Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

Archives

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.

 

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.

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.

ID discs and Images of soldiers at the Sunken Road – Joe Stahl

May 30, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Joe Stahl

Joe Stahl

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Joseph Stahl retired from the Institute for Defense Analyses where he authored or co-authored more than 50 reports on defense issues. Since his retirement he has become a volunteer and Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam. He grew up in St. Louis, where he earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, SHAF, the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and is co-author of the first book on ID discs Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War. He has spoken to various Civil War groups including the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters, South Mountain Coin and Relic Club, Rappahannock,York and Hagerstown Round Tables, Chambersburg Civil War Tours, Save Historic Antietam Foundation and the NPS Antietam. In addition Joe has authored more that two dozen articles about items in his collections for the Gettysburg Magazine, the Washington Times Civil War Page, Manuscripts, America’s Civil War, Military Collector & Historian the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, the Civil War Historian and the Skirmish Line of the North-South Skirmish Association. Displays of items from of his collection have won awards at several Civil War shows.  He has been a member of the North-South Skirmish Association for more than 20 years and has shot civil war type muskets, carbines and revolvers in both individual and team competitions.

On Wednesday, July 13th  Joe Stahl will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk “ID discs and Images of soldiers at the Sunken Road”.  Battlefield Guide Joe Stahl will share with you a display of six images and six ID discs of Union soldiers who were present on September 17 in the fighting at the Sunken Road. Their units belonged to MG Richardson’s Division of the 2nd Corps.  Joe will talk about each soldier’s service and what happened to him.

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.

“Young Guns at Antietam” – Jim Rosebrock

May 30, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Jim Rosebrock

Jim Rosebrock

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

On Wednesday, July 6th Jim Rosebrock will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk “Young Guns at Antietam”.  “Young Guns at Antietam” is the story of six young artillery officers, three Union and three Confederate who fought at the Battle of Antietam. The talk will focus on their lives before the battle and the role that they had in the action 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 United Church of Christ. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.
Check our Facebook page for updates.

Video Tour of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn

May 17, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

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

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

Exterior of B&B at dusk

Click here to watch Video Tour of the Inn

 

 

 

Medical Evacuation at Antietam – Gordon Dammann

May 12, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Gordon Dammann

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 22nd, Gordon will present his  Summer Lecture Series talk on “Medical Evacuation at Antietam”.  We all know the importance of the Battle of Antietam militarily but equally important is the fact that evacuation of the wounded in a systematic fashion helped both armies during and after the battle. Gordon will discuss the work of Dr. Jonathan Letterman (USA) and Dr. Lafayette Guild (CSA) who were the Medical Directors responsible for developing and carrying out this important task.

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 cancelled. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Drums Along the Antietam – John Schildt

May 4, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

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

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

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

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

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

Rev. Schildt will present the first of our Summer Lecture Series talks on Wednesday, June 1st with Drums along the Antietam”.  His talk will discuss how the community around the Antietam Creek is steeped with history, not just from the bloody battle of September 1862, but for centuries before and after the Civil War. Drums Along the Antietam details the long and diverse history of Antietam from the pre-colonial days of the Catawba and Delaware Indian peoples, through the wars and settlement by Europeans in the 18th century, to the continued strength and relevance of the place after the Civil War. Few areas of the United States have seen as much history as the Valley of the 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 cancelled.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  Check our Facebook page for updates.

Maryland, My Maryland Civil War Tour Package

April 1, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Lee at Sharpsburg, MD

Gen. Robert E. Lee preparing for the Maryland Campaign

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

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

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

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

Your Civil War tour package includes:

Antietam Battlefield Guides

Tour along Antietam’s Bloody Lane

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

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

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry, WV

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

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

 

 

Find Your Park – C & O Canal

March 16, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

This month we continue our Find Your Park in our backyard series, featuring the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The C & O Canal is a pathway that spans 184.5 miles along the north bank of the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. Each year over five million hikers, campers, bicyclists and history enthusiasts visit the C & O Canal NHP to discover its historical, natural and recreational treasures.

The idea for a canal along the Potomac River was first realized by none other than George Washington in the mid-1700’s as a young surveyor. He dreamed of connecting the tidewater of the Chesapeake with the Ohio Valley. However, Washington would have to wait until after the Revolutionary War to promote his idea which led to the creation of the Potowmack Canal Company and the building of skirting canals around the major falls on the river. This made the river navigable downstream, and in good conditions, but a more effective way was needed to navigate the Potomac.

