Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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Kevin Pawlak & Dan Welch – “Ohio at Antietam”

May 24, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

“No Time for Prayer” by Dan Nance: The Ohio Brigade advances towards the Dunker Church during the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862

Among the thousands who fought in the pivotal Battle of Antietam were scores of Ohioans. Sending eleven regiments and two batteries to the fight, the Buckeye State lost hundreds during the Maryland Campaign’s first engagement, South Mountain, and hundreds more “gave their last full measure of devotion” at the Cornfield, the Bloody Lane and Burnside’s Bridge. Many of these brave men are buried at the Antietam National Cemetery. Aged veterans who survived the ferocious contest returned to Antietam in the early 1900s to fight for and preserve the memory of their sacrifices all those years earlier. Join historians, Kevin Pawlak and Dan Welch on Wednesday, July 27 as they explore Ohio’s role during those crucial hours on September 17, 1862.

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

Dan Welch is an educator with a public school district in northeast Ohio. Previously, he was the Education Programs Coordinator for the Gettysburg Foundation, the non-profit partner of Gettysburg National Military Park. Dan continues to serve as a seasonal Park Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park. He has received his BA in Instrumental Music Education from Youngstown State University and a MA in Military History with a Civil War Era concentration at American Military University. He has been a contributing member at Emerging Civil War for over six years and is the co-author of The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign, 1863, Ohio at Antietam: The Buckeye State’s Sacrifice on America’s Bloodiest Day. He resides with his wife, Sarah, and three Labrador retrievers in Boardman, Ohio.

​​The Shepherdstown in the Civil War, Antietam National Battlefield and Ohio at Antietam are available for purchase at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

Frank E Bell III – “Unused Reserves? McClellan’s Failure “To Destroy The Rebel Army”

May 24, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

N. Gen. Fitz John Porter and staff (LOC)

For decades, news accounts published days after Antietam undergirded biting criticism of George B. McClellan by his contemporaries, eminent historians and popular authors. Over the past 25 years or so, fortunately, Joseph L. Harsh and other Maryland Campaign students have produced far more even-handed assessments. Dan Vermilya’s archival research into the Army of the Potomac’s troop strength, fitness and prior combat experience and Steve Stotelmyer’s judicious reconsideration of McClellan’s decisions on America’s bloodiest day are two fine examples.† Given the broad scope of their works, they chronicled the fluctuating troop totals at high levels: army, corps and/or division.

The scope of this lecture will be narrower and deeper, by design: it focuses mainly on Fitz John Porter’s 5th Corps and details troop figures at battalion and regimental levels, taking advantage of data recently added to Antietam National Battlefield’s unit files. This bottoms-up approach makes it easier to assess troop strength claims, whether made in the 1800’s or modern times, and to tie the individual units’ strengths directly to their respective dispositions and movements on the 17th, based on the ORs and Carman-Cope maps. The result, as the lecture will illustrate, is a clear picture of the infantry resources available when McClellan and Porter faced fateful late-afternoon choices. In light of this picture – rounded out by a recap of the day’s events and several other factors typically neglected – the lecture will argue in conclusion that the decisions those generals made were eminently reasonable.  Join us on July 20 to hear Frank E. Bell summer program – “Unused Reserves? McClellan’s Failure “To Destroy The Rebel Army”.

Frank Bell

While still in his teens, Frank was introduced to the Civil War through Bruce Catton’s Centennial Trilogy and a family move from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. Decades later, his interest was rekindled when a job transfer brought him and his wife Mary from California to Maryland. The intervening years saw him complete his formal education, serve in the Air Force and then undertake a fascinating career in the aerospace and defense industry. In 2008, as retirement approached, he became a National Park Service volunteer at Antietam.

Today, Frank enjoys interacting with Antietam visitors when they arrive and as they tour the field. Hours spent as an ambassador overlooking Bloody Lane have gained him the moniker ‘Warden of the Observation Tower.’ In addition, he has updated, expanded and clarified hundreds of pages of Antietam-related resource education materials – among them the War Department Tablet Binder, Union and Confederate Tables of Organization and Blue & Red Unit Field Listings – and created single-topic “quick reference summaries” of the latter listings for use by rangers, guides and ambassadors alike.

A past president of the Hagerstown Civil War Round Table, Frank currently chairs its Scholarship Committee. He has presented brief talks there and at the Boonsboro Historical Society. And, he has been awed to learn of a great-great grandfather who fought in the Eastern and Western Theaters with the 29th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and of a great-grandmother who witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession as a young girl and, eight decades later, held baby Frank in her arms not long before she passed away.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

Dr. Tom Clemens – “Veterans’ Memories of Antietam”

May 24, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

Veterans of the 9th NY Vol. at the monument dedication in 1897.

