Monday, January 9, 2012

"It getting dark and plank scarce:" Philologus H. Loud and the 10th Georgia in the West Woods

Philologus H. Loud[1] to Ezra A. Carman, Williston, South Carolina, Sept 2, 1898

Gen. E.A. Carman | War Dept | Washington D.C.
Dear Sir
For about a year I have been trying to obtain reliable information for you in reply to your request of the position of Genl Paul. J. Semmes Brigade in the battle of Sharpsburg Sept 17th 1862.
Semmes's (and 10th Georgia) advance
northward across the open fields and rail
fences adjoining the Hauser farmstead.
Cope/Carman Map 1908 edition.
(click on image to enlarge)
I have asked all of the members of my Regiment[2] who I met at the Reunion at Atlanta July 24th but could not get any information that could indicate our position on the Map sent me.
In Mar[ch] Last Maj. General L. McLaws in whose Division we were, was in Augusta and made me a visit, and I tried to get information from him, but he could not give me any to enable me to indicate it.
But on reflection I think I can give you a clue by which residents there can indicate the ground.
My understanding of the position of our (Semmes) Brigade was the extreme left Brigade (and near the river) of the Confederate line.
Our Brigade left Harpers Ferry on Tuesday about noon and made a forced march reaching the Potomac a little after day on the 17th Sept which we crossed and marched about a mile when the Brigade was halted and cooked breakfast. Just after crossing the river I was ordered to recross the river and order up the Artillery which I did and rejoined my regiment, and while eating my breakfast the Brigade was ordered to fall in and go to the support of Genl Thos Jacksons Corps who were suffering heavily.
We were marched at a rapid pace until we were pretty close to the line of battle then double quicked until we came to a fence running slanting from opposite a farm house to the right of the Brigade in consequence crossed the fence (rail) before the left where our Regiment the 10th Geo[rgia] was crossed.
There were some Hay Stacks or Straw Stacks about the house or houses we passed who belonged there consequently we could not get names of the owners.[3] Opposite this rail fence some 300 yards was a Stone fence some three to four feet high, back of which were the Federal troops posted who were pouring in a galling fire, as we crossed the rail fence, and so we formed in line, as we crossed and advanced upon them and drove them from behind that wall or fence to another some distance back  and as well as I recollect to the right to another wall or fence and again to another stone fence and from that driving them upon their reserves. Our heaviest loss was from the crossing of the Rail fence to when they were driven from the first Stone wall.[4]
The following information will I think enable you to locate the ground where we fought. In the battle, principally after crossing the Rail fence, we lost 18 killed. On the next day was a truce to bury the dead and alongside of a rail fence not far from where we entered the battle field we buried 15 of our regiment in graves side and side. I cut their names Regt and co[mpany] on their head boards up to a tree near the fence the other three in one grave it getting dark and plank scarce. I wrote their names Regiment and Co in pencil, the best I could do for them. The diagram below will explain the matter more fully viz; 

From the above diagram and description, I think you will be writing to some of the old residents there or their children and neighbors, some would certainly be able to give you the exact locality of these graves.[5] About 100 yards from these graves the land rises with a slight slope.
After our Brigade drove them from the first stone fence my recollection is, they were driven to the right behind a stone fence[,] a cross fence, and two more to the right of that making in all four stone fences and our Brigade halted in the middle of the field from whence they were recalled.
Trusting this information will subserve your purpose, and enable you to locate the ground over which our Brigade fought as desired I remain
Very respectfully Yours
P. H. Loud
Col. 10th Geo. Regt

Letter retrieved from Antietam Studies, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[1] Philologus H. Loud (ca. 1824-1905) “[a]ssumed command of the [10th Georgia] Regiment when Major Holt was wounded during the defense of Crampton's Gap on September 14th. He reports that he was 'assisting' Captain William Johnston, of Company F, in commanding the regiment during the battle at Sharpsburg. He also reports that both he and Capt Johnston were wounded and he had to leave the field before the fighting ended on the 17th.” Philogus Loud's family were well known Philadelphia piano makers before the war. In an advertisement, they claimed "superiority for their pianos over any of English or foreign make, and they 'confidently challenge any huckster in the city who has the arrogance to call himself an importer, to disprove the assertion.'" Loud's family settled in Georgia around 1835. On February 13, 1850 Philogus married Sarah Elizabeth Williams, a Georgia native, in Montgomery, Georgia. Antietam Studies, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Brian Downey’s Antietam on the Web under entry for Loud (for Loud's Official Report follow this link);  birth place and date from 1880 U.S. Federal Census Record for P.H. Laud, South Carolina, Barnwell County; marriage data from Jordan Dodd, Georgia Marriages to 1850, database online; John Thomas Scarf, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, (Philadelphia, L.H. Everts & Co., 1884), Vol. 3, p. 2290; Martha Novak Clinkscale, Makers of the Piano, Vol. 2. 1820-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 237. For more on Loud's post-war activities, see Tim Hicks, "History Mystery: Virginia Man Seeks Clues on 19th Century Williston Inventor" The People-Sentinel [Barnwell County, S.C.], November 26, 2008. For more on Bill Waldrop's research, follow this link. Many thanks to William Waldrop and Joseph Belgan for their correspondence on Philologus Loud's pre and post war life. Joseph Belgan is currently completing a manuscript titled Pianos in the Attic that chronicles the Loud family piano business. I will post additional links to Bill and Joe's research articles as they become available.

[2] The 10th Georgia was organized at Jonesboro, GA June 1861 from the counties of Clayton, Chattahoochee, DeKalb, Wilcox, Bibb, Richmond, Fayette and Pulaski. At Antietam, the regiment suffered 56% casualties. Semmes OR; Muster Roll of Company H, 10th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry…retrieved at 

[3] There are three farmsteads west of the West Woods--the Hauser farmstead, the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead, and, further north, the Nicodemus farmstead. The Miller barn and a few outbuildings lay just west of the Hagerstown Pike (See Cope / Carman map above).

[4] There is a stone wall west of the Nicodemus/Poffenberger farm lane that runs roughly east to west (see map at A} for about 50 yards and then skirts north. Another stone wall runs along the east side of the Hagerstown Pike adjacent to the Miller farmstead (see map at B). Loud may be describing the advance of his regiment against remnants of the 1st Minnesota, the 82nd New York, and the right of the 15th Massachusetts. Semmes, in his Official Report, describes taking heavy fire as his brigade advanced northeastward from the Hauser property. The route would have taken them across at least two rail fences (see map).

[5] A possible location is the fence line and grave site is described in the 1869 "Bowie List" of Confederate graves on the field. The list records a line of 10th Georgia "Buried in G. Burgan’s field along the fence line between Burgan and Mrs. Lucker and in a direct line with the fence back of Burgan’s orchard. Some boards still remain, also some unknown Board." The Burgan property is the Hauser farmstead and "Mrs. Lucker" is likely the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead. The location of this site is the subject of a follow on post. The "Bowie List" is available online at the invaluable Western Maryland Historical Library website.