Creek Vineyards

The vineyard

While visiting this area and staying at the Inn, one of the first things guests notice are all the limestone outcroppings.  Of course they ask, “How in the world can anyone farm here, let alone have a vineyard?”  Well it turns out that the limestone and the soil here are perfect for making wine.  According to ACV the limestone in the soil provides “a perfect 7.0 pH, or neutral acidity. In doing so, it imparts “terroir,” or place-specific taste elements, to our wine. In our whites, it is expressed as flintiness and freshness. In our reds, it allows the varietal fruit flavors to come through cleanly“.

After harvesting, the processing and fermentation takes place in the cool cellar of the barn.  Each varietal is aged in either French oak barrels or stainless steel to preserve and enhance the best features of each wine.  The stone cellar of the barn also makes a great location to store each bottle at the perfect temperature.

ACV offers several varietals and blends depending on each year’s crop size and characteristics.  If you’re lucky you might get some of their peach wine, using the fruit from their own orchard.  Here are just a few of their outstanding wines:

   Petit VerdotAntietam ReserveVital BlancAlbariñoChardonnay

Tasting at Antietam Creek Vineyards

The Tasting Room

Their Tasting Room is in the 1903 bank barn that George and Joan are hoping to have completed soon.  The chestnut post and beam tasting room is a perfect setting to enjoy this local hand-crafted wine while viewing the pristine Antietam landscape.  Until the barn is completed, you can enjoy the wines on the grounds, under the tent or at the picnic tables. Feel free to bring a lunch or some snacks to accompany the wine.

Tastings will be held from April through November, on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6pm.

For more information about Antietam Creek Vineyards, tastings and future events you can check out their Facebook  Page or their Website

 Directions

Welcome to Antietam Creek Vineyards

Turn onto Rodman Avenue off MD Route 34 into Antietam National Battlefield Park.  Turn right onto Branch Avenue after crossing overpass.  Take a left through the gate and drive back the farm lane to the parking lot in front of the barn. (Click here for Google Maps)

Antietam Creek Vineyard
4835 Branch Avenue
Sharpsburg, Maryland

 

Upcoming Events

Joan & George holding an outdoor tasting.

Saturday, August 12 – Antietam Battlefield talk with Bob Murphy (Free Event) 2:30 pm to 5:00pm

Saturday, August 19 – Food Truck & Live Music (Free Event!)
Featuring Brentwood Smokers BBQ, 1-6pm
and Jeff Taulton, Guitarist 2-5pm

Saturday, August 26 – Wine & Unwind Class
Yoga + Wine Tasting Event
Melanie Sirni, Instructor
12-1pm $25 per person

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Joshua Newcomer farm

August 9, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Some of the earliest land patents of the future Washington County are dated between 1730 and 1740, and they were granted to men who never intended on live on the land.  One of these men was Dr. George Stuart of Annapolis who was granted 4,450 acres of land in western Maryland on March 7, 1732.  In 1739, Stuart transferred 208 acres to a planter from Prince George’s County named James Smith.  It’s believed that Smith lived in the area, as he was surveying lands in the future Frederick and Washington counties and was an attorney for the Frederick courts.  This 208 acres was patented “Smiths Hills” and was the future location of what we know today as the Newcomer Farm.

Plat map of Smiths Hills and surrounding region.

According to the patent, “Smiths Hills” began at “a bounded white oak standing on the side of a hill with a quarter of a mile of the Waggon Road that crosses Anteatom and running thence south“. Over the next fifteen years, Smith continued to add land to his holdings and by 1756 the “Resurvey of Smiths Hills” contained 510 acres.  By the 1750’s, colonial interest and the French and Indian War lead to more permanent inroads into the backcountry.  Smith  petitioned Frederick County for the building of both a ford across the Antietam Creek and a new road, because he intended to build a mill along the creek on his land.  Smith also knew that an improved roadway through his property would not only increase the value of his land but that of the surrounding area.  Although Smith did not build a mill, “he had set the groundwork for the future development of the milling industry on the property” and a new road would eventually be built from Red Hill to Swearingen’s Ferry on the Potomac at Shepherdstown.

As the French and Indian War was ending, Christian Orndorff, a millwright who was from Lancaster County, arrived in the area in 1762.   Now that the region was safe and open for settlement, Orndorff was looking for a suitable site to build a grist mill and he found it along the Antietam Creek.  Christian Orndorff purchased 503 acres of Resurvey on Smiths Hills and 11 acres of Porto Santo, another nearby patent, from James Smith. “The deed conveys property with orchards, gardens, feeding woods, and underwoods in addition to the rights and profits associated with its location along Antietam Creek“.

Looking across the Antietam Creek at the Joshua Newcomer farm and mill. The house was the original Orndorff dwelling and no longer exists. (Alexander Gardner; LOC)

Orndorff built a large house of logs and sheathed it with weatherboard siding.  This large three-story home had two chimneys and six fireplaces.  Just in front of the house he constructed a large barn, a grist mill, a saw mill and a workshop along the Antietam Creek.  The mills were powered by water diverted from the creek through a mill race that Orndorff built.  He also farmed crops of wheat and corn.  Christian Orndoff named his property “Mount Pleasant”.

“With the new road providing access for farmers to bring their grains to the mill, as well as a route for Orndorff to get the milled grain to market, Orndorff’s business prospered.”  Christian expanded his land holding toward Sharpsburg and helped with the construction of other mills along the Antietam.  Besides the grist mill and sawmill, Christian established a plaster mill, a cooper shop and other tooling shops which turned his crossing point on the Antietam into a substantial industrial complex.

By the 1770’s resentment of the British government was growing in the colonies, and in the Antietam region Christian was very active in the cause.  He helped organize, equip and train men, including the first company west of the Blue Ridge Mountains which was led by Captain Cresap.  Christian would become a Major in the Washington County militia and all three of his sons would serve in the army during the American Revolution. His oldest son Christopher was a Captain helping supply the Continental Army with flour and grain.  His second son, Christian III was a 2nd Lieutenant in Capt. Reynold’s “Flying Camp” serving in New York.  He was taken prisoner on Manhattan Island in November 1776 and was held in New York until exchanged in November 1780. He then joined the 6th Maryland Regiment for the remainder of the war.  Henry Orndorff, the third son of Christian II  also served as a captain.  In 1781, Christian II would return home at the request of General George Washington to operate his flour mill and furnish supplies to the Continental Army.

Looking east down the turnpike at the Newcomer Farm and Mill.

In the 1780’s Christian II hired a miller to assist with the operations and constructed a house on the east side of the Antietam Creek for the miller and his family. With the war over, Christopher followed in his father’s footsteps and took over the milling operation.  Christopher would expand and remodel the mill in 1786.  He also built a new dwelling house next to his father’s.  It is this house that known today by its 1862 owner – Jacob Newcomer.  With Christopher now running the mill, Christian II built a new house just to the northwest of the mill on a piece of his property, which is known today as the Samuel Mumma farm.

In 1796, Jacob Mumma purchased 324 1/4 acres from Christopher Orndorff for £5500.  The Mummas arrived in Philadelphia in 1732 and settled in Lancaster County.  Like other Germans settling in the area, the Mumma family traveled down the Wagon Road to Sharpsburg.  They were accompanied by Joseph Sherrick, Sr. and his family.  Sherrick would also purchase property along the Antietam from the Orndorff’s.

The Newcomer Farm layout in 1862

Jacob Mumma and his sons lived in the houses and continued to run the mill and farming operations.  According to census data the Mummas had a number of farm hands as well as ten slaves.  Over the next few years Mumma would acquire “two-thirds of the large land tract amassed by the Orndorff family decades earlier”.  Jacob’s son, John began farming on his own at the current site of the Samuel Mumma farm.  Tragically, his wife passed away and John moved back to the mill site where he took on the milling operation.   “By 1820 the ‘John Mumma’ mill processed 20,000 bushels combined of wheat, rye, and corn as well as sixty tons of plaster”.   In 1821,  Jacob Mumma and his wife Elizabeth transferred ownership of the mill property to their son John.  Around this time, a house and barn was constructed just north of the mill along the creek for John’s son – Jacob, known today as the Parks farm.

The Orndorff or Middle Bridge looking north. The Parks farm can be see in the upper right corner of the photo. (Alexander Gardner; LOC)

After the turn of the century major improvements in transportation in Washington County began to affect the farming community and the local economy.  With the plan to build a National Road from Baltimore to Wheeling, “turnpike fever” spread into Washington County with a number of macadamized toll roads being constructed including “a turnpike leading from Boonsboro through Sharpsburg to the Potomac River” that was completed by 1833.  With the chartering of the turnpikes came the need for better bridges across the Antietam Creek.  In 1824, Silas Harry built a three-arched stone bridge over the Antietam, replacing the wooden bridge just upstream from the mill.  With the construction of the turnpikes and bridges in the county along came the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the ability to transport products from Western Maryland farms to market east.

Approximate property line of the Newcomer Farmstead.

Business at the Mumma mill was booming but John Mumma suddenly died in 1835 and without a will.  His father, Jacob purchased the property back from John’s estate but resold the mill and farm to his younger son, Samuel in 1837.  Samuel and his wife Barbara had moved to the farm that John had vacated after his wife died in 1822 (the Mumma Farm).  Samuel continued the operations of the mill and farm from there until 1841 when he sold 152 acres to Jacob and John Emmert.  The Emmert partnership was short lived and by 1846 the property was purchased by Jacob Miller for $3,000 in a Sheriff’s sale.  Miller conveyed the property to Lewis Watson in 1848.

Newspaper clipping of the sale of “Mumma’s Mill” to Joshua Newcomer from The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Tue, Jan 10, 1854

It is believed that Lewis Watson and Joshua Newcomer were partners in the milling operation. The 1850 U.S. Census of Manufactures called the property the “Watson and Newcomer Mill”.   Not much is known about the Newcomer family.  Joshua married Mary Ann Ankeney in 1837 and together they had seven children.  In 1850, Joshua had an young man named David Barkman, a miller, living with them at the farm.  That year the mill had processed 31,000 bushels of grain.  “Joshua became the owner and proprietor of the complex in 1853 when he purchased it for $19,180” from Lewis Watson.  “Between 1850 and 1860 grain production increased in Washington County, especially corn and rye, but also in wheat”.

By 1860, Joshua’s five sons were all working at the mill or on the farm.  22 year-old William, was a miller and his younger brother Clinton, was a clerk.  Like his neighbors, Joshua grew corn and wheat, had an orchard,  and produced butter, hay, clover, and honey valued at $200.  Even though his property was worth over $10,000,  with the clouds of war on the horizon,  the economic prosperity of both the region and the Newcomer family would fall on hard times.

1860 U.S. Census – Joshua Newcomer Family

In 1861, a hailstorm destroyed the fields, including Joshua’s wheat crops.  “Newcomer had taken out a loan from [Jacob] Miller’s mother and when it was called in he transferred it to someone else”.  With the Newcomer property situated along one the main thoroughfares in the area, and at the crossing of the Antietam Creek, soldiers naturally gravitated to the barns, mills, houses, and other buildings at the farmstead for protection and food.  This would be the case during the Maryland Campaign as Confederate soldiers were moving along the turnpike toward Sharpsburg on the morning of September 15, 1862.  Later that day Union soldiers advanced up to the east side of the bridge and the Antietam Creek.

Newcomer Farm, Sept. 17, 1862 at daybreak

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

 

 

Newcomer Farm, Sept. 17, 1862 at 12:30 pm.

The next morning, September 17, as the battle raged to the north of Sharpsburg, Union Horse Artillery was pushed across the Antietam and deployed on the hills of the Newcomer farm.  According to Captain John Tidball, of Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery,  “About 10 a.m., I was ordered to cross the turnpike bridge over the Antietam, where I took a position on the right side of the road. In front, the enemy’s sharpshooters were posted, and there being no infantry at hand to drive them back, I opened fire upon them with canister and gradually worked my guns by hand up a steep ploughed field to the crest of the hill, where I placed them in a commanding position, not only for the enemy directly in front, but for an enfilading fire in front of Sumner’s Corps on the right and that of Burnside on the left of me”.

Newcomer Farm, Sept. 17, 1862 at 3:00pm

By mid-day Union infantry had pushed the Confederate skirmishers back up the hill across the Newcomer fields toward Sharpsburg and more artillery occupied the heights to support Gen. Burnside’s advance to the south.  By nightfall the Union forces held the high ground along the Antietam Creek and across the Newcomer farm.

 

 

 

Looking west at the Middle Bridge. The Newcomer farm and mill complex are on the far bank to the left of the turnpike while the two houses are on the opposite side of the pike. (Alexander Gardner; LOC)

Looking southwest toward the Middle Bridge and Newcomer barn. The small house with the garden still exists and may be the house built for the miller while the stone house across from it is thought to be the toll house which no longer exists. (Alexander Gardner; LOC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Newcomer farmstead did not witness the heavy fighting like some of their neighbors, they did suffer significant property losses and what was not damaged or destroyed during the battle would be gone in the days and weeks after.  Joshua Newcomer  testified that his pasture fields had been “pretty much used up” by the troops and they, “fed to their horses all my corn and pasture that had not been previously ruined by the soldiers during the skirmishing and progress of the battle on Wednesday (Sept 17). The troops on the adjoining farms fed to their animals his corn and fodder… a great deal of his fences were used for fuel by McClellan’s Army before and after the battle of Antietam. His farm was divided into eleven fields and after the troops left, he had barely enough rails left to fence three fields“.  Newcomer estimated that the damages totaled more than $3097.15.  Despite having testimony from a number of individuals backing his claim, Joshua Newcomer only received $145.oo from the government because he “had not made clear distinctions between damage caused by Confederate and Union troops”.

From The Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown, Maryland) on Wed, Sep 23, 1868 by a man named ‘Tom’ who was travelling through Illinois when he ran into Joshua Newcomer.

By the end of the war the Newcomer family, farm and livelihood was devastated.   Now deep in debt, and not wanting to burden his sons with the necessary and significant repairs required, Joshua vacated the farm and the Newcomer family moved to Haldane, Illinois, possibly to live with family or friends from Washington County.  By 1880 the Newcomers  returned to Washington County, but lived near Clear Spring.  In August 1887, Mary Ann passed away, followed by Joshua just four months later in December. They are buried in Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery in Clear Spring, Maryland.