On Wednesday, July 6, Dr. Tom Clemens joins us to present his summer lecture series program – “Veterans Memories of Antietam”.  Tom  will discuss excerpts from letters that veterans of the battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg sent the the Antietam Battlefield Board and to John M. Gould in the 1890’s. These excerpts include personal accounts that are both sad and humorous, some extremely detailed and some quite vague and confused. Ezra Carman, Antietam’s first official historian, used these letters to create his manuscript history of the battle, as well as the detailed black & white cast iron tablets that are still on battlefield today.

 

 

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.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

Joe Stahl & Matt Borders – “Union Faces of South Mountain and Harpers Ferry”

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

The first Confederate invasion of the North in the fall of 1862 led to a series of engagements known as the Maryland Campaign. Though best remembered for its climax, there was desperate fighting at both South Mountain and Harpers Ferry prior to the bloodletting at Antietam Creek. These battles in particular were desperate affairs of bloody attacks and determined defense.  In their second book working together, Antietam Battlefield Guides – Matthew Borders and Joseph Stahl present the images of Union soldiers who struggled up the slopes of South Mountain or sheltered from Confederate cannons at Harpers Ferry.

On June 29th, join Matt and Joe as they introduce you to some of  these men, their battles and their stories during their presentation – “Union Faces of South Mountain and Harpers Ferry”.

 

Matthew Borders is a graduate of Michigan State and Eastern Michigan University, with a BA in United States History and a MS in Historic Preservation. He taught at Kalamazoo Valley Community College before excepting a position with the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. He was the historian for the ABPP for six years, during which time he became a certified battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield. Currently Matthew is a park ranger at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland. He, along with fellow guide Joe Stahl, have published three books in their Faces of Union Soldiers series.

Joseph W. Stahl grew up in St. Louis and received BS, MS, and MBA degrees from Missouri University of Science and Technology and Washington University. After retiring from the Institute for Defense Analyses, he became a volunteer and NPS Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam and Harpers Ferry. Joe has authored more than two dozen articles and is co-author of several books, including: Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War, Faces of Union Soldiers at Antietam, Faces of Union Soldiers at South Mountain and Harpers Ferry and the Faces of Union Soldiers at Fredericksburg.

The Faces of Union Soldiers books are available for purchase at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

David Welker – “The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point”

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

On Wednesday, June 22st, David Welker will present his Summer Lecture Series presentation,  “The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point”

The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point tells the story of what happened in David Miller’s once-peaceful farm field on 17 September 1862, which opened the Civil War Battle of Antietam – America’s single bloodiest day.  This is the story of human struggle against fearful odds, of men seeking to do their duty, of simply trying to survive in a contest which had implications that echoed decisively throughout Antietam’s other actions and reverberated beyond the close of fighting that evening.

Author David A. Welker will share in his presentation some of the many human stories of those who fought in the Cornfield, while also clearly presenting the unfolding events of this often complex, swirling action and offering new analysis of the fight.  Some of these will challenge conventional wisdom about Antietam—such as why General McClellan directed the fight as he did, why the Cornfield mattered at all in this great Civil War battle, and why the human cost for controlling this spot was so unbelievably high—but regardless if you agree with his insights, those attending will view the Battle of Antietam in a new light.

David A. Welker

David A. Welker is the author of the recently released The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point.  His previous publications include Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly and A Keystone Rebel: The Civil War Diary of Joseph Garey, as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles on the war.  He currently serves as a historian and military analyst with the US Government, a post he has held for over 35 years.  David holds a master’s degree in international affairs from American University and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Westminster College in Pennsylvania.  He lives in Centreville, Virginia with his wife.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

Brad Gottfried – “Brigades of Antietam”

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

While the 1862 Maryland Campaign has been extensively studied, a comprehensive treatment of the part played by each unit has been ignored. The Brigades of Antietam fills this void by presenting a complete account of each major unit, providing a fresh perspective of the campaign.

Using the words of enlisted men and officers, the book weaves a fascinating narrative of the role played by every unit (112 entries) from the time it began its march toward Sharpsburg to the final action at Shepherdstown. Organized by order of battle, each unit is covered in complete and exhaustive detail: where it fought, its commander, what constituted the unit, and how it performed in the campaign. Innovative in its approach and comprehensive in its coverage, The Brigades of Antietam is certain to be a classic and indispensable reference for the Maryland Campaign for years to come.

Published by the Antietam Institute, the book has been written by a collaboration of over 15 Antietam Battlefield Guides, Rangers, and seasoned Antietam volunteers. Bradley Gottfried, the author of The Brigades of Gettysburg, serves as the volume’s editor.  On Wednesday, June 15, join Brad Gottfried, editor of the Brigades of Antietam, will be here for an informative discussion on some of the brigades that fought at Antietam. He will be joined by several contributors who will relate their brigade’s experiences during the campaign.

