Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 17, 2014 | 152 Years Later

05:37 Hours. Looking East from Antietam Ridge toward Turner and Fox Gaps. Fog rising from Antietam Creek.

06:03 Hours. Sun rising over Turner's Gap and reflecting on fog from Antietam Creek.
06:05 Hours

Monday, February 3, 2014

"When we got to that fence and laid down a short while...": Callom Jones and the 15th Virginia in the West Woods

Jones' references plotted on the Cope/Carman 1908 map.
9:00 Map. A: "we had to get over a fence;" B: "to our
right front there was a rick of Straw;" C: "[100 yards in
front of the Union line was] "a rock
fence that had been pulled down;" D and F: we "ran the
enemy through these woods...when we came to another
field...there was some stacks of straw, a barn, and dwelling
a little to our left." 
Ashland, Va
Oct 13th 1899

Gen. E A Carman:
Dear Sir,
In reply to your communication,[1] would state, I cannot say positively what direction we were going but it seemed to me to be north. We forded the river about light that morning,[2] at Sheppardstown[3], and stacked arms, and after resting a very short time we fell in, and double-quicked N.E. into a piece of woods, where we threw off what baggage we had, and turned a little to the left, and came out into another field, where Kershaw’s brigade wheeled into line, not the right. Then Barksdale's in the same direct[ion], then our brigade (Semmes)[4] to form line we had to get over a fence, where we were fired into, and we lost the most of our men in our Co E (15th Va) directly after getting over that fence. It was a stubble field, and just to our right front there was a rick of Straw (not a stack). 

I remember distinctly seeing our skirmishers at the end next to us, and the enemy’s at the other end, nearest the woods, and they were captured as we advanced. 

The enemy’s line was in the edge of some oak woods, and about 100 yards in front of it was a rock fence that had been pulled down,[5] when we got to that fence we laid down a short while, we lost some men here also. 

We charged again, and ran the enemy through these woods, going N.E. it seemed to me, when we came to another field, in which, there was some stacks of straw, a barn, and a dwelling a little to our left,[6] at the straw stacks there were right many wounded federal Soldiers, and some dead. 

10:30 Map. F marks the straw stacks south of the
Miller farmstead.
We only went a short distance beyond the stacks, we had lost very heavily, and [our] line was very thin, and scattered at that, she we were ordered back and came back to able where we went in the fight. 

We were relieved by some of Jackson’s men, and we went back to the brigade hospital, about a mile in the rear, where we remained all the next day, and recrossed the River about the same time we had crossed two days before. 

From my description I think you might mark out the course we took better than I could not seeing Shepperdstown on your map.[7] If you could find out the way the 10 Geo were went you could, [find]
the way we went for we were between the 10 Geo and 32nd Va. 

I was only a private in Co. E. 15th Va, and they didn’t know much of anything in the Army. My Cpt J.C. Govers[8] is still living in Washington D.C. where if you could find him he might give you some information worth having. 

I have thought of going over the battlefield since the war, but have never had the time to spare, but I believe I could go over the same ground again, unless they have made many alterations. 
Callom B. Jones (1842-1912).
Picture credit: George Seitz.

If I can at anytime be of any service let me know for I am interest in having correct maps as well as histories of the Civil War, and the only way to get at the facts is from the men who participated in the fights. 

Hoping you may derive such information as you desire.
I remain

Very respectfully

Callom B. Jones, MD[9]


Photo: Find-a-Grave researcher George Seitz.

Callom Jones to Ezra A. Carman, October 13, 1899, Antietam Studies, Record Group 92, National Archives.  This is one of three letters written by Callom Jones to Carman. The other two penned on September 30, 1899 and February 5, 1900 are substantially the same if not shorter. Of the three, this letter is the most polished. Any substantive differences between this and the other two are annotated here.

[1] Letter not found.

[2] In his September 30, 1899 letter, Jones states that "we forded the river about daybreak."

[3] Shepherdstown, Va.
[4] All parentheses are those of the the writer.
[5] No maps of the battlefield show a stone fence in this vicinity. What Jones may be referring to is the limestone rock outcroppings on the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead. Farmers, unable to plant along these outcroppings often deposited boulders and other rocks pulled from the plowed field along the length of outcroppings. The outcroppings and field boulders are still visible today on this property.

[6] This was the David Miller farmstead.
[7] In his February 5, 1900 letter to Carman, Jones states "I don't think we could have gone more than three courts of a mile if that in the charge and pursuit together."

