Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

Archives

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Phillip Pry Farm

February 28, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

The Pry House built in 1844

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

Philip and Samuel Pry

Approximate boundary of Pry Farm

 

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

 

 

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

The Pry House

Back ell of the house

Tree lined drive

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

barn

Bank barn

Wagon shed and corn crib

Spring

 

 

 

 

 

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

Kitchen ruins

Root cellar

site of stone buildings

 

 

 

 

 

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

Philip and Elizabeth Pry

 

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

 

 

The Pry Mill

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

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

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

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

Pry farm

Layout of the Philip Pry farm in 1862

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

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

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

Battlefield map showing Union forces around the Pry farm

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

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

Alexander Garner photo of the Pry House

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

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

Damage Claim submitted by Philip Pry

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

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

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

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

The Pry Memory Quilt

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

 

Pry gravesite

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

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

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

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

The Philip and Elizabeth Pry Farm today.

Sources:

  • Barron, Lee and Barbara Barron, The History of Sharpsburg, Maryland: Founded by Joseph Chapline, 1763. Sharpsburg: self-published, 1972.
  • Gardner, Alexander, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Selected Civil War Photographs Collection, Washington, D.C., 1862. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?fi=name&q=Gardner%2C%20Alexander%2C%201821-1882
  • The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Pry House and Family History, Frederick MD. 2020.  Retrieved from http://www.civilwarmed.org
  • Washington County Historical Trust, Pry Mill, circa 1820, west of Keedysville, MD, Hagerston, MD 1998. Retrieved from http://washingtoncountyhistoricaltrust.org/pry-mill-circa-1820-west-of-keedysville-md
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Hitt’s Mill Complex, WA-II-120, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, July 2003.
  • Reardon, Carol and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Antietam: experiencing the battlefield through history, places and people, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
  • Schildt, John W., Drums Along the Antietam. ParsonMcClain Printing Company, 2004.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Antietam National Battlefield, National Register of Historic Place, ANTI-WA-II-477, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Philip Pry House, Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2004.
  • U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.
  • Walker, Kevin M and K. C. Kirkman, Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
  • Western Maryland Regional Library, The Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland was published in 1877. Lake, Griffing & Stevenson of Philadelphia, 1877. Retrieved from http://whilbr.org/Image.aspx?photo=wcia053s.jpg&idEntry=3497&title=Sharpsburg+-+District+No.+1

 

2020 Civil War Lecture Series

January 19, 2020 by jacobrohrbach

Wow! This will be our fifth year of hosting the Civil War Lecture Series.  Since we started, we’ve raised over $1500 for the Save Historic Antietam Foundation through our summer fundraiser.  We have seven new guest speakers presenting and another outstanding slate of lectures scheduled at the  Jacob Rohrbach Inn.  Come learn from Antietam Battlefield Guides and other leading historians as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign and the Civil War during our summer lecture series.

civil war lecture series eagle logo

June 3 – Gordon Dammann – “The Wounding of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr”

June 10 – Brad Gottfried – “Lee Invades the North: A Comparison of 1862 & 1863”

June 17 – Darin Wipperman – “Immortal Respect: Col. Henry Post and the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters in the Antietam Campaign”

June 24 – Alann Schimdt – “The Dunker Church”

July 1 – Laura Marfut – “Veterans of Antietam: The Rest of the Story ”

July 8 – Sharon Murray – “The Long Gray Line of ’54”

July 15 – Richard P. D’Ambrisi – “Baseball in the Civil War”

July 22 – Perry Jamieson – “Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock on the First Day of the Battle of Gettysburg.”

July 29 – Nigel Wainwright – “The Civil War and The World”

Aug 5 – Matt Borders – “The Loudoun Valley Campaign of 1862: McClellan’s Final Advance”

Aug 12 – Justin Mayhue – “Small Arms Weapons at Antietam”

Aug 19 – Alex Rossino – “The Tale Untwisted: George McClellan and the Discovery of Lee’s Lost Orders, September 13, 1862”

Aug 26 – John Schildt – “The ‘What Ifs’ of the Maryland Campaign”

These Wednesday evening programs are free and open to the public. They will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Inn at 7:00 p.m, so bring a chair to sit around our event tent. In case of inclement weather the program will be moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed United Church of Christ on Main Street.  Check our Blog and Facebook page for weekly updates about the speakers and their topics.

Lecture notice

Civil War Lecture Series Notice

The Farmsteads of Antietam Tour

October 29, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

The Dunker Church and debris after the battle

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

Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg after the battle

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

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

 

The debris of battle

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

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

 

Joseph Poffenberger Farm

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

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

 

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

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

David R. and Margaret Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did the farm look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did the families do during the battle?

Fighting around Roulette Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happened to the families and farms after the battle?

Otho Poffenberger family, c. 1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“People and Places at Antietam” – John Schildt

July 4, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

John Schildt

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

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

Rev. John Schildt will be our final speaker of the season on Wednesday, August 28th.  John often talks about history being about ‘people’ and ‘places’.  John will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “People and Places at Antietam”.  John will go from George Washington, to “the Horse Without A Tail”, to John Ticknor, Martin Eakle, Dr. William Child, Clara Barton and Axel Steele, to Dr. Dunn, Black Jack Logan, the Hoffman farm, Drs. Biggs and Shealy, the Grove family, JFK, Jimmy Carter, Patrick Roy, and Lincoln, as well as other people and places connected with the Maryland Campaign.

