Monday, February 27, 2012

Searching for Lavinia Grove: Some Preliminary Notes

On Thursday, September 18, 1862 Captain Philologus Loud of the 10th Georgia took advantage of an informal truce and "buried 15 of our regiment in graves side by side." Years later he would recall in a letter to Ezra A. Carman how he "cut their names Regt and co[mpany] on their head boards up to a tree near the fence... 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," he told Carman, "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. About 100 yards from these graves the land rises with a slight slope⁠."[1]

It is not recorded if Ezra Carman followed Loud's suggestion to find the "exact locality of these graves." Carman, as we know, was more interested in determining the location of units on the field than anything else and Loud appears to have sensed this for he hoped that the information provided Carman would "enable you to locate the ground over which our Brigade fought."

View from the foot of Hauser's Ridge looking
northeast to the Poffenberger farmstead and the
West Woods beyond. This is the approximate
route of the 10th Georgia as it moved along with
the rest of Semmes's brigade to engage Willis Gorman's
brigade of the 1st Minnesota, 82nd New York, and
15th Massachusetts.
The location of the graves, Loud reasoned, might give Carman important information as it marked the route of the regiment across the fields adjoining the West Woods. The route as he describes it takes the regiment past a farm house and hay stacks and then across a rail fence. He recalled, the regiment suffered its heaviest loss in the fields that lay between the "Rail fence" adjoining the farmstead to a "first Stone wall." Identifying the farm house, the adjoining "Rail fence," and the first of two stone walls would give Carman the route of where the unit advanced that day.

Loud's recollections 36 years after the battle probably helped Carman clear up any details left by the regimental official reports. Correspondence from additional brigade members sent him undoubtedly contributed to his better understanding of the route and extent of movement of Semmes's Brigade the morning of the 17th.[2]

In any event, the chance of Carman finding the benchmarking graves in 1898 were long gone. As soon as the armies left the field, farmers went back to work. As they tilled their fields, most tried to avoid the mounds of dirt that marked resting places of boys from Georgia to Massachusetts. But not all farmers were careful or cared. John Townsend Trowbridge visiting the field in August 1865, noted

"In a field beside the grove we saw a man ploughing, with three horses abreast, and a young lad for escort. We noticed loose head-boards, overturned by the plough, on the edge of the grove, and lying half imbedded in the furrows. This man was ploughing over graves! Adjoining the field was the historic cornfield. I walked up to the edge of it, and waited there for the man to turn his long slow furrow down that way. I sat upon the fence, near which was a trench filled with unnumbered Rebel dead. 'A power of 'em in this yer field!' said the ploughman, coming up and looking over as I questioned him. 'A heap of Union soldiers too, layin' all about yer. I always skip a Union grave when I know it, but sometimes I don't see 'em, and I plough 'em up. Eight or ten thousand lays on this farm, Rebels and Union together."[3]

By June 1867 all known and unknown Union dead that could be found were re interred at the National Cemetery; Confederates, however, would have to wait a little longer. In December 1868, Governor Oden Bowie requested Thomas A. Boullt of Hagerstown to "employ agents to go over the battle field and mound up the [Confederate] trenches and graves, and to make careful notes of their location, and as far as possible identify the dead." Boullt hired the services of Sharpsburg residents Moses Poffinberger[4] and Aaron Good[5], "gentlemen well acquitted with the battle-fields." In the coming months they ranged about the fields and swales of the battlefield and beyond taking field notes of graves and identities. The result of their efforts produced, in 1869, "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." Also known as the Bowie List, it "records the location of the Confederate soldiers buried where they fell on the battlefields or near hospitals and homes where they died." [6] They listed 758 identifiable remains, and 2,481 unknown. The list has since become known as the Bowie List. Which brings us back to Philogous Loud's comrades.

Can the Bowie list help identify the location of Philologus Loud's comrades and, more importantly, give us hints as to their identities? A search of the Bowie list shows two groups of 10th Georgia members.

The first group lists 11 "buried in G[eorge] Burgan's field along the fence between Burgan and Mrs. Lucker and in a direct line with the fence back of Burgan's orchard." The second group shows seven "buried in a stone pile, 6 feet from locust tree near George Burgan's well." The first group is interesting because it contains the highest aggregate of 10th Georgia troops. The second group is also intriguing since it mentions a "locust tree" which might be the tree Loud included in his sketch of the graves.