[8] Captain John C. Govers, then 29, resided in Richmond, Virginia before the war. He was promoted from 1st Lieutenant to company captain on July 1, 1862. Govers was captured at Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia and committed to the Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D.C. on April 3, 1865. On April 9th he was forwarded to Johnson’s Island, Ohio prisoner of war camp. He swore an oath of allegiance there on June 18, 1865. His camp papers show him to be 5’11” with black hair, fair complexion, and hazel eyes. National Archives, Record Group 109. Publication number M324. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Virginia units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Roll 0562.
[9] Callom Bohannan Jones, Jr., was a student at the Ashland Male Academy at the outbreak of the war when its headmaster, St. George Tucker, closed the school and formed the Ashland Grays. Jones, along with several classmates followed Tucker into service and first appeared on the company muster roll on April 23, 1861. The Ashland Grays were designated Company E, 15th Virginia. Jones served with the regiment through the end of the war and was paroled on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House. While Jones survived, Tucker did not and died of a respiratory infection, possibly tuberculosis, in Charlottesville, Va. on January 24, 1863. Jones was born May 15, 1842 in the West District, Hanover, Virginia. His physician father, Callom B. Jones, Sr., headed the household of three daughters and his son after Callom’s mother, Mary Wingfield, died between 1841 and 1849. After the war, Jones followed his father into the medical profession, graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1869, and established a practice in Ashland. During this time he married Sallie Newman (1855-1935). Jones and his wife are buried in Woodland Cemetery in Ashland, Hanover, Virginia. Hanover County Chancery Wills and Notes (Columbia, Virginia, 1940), p. 170; Ashland During the Civil War, 1861-65, Ashland Museum; National Archives, Record Group 109. Publication number M324. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Virginia units, labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Rolls 0564 and 0568; "The Virginia Medical Semi-Monthly," (Volume 17, June 21, 1912), page 156; U.S. Federal Census for Virginia, 1840, 1850, and 1860; see also, researcher report in Find-a-Grave Memorial 19240335.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lost Roads of the Maryland Campaign: Part 3

That the village of Keedysville is mentioned in the Official Records no less than 52 times is enough to demonstrate the importance of this place in the Maryland Campaign. Situated halfway between Boonsboro and Sharpsburg on the Boonsboro Pike,[1] the town saw both armies stream through its main street on their way to Antietam Creek. During and after the battle its homes, churches, and commercial and public buildings became part of the wide array of hospitals and shelters that spread outward from the field. Today the Boonsboro Pike is Maryland Route 34. Around 1961 the state built a bypass that gracefully arced to the west of the town.[2] Once completed, the north and south exits from Keedysville were abandoned. Today you can readily see where the original Main Street ran and now marked as a dead end.

[1] Current maps label the road the Shepherdstown Pike (Maryland Route 34). The Cope/Carman Maps, 1908 edition, refers to it as the "Boonsboro Pike." Carman, in the Maryland Campaign, refers to the route variably as the "Boonsboro and Sharpsburg Turnpike," "the Sharpsburg and Keedysville road," and simply "the Keedysville road."

[2] Wikipedia, citing the Maryland: Official Highway Map (Annapolis: Maryland State Roads Commission, 1961 ed.), states that the bypass was completed by 1961.

North Main Street, Keedysville, looking north. The original road can be readily seen in this view.

The end of North Main Street from Google Earth.

North Main Street, September 1862.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"I was left for some time within the battery:" John Sedgwick and Woodruff's Battery at Antietam

Major-General John Sedgwick
Library of Congress
"Headquarters 6th Army Corps, Culpeper, October 1, 1863.

To George Woodruff, Esq.[1]

Dear sir:

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 25th instant in regard to the services of your son, the late Lieutenant G.A. Woodruff, 1st Artillery, U.S.A.[2] I will to-day forward your letter to Lieutenant-Colonel James H. Taylor, who was Chief of Staff to the late Major-General Sumner, [3] under whose command the artillery of the division was directed. ...

At the battle of Antietam I again had occasion to notice your son's gallantry,
George A. Woodruff
then in command of his battery. Whilst leaving the field, my horse having been killed, and badly wounded myself,[4] I was left for some time within the battery, which was then engaged in repulsing and did repulse the column of the enemy that had broken my division. No veteran could have selected a better position, and no one could have shown more gallantry in defending it. I made no report of this battle, or I should have mentioned especially the services of your son and his battery. This was the last of my service with him; but I presume Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor will give you a more detailed and connected history of your son's service. ..."

Woodruff's Battery circled in blue. From the Cope/Carman
Map 9:00 Hrs. (1908 Edition, Library of Congress).
Source: Correspondence of John Sedgwick Major-General, Volume II (Printed for Carl and Ellen Battelle Stoeckel, 1908), pp. 158-159.