Gravesite of Mary Ann and Joshua Newcomer at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery in Clear Spring.

 

The iron bridge can be seen in the distance with remains of the mills along the mill race.

After the Newcomers departed, the property fell to a County Circuit Court Trustee and the property was put up for public sale in March, 1866.  On August 1, 1867, David Myers purchased the property for $19,050.  Within two years he sold it to Jacob Myers and Frederick Miller.  Myers and Miller continued farming and operating the mill.  By the 1880’s the water-powered flour milling industry was declining and in 1889 the dam was washed away during the “Johnstown Flood”.

 

Postcard of the bridge at Myers Mill, early 20th century.

The piers of the stone bridge weakened and began to settle in the high water.  The bridge was torn down and replace with an iron bridge.  By this point Jacob Myers was the sole owner of the property buying Miller’s share of the estate.  Jacob Myers continued to reside on the farm until he died in 1901.

 

 

Over the next century the property would change hands ten times.  During this time the dilapidated old mill was demolished and “the farm’s focus eventually shifted to milk production”.  The original Orndorff dwelling was also gone by the mid 1950’s.  In 1956 part of the property was transferred to the State Roads Commission as a right-of-way for the improvement of the ‘old turnpike’ into MD Route #34. With the widened road some of the out buildings were removed as the road cut through the property.  With the new road came the need to develop acres of the once rich farmland into housing developments.  In 1965, Brightwood Acres Inc. purchased the property and planned to “create another suburban community”.  Fortunately the Newcomer farm escaped this fate and the property was sold the next year.

Monument to Gen. R. E. Lee near the Newcomer House.

By 1999, a new owner had plans for the farmstead. William F. Chaney purchased the property for $290,000.00 with the intent of turning the farmhouse in a museum and giftshop.  The following year Chaney began to restore the farmhouse to Secretary of the Interior standards and in October he sold 56.83 acres to the National Park Service.  This parcel included the barn and the land south of the turnpike.  Chaney, who traced his roots to Gen. Robert E. Lee, also wanted to erect sculptures of Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart around the house which was now the War Between the States Museum.  In 2003 a statute to Lee was erected just west of the house, but within two years Chaney sold the surrounding 42.6 acres to the Park Service, including Lee’s statue.  Chaney retained ownership of about 2.2 acres, including the Newcomer House.  Finally in 2007 he sold this last piece to the National Park Service.

 

In 2010 the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area opened an Exhibit and Visitor Center at the Newcomer House, working in partnership with the Antietam National Battlefield and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The Newcomer House is very unique because it is one of two period farmhouses that visitors can go into on the battlefield, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum being the other.  The Newcomer barn has recently been restored and the house is due for future external restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

From the early settlements along the Antietam Creek, to the milling industry and agricultural operations the Newcomer Farm has witnessed the the expansion of America.  This expansion improved the transportation in the region with the building of the bridges and turnpikes through the property.  It has seen the scars of war, from the French and Indian War through the American Revolution to the turbulent times of Civil War.   The property escaped the urban development of the day to become one of the preserved landmarks on the battlefield at Antietam.   The Newcomer Farmstead is a unique eyewitness to the history of the Antietam Valley for over 250 years.

The Newcomer House today.

 

 

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com, Joshua Newcomer Family, Census Data 1850-1880.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Hayes, Helen Ashe, The Antietam and Its Bridges, The annals of an historic stream. G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York 1910. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/stream/antietamitsbridg00haysuoft#page/n121/mode/2up/search/Orndroff
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey,  The Middle Bridge,  Sharpsburg, Washington County, MD. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.md1099.photos/?sp=1
  • Lundegard, Marjorie,  Mills and Mill Sites of Western Maryland, September 20, 2000 Retrieved from:  http://www.spoommidatlantic.org
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Mount Pleasant or Orndorff’s Mill – Mumma’s Mill, WA-II-106, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1975.
    https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/Washington/WA-II-106.pdf.
  • Newspapers.com, Newcomer Farm clippings retrieved from: https://www.newspapers.com.
  • 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, WA-II-106, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990.
  • U.S. National Park Service,  Newcomer Barn,  Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Parks Farmstead Cultural Landscape InventoryAntietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2011.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • U.S. War Department, 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 – Henry Piper Farm

July 11, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Today the Henry Piper farm sits back off of the Old Hagerstown Pike.  It is one of the oldest farmsteads in Washington County and the only historic farmhouse on the Antietam National Battlefield that is currently occupied by a tenant.  On the morning of September 17, 1862, the Piper Farmstead sat in the center of Robert E. Lee’s battle line and would be engulfed by the fighting along a sunken country road that would be forever known as the “Bloody Lane”.

The Henry & Elizabeth Piper Farm

In 1790, Joseph Chapline, Jr. had the lands that he received from his father surveyed and patented into a new single tract. This 2,575 acres became known as Mount Pleasant.  On the eastern side of this tract, between the old Hagerstown Road and north of the Boonsboro Pike, the surveyor noted that there had been improvements on the property “as being 5,200 old rails, two old cabins, and seventeen apple orchard trees”.  The property known as “Elswick’s Dwelling” had been cultivated and grazed on and it is possible that it was first used as a farm in 1740.  Although the location of the ‘two old cabins’ remains a mystery it is believed that a section of the building next to the current house, later used as a summer kitchen and servants quarters, is the first dwelling on the Piper Farm.

Summer kitchen and slave quarters

Fireplace of the summer kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

1803 Tax record highlighting John Miller’s property

 

 

John Miller, a Pennsylvanian German from Franklin County migrated to Washington County with his parents around 1791. His father, John Johannas Hannas Miller, was a member of the Church of the Brethren, also known as Dunkers.  John Miller was a farmer and he started buying land along the Hagerstown Road, including several tracts that would become the Samuel Poffenberger farm, the William Roulette farm and the Henry Piper farm.  According to the 1803 tax assessment for the “Sharpsburg Hundred”, John Miller owned 632 acres on two patents located north of Sharpsburg.  When John Miller died in 1821 without a will, his estate was divided among several of his children.  His one son, Jacob Miller received a portion of “Elswick’s Dwelling

 

 

 

 

 

Whether Jacob Miller lived here at the time or not is unknown.  Jacob was very wealthy and “very successful in his enterprises. He managed several farms, a grist mill, a saw mill and a flour mill”.  Jacob had built a house in Sharpsburg and it is likely that he rented the farm out to tenants. It was also around this time that the icehouse, or cave house, was built into the side of a small bank from fieldstone.  The two-room structure was used to store produce in one side and ice storage in the other.  The southern end of the large stone and frame bank barn was built around 1820 as well.  A wooden addition would be added to the northern end of the barn in 1914, doubling its size to 144 by 44 feet.

Icehouse or cave house

Southern end of bank barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Piper

In 1843, Henry Piper and his family moved to the farm as tenants of Miller.  Henry was the son of Daniel Piper, a well known resident of Sharpsburg.  Daniel Piper was the son of (John) Jacob Pfeiffer (later Piper) who emigrated from Germany to the Sharpsburg area in 1763. Daniel raised his family on a farm west of Sharpsburg, including a daughter, Martha Ann who married Henry Rohrbach in 1835 and lived on the Rohrbach family farm just east of the Lower, or Burnside, Bridge.  Daniel Piper purchased the property from Jacob Miller in 1846 for his son.

 

 

 

 

Henry Piper

Elizabeth (Betsy) Piper

Henry Piper married Elizabeth (Betsy) Keedy on November 18, 1828 and together they would have six children.  By 1854,  Henry and Betsy had purchased the farm from his father.  Henry was known “as a rather austere man with a penchant for fashionable hats. He was rarely seen in town without his tall brimmed hat” and was nicknamed ‘Old Stovepipe’.

 

 

 

 

The red line represents the approx. boundary of the Piper property

The Piper family lived on a prosperous 231-acre farm stretching between the Hagerstown Pike to the west; the Hog Trough Road to the north and east; to the Boonsboro Pike and the edge of Sharpsburg to the south.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerry Summers, cir 1922.

 

The Piper family were “typical of the region in being both avowed Unionists and slaveholders”.  In 1860, Henry owned six slaves, five of them children, one of the slaves on the farm in 1862 was Jeremiah (Jerry) Cornelius Summers.  He was born on the farm in 1849.  A 16 year-old free black farm hand named John Jumper also worked on the farm.  The slave quarters, thought to be the first dwelling on the farm, served as the kitchen as well.

 

 

 

 

Piper apple trees

The 40×15 feet two-story farm house

It is unsure who built the main house, but by 1860 the 40 x 15 feet two-story frame farm house consisted of five or six rooms with a smokehouse and several other outbuildings around.  Just  north of the house was a 17-acre apple orchard and by the barn, Henry had an apple press to produce cider.  The Piper orchard “was one of the largest in Sharpsburg and the only commercial orchard in the area at the time of the battle”.

 

 

 

 

 

The Piper Farm layout

Just beyond the orchard the Pipers, like their neighbors, had a twenty-five acre cornfield that still needed to be harvested in September 1862 and most of Henry’s other fields “were freshly plowed, ready for planting winter wheat”.  That year the family had grown bushels of Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and cucumbers.  The farm had a variety of livestock, such as horses, milk cows, cattle, sheep, swine, chickens, geese, and turkeys.

 

 

Piper Farm, Sept. 17, 1862 at daybreak

On September 15, 1862 the Piper family farmstead was inundated by Confederate soldiers as they prepared their positions on the ridgeline northeast of Sharpsburg and along the Hog Tough Road.  During the afternoon, Confederate Generals James Longstreet and D.H. Hill had arrived and chose to use the Piper house as their headquarters.  That evening, the Piper daughters served dinner to the generals and offered them wine.  Gen. Longstreet initially refused, by seeing that it had no ill-effect on Daniel Harvey Hill, Longstreet accepted the offer saying, “Ladies, I will thank you for some of that wine”.  After dinner, the Pipers heeded the general’s advice to leave the farm.

 

 

Mr. Piper and his daughters “quickly packed what they could carry into a wagon, and Elizabeth buried her dishes in the ash pile“.  Mary Ellen Piper remembered as they were leaving, “We left everything as it was on the farm, taking only the horses with us and one carriage“.  The Pipers traveled to Henry’s brother’s farm and mill.  Samuel Piper’s mill was just northwest of town along the Potomac where the family could seek shelter from the impending battle.

Piper Farm, Sept 17, 1862 at approximately 9:30am.

At the center of Robert E. Lee’s battle line just north of Sharpsburg was the farmstead of Henry Piper.  Along the Hog Trough Road at the edge of his farm, Confederate infantry were posted.  To the south of the house on the ridge leading to the Boonsboro Pike, four artillery batteries were positioned in Henry’s freshly plowed fields.  As the battle began at daybreak, these Confederate units began moving across the Piper farmstead to confront the advancing Union forces from the north.  By 9:00 a.m. the battle had shifted from the Miller and Mumma farm and the Piper farm was soon engulfed by the fighting at the Sunken Road.

For two days the Pipers waited, listening to the sounds of the fighting and the distant rumbling of army wagons traveling to Shepherdstown.  On September 19, the Pipers departed for home.  Mary Ellen Piper recalled, “On our return the Union forces were encamped upon the farm and in the vicinity, and the Union cavalry were moving along the Hagerstown pike in great numbers towards Sharpsburg“.   As they neared the farm, death and destruction was all around them. Their barn had been shelled, but unlike their neighbors the Mumma’s and the Reel’s barns that had burned, the Piper’s was saved from destruction possibly due to the green hay stored inside.  “Wounded soldiers were lying on the floor of every room. One had the family bible propped up in front of him, tearing out each page as he finished reading“.

Mary Ellen recounts that, “We brought back the horses with us, and they were put in the barn.  A large number of cattle, sheep and hogs belonging to father still remained on the place.  I saw the Union soldiers butchering some of the cattle, when we came back…. The Union forces were encamped in the vicinity for several weeks after the battle – at least some portion of them. During this time… all the cattle and sheep on the farm were taken and used by U.S. military forces. The sheep were all taken the day after we returned home. The hogs and cattle were slaughtered at different times.  I remember four of the calves were slaughtered in the orchard back of the blacksmith shop”.

Initially Henry Piper only filed a claim for $25 for the damage to the house and barn but soldiers had not only slaughtered and taken a lot of the livestock but had “ate two hundred of Piper’s chickens, fifteen geese, along with twenty-four turkeys”. They also took “one hundred bushels of Irish potatoes, thirty bushels of sweet potatoes,…  six barrels of vinegar, eight hundred pounds of bacon, five sacks of salt, four bushels of onions, pickles, one bushel of dried cherries, two hundred bushels of apples, six gallons of cherry wine, and one hundred and ten jars of fruit. They took thirty dollars worth of men’s clothing, and sixty dollars worth of lady’s clothing”.  Henry would later amend his initial claim and the board of survey would assess the damage to the Piper farm as follows:

Henry Piper claim for damages

  • Damage to house and barn                                  $25.00
  • Hay and straw                                                        108.00
  • Stock                                                                       666.00
  • Vegetables and fruits, etc.                                     157.00
  • Grain of different kinds                                         484.00
  • Bacon, lard and tallow                                           117.00
  • Groceries                                                                   78.85
  • 2 bee-hives at $10                                                    20.00
  • Wines and condiments                                            72.00
  • Poultry                                                                        39.00
  • Household, kitchen furniture, clothing, etc.        373.00
  • Lumber, tools                                                             49.00
  • Damage to fencing                                                    300.00

          Total: $2,488.85

Although the board awarded Henry Piper this amount, no payment followed because he did not produce any certificate of loyalty.   Twenty-four years later in November 1886, Henry Piper sued the U.S. Government for the damages to his farm and Mary Ellen Piper Smith’s descriptions of the damages were part of her testimony given in support her father’s claim.