In the 1820’s the Potowmack Canal Company transferred the rights to the new Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. Construction on the canal began July 4, 1828 when President John Quincy Adams turned the first spadeful of earth during ceremonies at Little Falls, Maryland. Over the next twenty-two years the construction of the C&O Canal would include 74 lift locks, 165 culverts, 11 aqueducts, 7 dams, and a canal tunnel. Financial difficulties, right-of-way disputes, floods, epidemics, and disputes among the workers delayed the construction of the canal. The canal was finally completed and opened on October 10, 1850 at Cumberland, Maryland. The total costs for the canal was more than 11 million dollars.

CPT Bender on the C&O Canal

Captain Raleigh Bender (center) circ. 1905.
Photo credit: “Sharpsburg” by Vernell & Tim Doyle

The canal was in operation from 1850 to 1924. Hundreds of canal boats, just 92 foot-long by 14 1/2 foot wide and pulled by teams of mules along the canal towpath, transported thousands of tons of coal, grain, and lumber. The average trip on the canal typically took about seven days. The fastest known time from Georgetown to Cumberland for a light boat was 62 hours, set by Raleigh Bender from Sharpsburg, MD. Today, Captain Bender’s Tavern, named in his honor, serves as the perfect meeting spot for locals, C & O Canal and Antietam Battlefield visitors

Hebb Family on the C & O circ. 1918.

Hebb Family on the C & O circ. 1918.

Construction of the C & O Canal reached the Sharpsburg area around 1836 and provided additional employment opportunities for the townspeople and the already flourishing commercial community. Many local families worked a boat on the canal and it required everyone to pitch in together to get the job done. Augustus and Minnie Hebb were one of those families. Augustus, better known as Gus, was the boat captain. Since his family was wasn’t big enough, Gus hired his brother Ira as part of the crew to help. The Hebb children were responsible for tending to the mules and cleaning the boat. They usually went to school only in the winter, when the boats weren’t operating. Years later, after the end of World War II, one of the Hebb children, Theodore (on the far right of the picture below) would purchase a house in Sharpsburg, which would later become the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

Unfortunately, at the same time construction of the canal began, so to did work on America’s first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio. Competition from the B&O Railroad and destructive floods eventually put the canal out of business.

In 1938 the entire canal was sold to the U.S. Government, which placed it under the supervision of the National Park Service. The Park Service did some restoration under the emergency work programs of the 1930s, but projects were halted when the United States entered the Second World War.

After the war there was talk of turning the canal into a vehicular parkway to ‘see’ the beauty and recreational opportunities of the Potomac River Valley. However, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, an avid outdoorsman, opposed this idea. He felt that the long-neglected canal, like the river, was rich in beauty, history, wildlife, and recreational opportunities and needed to be protected. Through his actions, Justice Douglas and other concerned citizens helped save the C&O Canal. In 1961 President Eisenhower proclaimed the canal a national monument and in 1971 Congress established the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Ferry Hill Plantation on the C&O Canal

Ferry Hill Plantation overlooking the C&O Canal

Guests at the Inn can access the canal at five nearby points:

  • Taylor’s Landing at Mile 80.9
  • Snyder’s Landing at Mile 76.8
  • Shepherdstown / Lock #38 at Mile 72.8
  • Millers Sawmill at Mile 70.7
  • Antietam Campground & Aqueduct at Mile 69.4

Our two closest visitor centers at Williamsport and Ferry Hill Plantation are excellent wayside stops to see support structures of the canal’s operation and the small communities that once thrived alongside the canal.

Come join the millions of hikers, campers, bicyclists, and others that visit the C&O Canal to experience the rich history, wildlife, and geology of the Potomac Valley. From Georgetown to Cumberland, you can examine how the locks work, take rides in canal boats pulled by mules, and bike and walk along much of the canal’s 185 mile route. 

Now get out and Find your Park – Visit the C & O Canal.

 

 

Find Your Park – Appalachian Trail

February 15, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

This month we continue our Find Your Park in our backyard series, featuring the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, better known as the Appalachian Trail or just the A.T. by passionate hikers.  The Appalachian Trail is a footpath that spans over 2,100 miles across of Appalachian Mountain Range from Georgia to Maine.

Almost 40 miles of the A.T. is right here in Maryland, and you can access it not far from the Inn.  This tract follows the ridge line of South Mountain from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Pen Mar Park at the Mason-Dixon Line in Cascade, MD.  You will find some of the most impressive scenery in the state here.

Fall nature walk on the A.T.

Fall nature walk on the A.T.

The trail was first conceived in 1921 by a Harvard-educated forester named Benton MacKaye.  His revolutionary idea was to create a linear park, or a retreat from urban life, in a wilderness belt extending from Maine to Georgia.  Within a few years the Appalachian Trail Conservancy would be created and with the help of thousands of volunteers from hiking clubs, federal agencies and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the A.T. became reality in 1937.  Today the trail is managed by the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.