1. George Woodruff was an attorney, judge, and farmer residing in Marshall, Michigan. Census records and biographical information from retrieved from Camp No. 22, Sons of Union Veterans web page for George A. Woodruff.
2. Lt. George August Woodruff (1840-1863), was battery commander of the 1st United States Artillery, Battery I at Antietam. A graduate of the West Point class of 1861 he was commissioned 2nd Lt. and 1st Lt., on June 24, 1861. He was killed at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. George Woodruff's two other brothers, William S. and Frank, were also killed during the war. Their mother, Augusta Schuyler Woodruff, died a short time after the death of her sons. Brian Downey's encyclopedic Antietam on the Web under Woodruff; History of Calhoun County [Michigan] (L.H. Everts & Co., 1877), p. 40 and Camp No. 22, Sons of Union Veterans web page for George A. Woodruff. For a more extensive article on George A. Woodruff see Logan Tappscott, "Bravery on the Battlefield: 1st Lieutenant George A. Woodruff" in The Gettysburg Compiler: On the Front Lines of History.
3. Edwin Vose Sumner died in Syracuse, New York, March 21, 1863.
4. In his eulogy, George William Curtis stated that Sedgwick was "struck by a bullet in the leg, and again in the wrist, ... a third shot struck him, and he was borne insensible from the field." "The Oration of The Honourable George William Curtis Delivered at the Dedication of the Statue to Major-General John Sedgwick, at West Point, New York, October 21, 1868," Ibid.,  p. 201.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lost Roads of the Maryland Campaign: Part 2

Google Earth view of Maryland Route 65
as it runs past the west side of the Park.
In the early 1960s highway planners laid out Maryland Route 65 to bypass the Antietam National Battlefield Park. The improved road would follow the original Hagerstown Pike northward from Sharpsburg, then as it approached the Park, would curve around to the west before continuing north and connecting to the original Pike north of the field.

The route of the highway followed the old farm trace that ran between the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead and the Nicodemus farmstead to the north and, of course, ran right between the Federal and Confederate battle lines.

Most of Sedgwick's division would find itself on the east side of the new highway while Semmes' brigade and remnants of Hood's and Grigsby's divisions were to the west.

The curving of the route south of the Park entrance abandoned a 200 yard portion of the original Hagerstown Pike. The original Carman iron tablets mark its route now covered by grass.

Detail of the westward curve just south
of the field.

The original Hagerstown Pike traced in graphic pen. The
red circle shows one of the Carman iron tablets visible in the
following ground-level photo.
A view of the original Hagerstown Pike looking south.
Three iron tablets are visible and mark the original
Pike (as well as the original tour route). 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lost Roads of the Maryland Campaign--Part 1

The maps and photographs in this post are the first installment in a series of occasional posts on "lost roads" of the Maryland Campaign. Anyone driving the byways and highways that criss-cross Montgomery, Frederick, and Washington Counties in that state will find remnants and evidence of routes traversed in 1862 but now abandoned. Over the past century-and-a-half, as state and county highway departments straightened roads and leveled grades, the 1862 routes have been either widened, paved over, and otherwise obliterated.

Route 355. Maryland Route 355 (Rockville Pike) bisecting Montgomery County is an example. The ancient trace that the Army of the Potomac, including Sumner's II Corps, followed out of its camps in Tenally Town, District of Columbia now hosts a six lane highway providing consumers access to wall-to-wall malls. But as you continue along Rte. 355 northward to Frederick, once past the Rockville and Gaithersburg suburbs the route narrows to a two lane highway through the still small towns of Hyattstown and Urbana. While the two-laner now evokes the original road, the highway engineer's quest to smooth and straighten the horse track for the automobile is evident and even memorialized. Just south of the point where the route skirts the Monocacy Battlefield, is a stone monument that celebrates the successful straightening of the ancient road. 

The road taken. In the 1920s a segment of the original Frederick road was abandoned by the straightening of Maryland
Route 355. In this north facing view, a stone boulder and roadside marker shown here now marks this feat.
The original Frederick road continues on the left while Maryland Route 355 runs on the right.
Despite the endeavors of the engineers,  every so often you can still make out a trace of an original road left abandoned by straightening and grading. This is the case on Route 355 and it is the case on many of the routes that lead to Sharpsburg. Sometimes these abandoned sections are easy to spot; other times you can just make out the old road now filled with brambles and trees.

The Upper Bridge Approach. The first post in the "lost road" series is about the original route from Keedysville to the Upper Bridge. This route at some point was truncated and the approach to the bridge abandoned. Today the only way to go is by way of Pry Mill--a route also available in 1862--and the original direct route is now impassable.

Map of the Battlefield of Antietam No. 1. Antietam Board, 1893. In 1862, the most direct route from Keedysville
to the Upper Bridge a direct westerly route out of town. At some point in the past 151 years, this direct route
was truncated and the approach to the bridge abandoned. The present day Coffman Farm Road traces the
original route from Keedysville, across Rte. 34, and then to its truncated spur now abandoned. Numerical
references (in red) refer to photos below.

Google Earth map of present day Coffman Farm Road. Red route
parallels the current road. Blue route traces the now-abandoned bridge approach.

View of the lost Keedysville Road looking east from vantage point 1 (see map above).
View  looking east from vantage point 2.

View at vantage point 3  looking west toward the Upper Bridge just beyond the vehicle. 
Since these photos were taken in 2011, wind storms have brought down a significant 
number of trees on the abandoned road bed. The route, however, can still be 
traversed albeit with more difficulty than in 2011.