Henry & Elizabeth Piper gravestone at the Mountain View Cemetery

 

 

 

In 1863, Henry and Betsy moved into Sharpsburg to the house that Henry acquired in 1857 following his father death.  The house sits on the corner of Main and Church Streets across from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.  Elizabeth Piper died on January 19, 1887.  Almost five years to the day of her death, Henry would pass away  They are buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Sharpsburg.

 

 

Henry’s son, Samuel, took over the farming operation and would continue farming until 1898 when he moved to Hagerstown.   During this period a wing was added to the house and additions and improvements were made to the servants quarters.  In the 1890’s, the War Department began purchasing property in order to build a road through the battlefield.  In an attempt to preserve the historic part of Bloody Lane as best they could, a road was built to the south of it, in what would have be been Henry Piper’s cornfield at the time of the battle.  In 1896, the War Department constructed the Observation Tower at the end of Bloody Lane.  In 1966, Richardson Avenue, as it was named, was moved farther away from the lane and expanded to include parking areas at both the center of the lane and at the Observation Tower.

Bloody Lane with Richardson Ave. along the lane.

The new Richardson Avenue being constructed in 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The farm would remain in the Piper family until 1960 but rented out over those years.  Samuel’s son, Elmer E. Piper owned the property from 1912 until 1933, and then his son, Samuel Webster Piper held it until 1960.  Webster sold the land to the Antietam-Sharpsburg Museum, Inc.  According to local historian, John Schildt, a log cabin building was constructed across from the National Cemetery which housed historical and educational displays.  Unfortunately, shortly after the 100th year anniversary of the battle the company was forced to closed due to financial difficulty and the construction of the new Park Visitors Center.

Antietam-Sharpsburg Museum

In 1964 the farm was sold to the National Park Service for $75,000.  Over the next twenty years the buildings would be restored and at one time the Park Service operated “the farm as a ‘living farm’ growing crops, raising livestock and using farm implements and conservation practice similar to those employed in the early 1860’s”.

Piper house and out buildings

Piper Barn

 

 

 

 

Piper orchard

Piper cornfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additions to house

Corn crib and blacksmith shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1985, Doug Reed signed a 56-year lease with the National Park Service with intention of restoring the farmhouse and using it as a Bed and Breakfast.  In 1994, Regina and Louis Clark took over as the Innkeepers of the Piper House Bed and Breakfast and continued to operate it for ten years.  Today they still live at the farmhouse and entertain ancestors of the Piper Family from time to time. The “surrounding fields remain an active farming operation” that is leased out by the National Park Service to local farmers.  They cultivate the crops, care for the livestock, and maintain the orchard; keeping the agricultural landscape thriving on one of our oldest farmsteads in the area, and an eyewitness to the fighting at the Bloody Lane.

Henry & Elizabeth Farm today.

A special thanks to Regina & Lou Clark for taking the time to show me around the Piper Farm and sharing a wealth of information about the Piper family and the farmstead.

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com, Henry Piper Family, Census Data 1850-1900.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Clark, Lou and Regina Clark, Personal Collection of the Piper Family History. Sharpsburg, reviewed July 2017.
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey,  Piper Farm, House, Sharpsburg, Washington County, MD. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.md1099.photos/?sp=1
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Piper Farm, WA-II-335, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 2009.
    https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/Washington/WA-II-279.pdf.
  • 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.
  • The Piper House, photos of Henry & Elizabeth Piper. Retrived from http://www.pathsofthecivilwar.com/piperhouse/history.htm.
  • The Morning Herald, Piper Farm: Employing methods of the 1860’s. Hagerstown, MD, July 13, 1976. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/23053138/.
  • Trail, Susan W., Remembering Antietam: Commemoration and Preservation of a Civil War Battlefield, Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Maryland, 2005.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Antietam National Battlefield, National Register of Historic Place, ANTI-WA-II-477, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • U.S. War Department, 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 at Antietam – William Roulette Farm

June 3, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Roulette farmstead

For over 260 years the property on which the William Roulette Farmstead would be established, has been under cultivation.  The surrounding pristine countryside provides visitors to the Antietam National Battlefield a feeling of what the landscape looked like in September 1862 with the stone walls, wood lots, and old farm roads.

 

 

Anderson’s Delight

During the 1730’s Thomas Cresap had been a land agent for Lord Baltimore of  Maryland.  As Cresap began moving beyond the frontier, up the Potomac River valley, he began acquiring land.   Cresap patented about 2,000 acres of land in Maryland along Antietam Creek, where he established a store and Indian trading post.  In 1748 Cresap received a 212 acre patent named “Anderson’s Delight”  from Lord Baltimore’s Land Office.  As Thomas Cresap continued to move west he sold “Anderson’s Delight” to William Anderson, a Virginia farmer,  in 1751.   It is very likely that Anderson established the first dwelling on the land that would become the Roulette Farmstead.  Anderson would only own the property for ten years before selling it to John Reynolds.

 

 

Spring house / Kitchen

In 1761, John Reynolds, an Anglo-Irishman who migrated to Washington County from Lancaster County Pennsylvania, acquired the 212 acres of Anderson’s Delight for 235 pounds.   In 1764, Reynolds would add another 138 acres to his holdings from Joseph Smith from three other land grants. In 1765, Reynolds had acquired another 35 acres from Joseph Chapline.  According to the Washington County Assessment of 1783, Reynolds’ farm had “76 acres of arable land, 4 acres of meadow, and 112 ½ acres of woodland. In addition, he had 5 horses and 32 “black cattle” or beef cattle.  Some of the crops grown most likely included corn, wheat and rye.

The house was constructed from left to right

During this time it is likely that Reynolds built one section of the extant farmhouse, but the family had been living in the dwelling that Anderson built, possibly the springhouse / kitchen.  John Reynolds continued to farm this property until his death in 1784.   According to Reynolds’ will, the 385 acres was divided between his two sons, Francis and Joseph.  Joseph had acquired the family farmstead while Francis’ acreage just north west of the farm would later become the Samuel Mumma farm.

 

Joseph Reynolds quickly added two additional parcels; in 1785, he acquired 45 acres from Joseph Chapline and in 1789, he acquired 51 acres from James Vardee.  Both were part of a patent called “Joe’s Lott“.  Also in 1789, Joseph Reynolds added another 240 1/4 acres to his holdings through a land grant he obtained directly from the Land Office which was named, “Joe’s Farm“. Over the twenty years that Joseph owned the property, he would continue to expand his agricultural operations and continue on the construction of the the main house and the spring house.  It is believed that Reynolds owned slaves, but that he had set them free in 1794.

In 1804, Joseph Reynolds sold off several parcels of his property, so the farm totaled 262 acres when John Miller purchased it.  Miller was a Pennsylvanian German from Franklin County.  He had migrated to Washington County with his parents around 1791.  His father, John Johannas Hannas Miller, was a member of the Church of the Brethren, also known as Dunkers.  Like Reynolds, John Miller was a farmer and he continued to cultivate the land.

Store house and beehive oven

Ice House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring house / Kitchen

John Miller completed house

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, Miller would most likely complete the building of the farmstead. He added the northern section of the house,a log kitchen addition which include a unique beehive oven.  Miller added onto the springhouse, constructed the icehouse and a smokehouse  as well.  The Miller family would also update the interior of the house, adding molding and trim of the period.

 

Roulette Farmstead property

Roulette farm layout in 1862

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 1840, the farmstead had passed to John Miller IV who continued the family farming until his death.  In 1851, his widow Ann Miller would sell 179 1/4 acres of the farm to the husband of Margaret Ann Miller, a sister of John IV.  Her husband’s name was William Roulette.   The Roulette family had been in Washington County since before 1774 and William was raised on a nearby farm.  Margaret had lived on this property her entire life.  They were married in 1847 and their first child was born in 1849.  When they moved into the farm and set up housekeeping their second child arrived. By 1862 they had six children ranging from age 14, to their youngest, Carrie May who was just 19 months old.

 

William Roulette

Margaret Ann Miller Roulette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roulette bank barn

It is almost certain that William Roulette constructed the large bank barn to sustain his growing  agricultural operations. The Roulettes had a variety of livestock on the farm such as horses, milk cows, cattle, sheep, swine and poultry.  William had a slightly larger herd of beef cattle than most farmers in the Sharpsburg District.  They also grew a variety of grains including corn, wheat, oats and rotated rye.  The Roulette’s had established a four-acre orchard near the house and their vegetable garden stretched between house and barn.

 

 

To help with the farming operations, William Roulette most likely had hired hands.  Although it is not sure when it was constructed, there was another 1 1/2 story structure on the property located along the Roulette Lane near the southwest corner of the orchard.  This may have been used by a tenant farmer or hired hand by the name of A. Clipp.

View of the Roulette Farm from the Observation Tower. Clipp house near the barn just below the farm house. cir. 1900

The Roulette’s did not own any slaves but employed two free blacks.  According to the 1860 Census, 15 year old Robert Simon was a farm hand and 40 year old Nancy Camel (Campbell) worked as a servant.  Nancy was born a slave on a farm in Washington County owned by Andrew Miller, Margaret Roulette’s uncle.  Miller had freed Nancy in 1859.

1860 United States Federal Census for William Roulette

Nancy Camel (Campbell)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle lines being draw on the morning of September 17, 1862 around the Roulette Farm

On Sunday, September 14, 1862  the Roulettes, like their neighbors the Mummas, were becoming increasingly concerned over the sounds of battle coming from South Mountain.   By Tuesday morning, as soldiers from both armies began to converge on their farming community, William took his family to safety at the Manor Church of the Brethren, six miles to the north.  With his family safe with the Dunker congregation, William Roulette returned to his farm to check on his property, gather some supplies and tend to his livestock.  Once at the farm, William found himself caught between the Confederate and Union lines as the battle erupted on his property.

 

 

Mr. Roulette’s bee hives near the house were knocked over by the 132nd PVI.

 

By mid-morning the battle lines had shifted past the Dunker Church plateau. Union forces were now moving across William Roulette’s property toward the rutted farm lane known as the Hog Trough Road or Sunken Road, to strike the center of the Confederate line.  Confederate skirmishers were using some of the outbuildings as cover when the Union forces pushed them back to their position at the Sunken Road.  William Roulette, a pro-Union man, had been hiding out in his cellar  away from the Confederates.  Now that the Federal forces had begun to push them back, William came out in the midst of the fighting “to see what was happening, and he cheered the men in blue on: ‘Give it to ’em! Drive ’em! Take anything on my place, only drive ’em!’ he yelled”

 

Union forces advance across the Roulette farm toward the Sunken Road.

As more Union troops moved through the Roulette backyard, a Confederate artillery shell landed, shattering the rookies of the 132nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.  In their flight to get out of the area they knocked over Mr. Roulette’s apiary. “Yelping Pennsylvanians scattered as thousands of angry honeybees swarmed over them”.   Over the next three to four hours, Union attacks struck the Confederates in the Sunken Road, finally breaking their line and pushing them back to the Henry Piper farm. Over 5,000 casualties of both sides laid in and around the road now forever known as “Bloody Lane”.  Union casualties were taken back to the Roulette barn and the farm road intersection by the barn was used to pick up casualties to transport them to other Union hospitals nearby.

 

 

 

Burial detail by Sunken Road

Like their neighbors, the Roulettes were left with damage to their buildings and devastating losses to the crops, fields and fencing. The traumatic sight of dead bodies strew across their property and in the road was unbearable.  After the battle Union soldiers began burying their dead across the fields, near the roads and hedgerows and marking the graves.  Two days later, Union burial crews drug the bodies out of the lane and buried the Confederate soldiers in long shallow graves on both side of the Roulette Farm Lane.  Mr. Roulette would say that over 700 bodies were buried on his property.

 

Several weeks later William Roulette would file a claim for damages and loss of property requesting $2496.27 for an “inventory of goods, chattels, and personal effects belonging to me which were destroyed and carried off by the Armies during the late battle of Antietam”.  According to the quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac, the claim was rejected stating, “I am well aware that the loyal people of this section of Maryland have suffered severely during the campaign… I regret that they cannot receive full compensation now for their losses, but no disbursing officer with this Army is authorized to pay claims for damages. Such claims can only be settled by express authority of congress.”  William would continue to submit claims into the 1880’s but would only receive $377.37 from a hospital claim.

On October 21, 1862, tragedy struck the Roulette family when they lost their youngest daughter Carrie May to typhoid fever.  She was one of a number of Sharpsburg residents that would die as a result of the battle.  Despite the great loss he suffered, William Roulette remained a strong Union man.  After the war was over, Margaret and William would have another son, Ulysses Sheridan Roulette – born on October 15, 1865.  As time went on the Roulettes would rebuild their farmstead.  Although the older children had moved off the farm, the two youngest sons – Benjamin and Ulysses helped with the farm work and Susan, the youngest daughter who was still living at home, helped with chores.  Nancy Camel would continue to work for the Roulette family until she died in 1892.

In 1883, Margaret Ann passed away. Four years later, William retired from farming and moved into the Town of Sharpsburg, turning over the farming operation to his son Benjamin.  William died in 1901 at the age of 75.  Margaret and William are buried together in the Mountain View Cemetery with their children, Carrie May and Otho.

 

Otho & Carrie May Roulette are buried with their parents

The Roulette grave at the Mountain View Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1890, the Antietam National Battlefield Site was established by the War Department.  They would construct a road to the south side of the Sunken Road, called Richardson Avenue, and build a sixty foot stone observation tower on the southeastern edge of the Roulette farm adjacent to Bloody Lane.  Over the following years the war veterans would return to the Roulettes to hold reunions and reminisce about that day in September, 1862.

 

Roulette Farm lane at Bloody Lane with 132nd PVI monument and the Observation Tower in distance.

Although William died without a will, the family conveyed the property to Benjamin Roulette.  Benjamin married Elizabeth Brown Rhoades in 1886 and together they had four children. Benjamin was said to be “a progressive farmer whose crops were consistently among the best in the local market.”  He also specialized in raising market hogs.  Benjamin owned the property from 1901 until his death in 1947.  Like his father before him, Benjamin died intestate, but the property managed to stay in the family when it was conveyed to his youngest son, Samuel Patterson Roulette.

