Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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Antietam Hospitals – John Schildt

May 10, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

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

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Joseph Parks Farm

April 16, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Joseph Parks Farmstead

While traveling on the roads running through the battlefield you can see most of the farmsteads at Antietam except for one – the Joseph Parks farm.  In order to see this farm, visitors have to walk out the Three Farms Trail from the Newcomer House.  Although the land had been cultivated for more than 100 years before the battle, in 1862 the house and farm were fairly new.  Originally part of James Smith’s property and patented “Smiths Hills”, this 160 acres is known today as the Joseph Parks Farm.

Smith Hills

Plat map of Smiths Hills and surrounding region.

In 1739, James Smith, a planter from Prince George’s County received a patent of 208 acres.  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.  Over the next fifteen years, Smith continued to add land to his holdings.  In 1754, Smith surveyed 12 acres of Porto Santo, another nearby patent. In 1756, a  “Resurvey of Smiths Hills” was done adding 302 acres for a total of 510 acres and a Resurvey of Porto Santo was done to correct several errors which increased its size to 23 acres.  During the resurvey it was found that the Porto Santo “included ‘improvements’ of one acre of cleared land, 400 fence rails and a log house”.  Smith’s holding of these two patents would become the properties of what we know today as the Newcomer and Park Farmsteads.

 

Knowing that colonial interest and the French and Indian War led to more permanent inroads into the backcountry, Smith petitioned Frederick County in 1755 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 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 the Porto Santo. 

Over the next thirty years the Orndorff family turned the property into a substantial industrial complex.  In addition to a large house and barn, there was a grist mill, a saw mill and a workshop near the Antietam Creek.  The mills were powered by water diverted from the creek through a mill race that Orndorff built.  They also farmed crops of wheat and corn and later established a plaster mill, a cooper shop and other tooling shops.

In 1796, the Orndorff’s sold 324 1/4 acres  for £5500 to Jacob Mumma.  This purchase included portions of several patents, but 303 acres were part of the Resurvey of Smiths Hills.  The Mummas had 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.

Photograph taken on Sept. 22, 1862, by Alexander Gardner’s assistant, James F. Gibson. The Parks Farmstead can be seen in the upper right hand corner. (LOC)

Jacob Mumma and his sons continued to run the mill and farming operations.  Over the next several years Mumma would acquire “two-thirds of the large land tract amassed by the Orndorff family decades earlier”.  This area incorporated what is known today as the Mumma Farm, Newcomer Farm and the Parks Farm.   In 1831,  Jacob Mumma and his wife Elizabeth transferred ownership of the mill property to their son John.  Around this time, it is believed that a house and barn were constructed just north of the mill along the creek for John’s eldest son – Elias Mumma. This became known as the “lower farm”, the future Parks farmstead.   Business at the Mumma mill was booming, but John Mumma died suddenly in 1835 and without a will.  His father, Jacob purchased the property back from John’s estate and resold the mill and farm to his younger son, Samuel in 1837.

 

Barn

Main House (vinyl siding covering original wood siding)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Kitchen

Kitchen

Cooking Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parks farm

Parks Farm layout in 1862

 

Samuel and his wife had been living at the house on the Mumma Farmstead, but they moved back to the mill complex and continued the operations of the mill and farm.  Samuel sold 151 acres of the mill complex portion of the property to Jacob and John Emmert in 1841 to pay off debts, but he retained 190 acres of the “lower farm”.  By 1843, Samuel was forced to put the “lower farm” into a Deed of Trust to pay off other creditors.

 

Parks property

The “lower farm” that Phillip Pry named Bunker Hill Farm. The red line shows the property line.

In 1850, the property was returned to Samuel Mumma by the trustees and it believed that Samuel’s son, Jacob H. Mumma was living on the farm as a tenant at this time.  According to the 1860 census, Jacob had moved to Boonsboro and the farm was tenanted by a Jacob Myers (Meyer).   In 1861, Samuel Mumma sold the “lower farm” for $10,500 to Phillip Pry who renamed the 166 acre property the “Bunker Hill Farm”.   Phillip and his brother Samuel already owned a large amount of land north of the Bunker Hill Farm along the Antietam Creek, including a large grist mill.  Phillip and his family continued to live at his farm just across the Antietam but rented the Bunker Hill Farm to a tenant named Joseph Parks and his family.