Brad Gottfried

After receiving his doctorate in 1976, Brad Gottfried worked in higher education for over 40, retiring as the President of the College of Southern Maryland in 2017. He has written 13 books on the Civil War, including the Maps of Antietam. Brad became an Antietam Battlefield Guide in 2019 and also serves as a Gettysburg Town Guide. He is married and has four children and six grandchildren.

The Brigades of Antietam book is available for purchase at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

 

Darin Wipperman – “A Damaged Friendship: McClellan and Burnside’s 1862 Correspondence”

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

On Wednesday, June 8th, Darin Wipperman will present his Summer Lecture Series talk, “A Damaged Friendship: McClellan and Burnside’s 1862 Correspondence”.

Meeting at West Point, George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside became good friends. Although McClellan was 31 months younger, he was a year ahead of Burnside at the Military Academy. Their lives intersected a great deal in the years before the Civil War, with McClellan saving his woebegone pal from financial ruin. Both men remained on good terms as they wore stars in 1861. As general-in-chief, McClellan gave guidance to Burnside during the North Carolina expedition. They shared missives through August 1862, retaining a warm friendship. After Lee invaded Maryland, however, strife began, which burst into the open at South Mountain. The course of a friendship can be seen in the messages the two men shared across the year, especially during tense weeks in September. What damaged their relationship? What defining moment gave McClellan hope in Burnside once more?

Darin Wipperman

This presentation, Darin Wipperman’s fourth for the Summer Lecture Series at the Rohrbach Inn, was inspired by research included in his second Civil War manuscript, currently titled Burnside’s Boys: The Union’s Ninth Corps and the Civil War in the East. Stackpole Books published First for the Union: Life and Death in a Civil War Army Corps from Antietam to Gettysburg, in December 2020. In the 1990s, Darin earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science. After nearly 17 years as a federal employee, Darin and his wife moved to northern New Hampshire, where he was a reporter and editor for weekly newspapers for more than four years. When resting from Civil War research and writing, Darin manages the 64-acre forested parcel he and his wife live on in Lancaster, NH.

Darin’s book, First for the Union is available at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

 

M. Chris Bryan – The XII Corps at Antietam: Tactical Details and Findings

April 27, 2022 by jacobrohrbach

Gen. Mansfield at Antietam

On Wednesday, June 1st, Chris Bryan will kick off our Summer Lecture Series with his presentation,  “The XII Corps at Antietam: Tactical Details and Findings”

The Union XII Corps formed in June 1862 as the II Corps, Army of Virginia. The corps, which joined the Army of the Potomac only a week before Antietam was small, numbering just over 7,600 men. Easily overlooked, Army of the Potomac leadership and historians since have largely glossed over this corps’ contribution at Antietam. Nevertheless, this small corps ended Confederate attacks into the Miller Cornfield and East Woods, successfully defended the Dunker Church Plateau from Confederate assaults, and captured the West Woods, which had been the goal on the Federal right all morning. This talk will examine the XII Corps’ fighting at Antietam and will focus on new findings discovered through recent archival research.

Chris Bryan

 

Chris Bryan is a native of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.S. in History from the United States Naval Academy, an M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis, and a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a focus on architectural investigations of Chesapeake region antebellum domestic and agricultural outbuildings. The former Naval Aviator works as a project manager in Southern Maryland. Cedar Mountain to Antietam is his first book.

Chris’ book, Cedar Mountain to Antietam is available at the Antietam Mercantile Company.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  These outdoor programs are free and open to the public. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and changes to the schedule check our Facebook page.

The Farmsteads of Antietam – Jacob Avey Farm

July 31, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

Avey farm view

View of the Avey farm from the 9th NY Monument. cir. 1897

 We continue the story of the Farmsteads  of Antietam with the Jacob Avey farm that sits at the southern edge of Sharpsburg. The D.R. Miller cornfield, the Poffenberger woods, and the Piper orchard; when we hear these the names of these places we know where they are on the Antietam battlefield and the action that occurred there.  But very few people have heard of the Avey farm, know where it is or even understand what happened there.  Like the copse of trees at Gettysburg for the Confederate High Water Mark, the Avey farm is the “High-Water Mark” for the Union at Antietam and is critical to understanding the Battle of Antietam.  