Samuel and his wife, Leoda, continued to live and farm the property until 1956.  For the first time since 1804, the property passed out of the Miller-Roulette families when they sold it to Howard and Virginia Miller (a different Miller family).   The Millers lived on the property for forty-two years and were good stewards of the land.  In 1998, the Richard King Mellon Foundation purchased the farm for $660,000, and donated it to Antietam National Battlefield.

Looking across the Roulette farm to Sunken Road

Today the Roulette Farm fields are leased to local farmers, who continue to utilize the property for it agricultural production.  The William Roulette Farmstead remains an icon on the battlefield, displaying the architectural history of the developing farmsteads of the area.  It reminds us of what the agricultural landscape looked like before it was an eyewitness to the bloody fighting along the Sunken Road.

 

The William and Margaret Roulette house today.

 

  • Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census for William Rowllett.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
  • Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series), Nancy Campbell (Camel). Retrieved from  http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc5400/sc5496/024600/024669/images/campbell_nancy_01_001.pdf.
  • Burrows, Jim, Anderson Papers: Anderson’s Delight. Retrieved from  http://www.eldacur.com/~burrowses/Genealogy/Anderson/AndersonsDelight.html
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?fi=subject&q=Antietam%2C%20Battle%20of%2C%20Md.%2C%201862.&co=cwp
  • 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.
  •  Reynolds, Marion, H. Ed. , The Reynolds Family Association, Annual Report. Brooklyn, NY, Press of Brklyn Eagle 1922. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=4iFMAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=John+Reynolds,+Sharpsburg&source=bl&ots=Tf_25HO2wU&sig=v9Y17b6ZDnb8ejGvAWP5E4FCfAg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwif4O794pXUAhUGQyYKHelzDE8Q6AEILTAC#v=onepage&q=John%20Reynolds%2C%20Sharpsburg&f=false
  • U.S. National Park Service, Roulette Farmstead Cultural Landscape Inventory, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • 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.

 

Tom Clemens – Antietam Personalities

May 31, 2017 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 5th, Dr. Clemens will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – Antietam Personalities.  Most Antietam visitors already know about Lee, Jackson and Longstreet, and of course McClellan, Sumner and Burnside.  But battles are fought by soldiers in the ranks, commanded by much lower ranking officers.  Tom’s talk will focus on some of the ordinary soldiers who served at Sharpsburg in the bloodiest single battle in US history.  Some of them were veterans, some new to the horrors of combat. As much as possible we will also examine their prewar and post-war lives

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 Wednesday evening programs are free and open to the public. They will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn at 7:oo p.m. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit around the event tent. In case of inclement weather talks will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed United Church of Christ on Main Street. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.

The Farmsteads at Antietam – Samuel Mumma Farm

April 28, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

The most well known farmstead at Antietam is the Samuel Mumma farm.  A number of accounts during the battle from both armies make reference to the farmstead and it was the only one to be deliberately destroyed during the battle.  It is a vivid reminder of the destruction of war and the rebirth in its aftermath.

The property that would later become the Mumma Farmstead was comprised of at least three separate land grants to various settlers.  The largest land grant was known as Anderson’s Delight.  In 1761, John Reynolds, an Anglo-Irishman who migrated to Washington County from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania acquired 212 acres of Anderson’s Delight.   In 1764 and 1765, Reynolds would add another 173 acres to his holdings from parts of two other tracts known as Abston’s Forrest and John’s Chance. He farmed this property until his death in 1784.  According to Reynolds’ will, the 385 acres was divided between his two sons, Francis and Joseph. Joseph’s portion would later become the William Roulette farm.

As the French and Indian War was ending, Christian Orndorff, a millwright who was also from Lancaster County, arrived in the area in 1762.   Now that the region was safe and open for settlement, Orndorff found a suitable site along the Antietam Creek to build a grist mill.  Today we know the site as the Joshua Newcomer farm.

In 1785, Francis Reynolds’ portion (182.5 acres) was conveyed to Christopher (Stuffle) Orndorff.  In 1791, Christopher (Stuffle) Orendorff sold the Reynolds property to his father Christian Orndorff.  After Christian moved to his new property, he turned the the mill over to his son, Christopher.

springhouse

The original springhouse

Christian Orndorff would build the first dwelling on the property (Mumma farm) and the springhouse.  In 1796, Christian passed away and the property was divided between his wife Elizabeth and another son.  That same year, Jacob Mumma purchased the mill complex from Christopher Orndorff.  Like many of the settlers coming to America, the Mummas were fleeing religious persecution in Germany’s Rhine River valley.  They arrived in Philadelphia in 1732 and settled in Lancaster County.  The Mumma family was not alone traveling down the Wagon Road to Sharpsburg, they were accompanied by Joseph Sherrick, Sr. and his family.  Sherrick would also purchase property along the Antietam from the Orndorff’s.

After purchasing the Orndorff Mill, which included two houses, a grist mill, a saw mill and more than 324 acres, Jacob Mumma began to buy other properties in Boonsboro and Sharpsburg .  In 1805, Jacob would purchase 182.5 acres from Elizabeth Orndorff.  This property, now known at the Mumma Farm, included a house, barn, springhouse and other outbuildings that had been built by the Orndorff family in the 1790’s.  Over the next six years, Jacob acquired the remaining parcels of the Orndorff land.

It is believed that Jacob’s son, John was the first Mumma to live on the farm.  During this time a two-story brick addition was constructed, doubling the size of the house.  In 1831, Jacob sold the 182.5 acre parcel to his son, Samuel Mumma Sr.  Samuel moved to the farm with his young wife and two children.  Samuel had married Barbara Hertzler in 1822.  Tragedy had struck the young couple shortly before moving to the farm in 1830 with the death of their third child, John.  Three years later, Barbara died giving birth to their fifth child, Catherine, who died just three weeks later.  Samuel was left with three sons and a large farm to take care of.  Before the end of the year Samuel would marry the daughter of a neighbor, 18-year old Elizabeth Miller.  Together they would have eleven children including a son who died in infancy.

The red line represents the approx. boundary of the Samuel Mumma property.

As the Mumma family grew, so did the community.  For years the German Baptist Brethren, or “Dunker”, congregation had met in the private home of Daniel Miller, the father of Elizabeth Miller Mumma.  In 1851, Samuel donated a small 4.5 acre tract at the edge of a woodlot that would become known as the West Woods.  Over the next several years a new church was constructed of bricks that were made and donated by another Dunker and close neighbor of the Mummas, John Otto.

 

 

 

 

The Mumma farm layout

By 1860, the Mummas owned a very diversified farm valued at $11,000.  They had large yields of wheat, Indian corn, rye, Irish potatoes, clover seed, and hay.  Their livestock included 8 horses, 5 milch cows, 17 other cattle, 11 sheep, and 20 swine valued at over $900. From these the Mummas were “able to obtain, 500 pounds of butter, 60 pounds of wool, and $200 worth of meat”.  The orchard was producing $30 worth of apples.

 

 

September 14, 1862 started out as most Sundays, but as the members of the Dunker Church met for worship, the Battle of South Mountain erupted near the mountain gaps just six miles to the east.  Later that day the Mummas invited some members of the congregation to their house for lunch.  The children went up the hill above the farm to watch as the battle raged, they could see the smoke and hear the sound of guns like thunder on the mountain.  The next morning as Confederate soldiers started to cross the Antietam, neighbors began meeting at the farm to see what Samuel Mumma thought they should do. He told them, “Go with me for we must get you out of the battleline.”

The Confederate battle line stretches across the Mumma farm at daybreak on September 17, 1862

One of the older Mumma boys was told to take the horses away to safety as the rest of the family prepared to leave.  Samuel Mumma, Jr. remembered that, “Some clothing was gotten together and the silverware packed into a basket, ready to take but in our haste to get away, all was left behind.  Father and Mother and the younger children left in the two-horse carry-all (the older children walking as there was a large family) going about four miles, and camped in a large church (called the Manor Church), where many others were also congregated.”   Samuel, Sr. was the last to leave as he was carrying his 3-year old daughter, Cora who was upset.  Samuel had noticed his gold watch over the mantle.  He grabbed the watch and hung it around Cora’s neck to settle her down.  Little did he realize that beside the clothing the family was wearing, the watch would be the only item saved from their belongings.

As the battle rages around the farm at around 7:30a.m., the house is set afire by Confederate forces.

Samuel Mumma, Jr. returned to the house on Tuesday evening, but found that the house had been ransacked and everything of value taken. Later, skirmishing erupted just beyond the farm across the Smoketown Road in the woods.  The next morning the battle would begin in earnest.  As the fighting shifted from the Miller Cornfield toward the Mumma farm, Brig. Gen. Rosewell S. Ripley’s brigade was forced back.  Ripley ordered the farm burned because he feared the buildings would be taken over by advancing Federal troops and sharpshooters would occupy the buildings to pick off his officers.  James Clark of the 3rd North Carolina Infantry regiment took charge of a squad of volunteers to set the Mumma farm buildings on fire.  Clark “recalled throwing a torch through an open window and onto a quilt covered bed.  Within a few moments the whole house was in flames.”

 

Throughout the day the battle swirled around the burning Mumma farm.  The next evening Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces withdrew back across the Potomac, but the “embers from the ruins of the Mumma buildings continued to smolder.”  As the smoke cleared the devastation was visible, the Mumma farm was completely destroyed.  “The Hagerstown Herald reported that Samuel Mumma had suffered the greatest loss as a result of the battle. In addition to his house and barn and their contents, the family lost all its furniture, clothing, grain, hay and farming implements. The fences were all destroyed, the fruit trees were striped, and the fields were trampled flat.”  

The ruins of the Mumma house taken by Alexander Gardner. (Note the photographer’s studio wagon)

When the Mumma family returned they could not believe the destruction to their farmstead.  Only the brick walls and a chimney were still standing among the ruins of the house.  The smokehouse was still intact and the springhouse survived, although the roof had been burned.  Photographer Alexander Gardner, who worked for Matthew Brady, arrived at the Mumma farm a few days after the battle to capture the scene of not only the destruction of the buildings but of the carnage that remained on the Mumma fields near the Dunker Church.

The carnage of the battle by the Dunker Church showing dead men and animals from Stephen D. Lee’s artillery position.

Devastation at the western corner of the Mumma Farmstead, 19 September 1862. This area is now the site of the Maryland Monument Park.Monument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next several weeks the Union army encamped on Samuel Mumma’s fields.  The quartermaster would requisition his “firewood, 592 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of wheat, and sixteen ton of hay which somehow escaped the fire.”  Samuel attempted to get a voucher from the quartermaster, but he was told that a government commission would come around to settle his claims.  The commission never came.  When he did filed a claim for just the firewood and grain he was told his “losses were a direct result of the battle and therefore ineligible for reimbursement”.

The rebuilt farmhouse from 1863 to 1919.

Until the Mummas were able to rebuild their home, they stayed at the home of their neighbor, Joseph Sherrick, Jr.  In the spring of 1863 they started to rebuild the house and the family moved back in June of 1863. As time went on the rest of the farm buildings were rebuilt and additions to the house were added.

 

Of course Samuel Mumma’s postwar claim for damages was extensive.  The property and building included:

One house destroyed by fire($2000), one barn ($1250), one spring house and hog pen ($100), household furniture and clothing ($422.23), farming implements included McCormick reaper, a wheat drill, two grain rakes, a wheat fan and a wheat screen, six plows and a threshing machine, in addition to the usual pitch forks and other tools. He also lost 2 wagons ($457), fence destroyed ($590), land damaged by traveling and burial ($150), and fifteen cords wood ($37). 

For the damages  of crops, food stores and livestock, the claim included:

46 tons of hay (valued at $508), 80 bushels of wheat ($100), 20 bushels of rye ($15), 25 bushels of corn ($16.25) and 75 bundles of straw ($88). Another 75 bushels of wheat ($93.75) were plundered,
and Mumma lost 16 acres of corn ($355), 16 acres of fodder ($88), 100 bushels of Irish
potatoes ($100), 10 bushels of sweet potatoes ($15), and 15 tons of straw ($97.50). Destroyed
in the farmhouse or outbuildings were a bushel each of dried corn ($2) and dried apples ($1), a
half-bushel each of dried peas ($1.50) and beans ($.75), 1¾ bushels of dried cherries ($4), 12
crocks of preserves ($12), 12 crocks of marmalade ($12), 8 crocks of apple butter ($6), 4
barrels of vinegar ($20) and 16 gallons of wine ($24) and a half-barrel of pickles ($4). Two
household gardens, valued at $10 each, were devastated. [6] Mumma also lost a wide variety
of livestock in the aftermath of the Battle. In his claim he listed 6 steers ($150), 2 calves ($12),
2 colts ($60), a horse ($100), 9 hogs ($90), 9 shoats ($27) and 8 sheep ($40). He also lost 200
chickens ($30), a dozen turkeys ($6) and 2 ducks ($.50).

The claim was one of the only ones refused by the government, which said the Confederate forces did the damage, so the Federal government was not responsible.

In 1876,  Samuel Mumma, Sr sold the farm to his son, Henry C. Mumma.  Samuel died on December 7 of that year.  His wife Elizabeth passed away ten years later on August 25, 1886.  They are buried together in the Mumma Cemetery beside the farm, along with many of their family and friends.

The gravestones of Elizabeth & Samuel Mumma at the Mumma Cemetery.

In 1885, Rezin D. Fisher acquired the farm from Henry Mumma.  In 1890, Congress established the Antietam National Battlefield Site which would be supervised by the War Department. As the battlefield site was being developed, “Fisher sold off small parcels of land to various states for the erection of commemorative monuments” like the Maryland Monument and New York monument parks.   Fisher would sell the property to Walter H. Snyder in 1923, who owned the farmstead for just over a year.  In 1924, he sold the property to Hugh and Hattie Spielman who would farm the property until 1961. “With the passage of the Congressional authorization for additional land acquisition for the battlefield in 1960, the Park Service quickly moved to purchase the Mumma property. The 148.5 acre tract was acquired from Hugh and Hattie Spielman in December 1961 at a cost of $51,570”.   The Spielman’s would remain on the property with an agricultural lease until the mid-1980s.