Parks had owned a house in Porterstown which was just on the other side of the creek.  According to the 1850 census he lived there with his wife, Mary and their young children Rosean, Elizabeth, Mary and Martha.  His wife Mary would pass away in 1855 and shortly after that Joseph married Aletha Ann Harmon and they would have six more children together.

On the morning of September 15, 1862, as they withdrew from the Battle of South Mountain, Confederate soldiers marched along the turnpike and across the Antietam toward Sharpsburg.  General Robert E. Lee had decided to make a stand along the Antietam Creek to consolidate his divided army.  Later that day as the Union army advanced to the east side of the Antietam Creek, the Bunker Hill Farm and the Parks family stood between the two warring parties.

Daybreak map of the Battle of Antietam.

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 Bunker Hill Farm was in the center of a cannonade between the Union artillery on the east side of the Antietam and the Confederate guns along the ridge east of Sharpsburg.  It is not known where the Parks went during the battle, but most certainly they departed like their neighbors, to the safety of friends or relatives in the area.

 

1030 am map of the Battle of Antietam as Union forces begin to move across the Parks farm.

The next morning on September 17, as the battle raged to the north of Sharpsburg, more Union forces were sent across the Pry Mill ford just north of the Parks farm.  Two divisions of the Second Army Corps moved west toward the East Woods and then pushed into the West Woods and southward across the Mumma and Roulette farms.  About an hour later Major General Israel Richardson’s division crossed the creek just below Phillip Pry’s house and marched toward the Neikirk and Kennedy Farms before turning toward the fighting in the Sunken Road.  Brig. Gen. John Caldwell’s brigade marched in a line of battle across the upper fields of the Parks farm before shifting to the right to support Gen. Meagher’s Irish Brigade.

1:00 pm map of the Battle of Antietam with Union artillery positioned on the Parks Farm.

 

Once the Confederates were driven out of the Sunken Road, Union artillery arrived to help hold the line along the high ground of the Parks farm and the Newcomer fields.

 

 

This enlarged 1862 Gibson photo shows five buildings and the fence surrounding the main house.

Although no specific source has identified the Parks farm as a field hospital, it seems likely that the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment of Caldwell’s brigade would have used it as a temporary one.  Col. Edward Cross, the commander of the 5th New Hampshire reported the situation of his surgeon, Dr. William Child and described the conditions of the battlefield hospitals, “The barns and sheds in all this region were occupied as hospitals by the Union army, and many Confederate wounded were retained here, and I believe were as well cared for as the Union Men.  The barns were filled with flies, and wounds were sure to gather maggots about the dressings and even within the raw surfaces. To avoid this disgusting evil Assistant Surgeon Child personally gathered a few scores of shelter tents left on the battle-field, brought them to a suitable location, and with them built very comfortable hospital quarters and into them moved all the wounded of the Fifth, where they remained until able to be sent to Frederick city or were sent to Antietam hospital, which was finally established upon the western borders of the battle-field. Child was detailed for service in this Antietam field hospital, where he remained until about December 10…”

In this magnified photograph, soldiers can be seen walking along a road leading to the Parks farm.

 

Through the trees on the right the Observation Tower can be seen just beyond the Parks barnyard.

There are no known damage claims submitted by Joseph Parks, but several were submitted by Phillip Pry starting in 1865 and another in 1872.  It is believed that the Quartermaster claim was for his home farm only and not the “lower farm’ or Bunker Hill Farm.

Union artillery and infantry units go into position on the evening of Sept. 17, 1862 across the Park farm

Although Phillip Pry received some payment, his claims became bogged down in legal proceedings and in 1874 he sold the remainder of his property and moved his family to Tennessee.  During the investigation into Pry’s claim it was uncovered by Agent Sallade about Pry’s Bunker Hill farm and he reported, “Mr Pry owned two farms, one the [“Home”] farm containing 170 acres, and one the “Bunker Hill” farm of 166 acres separated by the Antietam Creek, and 1/2 mile apart… all his fencing was burned, his corn and wheat fed, together with a large quantity of hay… His wheat I find was cut in 1862, and put in 4 large stacks, some was in the barn.  These stacks contained not less than 800 bushels this quantity was arrived at by the number of loads – 40 – averaging 20 bushels per load, placed in the stacks. Messrs Joseph Parks, Henry Gettmacher and Wm. Lantz who cut, hauled, and put up this wheat fully confirm this fact. The Affidants of other parties, neighbors and ex-soldiers also confirm this, and also that a portion of the wheat in the barn was used.  Mr. Pry lost about 150 bushels on the farm across the Antietam Creek.  Mr. Pry fully sets this forth in his affidavit”.