Washington County, District 1 (Sharpsburg), 1877.
The Burgan (Bergan) and Locher (Lucker) farmsteads
are outlined in red. 
George Burgan's Field

In 1870 George Burgan (also Bergan), lived with his wife Catherine, their three sons and two daughters on a farmstead that has become known today as the Hauser Farm for the family that lived there during the battle. The property, straddling Hauser Ridge, overlooked a broad valley that rose to the West Woods and Antietam Ridge beyond. Burgan's fields adjoined that of the Lucker (as in Mary Locher cabin) farmstead which was, during the battle, tenanted by Alfred Poffenberger. It was across Hauser's Ridge and through the fields adjoining the two farmsteads that Paul Semmes Brigade of four regiments advanced under heavy fire from the lead elements of John Sedgwick's Division--specifically the 15th Massachusetts, 82nd New York, and the First Minnesota. It was here in Hauser's and later Burgan's field that the 10th Georgia lost many.[7]

Who?

Who did Philologus Loud and his 10th Georgia bury in Burgan's field in the afternoon and late evening of September 18, 1862? What, if anything, can we learn about their lives? Where did they come from? What did they do before they joined their regiments? Who did they leave behind?

Group 1 recorded by Good and Poffinberger presents some evidence that appears to tie the group to Loud's account. First, the number stands out--eleven. Not all 15 by Loud's account (and an additional three unknowns) but it is the largest aggregate of 10th Georgians listed in the Bowie list. Second, they are "buried along the line fence" which is represented in Loud's drawing. Third, the presence of boards compliments Loud's account that he "cut their names Regt and co[mpany] on their head boards."
Detail from the Bowie List.

Who are these individuals?

Brooks Matheiny lived in Hamburg, Edgefield County, South Carolina directly across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia. He resided, in 1860, with his father, J. Matheiny (62), who listed himself as a laborer. His mother was 42 but the Census only recorded an initial, M, for her first name. He had three brothers and one sister. A possible cousin, J. Hester, 14, also lived in the household. On May 18, 1862, he enlisted in Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia as a private in Company B, 10th Georgia. [8]

J. Riley was a member of Co. A; Brocks Mathering, is a member of Co. B.; and Private E.N. Gunn and John [T.] Hanks, were from Co. C. [9]

James M. Lowe enlisted as a private in Company B [“Letcher Guards”] on May 18, 1861 in Augusta, Georgia. His enlistment papers show he had blue yes, light hair, and fair complexion, standing at 5’ 11”. His age is listed as “not known.” His occupation is Laborer. His wife, Miriam Low filed an affidavit before a Justice of the Peace in Richmond County Georgia on July 3, 1863 “for all monies, goods, or chattels due me as heir to my husband James M. Low deceased by virtue of his military or other services to the confederate states…” She listed at the time her address "care of John Reynolds, Augusta, Georgia.” [10]

Private G.W.C Allen, Co. G, 18 years old, from Pulaski County, Georgia. His father William Allen, and mother Nancy Allen produced nine children (8 boys 1 girl). [11]

Private J.Q.H. Mitchell enlisted in Co. E in Jonesboro, Clayton Co. on May 20, 1861. [12]

R.B. Hightower, 18 years old, was a member of Co. E. Prior to the war, he lived with his parents and four siblings in Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia. He listed his occupation as a painter; his father worked for the railroad. [13]

James H. Q. Campbell, 17, enlisted on May 20, 1861 from Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia as a private in Company E. In November, 1861 he was assigned “assistant clerk, General’s office.” By December, he was serving as an orderly in the division’s headquarters. The January 1862 return shows him as an “orderly for Gen. McLaws.” In 1860 he resided in the household of J.R. Nolan in McDonough, Henry County, Georgia. Nolan was an attorney and he and his wife were the parents of three young children. James Q. Campbell’s siblings also resided in the Nolan household—his brothers P.F., 24, Alonza, 18, and his sister Emma, 11. Both P.F. and Alonza were listed as “student at Law” while James was listed as student. All three claimed $1,800 each as the value of personal estate. The Campbell children appear to have been orphans and it is not clear what relationship they had with the Nolan family. The 1850 Georgia Census shows the Nolans and Campbells residing in the same household. [14]

J.C. Butler is neither listed in NARA records for 10th Georgia and neither does he show up after a more global search in the NPS Soldiers and Sailors system. It is entirely possible that the last name is a mis reading of something similar--e.g., Botler, Buller, etc.

Group 2.