As part of the “Mission 66” program the National Park Service built a new visitor center in 1962 on the newly acquired Mumma farm near the New York Monument Park.  After the Spielman’s moved off the property, the Park Service performed a stabilization and preservation project of the house in the 1990s.  In late 2001 the preservation work on the exterior of the farmhouse began and the interior was restored.  Today the Mumma Farm is used by the National Park Service for ranger-led educational programs for school groups and other youth groups coming to the battlefield.  The Samuel Mumma farmstead was an eyewitness to history and a tragic reminder of the impact of the battle on the local population.

 

The Samuel Mumma farm today.

 

  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?fi=subject&q=Antietam%2C%20Battle%20of%2C%20Md.%2C%201862.&co=cwp
  • 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, Historic Preservation Training Center, Historic Structures Report for the Samuel Mumma House, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1999.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Mumma Farmstead Cultural Landscape Inventory, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • 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.

 

25 Things to do within 25 Minutes of the Inn

April 17, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

During your visit to the Jacob Rohrbach Inn there are so many things to do, see, and experience.  Here are our Top 25 Things to Do within 25 minutes of the Inn.

1Antietam Battlefield Guides. Take a guided tour of Antietam National Battlefield – One of the best ways to experience the pristine Antietam National Battlefield is on a private tour with a National Park Service certified guide.  The Antietam Battlefield Guides will lead you across the hallowed ground of Antietam so you understand why it was a major turning point in the war.  They can also take you on a campaign tour which includes Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Shepherdstown and other off the beaten path locations.

 

Tuding the Antietam

2. Tube the Antietam – Enjoy the day with a relaxing float down the Antietam Creek.  Travel from the Devil’s Backbone and down past the Burnside Bridge and you’ll meander by some scenic farms, historic buildings and then drift under the old stone arched bridges of the Antietam.

 

 

Antiquing

3. Go Antiquing – If you’re looking for that rare, unique or special item than we have a few places to search.  Try the Boonsboro AntiquesMemory Lane Antiques & Collectibles, Valley Antique & UniquesThe Olde Homestead and Beaver Creek Antique Market.

 

 

Washington County Playhouse

4. Take in Dinner and a Show at the Washington County Playhouse –   Year-round you can experience a Broadway-style show or musical comedy with a buffet dinner at the Playhouse.  A great place for ‘Date Night’.

 

 

Harpers Ferry

5. Spend the day at Harpers Ferry –  At the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, a walk through Harpers Ferry is like stepping into the past. Take a stroll along the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike the trails and battlefields.

 

 

Crystal Grottoes Caverns

6. Explore the Crystal Grottoes Caverns – The caverns offer a beautiful display of natural rock formations.   Take the guided tour to learn about the cavern’s history and geology.

 

 

 Washington County Rural Heritage Museum

7. Learn about regional history at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum – Stop by the museum during your weekend stay and travel 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.

 

 

Family biking the C&O

8. Bike the C&O –  This 185 mile path follows the Potomac River from Georgetown DC to Cumberland MD. Here the terrain is gentle, and along the scenic tree-lined path you will find historic ruins, cliffs and caves, and some good riverside picnic spots.  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.  Rent your bikes at the Inn and enjoy the day biking the canal.

 

Fort Frederick9. Visit Fort Frederick – Built in 1756 to protect settlers during the French and Indian War, the fort host a number of interpretive programs and events throughout the year.   The park is a great place for an afternoon picnic and hike along the C & O Canal.

 

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

10. Stop by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts –  Located in historic City Park in Hagerstown, the museum has over 7,000 works of art.  The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has been recognized as one of the finest small museums in the nation.

 

 

 Captain Benders Tavern

Awesome Burgers and fries at Captain Benders Tavern

11.  Explore Area Dining – Enjoy casual pub fare at Captain Benders Tavern, sit down with a farm to table dinner at Domestic, delight in upscale contemporary American dishes at The Press Room, or savor fine dining at Old South Mountain Inn.  These are just a few of the many dining choices in the surrounding area.  You will be sure to find a new ‘favorite’ restaurant during your stay!

 

 

 

 

Monument along the A.T.

War Correspondents Memorial at Gathland State Park

12. Visit Gathland State Park – The park is located on the site of the Civil War Battle of South Mountain and was once the mountain home of  George Alfred Townsend, a Civil War journalist.   Two of the structures serve as a museum, one to Townsend and the other to the Civil War.  The park is a great place for picnicking and hiking along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail which traverses the park and passes the monument base.

 

 

 

Elk Mountain Trails

Horseback riding at Elk Mountain Trails

13. Go Horseback Riding with Elk Mountain Trails – Take a relaxing horse ride on the trails near historic Harpers Ferry, down on the banks of the Potomac River and along the C & O Canal.  Plan ahead and sign up for their romantic Potomac River Moonlight Dinner Ride.  After riding along the canal you’ll stop and have dinner around the campfire watching a full moon rise over the valley.

 

 

Cronise Market

14.  Eat Fresh and Buy Local at a Farmer’s Market – Shepherdstown has two Farmers’ Markets; Morgan’s Grove and Shepherdstown Farmers Market.  Operating every weekend from early spring to early winter, they provide visitors with ample opportunities to engage in the local food and craft experience.  Boonsboro also has two Farmer’s Markets, providing a variety of local fare.  Boonsboro Farmers Market has great community and farming support offering ‘no spray’ fruits, grass fed meats and cheeses and vegan breads.  For over 90 years the Cronise family at the Cronise Market Place has provided the freshest local fruits and vegetables, as well as gorgeous flowers, plants, decor and sweets.

 

Maya

Maya hiking the A.T.

15. Hike the A.T. – The Appalachian Trail in Maryland follows the ridgeline of South Mountain and you can access the trail at the Washington Monument State Park or from Gathland State Park.  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.

 

 

16. Go shopping at the Premium Outlets  – If shopping is on Outlet Mallyour list of things to do during your stay,  then stop by the Premium Outlets.  Retailers range from jewelry to women’s apparel to sporting goods, with over 100 designer and name brand outlet stores including Banana Republic, Coach, Guess, Kate Spade New York, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour and more.

 

Nutter's

And this is a small…

17. Enjoy Nutter’s Ice Cream – A stop at 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 generous portion for a very affordable price.  Be sure to go there hungry!

 

 

 

Ghost Tour

Mark & Julia Brugh

18. Take a Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour – The best attraction in town, next to the battlefield, is the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour.  Based on of 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.

 

Rafting

19. Go rafting with River & Trails Outfitters or River Riders – Experienced guides will take you on an exciting trip down Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia come together.  As you’re splashing through the white water rapids you’ll see some of the most breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

20. Take the Antietam Highlands Wine Trail – Enjoy the day driving through the DLC tourrolling hills of the Antietam Valley to each vineyard, like BIG Cork Vineyards or Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery .  Don’t forget about visiting our favorite cidery; Distillery Lane Ciderworks.  Sample their cider, pick your own apples or take a tour of the orchard.  Be sure to stop by Sharpsburg’s newest vineyard – Antietam Creek Vineyards, located right at the edge of the Battlefield.

 

Washington Monument21. See Washington Monument State Park –  Located atop South Mountain, Washington Monument State Park is named for the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington.  Initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827, the rugged stone tower provides a magnificent vista to the valley below.

 

 

Antietam Battlefield

22. Witness the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum – The Philip Pry farmstead would be transformed from an army headquarters to a field hospital within 24 hours.  See exhibits relating to the care of wounded, the effects on the civilian population in the area and the innovations of Civil War medicine, which continue to save lives today.

 

Hollywood Casino

23. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is the place for a total entertainment experience, practically in our own backyard!  Hollywood Casino has exciting Vegas-style casino gaming, first-class entertainment that is up close and personal, and live thoroughbred racing. Before heading back to the Inn, Hollywood has five restaurants that offer a variety of cuisine that is sure to satisfy.

 

Discovery Station

24. Discover Discovery Station – This is a great stop for families.  How can you go wrong with dinosaurs, Lego’s and airplanes… this hands-on museum allows youngsters to discover, explore, and investigate a wide variety of exhibits and programs that stimulate their curiosity and create lasting experiences.

 

 

25. Just relax at the Inn.  After experiencing the first 24 activities on this list, you will be sure to appreciate the tranquility of relaxing on your porch, listening to the chirping birds and enjoying the views of the gardens.

Porch at the Inn

Relax on your porch at the Inn

 

The Farmsteads at Antietam – David R. Miller Farm

March 3, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Map

Daybreak on September 17, 1862.

On the morning of September 17, 1862, Major General Joseph Hooker rode out from the Joseph Poffenberger barn where he had spent the drizzly night.  When he reached the edge of the North Woods and looked to the south he could see the objective of his Union First Corps – a small rise of ground at the junction of Smoketown Road and the Hagerstown Turnpike.   Nearly a mile away, this intersection was next to a small whitewashed building, thought to be a schoolhouse but was actually the Dunker Church.  Confederate forces under Stonewall Jackson defended the intersection in a line extending from the Mumma farm northwestward across the Hagerstown Pike through the woods to Nicodemus Heights.  Halfway between Hooker’s First Corps and his objective at the Dunker Church stood the farmstead of David R. Miller.  During the morning of September 17, the majority of the fighting would take place surrounding D.R. Miller’s farm – at the Cornfield, in the East Woods, along the Hagerstown Turnpike, in the West Woods and around the Dunker Church.

Miller farm

D.R. Miller Farmstead today.

Like the Joseph Poffenberger farm, the D.R. Miller property was once part of the tract granted to Joseph Chapline called ‘Loss and Gain’ that was bequeathed to his son, James Chapline.  In order to satisfy his creditors, James began leasing and selling parts of his land in the late 1790’s.  Although there is no recorded lease or deed, it is believed that a John Myers was occupying on a portion of Chapline’s tract, now call “Addition to Loss and Gain“.  In 1796, James Chapline sold 40 acres to Jonas Hogmire and that deed refers to “the part of Addition to Loss and Gain that John Myers now lives on..”  Hogmire would also purchased another 40-acre lot from Chapline in 1797.

floor sketch

Sketch plan of the first floor of the D.R. Miller farmhouse.

In 1799, Hogmire sold 81 3/8 acres to John Myers for £610, 6 shillings and 3 pence.  Around this time the main house was built.  The log structure sat on a limestone foundation with a central chimney system.  “The chimney served the fireplaces of several rooms on each floor and was indicative of traditional Pennsylvania German floor plans”.  The additional ell on the north side of the building would include a dining room, kitchen and porch.   By the end of 1812, John Myers would acquire another 150 acres and several other smaller lots from James Buchanan, who was the Trustee for the sale of James Chapline’s land.

John Myers lived on the property until his death in 1836.  According to his will, he directed that the farm be rented out for five years and that his daughter Kitty, “is to have and enjoy the free entire use and benefit of the mansion house in which I reside”.   Based on the information in the will, the property included the “mansion house” and the “old house”.  It is likely that the “mansion house” was referring to the house that is standing on the property today and the “old house” may have been a dwelling first occupied by John Myers, but being utilized as a tenant house in the 1830’s.  Other improvements on the property included a second tenant house, a blacksmith shop, an out-kitchen, a spring and two gardens.  The farm was divided by the “big road” referring to the Hagerstown-Sharpsburg turnpike.  Across the turnpike stood the barn, a stable, a corn crib-wagon shed and hog pens.

Miller famr

The red line represents the approx. boundary of the farm based off the 1859 Taggert map.

In January, 1842 the property was put up for sale by the executors of John Myers will.  An advertisement in the Hagerstown Mail stated that the farm consisted of “265 Acres of first-rate Limestone Land; about 150 Acres of which are cleared, the balance in thriving timber.  In addition to the buildings there was an orchard of “fine Fruit Trees”.   On April 24, 1844, David R. Miller purchased the farm for $53.00 per acre.  That same day, David transferred the property to his father, John Miller, who was one of the executors.  Although John Miller continued to own the farm until his death in 1882, his son David, known as D.R., would live there.

D.R. Miller was given his name in honor of his grandfather David Miller.   David Miller and his wife, Catherine Flick, were from the Rhinepfalze region of Germany.  In the 1760’s they emigrated to Maryland  and established the first store in the new town of Sharpsburg in 1768.

David’s son John, followed in his footsteps  operating not only the store, but the town post office, a hotel, a gristmill and also owned several farms.  During the War of 1812, John was a colonel in the militia and continued to be referred to as Colonel Miller.

Farm layout

D.R. Miller Farm in 1862.

The very wealthy Col. Miller helped establish his sons on farms throughout the Sharpsburg area. On April 2, 1846, his son D.R. married Margaret Pottenger.  Together they set up housekeeping and started to raise a family on the recently purchased farm.  By September 1862, they had seven children and like the neighboring farms, they worked hard to harvest their crops that fall.  Near the west side barn a number of haystacks stood and the garden was “sprawling with pumpkins, potatoes, and beans.”  Just to the south of the farm was  Miller’s 24-acre cornfield with “stalks higher than a man’s head” standing ready to harvest.

As the converging Union and Confederate armies neared Sharpsburg, Miller had his livestock driven to safety before they arrived, “all except one angry bull that refused to be herded”.  The day before the battle, D.R. and his family left the farm and moved closer to safety at his father’s house on the other side of Houser’s Ridge.  They made sure to take along the family’s pet parrot – Polly.  As the fighting raged closer and the family moved into shelter, they realized that Polly was still in her cage on the porch. Just as D.R. ran out to rescue the petrified parrot on the porch, a shell fragment sliced through the leather strip and the cage fell to the ground as the squawking parrot cried, “Oh, poor Polly.

While the Miller’s were sheltered at his father’s house, the battle raged back and forth across their farm, the fields and in the woods.  Some of the most vicious fighting occurred in and around D.R. Miller’s cornfield.  Gen. Hooker would write in his official report that, “every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battle-field”.  When Miller and his family returned to their home, the field was exactly how Hooker had described it, “not a single stalk left standing”. D.R. Miller’s field would forever be known as The Cornfield.

 

Dead Confederates

Confederate soldiers along Hagerstown Pike. D.R. Miller’s cornfield is just over the top of the fence rail in the distance.