Parks grave

Joseph and Aletha Parks grave at Rose Hill

According to records, a few years after the battle Joseph Parks had “to mortgage his household furniture and personal belongings against a debt that he owed to Phillip Pry” most likely for the tenancy.  Joseph Parks had moved several miles north of Sharpsburg, probably to Fairplay or Hagerstown, and became a full time shoemaker.  He died in 1891 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown along with his second wife Aletha.

 

 

The 1877 Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland, District 1, Sharpsburg. The red dot shows the J. F. Miller properties

In 1867 Bunker Hill Farm was sold to Jacob F. Miller.  Jacob Miller’s son, Otho H. Miller was living at the farm according to the 1870 census.  During this time “a gabled dormer was added to the forebay of the barn  most likely to accommodate improved threshing machines” and a second story was added to the north section of the main house.

In 1884, Jacob Miller sold the Bunker Hill farm to Henry and Laura Rohrer.  The Rohrer family would operate the farm for the next 76 years.  According to the 1910 census, their son-in-law Harry O. Clipp, his wife Stella and their two daughters, Ruth and Edna were living at the farm.  Harry Clipp’s occupation was listed as a “House Carpenter” and he may have been the one who made improvements on the farm.   During the Rohrer’s time at the farm a tenant house is built around 1905 and a corn crib / wagon shed was added onto the barn along with some other out buildings.  In 1914, Henry Rohrer died leaving the farm to his wife Laura, who died in 1919.  The farm was then transferred to her daughter and son-in-law.

Foundation of the tenant house.

The Clipp’s continued to make improvements to the farm, shifting their operation to dairy farming with a
concrete milking area added.  Ruth Clipp and Edna (Clipp) Dorsey who inherited the farm from their parents, sold the farm to William Cunningham in 1960.  In 1988, Cunningham sold the farm to the National Park Service with a life estate for himself.

After the death of Mr. Cunningham in 2000, the Park Service  removed post-war out buildings including the tenant house, repaired the log out-kitchen, restored the barn, stabilized the farm house and recently replaced the roof on the house.   A new recreational trail, the Three Farms Trail was created in 2006 that connects the Parks Farmstead to the Roulette Farmstead and the Newcomer Farmstead.

The Parks Farmstead is a another eyewitness to the history of the battle and the families that lived in the Antietam Valley.

Sources:
  • Find A Grave, Joseph Parks and family, Retrieved from: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49395745/joseph-parks
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, Antietam, Md. Another view of Antietam bridge. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/cwpb.01133/
  • Library of Congress Geography and Map Division; W.S. Long and Washington A. Roebling/Battle of the Antietam fought September 16 & 17, 1862/Washington, D.C./ Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3844a.cw0246000
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Cunningham Farm, WA-II-331, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978, 24 March 2018
  • U.S. National Park Service,  Joseph Parks Barn,  Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2008.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Parks Farmstead Cultural Landscape InventoryAntietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2011.
  • U.S. National Park Service,  Newcomer Barn,  Antietam National Battlefield, Historic Structures Report 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Pl. XXVIII: Antietam, Suffolk, Gettysburg, Franklin Washington, Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.  Retrieved from  https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3701sm.gcw0099000/?sp=53

Civil War Ghost Stories at the Inn

September 18, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Civil War Ghost of Sharpsburg by Mark & Julia Brugh

In September 1862, fighting from the Battle of Antietam spilled into Sharpsburg’s streets. Residents were left to bury the dead from both sides. Today, locals report lingering echoes of that strife, from the faint taps of a Union drummer boy named Charley King, to the phantom footsteps of Confederate soldiers charging up the stairs of the Rohrbach House.

On October 18, come hear tour guides Mark and Julia Brugh craft a vivid portrait of Sharpsburg in the Civil War and bring to light stories of the ghosts for whom the conflict never ended.

Mark and Julia are also the authors of Civil War Ghosts of Sharpsburg, which features the story of Jacob Rohrbach.