What about the second group? The notation of a "locust tree" is consistent with Loud's drawing of a tree at the end of the burial row. The juxtaposition of the group to the George Burgan property is consistent with Group 1 location. But the here things are a little more confusing. Seven are listed in this grouping. Two can be readily identified.

Captain Thomas H. Wynne of Company F of the 32nd Virginia (not the 32nd Georgia as listed in the Bowie account). He enlisted on May 20, 1861 in Williamsburg. He was elected captain on May 11, 1862. [15]

2nd Lt. Daniel J. Downing, Company F, 24th North Carolina (Ransom’s Brigade, Walker’s Division). The 1860 Census shows a Daniel Dowling (24) living in the household of John S. Richardson, a wealthy farmer and physician in White Oak, Bladen County, N.C. His occupation was listed as overseer. [16]

G. W. Callet is listed in the roster of the 10th Georgia. [17]

As for L.W. Gale, there is no listing for him in any of the Semmes's regiments. The NARA rolls for Georgia carry a William W. Gale, a private with the First Georgia (Mercer-Olmstead) but the outfit remained in the Charleston, S.C. area for most of the war. There are three listings for a Gale in the Soldiers and Sailors system. One of the three, J. S. Gale, was with the 6th Georgia which was at Antietam. A search of NARA records for J.S. Gale of the Sixth Georgia shows that he survived the action of September 17 and was captured at Fredericksburg, May 3, 1863. [18]

The other four in this list present a problem. There is only one Campbell, one Mitchell, one Lowe (or Low) listed in the 10th Georgia rosters. Is John Campbell really James H. Q. Campbell from group 1? Is John Mitchell the same as J.Q.H. Mitchell from group 1? And is James Lowe the same as James M. Lowe from group 1?

So what to make of these two lists? If both are combined, the total number of individuals equals 18, the exact count in Loud's statement to Carman. If what appears to be duplicate entries are taken into account, then the combined list drops to 11. This list includes two individuals for which there are no extant records--L.W. Gale and J.C. Butler. This latter account may be more accurate since the Bowie list has instances of duplicate records. The combined clues in Group 1 and 2 of fence line, Burgan's field, and the locust tree supports Loud's description. Is this the same group of individuals buried on September 18? Unfortunately, at this point, this conclusion cannot be supported and it must be left to further sifting, sorting, and archival sleuthing (at the national as well as the local level) to sort things out.

But this mystery does not end in Burgan's field.

Service record for Brooks Matheiny, 
NARA RG 109, Roll 0251.

The Washington Confederate Cemetery, Hagerstown, Maryland


In September 1872, the remains of Confederate soldiers began to be gathered from locations throughout the field, South Mountain, and other locations in western Maryland. The task of recovering the remains fell to Henry Mumma. [19]

Over the course of the next two years, Mumma brought the remains he found to the Washington Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland which had been carved out of the Rose Hill Cemetery in May, 1872.

As the remains were brought into the Washington Cemetery there was very little record keeping. As researcher Greg Stiverson notes: "The trustees of Washington Confederate Cemetery never provided individual grave markers for the reinterred soldiers under their care. Initially, the trustees lacked funds to do so; later, when it became apparent that a large percentage of the bodies could not be identified, perhaps it seemed inappropriate to mark the few whose identities had been preserved."

In May 1888 the superintendent of the cemetery Joseph Coxon drew up a "map of burial" that included some names from the Bowie List. A later study by Sam Pruett "a long time trustee of the Washington Confederate Cemetery and member of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable" compiled a master list of those buried at the cemetery.

Ten individuals listed in listed in the Bowie list group 1 and 2 are recorded as buried at the Washington Confederate Cemetery: Brooks Matheiny, Brocks Mathering, J. Riley, James M. Lowe, G.W.C. Allen, J.Q.H. Mitchell, John Mitchell, R.B. Hightower, James H.Q. Campbell, and J.C. Butler.