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

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

“The Tale Untwisted” – Alex Rossino

July 4, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Alex Rossino

The discovery of Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders no. 191 outside of Frederick, Maryland on September 13, 1862 is one of the most important and hotly disputed events of the American Civil War. For more than 150 years historians have debated if George McClellan, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, dawdled upon receiving a copy of the orders before advancing to challenge Lee’s forces at the Battle of South Mountain.

Alexander Rossino will discuss how ‘Little Mac’ moved with uncharacteristic energy to counter the Confederate threat and take advantage of Lee’s divided forces, striking a blow in the process that wrecked Lee’s plans and sent his army reeling back toward Virginia. 

​On Wednesday, August 21st Dr. Alex Rossino will put a final word on the debate over the fate and impact of the Lost Orders on the history of the 1862 Maryland Campaign during his talk – “The Tale Untwisted: George McClellan and the Discovery of Lee’s Lost Orders, September 13, 1862”.

Dr. Rossino earned his PhD in History at Syracuse University in 1999. He is the author of Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity, a study of German policies against Polish Christians and Jews during the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939. He worked for 9 years as an historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before moving to the private sector to provide market analysis for the government contracting community, work he continues to this day. Following a long hiatus from writing, Dr. Rossino moved to Western Maryland in 2013 and turned his studies to the American Civil War, a subject of interest to him since childhood. In 2017 he published Six Days in September: A Novel of Lee’s Army in Maryland, 1862 with Savas Beatie. The novel examines the history of the second half of the Confederate invasion of Maryland from a first-person perspective, combining history and fiction to help general readers better understand the importance of the 1862 Maryland Campaign to Robert E. Lee and his army. A sequel to the book giving the same treatment to McClellan’s army is due out in 2019. Dr. Rossino is also the author of two new articles on the Civil War in Maryland: one on the Confederate Army in Frederick and the other on George McClellan’s handling of Lee’s Lost Orders in September 1862, which he co-authored with Cartographer Gene Thorp. Last, but not least, he is the editor of Savas Beatie’s new Civil War Spotlight essay series, a service publishing historical essays on issues of importance to Civil War studies. His talk today is based on the inaugural offering in that series.

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

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

“In the Wake of Antietam: The Loudoun Valley Campaign of 1862”​ – Kevin Pawlak

July 4, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Kevin Pawlak

On Wednesday, August 7th, Antietam Battlefield Guide, Kevin Pawlak will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “In the Wake of Antietam: The Loudoun Valley Campaign of 1862”​.  Following the bloodiest single day in American history, September 17, 1862, and the conclusion of the Battle of Antietam, the Federal Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia rested and refitted on either side of the Potomac River. By late October 1862, urged on by President Abraham Lincoln and his recently announced Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the Federal army crossed into Virginia once more, armed with a plan to capture Richmond and defeat the Confederacy.

The ensuing battles that erupted in the Loudoun Valley and beyond raged for two weeks and added several hundred casualties to the nation’s growing list of names. Confederate forces attempted to slow the advancing Federal army against the backdrop of the 1862 midterm elections. Several fights erupted in Loudoun and Fauquier counties from October 26-November 10, 1862. The campaign proved to be not as decisive as Lincoln hoped. It proved to be George McClellan’s last campaign as a field commander in the Civil War.

 Kevin Pawlak is a Historic Site Manager for the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division and works as a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam National National Battlefield. He graduated from Shepherd University in 2014, majoring in History with a concentration in Civil War and 19th Century America and minoring in Historic Preservation. Kevin previously worked at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He is on the Board of Directors for the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, and the Friends of the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. He is also a regular contributor to the Emerging Civil War online blog. Kevin is the author of Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital and co-author of To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862.

 

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

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

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

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

James Buchanan

Jim Buchanan

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

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

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

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

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

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Steve Stotelmyer

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

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

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

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

“Confederate artillery commanders at Antietam” – ​Jim Rosebrock

June 7, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

James Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock

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

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

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

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

“The Only Doubtful Ones: McClellan’s Least Favorite Corps During the Antietam Campaign” – Darin Wipperman  

May 3, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Darin Wipperman

First time speaker and returning guest of the Inn, Darin Wipperman will discuss, “The Only Doubtful Ones: McClellan’s Least Favorite Corps During the Antietam Campaign” on Wednesday, June 26th.

As the Army of the Potomac marched toward destiny in Maryland, George McClellan lacked confidence in the men of the First Corps. In a letter to his wife, the army commander referred to them as “the only doubtful ones” under his command. One reason the First Corps fell short of McClellan’s appreciation was his dislike of Irvin McDowell, the original commander of the corps. The stout fighting of the First Corps under Joe Hooker in Maryland began their reputation as an immortal Civil War infantry corps. McClellan was not a man to admit he could be wrong. Yet, this examination of McClellan’s writings before and after Antietam, placed in the context of the corps’ sacrifice during the campaign, will show how, in the end, he could recognize great soldiering.