 

 

 

mark_julia

Julia & Mark Brugh

Julia Stinson Brugh is a native of West Virginia and grew up surrounded by Civil War legends. She was exposed at an early age to the rich history of the area, and lived in a haunted house in Harpers Ferry as a small child. Julia’s father was a historian with the National Park service, and growing up included frequent visits to Antietam with her parents and younger sister. Julia has a love of oral history, folklore, and ghost stories, which combined with Mark’s passion for history, makes the Sharpsburg Tour Company special.

Mark P. Brugh has studied Civil War history for more than thirty years. This passion led to the inception of the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghosts Tours, which offer both historical tours of the town, and family friendly ghost tours with a strong historical foundation. He is a member and volunteer for the C&O Canal Association and the Sharpsburg Historical Society. He is also a member of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.  Mark has recently start a podcast about the Chronicles of Aaron Good and other fascinating stories of Antietam.

Join us on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 pm around a campfire in the side yard of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn to hear these intriguing Civil War Ghost stories. This program is free and open to the public. Please bring a chair or blanket to sit around the campfire. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates. For further information call (301) 432-5079.

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.

 

Evading Capture: Union Cavalry Escape from Harpers Ferry, September 14, 1862

July 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Sharon Murray

Sharon Murray is a native Idahoan who moved to West Virginia in 2010 to travel, study history, volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield and pursue photography. She has multiple degrees in mining engineering and history from the University of Idaho. Sharon volunteers at the Antietam National Battlefield at the Visitors Center, as a Battlefield Ambassador and a member of “Battery B, 4th US Artillery” living history group. She is also an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Sharon had two great great grandfathers who fought in the civil war, one with the 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery and the other with the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry. Neither were engaged at Antietam. She enjoys studying history, hiking civil war battlefields and trying to perfect her photography skills.

On Wednesday, August 9th, Sharon will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Evading Capture: Union Cavalry Escape from Harpers Ferry, September 14, 1862”.  Sharon’s talk will cover the events leading up to the escape, some information about the leaders, the escape itself and the end results.

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.

Water to his Front, Water to his Rear: Robert E. Lee Defends the Confederate High Water Mark at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862

June 28, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Kevin Pawlak

Kevin Pawlak is Director of Education for the Mosby Heritage Area Association and works as a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam National Battlefield. Kevin also sits on the Board of Directors of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University, and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. Previously, he has worked and completed internships at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and the Missouri Civil War Museum. Kevin graduated in 2014 from Shepherd University, where he studied Civil War History and Historic Preservation. He is the author of Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital, published by The History Press in 2015.

On Wednesday, August 2nd, Kevin will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “Water to his Front, Water to his Rear: Robert E. Lee Defends the Confederate High Water Mark at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862”. There is perhaps no other decision that Robert E. Lee made in his entire military career that is more criticized and questioned than his decision to stand and fight outside Sharpsburg, Maryland in September 1862. What compelled him to fight with a river at his back and a superior enemy in his front? Or is it even as simple as that? Regardless, Lee beautifully orchestrated his obstinate defense at the Battle of Antietam, and brought on the bloodiest single day in American history. In the annals of the Army of Northern Virginia’s history, it was one of the army’s best days.

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 – 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.

 

Too Useful to Sacrifice. Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam – Steve Stotelmyer

June 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Steve Stotelmyer

Always interested in local history, especially South Mountain and Antietam, Mr. Stotelmyer was a founding member of the Central Maryland Heritage League in 1989. The league gained a modest amount of success in preserving some of the lands of the South Mountain Battlefield. From 1989 through 1994 Mr. Stotelmyer served as a volunteer at the Antietam National Battlefield. In 1992 he published The Bivouacs of the Dead: The Story of Those Who Died at Antietam and South Mountain, Toomey Press, Baltimore Maryland. From 2000 through 2005 Mr. Stotelmyer served as a part-time volunteer and historical consultant for the South Mountain State Battlefield. Steven currently enjoys being a National Park Service Certified Antietam and South Mountain Tour Guide.