land patents

Location of land patents around Sharpsburg

In the early 1700’s very few people lived west of Frederick. To entice immigrants into western Maryland, land was being offered at very low prices; and people with disposable wealth began to purchase large tracts of land. In 1736, Joseph Chapline, Sr. moved west and began acquiring hundreds of acres of land along the Potomac River through grants and purchases.  In 1747 he patented the 250-acre tract “Hunting the Hare,” located just south of present-day Sharpsburg. Earlier that year, Chapline also purchased an adjacent 150-acre tract originally patented by Francis Abston in 1742 known as “Abston’s Forrest.” When the French and Indian War 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.  

land tracts

The land tracts around Sharpsburg

With the war over, Joseph Chapline sought to take advantage of the influx of new settlers coming into the valley. In 1763 Chapline founded the town of Sharps Burgh (present-day Sharpsburg) in honor of Maryland’s provincial governor Horatio Sharpe. This new town would be located on a 200-acre tract that Chapline had purchased known as “Hickory Tavern”. What made the “Hickory Tavern” tract such an appealing place for a town was the presence of a fresh water spring (Garrison’s Spring) and its location along the wagon road to Philadelphia.  This parcel was located close to his plantation and adjacent to two other parcels he owned, “Resurvey on Abston’s Forest” and “Hunting the Hare.”  In August 1764 Chapline patented “Joe’s Lot,” which consisted of 2,127 acres on the south and east sides of Sharpsburg. The parcel included over 1,680 acres of vacant land along with the original surveys of Resurvey on Abston’s Forest and Hickory Tavern.

Joseph Chapline died in 1769. In his will he divided his vast holdings among his children. His eldest, Joseph Chapline, Jr., received the majority of his lands, including Sharpsburg and the surrounding land. In 1789, Joseph Chapline, Jr., applied to the land office in Annapolis for a resurvey of his lands into a single tract he wished to be known as Mount Pleasant, and this patent for 2,575 acres was received on July 15, 1791.  Over the next several years, the Chapline children and other land owners divided these large land tracts into smaller family sized farms and sold them to the settlers moving into the Sharpsburg area.

Joseph Avey's home near Taylor's Landing

Joseph Avey’s home near Taylor’s Landing

One of these families was the Avey or Eavey family. Henry Avey immigrated with his family to America in 1732 from Rotterdam. It is believed that the Avey’s were from the Berne, Switzerland area and were escaping religious persecution.  The Avey’s landed in Philadelphia and by 1746, Henry Avey owned 200 acres of land in what is now Washington County, Maryland.  Henry had three sons; John, Joseph and Jacob. The three brothers all assisted in the defense of the colonies during the French and Indian War.  In 1783, Joseph purchased part of the track known as Spriggs Delight along the Potomac River near where Taylor’s Landing is today. It appears that Joseph’s son, Michael  inherited his father property after he died in 1799.  According to the 1803-04 Washington County tax record, Michael Avey owned 150 acres of Spriggs Delight. Michael’s oldest son, Jacob was born on May 12, 1791.  Jacob was a farmer and in the 1820’s he began to purchase properties around the Sharpsburg area.  Jacob would marry Catharine Palmer in January 1815 and together they would have ten children. 

Notice of the John J. Hays estate.

Here our story goes back to Joseph Chapline, Jr. He and his wife, Mary Ann had no children, but other family members filled their home at Mount Pleasant.  Joseph’s nephew, Dr. John J. Hays was residing at Mount Pleasant and came into his favor.  Just a few months before his death in 1821 Joseph Chapline Jr., sold 1,000 acres of Mount Pleasant, including the house, to his nephew and named Hayes the executor of the estate.   Dr. Hayes also owned other properties in and around Sharpsburg. To settle the estate of his uncle, Hays held a public sale to sell farming equipment , livestock and household affects. Unfortunately, Dr. Hayes died shortly after Chapline in 1823.  The executor of his estate was William Price.  Not only did he have to settle John J. Hays’ estate, but now he also had the unfinished business of the Chapline estate. Within a matter of a few years the Hays and the Chapline estate was settled and most, if not all the property including Mount Pleasant and the land south of Sharpsburg was sold.

property owned by Avey

Approx. property line of the land owned by Jacob Avey

In October, 1826 Jacob Avey purchased 22 acres from the executors of the John J. Hays estate for $550. This property was just southeast of Sharpsburg near the Joseph Reel mill (this property was sold in 1831).  Two years later in September 1828, Jacob purchased another property from the John J. Hays estate for $500. This was an 86 3/4 acre farm known as the Bower Farm adjacent to Sharpsburg between the road to the Antietam Iron Works (the Harpers Ferry Road today) and the Reel Mill road (the Burnside Bridge Road today). Jacob may have owned more land, but those records have not been found. Over the next 30 plus years, Jacob and Catharine Avey raised their family on this farmstead at the edge of Sharpsburg. According to the 1860 census, the Avey farm was valued at $4,800 with $300 in personal property and three of their adult children still resided at home. 

