Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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Civil War Ghost Stories at the Inn

September 18, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

These Honored Dead

July 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

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

We are honored to have John Schildt for our final speaker for the 2o17 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 Shephard 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 giving 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.

In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the Antietam National Cemetery in 1867, John will speak about his new book – “These Honored Dead”, on Wednesday, August 30th.  The book  discusses the development of the Antietam National Cemetery and contains many photographs and copies of documents.  John’s book will be available for purchase.

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.

From Dred Scott to Secession

July 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Matt Borders is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in US History and a double cognate in Museum Studies and Historic Preservation. While at MSU he was first an intern and then a seasonal for the National Park Service at Antietam National Battlefield. Following his undergrad he immediately went to Eastern Michigan University for his MS in Historic Preservation, with a focus in Battlefield Interpretation, which he earned in 2006. While at Eastern, Matt again worked at Antietam as a Seasonal Ranger.

Upon graduation he taught for a year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College before accepting a contractor position with the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Moving to Maryland in 2007 with his wife Kira, Matt worked as a contract historian for the ABPP for the next four years, personally surveying over 100 different American Civil War battlefields in the deep south and western United States. In 2011 he became a term employee of the ABPP and continued with his work as the program historian as well as additional duties related to the program’s preservation grants until 2013. Over this period Matt also became involved with the Frederick County Historical Society as one of the developers of the Frederick City Civil War Walking Tours, a member of the Frederick County Civil War Roundtable and as a volunteer and Certified Battlefield Guide for Antietam National Battlefield.

Currently Matt works as the Assistant Unit Manager and historian for the Antietam and Monocacy Museum Stores. He continues to volunteer regularly, as well as give tours of Antietam, and is currently working on his first book.

On Wednesday, August 23rd, Matt  will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “From Dred Scott to Secession”.  Matt’s presentation will be on the turbulent years leading up to the American Civil War. We’ll be looking closely at the period from the infamous Dred Scott Decision to the Secession Crisis. What were the issues of the day, who were the major players? What do the writings and speeches of the period tell us about the coming of America’s most defining event and what caused it to happen? We will be looking at all of this and it is hoped that you will come away with new information and perhaps new insight into this dramatic era in our nation’s history.

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 Woman Soldier at Antietam

July 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Mark & Julia Brugh

Mark P. Brugh has studied Civil War history for more than thirty years. This passion led to the inception of the Sharpsburg Tour Company and the Gravediggers and Ghosts of Sharpsburg Ghost Tour, 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.

 

On Wednesday, August 16th, Mark  will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “The Woman Soldier at Antietam”.   Mark will discuss the work of Aaron Good among the field graves of Union and Confederate soldiers from 1862 to 1868. In 1862 Good started his own survey of field graves and accumulated a vast list. In the spring of 1863, Good started guiding relatives of the dead to the locations of graves, and charged outrageous fees for his services. In May, 1865 Good showed up at the first Trustees’ meeting to establish the Antietam National Cemetery. He turned over his list of more than 1500 locations of field graves, and was hired by the Trustees to continue his work and locate graves. Mark recently uncovered what is Good’s biggest discovery, from June 1865: a report to the Trustees about the remains of an unknown female Union soldier. Mark will present anecdotal support indicating a female Union soldier was killed, and follow the known evidence to the furthest possible point in an effort to narrow down an identity for the soldier. He will also discuss Good’s work locating field graves for Confederate soldiers in 1867 and 1868, and the possibility that Good may have found remains of a female among them.

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.

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 Battle of Five Forks – Dr. Perry Jamieson

June 2, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Perry Jamieson

Perry Jamieson earned a PhD in history and worked for about thirty years as a civilian historian for the U.S. Air Force. He is the author of two books on Air Force history, one on the U.S. Army during the late 1800s, and four on the Civil War. He retired as the senior historian of the Air Force in the spring of 2009, and he and his wife Stephanie have lived in Sharpsburg since then.

On Wednesday, July 26th, Perry will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – The Battle of Five Forks.  On Saturday April 1, 1865, Federal infantry and cavalry crushed a force of about nine thousand Southerners at Five Forks, Virginia, a country crossroads about fourteen miles southwest of Petersburg. This small, but strategically important, battle led directly to the Confederates’ loss of Petersburg and Richmond, and to the final retreat of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

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.

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.

Tom Clemens – Antietam Personalities

May 31, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

 

Dr. Tom Clemens

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

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

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

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

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.

 

The Farmsteads at Antietam – David R. Miller Farm

March 3, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

Map

Daybreak on September 17, 1862.

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

Miller farm

D.R. Miller Farmstead today.

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

floor sketch

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

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

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

Miller famr

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

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

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

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

Farm layout

D.R. Miller Farm in 1862.