Despite the accepted typecast of the slow, timid, overly cautious general who did not want to fight, there are several aspects of the Maryland campaign that simply do not fit the stereotype of Gen. George B. McClellan. Three days before the battle of Antietam McClellan attacked Lee’s rearguard at the battle of South Mountain. It is a matter of fact that Gen. Robert E. Lee was totally unprepared for the battle that occurred in the passes of South Mountain on September 14, 1862. Three days later at Antietam McClellan attacked Lee once again; it was not the other way around. Furthermore, McClellan attacked an enemy positioned on high ground believing that he was outnumbered; this is not the hallmark of a cowardly general. To this day the battle of Antietam still holds the distinction of being the bloodiest single day of any war fought in our nation’s history. Such events do not indicate a slow, timid, overly cautious commanding general. Clearly, the stereotype is flawed.

Yet, it is exactly the image of the slow, overly cautious and timid McClellan that seems to be permanently branded into the national consciousness. It reasonable to suggest that McClellan, because of the stereotype is perhaps the most misrepresented figure in Civil War history. It is largely overlooked that many of the elements of the stereotype have their origins in the presidential election of 1864 when candidate McClellan ran against the popular incumbent and not in the military ability of the general who led a hastily assembled conglomeration of an army in Maryland in 1862.

On Wednesday, July 19th, Steve will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – Too Useful to Sacrifice. Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam.  Steve’s presentation is an attempt to dispel some of the misrepresentations of the stereotype. It is his intent to show that it was an aggressive McClellan pursuing Lee in Maryland. In a little under a fortnight this remarkable general turned around one of the greatest crisis in our nation’s history. Despite the popular stereotype, he was anything but slow, overly cautious and timid.

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.

 

Henry Hunt and the Maryland Campaign – Jim Rosebrock

June 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Jim Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock is the Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides. Jim is a retired army officer and currently works for the Department of Justice. He is currently conducting research for a book that will tell the story of the regular artillery companies during the Civil War.

On Wednesday, July 12th, Jim will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – Henry Hunt and the Maryland Campaign.  On September 5, 1862, General George McClellan appointed Henry Hunt as Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac. The Union military situation was desperate. Lee had just defeated John Pope’s Army of Virginia at Second Manassas. Union artillery was totally disorganized. Batteries returning from the Peninsula often had the men, horses and equipment on three different ships that landed at different locations. Heavy fighting took its toll on men, equipment, and horses. Artillery officers lost in the Seven Days and at Second Manassas battles had to be replaced. Ammunition had to be resupplied. The Ninth Corps had no artillery. A total reorganization was called for. But there was no time. Lee was heading into Maryland in search of final victory.
McClellan rightly considered Henry Hunt as the finest artillery officer alive. Just two months earlier Hunt’s Artillery Reserve had been instrumental in shattering Lee’s attacks during the Seven Days offensive. His guns stopped waves of Confederate infantry at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862 ensuring the escape of the Federal Army.

Hunt now faced an even greater challenge. He had to get the artillery ready for another climactic battle in Maryland. With a core of regular artillery batteries, Hunt achieved this nearly impossible feat in just twelve days. This is the story of those twelve days.

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.

Civil War Medicine Hollywood Style-The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Gordon Dammann

May 3, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

 

Gordon Dammann

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Gordon E. Dammann D.D.S. founded the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland to tell the true story of Civil War medicine. His medical collection formed the core of the museum holdings. He is a graduate of Loyola University in Chicago and holds a bachelor of science degree with a minor in history. In 1969 he received his D.D.S. degree from Loyola University School of Dentistry

Gordon is the author of Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment Volumes I, II, and III. He and Dr. Alfred Jay Bollet co-authored Images of Civil War Medicine. He has served on the editorial staff of North/South Magazine and was editor of the Reprint of Memoirs of Jonathan Letterman, MD Surgeon of the U.S. Army 1861-1864.

Gordon is a recipient of the Nevins Freeman Award of the Chicago Civil War Round Table and the Iron Brigade Award of the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table. These are presented to an individual whose advancement of the American Civil War scholarship and support of the Round Table movement deserves special recognition

He has presented programs on Civil War Medicine for the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College, and Round Tables and Historical Societies across the country. Since retiring from his dental practice, Gordon has become active as a Licensed Guide at Antietam National Battlefield

On Wednesday, June 7th, Gordon will present our first Summer Lecture Series talk Civil War Medicine Hollywood Style -The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Gordon will be looking at Hollywood’s representations of Civil War medicine in the movies. Seven movies contain scenes which depict the Hollywood version of Civil War medical practices. Some are good, some are bad, and some are really ugly. During the presentation the scenes will be “dissected” and discussion will follow.

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.

 

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