One of Darin Wipperman’s most formative moments was receiving Bruce Catton’s Picture History of the Civil War as a present 35 years ago. He has studied, written, and self-published about the political struggles of the Antebellum decades and the war itself ever since. Growing up in Iowa, he earned degrees in Political Science from the University of Northern Iowa in the mid-1990s. A federal employee for nearly 17 years, Darin and his wife moved to northern New Hampshire in 2012, where he was a reporter and editor at New Hampshire weekly newspapers for more than four years. Enjoying early retirement, Darin is currently writing a manuscript entitled History Will Not Be Silent: Life and Death in a Union Infantry Corps. Part One of the book is “Defending Maryland,” about the First Corps in the crucial month of September 1862. Based on his research and writing, Darin’s presentation examines “The Only Doubtful Ones: McClellan’s Least Favorite Corps During the Antietam Campaign.”

 

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

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

“Images from Meade’s Division: The Pennsylvania Reserves at Antietam” – Joe Stahl

May 3, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Joe Stahl

On Wednesday, June 19th, Antietam Battlefield Guide, Joseph W. Stahl will present his Summer Lecture Series talk  “Images from BG George Meade’s  1st Corps Division”

BG Meade’s Division was reported to consist of 2607 officers and men in 13 veteran infantry regiments.  These were the Pennsylvania Reserve Regiments. The division would report losses of 107 killed, 466 wounded and 2 missing for a total of 573 including three artillery batteries attached to the division. In this presentation you will be shown the faces and history of several soldiers, at least one from 10 of the 13 regiments in General Meade’s Division.  A map will orient you to their location on the field. Each of these soldiers has a story and I will tell you a little of that story.

Joseph W. Stahl retired from the Institute for Defense Analyses where he authored or co-authored more that 50 reports on defense issues. Since his retirement he has become a volunteer and NPS Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam and Harpers Ferry. He grew up in St. Louis. He received BS and MS degrees from Missouri University of Science And Technology and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF), Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and is co-author of the first book on ID discs Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War. His second book “Faces of Union Soldiers at Antietam will be published this summer. He has spoken to various Civil War groups including the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters, South Mountain Coin and Relic Club, Rappahannock, York, Chambersburg, and Hagerstown Round Tables, Chambersburg Civil War Tours, SHAF and the NPS Antietam. In addition Joe has authored more that two dozen articles about items in his collections for the Gettysburg Magazine, the Washington Times Civil War Page, Manuscripts, America’s Civil War, Military Collector & Historian: the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, the Civil War Historian and the Skirmish Line of the North-South Skirmish Association. Displays of items from of his collection have won awards at several Civil War shows.  He has been a member of the North-South Skirmish Association for more than 25 years and has shot civil war type muskets, carbines and revolvers in both individual and team competitions.

 

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

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

“Sumner and French at Antietam”

July 24, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Gary Rohrer at the Sunken Road

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Gary Rohrer was born and raised in Washington County, MD where his family has lived for at least 225 years. His interests in the Civil War and passion for the 1862 Maryland Campaign go back more than 50 years to his days as a Boy Scout camping on the battlefield in the final attack area near Burnside Bridge and at Crampton’s Gap on South Mountain. There, he listened to the true stories of E. Russell Hicks, noted county historian. Gary also attended Antietam’s Centennial events as a young Boy Scout passing out programs for the last re-enactment held on the battlefield.

Gary’s professional career spanned 34 years in the public works arena as a registered professional engineer with extensive experience in the restoration and preservation of historic 19th century transportation structures such as wooden covered bridges, wrought iron truss structures, and stone arch bridges. He spent the last 20 years of his career in the roll of Washington County’s first Public Works Director. In that capacity, he revamped an ineffective preservation program for restoring and preserving many of the county’s 19th century stone arch bridges which are very much in tack and carrying modern traffic, today. Upon his retirement, he became involved as a Battlefield Ambassador while pursuing the National Park Certification for Battlefield Guide. In 2013, he became one of the first four guides ever certified by the NPS as a Battlefield Guide at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park for the 1862 Maryland Campaign. He has traveled to many of our country’s Civil War battlefields in the west and the south in an effort to further enhance his tours at Antietam. Gary has led hundreds of tours with clients ranging from the very young to the very seasoned students of the battle including retired officers of flag rank, college professors and their students.

Today, Gary is a member of the Washington County Historic District Commission and Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF). He resides near Boonsboro, MD with his family. He is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Gary’s presentation will center on a topic often debated by historians: the communications between II Corps Commander Edwin V. Sumner and the commander of his Third Division, Brigadier General William H. French. What caused French’s Division to attack the Sunken Road? Did his division arrive in the East Woods some 20 to 30 minutes after Major General John Sedgewick’s Second Division? Was he ordered to attack or was he drawn south across the Mumma and Roulette farms by Confederate fire emanating in that direction? Gary’s presentation will focus on a 2013 study conducted by historian Marion Vincent (Vince) Armstrong and published in Civil War History magazine.

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

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

»