Every year in the spring hundreds of people begin their “thru-hike” of the trail, meaning they hike the entire length of the trail in one season…. all 2,1oo plus miles!  This endeavor takes four to six months, incredible stamina and a lot of planning.  If you’re not ready for a “thru-hike” than our little piece of the trail is perfect for a day hike, a weekend backpacking trip or a scenic nature walk.   The 40 miles located in Maryland is fairly easy to hike in comparison to the rest of the A.T.  There are some rocky areas, a few steep climbs and the elevation change is just 1650 feet from the Potomac River with an elevation of 250′ to High Point at 1900′.

JRI_Scouts_on_AT

Boy Scouts hiking the A.T.

For the weekend backpacker there are several shelters and campsites spaced out along the trail about a day’s hike apart.  If you are staying at the Inn and you want to get out for a great day-hike we have three recommended hikes: Greenbrier State Park to Annapolis Rock, from Greenbrier to Washington Monument State Park, and from Gathland State Park to Weverton Cliffs.

For the nature lover in each of us, the trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals.   These state parks are an excellent place to put-in on the trail and see all the flora and fauna that Maryland has to offer.

 

Monument along the A.T.

War Correspondents Arch at Gathland State Park

Some points of interest while on these hikes are:

  • At Gathland State Park, you’ll find the  War Correspondents Arch, a 50-foot-tall monument that honors Civil War correspondents.
  • At the Washington Monument State Park, you’ll find the first monument dedicated to George Washington.  This stone tower was  built in 1827 by the residents of Boonsboro and offers great views to the east and west.
  • Annapolis Rock is one of the most popular stops along the trail. On a clear day, the views from this lookout are spectacular.  Annapolis Rock offers a vista of Greenbrier Lake and the Cumberland Valley.
  • Finally, just before descending down the trail to the C & O Canal Towpath, Weverton Cliffs provides a beautiful 180 degree view of the Potomac River, with Harpers Ferry visible in the distance.

 

So whether you’re looking for some scenic beauty and wildlife, a taste of history, a little exercise, or just wanting to get away from it all, the A.T. offers all these things and much more.

Now get out and Find Your Park – Visit the Appalachian Trail!

 

Find Your Park – Antietam National Battlefield

January 18, 2016 by jacobrohrbach

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

Find Your Park

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

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

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

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

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

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

132nd Penn. Vol. Inf. Monument

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

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

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

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

Living history at the Pry House

Living history at the Pry House

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

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

 

Hiking and Biking the C&O Canal Towpath

October 7, 2015 by jacobrohrbach

Welcome Cyclists and Hikers, The Jacob Rohrbach Inn is located just off the C&O Canal Towpath, and is the ideal base-camp while exploring Maryland.

Eastbound we are 1.5 miles from Snyder’s Landing – mile 76.6 Westbound we are 3 miles from Antietam Aqueduct – mile 69.4 Just a short ride into town via quiet country roads or call for pickup! Check current towpath information and closures here.

Traveling along the canal, a highlight of your journey is the Antietam area near the halfway mark. The Antietam Battlefield preserves the hallowed ground at Sharpsburg, a tribute to our nation and an appropriate way to honor those who fought here on September 17, 1862 when over 23,000 men fell in battle, the bloodiest day in American history.

In the 1830’s the C&O canal was completed from Georgetown to Sharpsburg, and many Sharpsburg residents went to work for the canal company or operated canal boats. Snyders Landing at Sharpsburg had a warehouse and a tie-up where cargo was loaded and boats were wintered. On the towpath just downstream from Snyders Landing are several caves in the cliffs lining the river. In 1862 some Sharpsburg residents took shelter in Killiansburg Cave during the battle.

Captain Augustus Hebb and his family operated a canal boat from Sharpsburg for many years. In 1944, one of his children purchased the home now known as the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. In 1992, Ted Hebb, recalled his boyhood experiences growing up on the canal in a National Park Service interview. Today the canal towpath, where mule skinners once coaxed the boats along, is a 184 mile hiking/biking trail from Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland. A new trail, the Great Allegheny Passage, now allows continued travel through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. For other accommodations along your route see BBBiking.com, a guide to bike-friendly bed & breakfast inns.


At Antietam’s Jacob Rohrbach Inn you will find:

  • A warm welcome for the weary
  • Complimentary beverages and homemade cookies
  • Hearty full breakfasts included each day
  • Beautiful quiet accommodations
  • An area to clean and service your bikes
  • Your bikes securely locked in our garage
  • Restaurants, taverns, deli, ice cream parlor, bakery and convenience store within a few blocks
  • Available laundry service
  • Pick up/drop off service for Canal points between Williamsport and Harpers Ferry
»