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

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

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

 

Dead Confederates

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

Hagerstown Pike

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

burial detail

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

site of burial detail

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90 PA monument

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

Burial detail

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

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

D.R. Miller house - 1862

Photograph of the Miller house taken shortly after the battle.

Miller house

Modern view of the photograph on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Survey of Miller farm

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

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

The Millers

Daguerreotype of David R. and Margaret Miller

Millers gravesite

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

The Bloody Cornfield

D.R. Miller’s Cornfield

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

Civil War Lecture Series

January 30, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

JRI Civil War Lecture Series

Join us at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn this summer to hear leading historians, Antietam Battlefield Guides, and living history presenters as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Lecture Series.

2017 Speaker Schedule

June 7: Civil War Medicine Hollywood Style -The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, presented by Gordon Dammann

June 14:  Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle presented by John Michael Priest

June 21: Faces from the 9th Corps at Antietam presented by Joe Stahl

June 28: Antietam Creek’s Historic Stone Arch Bridges presented by Gary Rohrer

July 5: Antietam Personalities presented by Tom Clemens

July 12: Henry Hunt and the Maryland Campaign presented by Jim Rosebrock

July 19: Too Useful to Sacrifice; Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam presented by Steve Stotelmyer

July 26: The Battle of Five Forks presented by Perry Jamieson

August 2: Water to his Front, Water to his Rear: Robert E. Lee Defends the Confederate High Water Mark at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862 presented by Kevin Pawlak

August 9: Evading Capture: Union Cavalry Escape from Harpers Ferry, September 14, 1862 presented by Sharon Murray

August 16: The Woman Soldier at Antietam presented by Mark Brugh

August 23: From Dred Scott to Secession presented by Matt Borders

August 30: These Honored Dead presented by John Schildt

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

 

Civil War Lecture Series Notice

Speaker Schedule

The Farmsteads at Antietam – Joseph Poffenberger Farm

January 30, 2017 by jacobrohrbach

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

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

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

The Joseph Poffenberger House

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

Wash House

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

Bank Barn & Corn Crib / Granary

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

Location of Ice House

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

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

Location of tenant house at southwest corner of property

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

Joseph Poffenberger Farm 1862

Joseph Poffenberger Farm 1862

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead today

 

 

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

Connected to the Past

September 16, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

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

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

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

!32nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument at the Sunken Road

132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry monument at the Sunken Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing next to the 132 PA Monument at Antietam.

Standing next to the 132 PA Monument at Antietam.

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

 

 

 

Find Your Park – Gettysburg

July 1, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

This month we continue our Find Your Park in our backyard series, featuring the Gettysburg National Military Park.  Just an hour’s drive from the Inn, Gettysburg is a great day trip for guests.   The Battle of Gettysburg, where the Union victory ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North, is considered a turning point in the Civil War.  Often referred to as the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy”, Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address”. 

Pennsylvania Monument (Photo credit: NPS)

Pennsylvania Monument (Photo credit: NPS)

In June of 1863 Robert E. Lee was moving north again.  Just nine months earlier his first incursion into the North ended with the Confederate retreat from Antietam.  Motivated by his recent victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Lee moved his army west of the Blue Ridge, through the Shenandoah Valley across the Potomac River, and into the Cumberland Valley.  Once again the people of Maryland found themselves between two great armies, with Lee moving into Pennsylvania and the Union forces following cautiously, while still protecting Washington.

 

Little Round Top (Photo credit: NPS)

Round Tops at Gettysburg (Photo credit: NPS)

On June 30, elements of the two armies would meet just west of Gettysburg. The next day, on July 1st the fighting would escalate throughout the day as both Union and Confederate forces arrived on the field. Despite the Union attempt to defend their lines, the Federals were forced to retreat through Gettysburg and rally around Cemetery and Culp’s hills.  By the morning of July 2, the main body of both armies had arrived on the field.  The Union army, under Maj. Gen. George Meade, formed a defensive line south of town along Cemetery Ridge with his flanks tied to Culp’s Hill on the right and Little Round Top on the left.  Gen. Lee launched a series of attacks on both ends of the line, but they were checked by Federal reinforcements.  On July 3, Lee decided to focus on the center of the Union line.  Preceded by a two-hour artillery bombardment, Lee would send some 12,000 Confederate infantrymen to break through the Federal line on Cemetery Ridge.  Despite their heroic effort, the attack was repulsed with heavy losses sustained.  Lee realized that he could no longer continue the fight and on July 4 he retreated back to Virginia.  The Battle of Gettysburg was over.  In the three days of fighting there would be 51,000 casualties.  Gettysburg would be forever known as the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy”.

Plan your visit to Gettysburg:

Visitors can be a little overwhelmed by Gettysburg, so here are a few things that will fill your day.