Hagerstown Pike

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the battle Union casualties gathered at the farmstead, but were quickly moved to an established hospital further to the north. The days following the battle, Union burial details swept across Miller’s property, first to bury their comrades, than to bury the Confederates.

burial detail

Union burial detail on the D.R. Miller farm. The barn roof can be see on the far right of the photo.

site of burial detail

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90 PA monument

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

Burial detail

Union Burial detail on the Miller farm where the 90th PA monument is today.

Surprisingly there was very little damage to the house and barn, only the blacksmith shop was destroyed.  The crops in the fields were ruined and the stacks in and around the barn were used for the wounded and feeding the horses.  David R. Miller filed a claim of $1,237.75 for damages of which he received $995.00 from the Federal government for his losses on July 6, 1872.

D.R. Miller house - 1862

Photograph of the Miller house taken shortly after the battle.

Miller house

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.R. Miller and his family continued to live and work on the farm for the next twenty years.  When Colonel John Miller died in 1882, he left a large amount of real estate, with eight children and no recorded will.  This would place D. R. and Margaret against several of the other surviving heirs.   After a bitter court battle it was agreed to sell the property and divide the money among  the heirs.  In November of 1882, 150 acres around the house and the farm buildings were put up for public sale. It is unclear what happened to the remaining 100 plus acres at the southern end of the property, but it is possible that they were parceled off and sold as well.

Survey of Miller farm

Survey of the southern parcels of the D.R. Miller property by S.S. Downin, in 1883.

Eventually a year later, in November 1883, D.R. and Margaret purchased the farm they had been living on for almost forty years.  A little over two years later they would sell the farm to Euromus Hoffman on March 29, 1886.  Unfortunately the Miller’s did not enjoy a long retirement from the farm, for on November 13, 1888, Margaret passed away at the age of 63.  D.R. survived until the age of 78, when he died on September 10 1893, almost thirty-one years after the battle.  Margaret and David R. Miller rest together at the Mountain View Cemetery in Sharpsburg, near their neighbors, Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger.

The Millers

Daguerreotype of David R. and Margaret Miller

Millers gravesite

David R. and Margaret Miller’s gravestone at Mountain View Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The farm stayed within the descendants of the Hoffman family until 1933 when it was sold to John C. and Emma F. Poffenberger.  In 1950, a widowed Emma Poffenberger would sell the farm to William and Lucy Barr who would only own it for two years before they sold the property to Paul and Evelyn Culler in 1952.  On July 3, 1989, Paul Culler sold the farm to the Conservation Fund which would donate the property to the National Park Service in 1990.

Today, the D.R. Miller house has been stabilized and restored to its post-war appearance.  A large portion of the farm is utilized by the National Park Service for their Living Farm program.  The post-war outbuildings and fields are leased to local farmers to raise crops and livestock, generating some revenue but more importantly preserving the agricultural landscape of the battlefield.

The D.R. Miller farm was at the epicenter of the battle.  According the a National Park Service ranger, the carnage here was some of the worst of the entire war. “There was a soldier killed or wounded every second for four hours straight”.  This hallowed ground became the “bloodiest square mile in the history of the United States.”   The D.R. Miller farmstead is a true eyewitness to history.

The Bloody Cornfield

D.R. Miller’s Cornfield

Sources:
  • Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron, The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
  • Dresser, Michael, (September 13, 2012). 150 years later, Preservationists see victory at Antietam. The Baltimore Sun.  Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-antietam-anniversary-20120913-story.html.
  • Ernst, Kathleen A., Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999.
  • Downin, S. S., Survey of the property of George Poffenberger and Mrs. Nicodemus in Washington County, Md, 1883. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/item/2005625029/.
  • Gardner, Alexander,  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Selected Civil War Photographs Collection, Washington, D.C., 1862.  Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?fi=name&q=Gardner%2C%20Alexander%2C%201821-1882
  • Reardon, Carol and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Antietam: experiencing the battlefield through history, places and people, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
  •  Reed, Paula S., History Report: The D.R. Miller Farm, Hagerstown, MD: Preservation Associates, 1991: Retrieved from  https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/anti/miller.pdf.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape, Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols, Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
  • U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908.   Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.

The Farmsteads at Antietam – Joseph Poffenberger Farm

January 30, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

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

Each month we will explore one of the farmsteads at Antietam to help answer some of these questions: What did the farm look like?  Who lived there before the battle?  What did the families do during the battle?  What happened to the families after the battle?

In the early 1700’s very few people lived west of Frederick.  To induce immigrants into western Maryland, land was being offered at very low prices; and people with disposable wealth began to purchase large tracts of land.  Since 1738, Joseph Chapline, Sr. had been acquiring hundreds of acres of land along the Potomac River through grants and purchases.  When war with the French and Indians erupted in 1754, Chapline was called upon to assist his friend and Maryland Governor, Horatio Sharpe.  As a Captain, Chapline would help finance and build forts along the frontier.  For these efforts, Captain Chapline received over 10,000 acres adjacent to his existing estate from Governor Sharpe after the war in 1763.  In honor of his good friend, Chapline established the town of Sharpes Burgh.  Totaling more than 15,000 acres, or 24 square miles, in the Antietam Valley, Joseph Chapline was one of the largest landholders west of Frederick town.

The Joseph Poffenberger House

Joseph Chapline died on January 8, 1769, and in his Last Will and Testament, the huge estate was divided among Joseph’s nine children.  Just east of Chapline’s plantation estate, known as Mount Pleasant, lay a 1,484 acre tract called ‘Loss and Gain’ that was devised to his son, James Chapline (the Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead was originally part of the large estate).  It is almost certain that it was occupied by a tenant when James inherited the property.  Although there is no record, the architectural evidence  indicates that the construction of the 1 1/2 story log house dates to 1770 with a 2nd story added circa 1790.

Wash House

During this period James began leasing and selling family farm-sized tracts of 100 to 300 acres.  Robert Smith purchased a number of these 100-acre tracts and in 1813 sold 272 acres to Christian Middlekauff.  In addition to the house, the farm consisted of a shed, the wash house, and a wagon shed & corn crib.   In 1820, Middlekauff’s daughter Rosanna married Daniel Finifrock and according to the census, it appears that Rosanna and Daniel moved onto the property.  Over the next thirteen years they would have seven children together.

Bank Barn & Corn Crib / Granary

In 1828, Rosanna’s father, Christian Middlekauff died and her brother-in-law, David Neikirk was left in charge of the estate.  The following year Neikirk sold the farm to Daniel, presumably to settle the estate.  In 1833, Daniel mortgaged the property to his neighbor, Jacob Coffman, obtaining a $3,000 loan and given ten years to repay him.  Several other structures were built around this time, suggesting that Daniel used the loan to pay for some improvements to the farm.  The bank barn and equipment shed were built and an ice house and smokehouse were added completing the farm complex.

Location of Ice House

Tragedy struck that same year with Rosanna dying in August, followed by Daniel just two months later in October.  With no disposition of the property recorded after the Finifrocks’ passing, it’s believed that the seven orphaned children remained on their parents farm for the next ten years.  With the loan not satisfied, Jacob Coffman assumed ownership of the property in 1843. It’s possible that the Finifrock children remained for a while as tenants but by the 1850 census, Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger were living on the 124-acre farm.

On February 8,  1838, Joseph Poffenberger and Mary Ann Coffman were married. The youngest son of Adam Poffenberger, Joseph was born on July 26, 1812.  Joseph’s grandfather, John was Washington County’s first resident with the Poffenberger name.  As a skilled artisan, John operated blacksmith shops and forges which produced such a large volume of smoke, that the village built up around his works was called Smoke Town.

Location of tenant house at southwest corner of property

In 1852, Mary Ann’s father, Jacob Coffman sold his son-in-law the 124-acre area plus an additional 20 acres he had most likely parceled off his property along the Hagerstown turnpike to increase the farm to 144 acres.   Over the next ten years, Joseph would increase the size of his farm to 166 acres.  Mary Ann and Joseph had no children,  but with the substantial number of Poffenbergers in the Sharpsburg and Washington County area, they would have taken in relatives in need.  His nephew, Josiah Poffenberger is listed on the 1860 census as a farm hand and the couple also took in a young boy named Isaac Mallet.  They had a tenant, Samuel Kretzer who most likely lived in a tenant house on the southwest corner of the property along the Hagerstown Turnpike.

Joseph Poffenberger Farm 1862

Joseph Poffenberger Farm 1862

Over the summer and into the fall of 1862, Joseph Poffenberger, like all of his neighbors had worked to harvest their crop of wheat, flax, corn and clover.  Straw was stacked high in the barnyard and the produce from the orchard around the house filled Mary Ann’s cellar with “apple, peach, and plum butter, barrels of pickles and preserves of all kinds. Hundreds of pounds of smoked meat hung in the storehouse, and there was even a barrel of whiskey.”  Unfortunately they would not stay to enjoy the fruits of their labor knowing that Union and Confederate forces were quickly approaching Sharpsburg.

Position of Union forces across the Joseph Poffenberger farm as the battle erupts on the morning of September 17, 1862.

 

Before leaving the farm Joseph moved all his horses and locked up the storehouses and cellars.  It is unclear where the Poffenbergers went during the battle but with both having family in the area they may have stayed with relatives at a nearby farm.  By the afternoon of September 16, the Union First Corps occupied the whole Poffenberger farm, with artillery taking up positions on the ridge directly behind the house.  Major General Joseph Hooker, the First Corps commander, made his headquarters in the barn as the battle erupted in the East Woods at the southern edge of the Poffenberger property.  As day broke on the morning of the 17th, Confederate artillery fire from batteries on Nicodemus Heights and near the Dunker Church began raining down on the Union positions.   As the battle ebbed and flowed to the south through D.R. Miller’s cornfield, the Union First Corps soldiers found themselves back where they started twelve hours before; at the Poffenberger farmstead.

The red line represents the approx. boundary of farm when NPS acquired the 120 acre farm in 2000. Additional acreage was to the east across Hagerstown Pike and on the west along the Smoketown Road.

When Joseph returned that evening he recalled, “… my house it was completely empty. I had nothing left. I lived on army crackers that I found on the battlefield for five days.”  The damage was significant according to Jacob Eakle, who visited shortly after the fighting ended, and he stated the “farm was a perfect wreck after the battle, crops destroyed, house riddle and every thing taken out.”  The most significant damage occurred in the days after the battle as Union soldiers plundered his farmstead using his fields for horse’s of the army’s wagon trains, taking up the fences for firewood, and carrying off forty-ton of straw and hay for army stock and bedding for soldiers.

 

The Union army encamped on the farm until October 20, 1862, and used up the resources that Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger had stored for the coming winter months.  According to Poffenberger’s claim against the Federal government, his losses included:

• 500 bushels of wheat
• 60 bushels of rye
• 150 bushels of oats
• 80 bushels of potatoes
• 20 tons of hay
• 240 pounds of bacon
• 28 acres plus 200 bushels of old corn
• 18 loads of fodder
• 14 tons of straw
• 20 acres of pasture
• 7 beef cattle
• 20 swine
• 13 sheep
• 5 cords of hickory wood
• 7 cords of oak wood
• over 5,350 fence rails (described as a worm fence, nine rails to the panel),
• 50 bushels of apples
• 4 four barrels of cider
• 4 bushels of peaches
• grapes on the vine
• 2 bushels of dried cherries and plums
• 10 gallons each apple, plum and peach butter

This claim of $2,277.55 was “disallowed” by the government “because the proof of the stores and supplies was insufficient” and they were “not convinced that the stores and supplies were actually taken and used by the United States Army.”  Joseph would go to his grave without receiving reimbursement from the government. Five years after his death in May 1893, Lawson W. Poffenberger, the executor of Joseph’s estate was awarded $1918.00 for a resubmitted claim of $2,721.50.

Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger’s gravestone at Mountain View Cemetery

The greatest loss of the Poffenberger family would be the death of Mary Ann, just two years later, on August 12, 1864.  Like many of Sharpsburg residents, it is possible that her death was a result of the rampant disease that took many of Mary Ann’s neighbors following the battle.  Joseph never remarried but continued to live and work on his farm.  With help from his nephew Alfred Poffenberger, who had leased the Mary Grove Locher farm in the West Woods at the time of the battle, Joseph was able to increase production and add another 28 acres to the farm.

By 1880, Alfred had moved to Iowa and Joseph turned over the operation of the farm to his nephew, Otho J. Poffenberger and his wife Elizabeth.  Joseph would move to the tenant house to allow Otho and Elizabeth room in the main house to raise their children.

Joseph Poffenberger passed away on June 13, 1888 at the age of 76.  Joseph and Mary Ann Poffenberger rest together at the Mountain View Cemetery in Sharpsburg.

 

Otho had purchased the farm, updating the house and building on a rear addition.  In 1895, the War Department purchased property from Otho in order to build a tour road known as Mansfield Avenue, which allowed for the placement of monuments, tablets and markers.

Otho Poffenberger family in front of Joseph Poffenberger’s house, c. 1880.

Newly constructed War Department road, Mansfield Avenue, looking east from Hagerstown Turnpike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otho would continue to live and manage the farm until his death in 1932, when his son, Joseph W. Poffenberger purchased the farm.  In 1944, Joseph and his wife Bertha deeded the property over to Elmer L. Poffenberger who would later sell the farm to Fred and Renee Kramer in 1966. The last transfer of the Joseph Poffenberger farmstead occurred on June 8, 2000 when the National Park Service purchased the property from the Kramer’s.  Since that time the Park Service has stabilized the structures and restored the landscape to its post-war appearance.  Like the other farmsteads throughout the battlefield, the Poffenberger farm is an eyewitness to history.

Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead today

 

 

Sources:
  • Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Joseph R. Poffenberger Farm, WA-II-279, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, 24 January 2017
    https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/Washington/WA-II-279.pdf.
  • Tuomi, Suanne, One REALLY Big Family!: Information about John Poffenberger, 25 January 2017
    http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/t/u/o/Suanne-Tuomi/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0172.html
  • U.S. National Park Service, Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead Cultural Landscape Inventory, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2007.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.