1860 census

Jacob Avey family, 186o Census

 

1859 Taggart map of Sharpsburg.

1859 Taggart map of Sharpsburg.

Avey farm in 1862

Jacob Avey farm in 1862

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avey house is a two-story ell shaped dwelling with brick and frame construction.  Just to the back of the house is a board and batten out kitchen with stone chimney and to the east of the house near the road leading out of Sharpsburg is a stone springhouse.  South of the house was a large Swisser bank barn and a number of other out buildings and dependencies.  Today only the ruins of the barn still exist. 

house

Avey House

out kitchen

Out kitchen

spring house

Springhouse

 

 

 

 

 

On September 15, 1862 Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee were withdrawing back toward the Potomac River after their defeat at South Mountain.  Receiving word from General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, that the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry was going to surrender, Lee decided to consolidate his army at Sharpsburg using the high ground east of town to position his defensive line. Throughout the day Confederate soldiers from David R. Jones’ division moved into Sharpsburg and onto the Avey farm.  D.R. Jones was responsible for the center and southern end of Lee’s line.  Jones stretched his small division from the Boonsboro Pike at Cemetery Hill to the Rohrbach Bridge road with two brigades and five artillery batteries; across the road the brigades of Walker, Drayton, and Kemper covered the raise across the Avey farm. Between the Avey house and their orchard, Captain Hugh R. Garden’s four gun battery was parked.  To his front, Jones positioned Robert Tombs’ brigade  to cover the Rohrbach Bridge with three batteries of artillery for support and part of Nathen Evan’s brigade was forward on the Joseph Sherrick farm. Later the next day, the division of John Walker arrived to Jones’ left to cover the flank and the Snavely’s Ford on the Antietam. 

With an impending battle on their doorstep, the Avey’s most likely packed up some of their belongs and left their home.  It is possible that Jacob’s family went to stay with their son Samuel, daughter in law Kate, and their 5 children in Porterstown just east of the Antietam Creek.   Their son, Jacob (named after his grandfather) who was 12 yrs old at the time, remembered “sitting on a fence beside the road, watching the soldiers striding down South Mountain” on their way to toward Sharpsburg.  When fighting began on the 17th, young Jacob was standing near the smokehouse when “a Rebel shell tore through and wrecked the building but spared his life“.

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, 7:30am, Sept. 17, 1862

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, Daybreak, Sept. 17, 1862

That Rebel shell most likely came from the artillery D.R. Jones had posted on the heights at the edge of Sharpsburg.  According to his battle report, “Daylight of September 17 gave the signal for a terrific cannonade. The battle raged with intensity on the left and center, but the heavy masses in my front–repulsed again and again in their attempts to force the passage of the bridge by the two regiments before named, comprising 403 men, assisted by artillery I had placed in position on the heights–were unable to effect a crossing”.  Throughout most of the morning the fighting was raging north of D.R. Jones’ position.  Early into the battle Lee directed John Walker’s division to move to the north of Sharpsburg to support General Jackson’s command near the Dunker Church. General Daniel H. Hill was directed to shift his defense to the north as well and Jones was ordered to send G.T. Anderson’s brigade to support General Hood.  Around 10am the Union Ninth Corps began attempts to force a crossing over the Antietam at the Rohrbach Bridge and the ford.  By 1:00pm the Union forces had taken the bridge and were crossing over Snavely’s Ford as well.  General James Longstreet said, “Brigadier-General Toombs held the bridge and defended it most gallantly, driving back repeated attacks, and only yielded it after the forces brought against him became overwhelming and threatened his flank and rear”.  

This redeployment of forces to the north and the loss of the bridge and ford forced Jones to realign his small division in order to defend the Confederate right.  Garnett’s brigade was left to guard Cemetery Hill. Walker’s brigade and Garden’s battery moved to the left of the Avey farm to watch the draw up into Sharpsburg along the Rohrbach Bridge Road. Captain James S. Brown, in command the four guns of the Wise (VA) Battery redeployed from the Otto farm to the hill at the edge of the stone fence on the Avey farm along with a couple of guns from Capt. James Reilly’s battery.  Kemper and Drayton moved their brigades forward to the fence at the hill to await the impending Union advance.  John Dooley of the 1st Virginia Infantry recalled, “We are moved to meet this attack almost between the advancing enemy and the town of Sharpsburg.  A few of our men are in the orchard afore mentioned, and behind a stone wall, and the majority behind a rail fence on the borders of a cornfield. Two pieces of artillery are all that can be spared to keep the enemy back”.   The Confederate artillery on the Avey farm was taking it’s toll on the Union infantry trying to move upon the Rebels along the fence line.