Gettysburg Address

Lincoln Monument (Photo credit: NPS)

  • The Museum and Visitor Center is the best place to start.  After you watch the film, “A New Birth of Freedom”,  go into the Cyclorama.  This three-dimensional diorama brings to life the battle’s climatic event of Pickett’s Charge.  After the movie and cyclorana you may think you know everything about Gettysburg, but head into the museum to understand the story of the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance to our nation’s history.
  • Tour the Battlefield.  The best way to understand any battlefield is to get out and see the terrain.  Using the park brochure you can follow the self-guided auto-tour or guests of the Inn can borrow our ‘Gettysburg Field Guide’. This audio CD and guidebook allows you to explore the battlefield at your own pace.
  • Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  There are more than 6,000 veterans buried in the national cemetery, including 3,500 Union soldiers.  See the site where President Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.  If you have time, be sure to stop by the David Wills House to see where President Lincoln stopped to put the finishing touches on his speech.
  • Ranger Program.  Check out the daily schedule of these free ranger guided programs.  NPS Rangers bring to the life the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the American Civil War, by exploring the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, walking in the footsteps of Pickett’s Charge, or hiking the slopes of Little Round Top.
  • Eisenhower National Historic Site. Visit the home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower adjacent to the battlefield.  You can purchase shuttle and admission tickets to the Eisenhower home at the Museum and Visitors Center.

“Gettysburg National Military Park offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War. Each year, more than one million visitors explore the site of this pivotal Civil War battle and the place where President Abraham Lincoln outlined the future of the nation in his Gettysburg Address. Visitors who experience Gettysburg National Military Park leave with an understanding of the scope and magnitude of the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians alike, which ultimately gave way to a new birth of freedom for our country”.

Now get out and Find your Park – Visit Gettysburg.

 

Ezra Carman and the Battlefield – Tom Clemens

June 28, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Tom Clemens

Dr. Tom Clemens

Summer Lecture Series

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

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

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

Women soldiers in the Civil War – Audrey Scanlan-Teller & Tracey McIntire

June 26, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Audrey Scanlan-Teller & Tracey McIntire

Audrey Scanlan-Teller  and          Tracey McIntire

Summer Lecture Series

Tracey McIntire earned her BA in English at Rivier College in Nashua, N.H. She was born in Concord, Mass. and grew up surrounded by Revolutionary War history, but became interested in the Civil War when she discovered 11 ancestors who fought for the Union. Tracey is a Battlefield Ambassador at Antietam National Battlefield where she also serves on the artillery and infantry detachments, is a certified master docent at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and an active Civil War living historian, where she portrays a woman soldier in various guises. She is also a paid Historical Interpreter at South Mountain State Battlefield where she serves on their cannon detachment. She is a member of the Company of Military Historians, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. Tracey has worked for the Civil War Trust since November of 2009, a true dream job for her.

Audrey Scanlan-Teller earned her MA and PhD in art history at the University of Delaware. She was a Samuel Kress Fellow at the Walters Art Museum and an exhibition advisor for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts exhibition “Valley of the Shadow” which commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Maryland and Gettysburg Campaigns in the Civil War. Her interest in the American Civil War was rekindled after moving to Frederick County, Maryland, and the discovery that her own Union relatives fought and died there. Since 2005, she has portrayed a Civil War enlisted soldier for historical interpretive demonstrations, a portrayal that compelled her to study the women soldiers of the Civil War. A published scholar and public speaker, Dr. Scanlan-Teller is a Master Docent at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, an active interpretive volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield Park and South Mountain State Battlefield Park and a small business owner.

On Wednesday, August 17th , Audrey Scanlan-Teller & Tracey McIntire will present their Summer Lecture Series talk on “Woman Soldiers in the Civil War”.  There are hundreds of documented cases of women who fought disguised as men during the Civil War. Tracey and Audrey will discuss and share documentation of some of the more fascinating women and what motivated them to fight alongside men.

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

Hood’s Attack: The Confederate’s Best Chance at Sharpsburg – Bill Sagle

June 20, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Summer Lecture Series

Bill Sagle

Bill Sagle

Bill is a life-long student of the Civil War in his 11th year as an Antietam Battlefield guide. A student of linear tactics and leadership, he focuses on decision-making and opportunities during a battle. In addition to being a guide, he is a volunteer at Antietam and has volunteered and participated in programs at Gettysburg and Richmond National Military Parks.

On Wednesday, August 10, Bill Sagle will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk called, “Hood’s Attack: The Confederate’s Best Chance at Sharpsburg “. “The most terrible clash of arms…” is how Confederate General John Bell Hood described the attack of his small division at the Battle of Antietam. In less than thirty minutes, Hood’s soldiers drove Union troops nearly three hundred yards across the fields north of Sharpsburg in what was arguably the zenith of the Confederate Army’s effort in the battle.  Bill will discuss General Hood and the action of his division at Antietam.

