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.