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, 4:20pm, Sept. 17, 1862

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, 4:20pm, Sept. 17, 1862

By 3:00pm, Burnside’s Ninth Corps was in position to begin their assault toward Sharpsburg.  Colonel Harrison Fairchild, a brigade commander in General Isaac Rodman’s division wrote, “We continued to advance to the opposite hill under a tremendous fire from the enemy’s batteries up steep embankments. Arriving near a stone fence, the enemy – a brigade composed of South Carolina and Georgia regiments – opened on us with musketry. After returning their fire, I immediately ordered a charge, which the whole brigade gallantly responded to, moving with alacrity and steadiness. Arriving at the fence, behind which the enemy were awaiting us, receiving their fire, losing large numbers of our men, we charged over the fence, dislodging them and driving them from their position down the hill toward the village,”. 

 

9 NY assaulting the high ground south of Sharpsburg.
sketch by Edwin Forbes

Next to the New York brigade on their left flank was the lone 8th Connecticut Regiment, advancing toward the Harpers Ferry Road. As the Fairchild’s New Yorkers were reaching the heights, Orlando Willcox’s Union Division advanced astride the Rohrbach Bridge Road. His left brigade under the command of Colonel Thomas Welsh advanced across the Avey fields and pushed into the orchard.  Col. Welsh reported, “I moved my whole command over a steep hill, immediately charging the enemy and driving them rapidly in the direction of Sharpsburg, my troops advancing to the edge of the town and capturing the rebel Captain Twiggs and several soldiers”. Welsh was referring to two of his regiments, the 8th Michigan and the 100th Pennsylvania that had driven the Rebels out of the orchard and to the outskirts of Sharpsburg.

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, 5:30pm, Sept. 17, 1862

Carman-Cope Battlefield Map, 5:30pm, Sept. 17, 1862

The Confederate line was breaking, Fairchild’s men could see the spires of town.  Dooley remembered, “The Yankees, finding no batteries opposing them, approach closer and closer, cowering down as near to the ground as possible, while we keep up a pretty warm fire by file upon them as they advance. Now they are at the last elevation of rising ground and whenever a head is raised we fire. Now they rise up and make a charge for our fence. Hastily emptying our muskets into their lines, we fled back through the cornfield.”  Just as the end seemed to be in sight for the Union forces advancing across the Avey farm, Confederate brigades from General A.P. Hill’s division arrived on the left flank of the Ninth Corps.  A.P. Hill’s sudden arrival on the Union left forced them to withdraw from the Avey farm back to the Sherrick and Otto farms where they began their advance. 

S.G. Elliott map 1864

S.G. Elliott map of the Antietam Battlefield marking the graves on the Avey farm, 1864

 

Although there was no major fighting on September 18, sporadic gun fire occurred across the fields on the southern end of the lines as both sides tended to the wounded and began to bury their dead.  The Confederates buried about a dozen men on the Avey farm.  The Union would have to wait until the 19th, after the Rebels withdrew back across the Potomac for their burial details to begin the dating task of burying the almost 200 dead Union soldiers across the Avey farm.

 

Like many of their neighbors around Sharpsburg, when the Aveys returned home they found death, destruction and devastation.  Across their fields lay the dead from both sides, with guns and equipment scattered about. Most of the split rail fencing was gone, their cornfield was trampled down, and hay was either used for the wounded or fed to the horses. A claim had been filed for the damages and items taken for his farm in the amount of $477.95, but it would take until 1902 for the government to find the the claim was justified.  In 1905. the reparations were paid in the amount of $318 to the executors of the estate, Samuel and Elizabeth Avey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just over a year after the battle, Jacob Avey died on October 12, 1863 at the age of 72 and Catharine died on July 14, 1870.  Although they are both buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Sharpsburg only Catharine’s head stone still remains.

 

 

 

 

Four years after Jacob died, Catharine and the children sold the 86 3/4 acre farm to John Ecker in 1867. John Ecker’s daughter married a Benjamin Miller and it is believed that they lived on the farm. The reasoning for this is when the Bowie List of the Burial Places of the Remains of Confederate Soldiers was completed in 1868 it indicted Confederates had been buried on the Ben Miller farm referring to locations near the Sherrick farm and the John Highbarger lot at the edge of Sharpsburg.  Further evidence of this is that the farm was sold to William Thomas in 1876 and this is indicted on the 1877 map of Sharpsburg.