10 Must-See Events around Sharpsburg

January 16, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Looking for an excuse to extend your stay?  No matter what the season, we’ve got you covered!  From Sharpsburg to Shepherdstown, Boonsboro to Hagerstown, there are plenty of things to do, featuring everything from theater arts to festivals to the awe-inspiring luminaries at Antietam.  This Top 10 list of “Must-See” events is a great starting point for planning your ‘Bucket List’ of activities during your stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

Washington County Playhouse

Washington County PlayhouseThe Washington County Playhouse is a wonderful gem in downtown Hagerstown offering intimate dinner theater featuring various plays & musicals, plus shows for children.  The productions are vibrant and well produced and the actors are also your waitstaff.  Dinner includes a full buffet and salad bar and the drinks are fun and have theater themes.  A little piece of Broadway, right here in Hagerstown! Definitely a MUST-SEE!

This year’s lineup includes:
Mel Brooks’ The Producers January 21 – February 25
Steel Magnolias March 17 – April 22
Dial M For Murder May 5 – June 10
Lerner And Loewe’s Gigi – The Broadway Musical June 30 – August 5
The Addams Family – A New Musical Comedy September 9 – October 29
A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story Of Christmas November 17 – December 16

The 18th Century Market Fair

Held every April at Fort Frederick State Park, Big Pool MD.
Come to historic Fort Frederick, an original stone fort built in 1756 during the French and Indian War, and travel back in time to an authentic 18th century market fair. A whiff of campfires fills the air and colorful entertainers are found strolling about the fair.  Visit sutlers (period vendors) selling 18th century wares: pottery, tin and copper ware, clothing, material and patterns, books, fireplace and cooking hardware, muskets and accoutrements, paintings and prints, lanterns and other camp gear, etc.  See hundreds of fair-goers of all ages dressed in colonial clothing: artisans, soldiers, ladies & gentlemen, Native Americans, longhunters, traders, servants, etc.  With free entertainment for all this fair is a MUST-SEE!

The Western Maryland Blues Fest

Held the first weekend after Memorial Day in Hagerstown, MD.
The Western Maryland Blues Fest serves up an annual community celebration centered around one of America’s most enduring musical forms – “The Blues.”  Set amidst raw-boned guitar riffs and emotionally charged vocals, Blues Fest represents a unique partnership between City government, event volunteers and local business sponsors as they team together to present four incredible days of musical entertainment and family fun.  A very musical MUST-SEE!

Salute to Independence

Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s Salute to Independence Concert

Held the first Saturday of July near Sharpsburg, MD.
Since 1986 the Maryland Symphony Orchestra has presented a free “Salute to Independence” Concert at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD.  The evening concert attracts nearly 30,000 people from all over and is capped off by a spectacular fireworks display, one of the largest in the region. The “Salute” has been billed as “Maryland’s Most Patriotic Event” and “One of the top 100 Events in North America”.  Absolutely a MUST-SEE!

 

 

Contemporary American Theater Festival

Held during the month of July in Shepherdstown, WV.
Founded in 1991, the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) is a professional, nonprofit theater company hosted on the campus of Shepherd University. It focuses on new works by American playwrights, most often premiers, or second and third productions.  Each July, it presents five new plays in a rotating repertory, accompanied by free workshops, talks and discussions. In 2015, The New York Times recognized CATF as one of “50 Essential Summer Festivals.”
Several plays which originated at the Festival (like Stickfly, Uncanny Valley, H20, The Insurgents, and Dead and Breathing) have been staged on or Off-Broadway.  Farragut North–by Beau Willimon, the mastermind behind House of Cards–was produced by CATF in 2009 and later adapted for the silver screen as The Ides of March.  Clearly a MUST-SEE!

Over the Mountain Studio Tour

Held the second weekend in November – Shepherdstown & Jefferson County, WV.
Start your Christmas Shopping during the annual Over the Mountain Studio Tour.  Visit 10 different studios showcasing the works of 25 juried artisans.  The show includes Stained Glass, Silver Art Jewelry, Blacksmithing, Woodcarving, Heirloom Baskets, Pottery,  and Wooden Toys and more.  Including live demonstrations, snacks, and wares for sale this tour is completely free! Unmistakably a MUST-SEE!

Augustoberfest

Dancing at Augustoberfest

Held late August in Hagerstown, MD.
The annual Augustoberfest pays tribute to the area’s rich German heritage and supports scholarships for exchange students to Hagerstown’s Sister City—Wesel, Germany. This exciting event is run by the nonprofit organization, the Augustoberfest Charitable Foundation.  Augustoberfest is a two-day festival that boasts festivities found at traditional Oktoberfest celebrations in Bavaria. The attendance of this event has doubled in size over the last few years and is becoming one of the most anticipated festivals in Washington County. Clearly a MUST-SEE!

Boonesborough Days

Held the second weekend of September in Boonsboro, MD.
Sponsored by the Boonsboro Historical Society, Boonesborough Days is a festival devoted to showcasing handmade crafts by more then 150 venders. Browse through historic and picturesque Shafer Park and shop for traditional and Early American handmade crafts, paintings and unique gifts.  Experience demonstrations of colonial candle making as well as age old skills of blacksmithing, chair caning, basket weaving, broom, soap and pottery making.  The festival also features a Civil War display with artifacts, the Tri State Astronomers, horse-drawn wagon rides, great food and a classic and antique car show on Sunday.  A really fun MUST-SEE!

The Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival

Held the end of September in Shenandoah Junction (Harpers Ferry), WV
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce invites you to come and enjoy the Mountain Heritage Arts & Craft Festival in the rolling countryside of Jefferson County, WV.  Leisurely stroll among the tents as you admire the many crafts, fine arts, and wine.  Meet approximately 200 artisans and craftspersons carefully selected and prejudged, demonstrating and showcasing their work at this nationally acclaimed festival.  Enjoy listening to the best live bluegrass music, taste wines from the area’s foremost wineries and enjoy the many varieties of food that are available.  Clearly a MUST-SEE!

Antietam Memorial Illumination

Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination

Held the first Saturday of December at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD.
On the first Saturday of December for over 25 years volunteers spend the day placing luminaries along the park roads and the rolling hills of the Antietam National Battlefield. By twilight, 23,110 luminaries will be lit, one for each soldier who was killed, wounded or missing during the bloodiest day in the American Civil War. The free 5 mile driving tour is the largest memorial illumination in North America. The first Illumination was held in 1988. Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, will host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam.  A very touching MUST-SEE!

Check your calendar and make your reservations now so that you can be sure to include one of these MUST-SEE events during you stay at the Inn!

2016 in Review

January 6, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Click here to watch our Year in Review

A New Year usually brings with it both a sense of reflection and the possibility of change and, for us, 2016 was no exception. We entered our second year of Innkeeping last January with a lot of big plans for the Inn, and we wanted to finish the year by looking back and celebrating all of the events and changes that took place.

From all of us at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn: “THANK YOU!”  Thank you for your business, friendship, loyalty, and support in 2016 and we look forward to seeing you again in 2017!

 

 

Connected to the Past

September 16, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

As you drive through the Antietam National Battlefield you will see the monuments across the low rolling hills, in woodlots, along cornfields and old farm roads.  They are dedicated to the men who fought here over 150 years ago.  You may wonder,  how are we connected to the past through these monuments in our backyard?  Here is the story of one connection.

September 17 marks the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. An estimated 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of some of the most savage fighting of the Civil War. The Battle of Antietam ended General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North and led to the issuance of President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

For many Union soldiers, Antietam would be their first sting of battle or ‘baptism of fire’. For one young man named Henry Vincent it would be his first such action. Henry was born on Christmas Day, 1844, in England. In 1852, his father Job immigrated with his family to America where they settled in Montour County near Danville, Pennsylvania. Henry worked in the local roller mills from the age of ten until he answered President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more volunteers in July 1862.

!32nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument at the Sunken Road

132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument at the Sunken Road

Henry enlisted in the Danville Fencibles, which was comprised of men mostly from the Danville Iron Works. By mid August, they joined other recruited companies from Wyoming, Bradford, Carbon, Luzerne and Columbia counties at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg where they were mustered into service as a ‘nine-month regiment’ and organized as Company A, 132nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.  Richard A. Oakford of Luzerne County was appointed colonel of the regiment and within days the regiment was moved to the front on the outskirts of Washington. For the next two weeks the regiment encamped near Fort Corcoran, just across the Potomac, where they drilled intensely amidst the sound of the guns from the plains of Manassas.

On September 7, 1862, Henry and the men of the 132nd marched twenty-two miles in seven hours to Rockville, Maryland, which was an amazing feat for any regiment, especially a green one. Here the 132nd was assigned to Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball’s First Brigade alongside of three veteran regiments, the 8th Ohio, 7th West Virginia and the 14th Indiana. The First Brigade was part of the Maj. Gen. William H. French’s Third Division of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner’s Second Corps in the reorganized Army of the Potomac under the command of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan.

Once they joined the ranks of the Army of the Potomac there was no rest for the regiment. Just days before, Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland and now McClellan was moving to intercept Lee. By September 13, Henry’s regiment had marched to an open field near Frederick, MD to bivouac for the night. The same field had been occupied by Confederate soldiers a few nights before as the rebel army was on the move to South Mountain and McClellan was on their tail. The next day the regiment was on the march again. By the time they reached Fox’s Gap on the evening of the 14th, the battle for South Mountain was over, with the exception of some artillery batteries firing back and forth at each other. It was here that Henry and his fellow comrades would witness the sight of their first dead soldiers, an image that would stay with them the rest of their lives.

On the morning of September 15, the Army of the Potomac began their “chase” of the rebel army through the gaps of South Mountain as they marched toward the small village of Sharpsburg. The next day the regiment made its way to Keedysville, along the Antietam Creek, where it bivouacked for the night in preparation for the next day’s battle. That evening the camp was still–no singing or fires, except to make some coffee. As one man from the regiment wrote, ‘Letters were written home–many of them last words–and quiet talks were had, and promises made between comrades.’ Colonel Oakford had asked his adjutant to ensure the regimental rosters were complete for ‘We shall not all be here to-morrow night.’ That night a light rain fell as they lay on the ground under their gum blankets.

The next morning on September 17, the men quickly awoke to the simple call from their sergeant or corporal. They were on the march about 6:00am, wading across the waist deep Antietam Creek.  Soon the cannonading and the shrieking of shells could be heard. One veteran wrote they knew they were approaching the ‘debatable ground’ when they heard the rattle of musketry which sounded ‘like the rapid pouring of shot upon a tinpan, or the tearing of heavy canvas, with slight pauses interspersed with single shots.’ The Second Corps had been ordered into battle in an effort to turn the Confederate left flank and assist the Twelfth Corps near the West Woods.  Maj. Gen. Sumner had escorted his lead division, under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, on the attack as French’s division was directed to support on the left flank.  When Sedgwick’s division came into contact in the West Woods, Gen. Summer had sent French orders to press the attack toward the Sunken Road. French had moved to the south of Sedgwick’s attack and ran into Confederate skirmishers near the swales around William Roulette’s farm. Seeing an opportunity for a fight he ordered his men forward.

The William Roulette farm at Antietam.   The white bee hives lie scattered in the foreground. To the right is the spring house where men stopped for a cool drink before moving into line. Behind the house is the barn where the wounded and dying were taken. The Sunken Road or Bloody Lane as it was called after the battle was about a quarter mile to the right of the picture.

As the men of the 132nd were ordered into line of battle behind the other two brigades of French’s division, they were marching past the Roulette farm when a shot from a Confederate battery slammed into the Roulette’s yard. The men quickly moved through the yard trampling over the family garden and smashing into some white crates in the yard which were the Roulette’s bee hives. The annoyed bees engulfed the regiment. Some men dropped their muskets and ran into nearby fields, while others slapped their clothes and batted at the angry honey bees. In the meantime, more Confederate artillery shells and bullets were finding their marks among the Union troops. One soldier wrote, “Soldiers were rolling in the grass, running, jumping, and ducking.” Concerned that the hysteria that gripped the 132nd could rapidly spread to wholesale panic among the rest of the brigade, Brig. Gen. Kimball barked out a “double quick” order allowing the Pennsylvanians to advance past the Roulette farm and eventually outdistance the bees.

Kimball’s staff and regimental officers hurried to rally the regiment back into battle lines with the rest of the brigade. The regiment advanced across open fields toward the Sunken Road just to the east, the lane that led to the Roulette farm. They were slightly to the rear between the two smaller veteran regiments of the 8th Ohio and the 7th West Virginia. As they crested the hill the Confederates opened with a terrific volley of musketry that brought down many of the Union line.  Colonel Oakford died in the first volley from a minie ball that struck an artery in his left shoulder. Henry’s own First Sergeant, 1st Sgt J. M. Hassenplug was killed. With no cover from the fire, the 132nd was ordered to lie down and crawl toward the Rebel lines below the crest of the ridge where they reloaded and fired individually. One soldier that was next to the adjutant, “inadvertently stood up, a minie ball struck his rifle in the forestock and prostrated him. Regaining his senses, the fellow discovered he was only bruised. He picked up another gun and returned to the line.”

Antietam Battlefield map showing location of the 132nd PA during the attack by the Irish Brigade around 10:30, September 17, 1862.

Location of the 132nd PA during the attack by the Irish Brigade around 10:30, September 17, 1862.

The regiment held their ground as the men of Maj. Gen. Israel B. Richardson’s division came up to support their attack. The famed Irish Brigade continued the assault past the 132nd toward the Rebels. To their left flank another Union brigade was able to hit the flank of the Confederate line seizing a knoll overlooking the Sunken Road forcing the Rebels to withdraw.

Seeing them run, the men of the 132nd rose up and pursued the Rebels into the lane. Richardson’s brigades pursued the retreating Confederates toward Sharpsburg until Confederate Generals James Longstreet and D.H Hill personally led a counterattack with artillery and 200 men. Richardson was forced to withdraw back to the lane.

The fighting around the Sunken Road had ended around one o’clock. The men of the 132nd continued to hold the line the rest of the day and into the next. According to the official report after the battle, they had taken over 750 men into battle; thirty men were killed, one-hundred and fourteen wounded and eight were missing from the ranks. At least thirty of the wounded would die from their wounds within days after the battle. More than 5,600 casualties were inflicted on both sides around the Sunken Road. The carnage was so horrifying that the Sunken Road would be forever known as the ‘Bloody Lane’.