Come join leading historians, Antietam Battlefield Guides, NPS volunteer interpreters and living history presenters 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 moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.

 

Battery B, 4th US Artillery – Sharon Murray

June 13, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Sharon Murray

Sharon Murray

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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. She worked in both underground and surface precious metal mines and in state government managing the State of Idaho’s mineral leasing and mined land reclamation programs. She has published a number of articles on Idaho mining history and won awards for photographs from the International California Mining Journal and the Civil War Trust.  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.

On Wednesday, August 3rd, Sharon’s will present her Summer Lecture Series talk  with “Battery B, 4th US Artillery”.  Sharon’s talk will cover a short history of Battery B, of the 4th US Artillery prior to the Battle of Antietam and discuss the battery’s role in supporting the Iron Brigade in the morning fighting in the cornfield.

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

 

Rare Images of Antietam – Stephen Recker

May 30, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Stephen Recker

Stephen Recker

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Stephen Recker is a collector of rare Antietam photographs and relics. Items from his collection can be seen on battlefield waysides and in the newly renovated museum at Antietam National Battlefield, as well as in new book, Rare Images of Antietam, and the Photographers Who Took Them.  Recker is a member of Antietam Battlefield Guides, a service he founded at Antietam National Battlefield. He produced Virtual Gettysburg, a critically acclaimed interactive Civil War battlefield tour; Antietam Artifacts, a CD-ROM with images of rare postcards from the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

He began his professional career as a lead guitarist, recording and touring with Al Stewart, the Spencer Davis Group, Mary Wells, and Tommy Chong, and as technician for Ringo Starr, Kiss, Diana Ross, and Madonna. In multimedia, he produced for Apple Computer, Adobe, and the Smithsonian, and was named a “Top 100 Producer” by AV Multimedia Producer Magazine. He is currently a Senior Web Developer at High Rock in Hagerstown, MD and is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

Soon after Alexander Gardner’s photographic wagons left the blood-strewn Antietam Battlefield, local photographers began taking images on the field. While much has been written about Gardner’s ‘death studies,’ little is known about these other early images.  Stephen Recker, has found over 600 of them, many unknown and unseen, and will use them to show how the battle happened and how the battlefield has changed over the years.

On Wednesday, July 27th  Stephen Recker will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk “Rare Images of Antietam” where he will discuss his efforts to collect, catalog, and interpret photographs of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 sites in his book,  “Rare Images of Antietam and the Photographers Who Took Them.

Come join leading historians, Antietam Battlefield Guides, NPS volunteer interpreters and living history presenters 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 moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed United Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.
Check our Facebook page for updates.

 

Spy Game in Western Maryland – Matt Borders

May 30, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Matt Borders

Matt Borders

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Matt Borders is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in US History and a double cognate in Museum Studies and Historic Preservation. While at MSU he was first an intern and then a seasonal for the National Park Service at Antietam National Battlefield. Following his undergrad he immediately went to Eastern Michigan University for his MS in Historic Preservation, with a focus in Battlefield Interpretation, which he earned in 2006. While at Eastern Matt again worked at Antietam as a Seasonal Ranger.

Upon graduation he taught for a year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College before accepting a contractor position with the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Moving to Maryland in 2007 with his wife Kira, Matt worked as a contract historian for the ABPP for the next four years, personally surveying over 100 different American Civil War battlefields in the deep south and western United States. In 2011 he became a term employee of the ABPP and continued with his work as the program historian as well as additional duties related to the program’s preservation grants until 2013. Over this period Matt also became involved with the Frederick County Historical Society as one of the developers of the Frederick City Civil War Walking Tours, a member of the Frederick County Civil War Roundtable and as a volunteer and Certified Battlefield Guide for Antietam National Battlefield.

Currently Matt works as the Assistant Unit Manager and historian for the Antietam and Monocacy Museum Stores. He continues to volunteer regularly, as well as give tours of Antietam, and is currently working on his first book.

On Wednesday, July 20, Matt Borders will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk “Spy Game in Western Maryland.  Matt’s presentation will be on the important and influential use of spies in Maryland during the Civil War by both Union and Confederate forces. The presentation focuses primarily on central Maryland as it was the highway of three separate Confederate invasions, and looks at some of the major personalities both in and out of uniform that were operating throughout the region. The Spy Game in Maryland during the Civil War was a microcosm of the war itself with people of all backgrounds becoming involved in this risky venture. Neighbor distrusted neighbor, and everyone was suspect. Come hear how these first steps in military intelligence gathering led to a professionalization of the practice as the war continued and why many of the nations players in intelligence today trace their origins to the Civil War.

Come join leading historians, Antietam Battlefield Guides, NPS volunteer interpreters and living history presenters 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. IIn case of inclement weather talks will be moved to the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed United Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.
Check our Facebook page for updates.

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