1868 Bowie List identifying the Rebel dead on the Avey Farm

1877 Map of Sharpsburg. W. Thomas was the owner of the Avey Farm.

 

 

 

 

 

At some point before the turn of the century the spelling of the Avey name had changed to Eavey.  Four of the ten Avey children (Jacob and Catharine) would move west, settling in Illinois and Nebraska, while the rest remained a little closer to home. Their son, Jacob stayed in Sharpsburg and married Elizabeth Marker.  They would have a son named John Wesley Eavey who would become a prominent Sharpsburg figure.  John Wesley Eavey was the principal of the Sharpsburg school where he taught for over twenty years, he served as president of the Sharpsburg Bank, and was a member of a number of local organizations.

Veterans of the 9th NY at the monument dedication.

In October 1894, veterans of the 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment had returned to Sharpsburg to dedicate a monument on the ground where they had fought.  Earlier that year, a small plot of ground near the stone wall was purchased from John Otto, who now owned the Avey farm, for the placement of the 8th Connecticut’s monument.  The War Department has also placed a mortuary cannon on the ridge to indict where Union Brigadier General Isaac Rodman was mortally wounded during the battle. Three years later on Memorial Day 1897, members of the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment returned to dedicate their monument on a plot next to the 8th Connecticut’s monument. The 9th New York (Hawkins Zouaves) Monument stands at the “High Water Mark” of the Union final attack at Antietam.

Aerial photo over the Avey farm looking toward Sharpsburg.

After changing ownership a half a dozen times, it appears that in the 1940’s small parcels of the farm were sold off along the Harpers Ferry Road and High Street. The same is true for a handful of lots along the Burnside Bridge Road. Over the years, the northern section of the farm was not being cultivated and trees began to take over and the orchard was cut down. In 1976, Stephen Whilden had acquired the farm and parceled off 20 acres of the property that included the original farmstead and structures near the town of Sharpsburg. This property was purchased by Robert Stransky, the current owner of the Avey farmstead. When the Stransky’s took ownership of the farmstead, only the house, out kitchen and springhouse remained.  The Avey farm remains private property, but it is a critical piece to understanding the Battle of Antietam and is an eyewitness to history.

*We are very grateful to Linda Irvin-Craig for taking the time to talk with us about the history of the Avey/Eavey family and sharing the information about her ancestors.  We also want to thank Mr. Robert Stransky for allowing us to visit him at the Avey farm (Thanks to Dr. Tom Clemens for arranging the visit).

Sources:
  • Ancestry.com, Jacob Avey Family, Census Data 1840-1940.  Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\.
  • Avey, Michael Garland, The Cultural Resources of the Avey Family Phase 1, Dept. of Archeology, Pierce College, Fort Steilacoom, WA, 1986. https://archive.org/details/TheCulturalResourcesOfTheAveyFamilyPhase1
  • Beeler, Ed and Michael J. Chapline, Searching for Joseph Chapline Maryland Frontiersman and Founder of Sharpsburg, Maryland, 2013
  • Irvin-Craig, Linda. Personal interview. May, 2021.
  • Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery, and 1869-1873 (Oden Bowie) Maryland. Governor. A Descriptive List of the Burial Places of the Remains of Confederate Soldiers: Who Fell In the Battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, And Other Points In Washington And Frederick Counties, In the State of Maryland. Hagerstown, Md.: “Free press” print, 1868.
  • Maryland State Archives. Maryland Land Records On-Line, Washington County, April 25, 2021. https://mdlandrec.net/main/dsp_search.cfm?cid=WA.
  • Maryland Historical Trust, Avey-Stransky House, WA-II-151, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1977.
  • Nelson, John N.  “As Grain Fall Before the Reaper”, The Federal Hospital Sites and Identified Federal Casualties at Antietam.  Hagerstown, MD. 2004.
  • Recker, Stephen J. Rare Images of Antietam: And the Photographers Who Took Them. Another Software Miracle; Sharpsburg, Maryland 2012.
  • Recker, Stephen J. Virtual Antietam; Final Attack Trail. Retrieved from http://www.virtualantietam.com/sites/default/files/field/image/1897_9thNYmonDed.jpg. 
  • Schildt, John W. Monuments at Antietam. E Graphics, Brunswick, MD 2019.
  • Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
  • The Morning Herald (Hagerstown, Maryland) Jacob Eavey Obituary, 16 Aug 1948.  Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/
  • The Touch Light and Public Advertiser (Hagerstown, Maryland) Estate of John J. Hays deceased, 28 August 1823.  Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/
  • Tracey, Dr. Arthur G. “Land Patents of Washington County, MD. Showing their location on the land-their adjoining tracts- the relationship one to another-plus other related information“. MDLANDREC. Maryland Historic Trust. Retrieved from http://mdhistory.msa.maryland.gov/tracey_fr_wa_cr/html/index.html
  • Washington Historical Trust, Architectural & Historic Treasures: 43 – Stone Hill circa 1800-1825, North of Sharpsburg, MD. Hagerstown, Maryland February 7, 1993.  Retrieved from  http://washingtoncountyhistoricaltrust.org/3-stone-hill-circa-1800-1825-north-of-sharpsburg-md/.
  • Washington Historical Trust, Architectural & Historic Treasures: 113 – Mount Pleasant, circa 1790, Sharpsburg, MD.  Hagerstown, Maryland September 7, 1997.  Retrieved from  http://washingtoncountyhistoricaltrust.org/136-mount-pleasant-circa-1790-sharpsburg-md/.
  • Western Maryland’s Historical Library. Washington County, Maryland, Taxes 1803 Lower Anteatum Hundred, Washington County, Maryland, 1803 https://digital.whilbr.org/digital/collection/p16715coll46/id/82/rec/11.
  • 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.
  • United States Congressional Serial Set. Court of Claims for Jacob Avey, 1902.. United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/books/edition/United_States_Congressional_Serial_Set/iA1HAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&kptab=editions