Members of the 132nd Pennsylvania return to Antietam for a reunion in 1894.

Members of the 132nd Pennsylvania return to Antietam for a reunion in 1891. On September 117, 1904 they would return to dedicate their monument.

As for Henry Vincent, he made it through his ‘baptism of fire’ unscathed. According to the county history, “his coat sleeve was completely shot off at Antietam.”  Henry would continue to serve with the 132nd and participate at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was promoted to Corporal in March 1863 and was mustered out with Company A on May 24, 1863. Henry returned home to Danville, to become a successful businessman, lawyer and a father to eight children.  He was an active member in both the 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Regimental Association and the Goodrich Post No. 22, of the Grand Army of the Republic until he passed away in 1916.

Standing next to the 132 PA Monument at Antietam.

Standing next to the 132 PA Monument at Antietam.

For many of us, the monuments in our backyard connect us to the past.  The 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment monument at the Sunken Road and Henry Vincent, will forever be my connection to the Battle of Antietam, as Henry was my great-great-grandfather.

 

 

 

Ezra Carman and the Battlefield – Tom Clemens

June 28, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Tom Clemens

Dr. Tom Clemens

Summer Lecture Series

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

On Wednesday, August 24th , Dr. Tom Clemens will present his Summer Lecture Series talk on “Ezra Carman and the Battlefield”.  No single person has had more effect on the Antietam Battlefield than Ezra Carman. A veteran of the battle, he was hired in 1896 as “historical expert” to create the maps, layout the tour route, mark the points of special interest and create a “pamphlet” to guide the government in future modifications to the battlefield. His “pamphlet” became an 1,800 page manuscript providing the most detailed account of the campaign ever written. It is the guide still today for most histories of the battle. He also authored all the cast iron tablets seen on the field today, using official and private sources, and amassing over 2,800 accounts from veterans of the battle. Although at times imperfect, his work on Antietam still guides us today.

These Wednesday evening programs are free and open to the public. They will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn at 7:oo p.m. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit around the event tent. In case of inclement weather talks will be moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Video Tour of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn

May 17, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Looking for a relaxing and enjoyable bed and breakfast experience?  Come visit the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg, Maryland.  An eyewitness to history since 1804, this historic Bed & Breakfast is located near the Antietam Battlefield and provides large comfortable rooms, friendly hospitality, free wifi, and a 24hr coffee station loaded with cookies and snacks!  Come stay with us to experience the Civil War, explore the outdoors, discover your new favorite restaurant, tour a great winery, or just sit back and unwind at the end of the day.

Watch our new video and see how the Jacob Rohrbach Inn offers the perfect destination for a vacation to remember.

Exterior of B&B at dusk

Click here to watch Video Tour of the Inn

 

 

 

Maryland, My Maryland Civil War Tour Package

April 1, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Lee at Sharpsburg, MD

Gen. Robert E. Lee preparing for the Maryland Campaign

We would like to take this opportunity to invite each of you to a unique Civil War experience.  Learn about the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the single bloodiest day in American military history through the “Maryland, My Maryland” tour package hosted by the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

“Maryland, My Maryland” – Confederate soldiers enthusiastically sang this tune as they crossed over the Potomac River into Maryland in September 1862. Thus began Robert E. Lee’s first Southern invasion into the North.  Less than two weeks later, his army was glad to be back in Virginia after the devastating Battle of Antietam.

We have recently partnered with the Antietam Battlefield Guides to provide a special tour package for small groups.  The Antietam Battlefield Guides are a group of historians dedicated to providing outstanding interpretive tours of the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Led by Chief Guide Jim Rosebrock, the list of guides includes renowned authors such as Tom Clemens, Gordon Damman, John Hoptak, Justin Mayhue, John Priest, Joe Stahl, Steven Stotelmyer, and John Schildt.

During your three night stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, you will follow in the footsteps of the Blue & Gray as you journey to South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam and Shepherdstown.  Certified by the National Park Service, the  Antietam Battlefield Guides will provide a historically accurate and compelling interpretation of the events, personalities, and major themes of the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Your Civil War tour package includes:

Antietam Battlefield Guides

Tour along Antietam’s Bloody Lane

• Historian guided tour of the Maryland Campaign including “off the beaten path” locations.
• Tour transportation provided by first class air-conditioned motor coach
• 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner and a Welcome Reception
• Maps, handouts and tour packet
• All entrance fees to museums and attractions
• Civil War era wet plate photography demonstration
• Private tour of the Pry House Field Hospital Museum
• Unique evening dining in historic locations
• Free time for shopping at local boutiques
• 10% Discount at the JRI Gift Shop

The price of this tour package is only $325 per person and is offered once a month from March thru November. A minimum of six participants is required per tour. Tour package does not include cost of accommodations. All room rates are double occupancy and current rates can be found on our website. We offer a 10% room discount for participants staying four nights or longer.

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry, WV

Being centrally located in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage area, the Inn provides a  great location as a base of operations to explore additional Civil War sites.  Winchester and Gettysburg are just an hour away, with Manassas and Washington, only an hour and a half drive.  All are perfect for an additional day trip during your stay.

To request your brochure and more information about this exclusive Civil War tour package email us at info@jacob-rohrbach-inn.com.

 

 

Find Your Park – Antietam National Battlefield

January 18, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

The National Park Service turns 100 years old this year and everyone is invited to take part in the celebration!

The centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs by inviting you to Find Your Park.

Over the next year we’ll help you Find Your Park and discover the national parks and programs here in our own backyard!

This month we are featuring the Antietam National Battlefield.  Antietam is located in Sharpsburg just one mile from the Inn. It commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862.

The Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest one day battle in American history. During that one fateful day, more than 23,110 men were killed, wounded, or listed as missing. Approximately 4,000 were killed, and in the days that followed, many, many more died of wounds or disease. The peaceful village of Sharpsburg turned into one vast hospital and burial ground extending for miles in all directions. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion of the North and led to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

The park was established by the War Department as Antietam National Battlefield Site on August 30, 1890.  At that time the park was centered around the Antietam National Cemetery, but the War Department would create the park roads which are still used today with over 300 tablets scattered throughout the battlefield to mark the location of different parts of each army during the battle. With the creation of these park roads many veterans returned for reunions and to place monuments for their regiment or states to commemorate their sacrifices here. There are 96 monuments at Antietam.  An Observation Tower was built in 1896 as an open-air classroom for military study. Today the tower provides a commanding 360 degree view of the rural agricultural landscape for visitors just as it did at the turn of the century.  

The park was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933.  Since that time the park has expanded its boundary to over 3,000 acres which include the Dunker Church, the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge and many of the pre-war farmsteads like the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.  This expansion helped make Antietam one of the best preserved battlefields in America.

In 1962 the Visitor Center was constructed with an Observation deck from which you can see 2/3 of the battlefield.  You can explore the museum exhibits about the battle and the Civil War, watch a short orientation film or listen to a park ranger interpretive talk at the Visitor Center.  The visitor center is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

You can experience the rural landscape, much unchanged since 1862, by hiking one of Antietam’s ten trails.  An audio tour is available for purchase to accompany the self-guided 8.5-mile driving tour of the battlefield with eleven stops.  The best way to fully understand and appreciate the Battle of Antietam is to book a tour with the Antietam Battlefield Guides by the book store.  This group of devoted historians will provide you with a complete historical interpretation of the battle and the Maryland Campaign.

Living history at the Pry House

Living history at the Pry House

There are always special events and activities happening at the park.  Volunteers are out every weekend to assist visitors, and there are often living history programs. Each July the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s Salute to Independence Concert is held at the battlefield to celebrate July 4th.  The first weekend of December the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those 23,110 soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam.  These two events are a must-see; so be sure to add them to your bucket list.

Now get out and Find Your Park, visit the Antietam National Battlefield.

 

Antietam Battlefield Guides

December 16, 2015 by jacobrohrbach

ABG LogoThe Antietam Battlefield Guides is a group of devoted students of the history of the Maryland Campaign who provide historical interpretive services to the public.  Successful guides demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Maryland Campaign history and possess the outstanding interpersonal and communication skills needed to guide members of the public around the battlefield. All guides successfully pass a detailed written examination and an evaluation of their interpersonal and communicative skills before joining the program.

NEWEST ANTIETAM GUIDE

The latest member to join the ranks of this esteem group of historians is our very own Innkeeper! Born and raised in Benton, Pennsylvania, a small farming community much like Sharpsburg, Chris enlisted and began his adventure in the U.S. Army in 1984. His 24-year career was spent in and around light infantry units like the 10th Mountain Division, the 25th Infantry Division, and the 101st Airborne Division including combat operations during the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) and Kosovo. During his career as a senior non-commissioned officer, he held a variety of leadership and staff positions at all levels.

JRI_Chris-n-Bill_WestWoods

Being mentored by fellow Antietam Guide, Bill Sagle in the West Woods.

Chris holds an undergraduate history degree from Excelsior College and a Master’s Degree in Military History from the American Military University. Upon his military retirement Chris continued to serve as a defense contractor for both the Army and the Navy. After moving to Maryland he started to volunteer with the National Park Service at the Antietam National Battlefield as a Battlefield Ambassador throughout the park.  Chris was recently recognized as a member of the Volunteer Master Ranger Corps.  Over the years he has led military staff rides and guided scout groups on hikes across Shiloh, Chickamauga, Manassas, Gettysburg and Antietam.

After successful passing the written exam in the spring of 2014, Chris’s preparation and practice for the final evaluation was put on a temporary hold while we were pursuing the purchase of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, Bed & Breakfast.

ANTIETAM CONNECTION

Chris’s interest in the American Civil War and the Battle of Antietam in particular occurred many years ago when he was told the story of a young man named Henry.

In August of 1862, Henry, who was from Montour County, Pennsylvania answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 300,000 nine-month militia. Henry enlisted in the ‘Danville Fencibles’ which was comprised of men mostly from the Danville Iron Works. Before the end of the month they were mustered into service as Company A, 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment and in defensive works outside Washington.

With General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate invasion into Maryland, they were quickly assigned to Brigadier General Nathan Kimball’s First Brigade, 3rd Division, Second Army Corps, alongside three veteran regiments. In just over a week’s time Henry and the 132nd Pennsylvania would receive their ‘baptism of fire’ fighting for a Sunken Road among the fields and farmsteads that reminded them so much of home.

Antietam Battlefield Guide at 132d PVI Monument

Antietam Battlefield Guide, Chris standing next to the 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument along Bloody Lane where his great-great grandfather fought.

Henry survived the battle at Antietam as well as the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville unscathed. After being mustered out he returned home to Danville to become a successful businessman, farmer, and family man. This story was passed down to Chris through the generations, as Henry Vincent was his great-great-grandfather.

BOOK A TOUR

Come join Chris at the Antietam National Battlefield to walk the Sunken Road and the pristine countryside to hear the stories of other men like Henry Vincent and understand their experience during the bloodiest day in American history.

If you would like to schedule a battlefield tour with Chris or one of our other outstanding Antietam Battlefield Guides you can call the Inn or you can call the museum store located at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor’s Center, at 301-432-4329.

An Antietam Christmas

November 19, 2015 by jacobrohrbach

Home for the Holidays for an Antietam Christmas

There are so many wonderful things to do during an Antietam Christmas Season in our area.  Check out this small sampling of events happening over the next few months.  As the saying goes, “There is no place like home for the holidays”, and the Jacob Rohrbach Inn is your perfect home away from home.  Make sure to book your stay today to experience the many holiday festivities.

TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY

The Town of Sharpsburg will ring in the holiday season with an enchanting tree lighting ceremony. The magic in the air, colorful lights and the festive sounds of the season will be put you in the holiday spirit. There is also a rumor the Good Ole’ St. Nick may pay a visit to good girls and boys. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments and fun with your neighbors! This event will be held in the town square on Friday, December 9.

THE TRAINS OF CHRISTMAS

Do you remember the old train you had around your Christmas tree as a kid? At the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, you can reminisce and show your children what Christmas’ were like for you as a kid.  “The Visions, Sounds and Snows of Christmas Past and Present”  features an “O” scale, 3-rail Christmas layout with steam and diesel trains by Lionel, MTH, Williams, Weaver, and others operating in a snow scene ON FOUR LEVELS! You’ll also see new construction on the “O” scale, plus additions to the Miniature Western Maryland Roundhouse on the “HO” trains – All in full operation! Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

AN ANTIETAM CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE

After twelve fabulous years of Cowboy Christmas, Antietam Recreation is pleased to bring you an all-new holiday experience. Complete with thousands of lights, picturesque decorations, a home-style feast and award-winning vocalists and dancers, this evening is the perfect way to celebrate the season with family and friends. They will have you laughing and crying as they explore the wonder of Christmases past and are reminded of the hope yet to come. The Christmas Experience

ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD MEMORIAL ILLUMINATION

Antietam Christmas

The Maryland Monument at the Antietam National Battlefield

On the first Saturday of December for over 25 years volunteers spend the day placing luminaries along the park roads and the rolling hills of the Antietam National Battlefield. By twilight, 23,110 luminaries will be lit, one for each soldier who was killed, wounded or missing during the bloodiest day in the American Civil War. The free 5 mile driving tour is the largest memorial illumination in North America. The first Illumination was held in 1988.  Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women’s Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, will host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. Antietam Memorial Illumination

CHRISTMAS IN SHEPHERDSTOWN

Here comes Santa Claus to an Antietam Christmas.

“Here comes Santa Claus..”

The Historic town of Shepherdstown will kick off its annual ” Christmas in Shepherdstown” celebration on Friday after Thanksgiving. The schedule includes evening events such as a bonfire, a chili and cornbread supper, the lighting of the town tree, arrival of Santa, free carriage rides, a live nativity and a Christmas concert at O’Hurley’s General Store.  Check out the annual Christmas parade on the first Saturday of December at 11 AM in downtown on German Street. Many events throughout the weekends including Nutcracker Ballet, Tuba Christmas, Irish Christmas in America and a Civil War Christmas.

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