Map of Washington County, Maryland. 
Thomas Taggart. Hagerstown, Md. 1859, 
showing the farmstead of  "Mrs. Grove" 
northwest of Sharpsburg.
The Levenia Grove Farm

Next to each of their names on the Pruett list is a notation: "W. &  Capt. Sharpsburg. Died at Lavinia Grove's Farm, Md." This notation comes from "State Notes" which probably derive from their service record housed in the National Archives. Each has an undated record in their titled “List of Confederates wounded at the Battle of Antietam and who died at various hospitals near Antietam, Maryland.” Each record shows that the individual was taken prisoner at the “Battle of Antietam” and gives the place of death as “Lavinia Groves Farm.” In the record for Brooks Matheiny a hand written note records "Near Antietam, as taken prisoner at Bt. Antietam_ Place of death Lavinia Groves Farm.”[20]


Aside from those from groups 1 and 2 that appear on the Pruett list of the Washington Confederate Cemetery, G.W. Callett, Thomas H. Wynne, and Daniel J. Downing also have entries in their Archives records of being captured and then dying at the Lavinia Groves Farm. And there are others listed in Archives records as having been wounded, captured, and dying at the farmstead.
Google Earth view of the Lavinia 
Grove farmstead. The barn's silver 
roof is readily seen here is shown at 
ground level in the following picture.
The Levenia Grove farm was owned by Samuel Grove (1806-1847) and, after his death, his wife Levenia Grove (1811-1856). [21]

 On November 30, 1856, Lavinia Grove signed her last will and testament. She stipulated that her son Jacob "go upon the farm and till it, to be the guardian for his minor Brothers and sister." She also directed that "Eight hundred dollars to be applied to building a barn on the Farm ____ the estate of my dear Husband deceased." [22]



Today, a house and a barn stand on that property along Snyders Landing Road and close to the Potomac River. Is this the Lavinia Grove Farm identified in the Bowie list? The ‘Field Records of Hospitals’ at the National Archives records that the home of a Mrs. Grove was used as a hospital. [23] 


Unfinished Business

What to make of all of this?

Loud tells us in his September 23 official report that "there were 16 killed on the field." And in his letter to Carman 36 years later he reports burying 18 dead from the 10th Georgia the day after the battle. Poffinberger and Good recorded 18 graves. Of these, 16 are from the 10th 
Is this the Lavinia Grove farmstead? 
During the winter, it can be seen from 
Snyder's Landing Road. The farmstead 
is on private property.
  Given the acknowledged inaccuracies that shows up in the Bowie report and the possibility of duplicate entries outlined above, the most that can be said of the Burgan field burials recorded in Bowie, is that it is likely that they are the same as those that Loud buried there on September 18th.

The bigger question is this: If Poffinberger and Good accurately recorded the location of the graves as in or adjacent to George Burgan's / Hauser's fields, and if they correctly identified those buried there, then how did the 10th Georgia troops come to be listed in Confederate records as wounded, captured, and dying at the Lavinia Grove farm over two miles away?

Clearly, something doesn't add up here. I hope that someone out in the blogosphere can help make sense of this. If you can, please leave your comments below or contact me at jmbuchanan7@gmail.com.




Notes ===========


[1] Philologus H. Loud to Ezra A. Carman, Williston, South Carolina, Sept 2, 1898, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. [Hereafter, NARA], Antietam Studies, Record Group 94.

[2] For a definitive essay on the work of Ezra Carman, see Thomas G. Clemens' introduction to The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 1: South Mountain (New York: Savas Beatie, 2010).

[3] John Townsend Trowbridge, South: A Tour of Its Battle Fields and Ruined Cities (Hartford: L. Stebbins, 1866), pp. iii, 15, 46-47.

[4] Moses Poffinberger [Poffenberger] (1834-1912). In August 1863 Moses, 28, is enumerated in the Washington County draft list. His occupation is a clerk and he is unmarried. The 1880 Census shows Moses living with his father, Daniel, and working the family farm. He appears to have lived his life out on the farm and passed away on March 8, 1912. 1850 U.S. Census; NARA Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865, Schedule I--Consolidated List for Fourth Congressional District including Washington, Frederick, and Carroll Counties, dated August 1863; 1880 U.S. Census; 1900 U.S. Census; 1910 U.S. Census; Washington County Free Library, Obituary Locator, retrieved at http://www.washcolibrary.org/localhistory/wcflgenealogy.asp?action=textsearch

[5] This was probably Aaron Good (1808-1884). In 1870, Aaron Good was listed as a farm laborer and lived with his sister Harriett in Sharpsburg. He passed away on February 1, 1884. 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 U.S. Census; Washington County Free Library, Obituary Locator, retrieved at http://www.washcolibrary.org/localhistory/wcflgenealogy.asp?action=textsearch

[6] Published By Direction of His Excellency, Oden Bowie, Governor of Maryland (Free Press, Hagerstown, MD). Retrieved from the invaluable research website of the Western Maryland Historical Library at this location.