 

 

John Schildt – “Roads to Gettysburg”

June 11, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

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

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.

Lee crossing the Potomac

Lee crossing the Potomac into Maryland, 1863

Rev. John Schildt will present “Roads to Gettysburg” on Wednesday, August 4th.  Everyone know s about Gettysburg. But how did the troops get there? This is an epic story of 175,000 men and all the equipment of war covering , in some cases, 200 miles in two weeks, from the Rappahannock River to the fields of Gettysburg.. 100,000 men, wagons and caissons crossed on two pontoon bridges, spanning 1600 feet, resting on 64 boats.  It is the story of rain , heat, thirst and sunstroke, as they marched through Maryland and Pennsylvania towns.

 

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  Even though those programs are outdoors, guests are encouraged to wear face coverings and to social distance as much as possible. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

Darin Wipperman – “‘Such a Bloody Set of Men:’ The 35th Massachusetts in the Antietam Campaign”

June 9, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

Darin Wipperman

On Wednesday, August 18th, Darin Wipperman will present his Summer Lecture Series talk,  – “‘Such a Bloody Set of Men:’ The 35th Massachusetts in the Antietam Campaign”

The new soldiers of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry left Boston in late August 1862, not knowing how quickly their world would be shaken to the core. Joining Ferrero’s Brigade in the 2nd Division of the Ninth Corps, the 35th, under the command of Col. Edward Wild, moved up South Mountain in the late afternoon of September 14. Devastating events then occurred, impacting the regiment’s very foundations. Three days later, a far greater tribulation befell the unproven regiment west of Antietam Creek. In the same brigade as the 51st Pennsylvania and 51st New York — the troops who seized Burnside’s Bridge – the 35th Massachusetts suffered more casualties at Antietam than those two regiments combined. Somewhat forgotten today, the rookies’ stubborn stand north of the 40-acre cornfield did not go unnoticed at the time. After the engagement, a brigade comrade from New Hampshire, admiring the immortal bravery he saw from the rookies, noted that he had never seen “such a bloody set of men.”


This presentation, Darin Wipperman’s third for the Summer Lecture Series at the Rohrbach Inn, includes research used in his next book, currently titled Burnside’s Boys: The Union’s Ninth Corps and the Civil War in the East.  In December, Stackpole Books published First for the Union: Life and Death in a Civil War Army Corps from Antietam to Gettysburg, in which Darin focuses on the 11 months of the First Corps’ most intense service. In the 1990s, he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science. After nearly 17 years as a federal employee, Darin and his wife moved to northern New Hampshire, where he was a reporter and editor for weekly newspapers for more than four years. When not geeking out on the Civil War, Darin spends a great deal of time managing the 64-acre forested parcel he and his wife live on in Lancaster, NH.

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.  Even though those programs are outdoors, guests are encouraged to wear face coverings and to social distance as much as possible. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

Kevin Pawlak and Joe Stahl – “Casualties and Chaos Command Attrition at Antietam”

May 22, 2021 by jacobrohrbach

Mortuary cannon for Gen. Rodman

 

The Battle of Antietam produced casualties on an unprecedented scale in a single day of combat. Officers were a group of men that was particularly hit hard. When officers fell on a battlefield, it produced even more confusion and chaos. This talk will examine the effect of these officer casualties on the battle and its outcome. On Wednesday, July 28, Antietam Battlefield Guides –Kevin Pawlak and Joe Stahl will present, “Casualties and Chaos Command Attrition at Antietam”  

 

 

Kevin Pawlak

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

 

Joe Stahl

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

 

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

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.  Even though those programs are outdoors, guests are encouraged to wear face coverings and to social distance as much as possible. To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed UCC Church at 117 Main Street.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

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