[7] Loud describes the movement in his Official Report of September 23: "The regiment was marched by the right flank to an open field opposite some hay-stacks and piles of rocks, where, finding the enemy fronting us posted in force, the order was given 'by company into line' and 'forward into line,' which movements were made by the regiment under a most galling fire from the enemy's sharpshooters. These movements having been made and the line formed, the regiment, together with the balance of the brigade, advanced as far as the hay-stacks and piles of rocks, where we opened fire upon the enemy, and maintained this position for about half an hour, when the order was given to advance. Up to and at this point the regiment sustained its principal loss in killed and wounded." Loud noted that "The regiment occupied the position of second in line from the right of the brigade, the Thirty-second Virginia Regiment being on the extreme right, and the Fifty-third Georgia Regiment on the extreme left, the Fifteenth Virginia being on our left."

[8] 1860 U.S. Census for Hamburg, South Carolina; Handwritten note: “Near Antietam, as taken prisoner at Bt. Antietam_ Place of death Lavinia Groves Farm.”

[9] NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0250. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957.

[10] James M. Low enlisted in Company B [“Letcher Guards”] on May 18, 1861 in Augusta, Georgia. The “Descriptive List and Account of Pay and Clothing” lists him as a "private, blue yes, light hair, and fair complexion, standing at 5’ 11”. His age is “not known.” His occupation is Laborer. NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0250. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957.

[11] NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0250. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957; 1850 Pulaski County, Georgia Census record and retrieved at http://www.reocities.com/caramurray/1850Pulas.html.

[12] Record Group 109 Roll 0251. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957.

[13] The register of the General Hospital, Camp Winder, Richmond Virginia shows that he had been wounded in the leg on July 8, 1862 and furloughed for 25 days. That same day, he re-enlisted and received a $50 bounty. NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0249. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957; U.S. Census, Georgia, 1860.

[14] A certificate in his services records dated January 25, 1863 showed that Campbell was due $25 commutation of clothing and fifty dollars bounty. The certificate noted, however, that he “is indebted to the Confederate States Five 50/100 dollars, on account of clothing.” NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0247. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957; 1850 and 1860 Census for Georgia.

[15] The 32nd Georgia was organized in Savannah in May 1862 and served for most of the war in South Carolina and Florida and was not present at Antietam. The 32nd Virginia was formed in May, 1861, by consolidating Montague's and Goggin's Infantry Battalions. Its members were from Hampton and Williamsburg and the counties of Warwick, James City, and York. http://www.newrivernotes.com/cw_va/vaco-ty.htm;

The 1860 Census for Burnt Ordinary, James City County, Virginia shows a Thomas G. Wynne (25), teacher and farmer living with his wife Fannie C. Wynne (18). Also in the household is Thaddeus Malicote (39) overseer, and A. Decker (26), carpenter. The undated “List of Confederates wounded at the Battle of Antietam and who died at various hospitals near Antietam, Maryland” shows him taken prisoner at the “Battle of Antietam” and place of death as “Lavinia Groves Farm.” NARA Record Group 109 Roll 0789. 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.

[16] NPS, Soldiers and Sailors system, M230 roll 11; 1860 Census.

[17] The undated “List of Confederates wounded at the Battle of Antietam and who died at various hospitals near Antietam, Maryland” shows him taken prisoner at the “Battle of Antietam” and place of death as “Lavinia Groves Farm.” NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0247. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957.

[18] NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0206. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957; First Georgia at http://www.researchonline.net/gacw/unit5.htm.

[19] For more on the history of Confederate interments, see the 1993 essay by Greg Stiverson on the Washington Confederate Cemetery published at the Western Maryland Historical Library website.

[20] NARA, Record Group 109 Roll 0250. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia. National Archives Catalog Number 586957.

[21] Samuel Grove (1806-1847) and Levenia Grove (1811-1856) are buried in Fairview Cemetery, Keedysville, MD. Washington County, Maryland Cemetery records. Volume V. Recorded by Samuel Webster Piper before 1935-36. Edited by Dale W. Morrow., 1993. (Willow Bend Books, Westminster, MD, 2000).

[22] Washington County, Maryland, Will Book E. Page 314-315, Dated 24 September 1854, Proven 30 November 1856.

[23] NARA, Field Records of Hospitals, RG 94, Entry 544.

Special thanks goes out to David Maher for his assistance with the 1877 map of Washington County.