Antietam Storyfinder

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Return from Killinsburg Cave

Several hundred persons took shelter for several days at and in Killinsburg Cave, about two miles west of this town, on the day of the battle, and the day after some were on very short rations and when they returned they found most of their homes had been entered and edibles had been taken by the hungry soldiers. (Reilly)

Dead on Mumma doorstep

Mrs. Daniel S. Mumma said that, when they returned from the country where they had gone before the battle began, as a place of safety, they found at their door one dead Confederate soldier and several others lying nearby in the street. Mrs. Mumma was Miss Gussie Rohrback and resided in the stone house now owned by Mr. John Earley adjoining the New Dunkard Church in Sharpsburg. (Reilly)

Biggs' cannon ball

Mr. Chas. G. Biggs, now deceased, said he and some others with him saw a cannon ball come bounding up Main Street by the Public Square and hit a Confederate soldier, disabling him, and he made a feeble outcry from pain and another round 12-lb. solid shot came bounding up the street and hit the sill of the cellar door of Dr. A. A. Biggs, imbedding itself and it was cut out by Chas. and Edward Biggs and was in the doctor’s collection of shot and shell sold at the sale after his death, the axe marks showing plainly. It was bought from O. T. Reilly by an ex-governor of Ohio some years after. (Reilly)

Food is gone

Mrs. Emory Smith, who lived in the frame house on the southwest corner of the alley on Main Street, opposite the old Lutheran graveyard, said when they came to their home after the battle two Confederate soldiers lay in their kitchen where they were killed by an exploding shell that came through the building and the shell killed one at the well near by while in the act of drawing a bucket of water. One of the men in the kitchen was holding in one of his hands a bunch of onions and was literally torn to pieces. There have been Union soldiers who visited the battlefield since the battle who remembered seeing the sight just mentioned. (Reilly)

Grove and Biggs houses hit

Many of the houses in this town were hit by the shot and shell from the Union cannon during the battle, the Jacob H. Grove building, the Antietam Hotel, now known in history as the General Lee Council of War Building. The writer counted years ago eleven shell holes in this building, five of them remaining in the walls yet, as they were then; one in the Dr. Biggs stone house nearly opposite, and the old Mr. John Hill house on the northwest corner of Antietam and Mechanic Streets opposite the old Antietam Hotel has a piece of shell and eight bullet and shell holes in it yet and is one of the historic houses pointed out by the guide to the many visitors. (Reilly)

McGraw Hotel House cellar

Col. Henry Hebb, an early war officer of this town who lived in what is now known as the McGraw Hotel House at the Public Square, was standing at the cellar door at the rear of his house when a 12-pound solid shot came and went through the door near-by and if he had been a few seconds later in moving he would have been hit by it. It went through the building and lodged on the inside and is now in Reilly’s War Museum. (Reilly)

John Shay Cavalry retreat

Mr. John Shay, an old resident of this place now dead, said where he lived at the edge of the town as you go out the Harper’s Ferry Road, when the eleven hundred Union Cavalry were retreating from Harper’s Ferry where they had refused to surrender when Colonel Miles was captured, that when they were entering the town at night they would ask for water and he carried many buckets full to them. Finally the bucket was let fall and the next morning he found it at the Public Square where the horses had kicked it. This cavalry went by way of Williamsport, Md., and were then in the rear of the Confederate lines, which were along South Mountain and captured near Williamsport a part of General Longstreet’s wagon train. (Reilly)

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Dunker Church


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A white Fox terrier named Candy because he had been given to Isaac Stein of the 4th Texas Infantry, Co. B, by an old Austin, TX candy maker named Montana. He was seperated from the regiment at Sharpsburg and captured. A wounded corporal of the 4th TX, George L. Robertson, while lying in a Federal field hospital, saw Candy being triumphantly paraded around the camp as the littleset prisoner captured at the battle. "[Next] morning when the burying detail was sent out from the regiment they found "Candy" cuddled up under the arm of poor John Summers (of Company B) who was killed the evening before. There was not a man in the regiment who would not have divided his last piece of hardtack he had with Candy. He never swam a river or waded through the mud unless he wanted to. There was always some soldier ready to pick him up and carry him." (Pachero)

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East Woods

Mr. Elias Spong, a Civil War veteran and father-in-law of the writer, said after the battle he was one of the burial corps members who assisted in taking up the dead Union soldiers in 1866, and near the East Woods on the David R. Miller farm he unearthed one soldier that he thought was rather heavy for his size and when he turned him over a 12-pound shot was in him. It had just force enough to go in but not through him. (Reilly)

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West Woods

Locher Cabin: was built before 1760. Area was settled 1740-70. "The situated near a log cabin. The trench was 25 feet long, 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The corpses were buried by company in two tiers, one on top of the other." Roland E. Brown, 15th Massachusetts. (Farmsteads)

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Mumma Farm

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Bloody Lane

During several visits made by ex-Secretary Herbert of the U. S. Navy to the Antietam Battlefield he related a brave, or foolish act of a soldier, a member of the Irish Brigade of General Richardson's Division A., N. Y. After they had forced the Confederates back across the Piper Cornfield from Bloody Lane where they had been entrenched in the sunken part of the lane, when they turned on the Union soldiers and were driving them back, one lone man lagged behind and as fast as he could load his gun and fire at the advancing forces he would do so until he fired away his last cartridge. He then patted on the part that is concealed under his coat tail and walked stoutly away. Mr. Herbert said he felt for a moment like ordering his entire command to fire at him, but upon second thought he said be was too brave a man to be killed. (Reilly)

Mr. Emory Thomas, a retired farmer who resided near Porters Town, Md., said that several days after the battle he with others visited the battlefield. The dead not yet being buried, they made a very close examination of a dead Confederate that hung across the fence in the Bloody Lane and that they counted 17 bullet wounds and holes in him. (Reilly)

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Piper Farm

When the Antietam Battlefield Commission were locating the different positions of both armies and marking them, among the many who were brought from nearly every state from North and South (as each State that was represented in the battle sent a Committee of from three to eight or ten) was Gen. James Longstreet, and the writer asked the General what his men on the left of their line in the rear of the Dunkard Church were doing on the 18th, the next day after the battle. His answer was they were cooking coffee and getting something to eat, unconcerned about anything. He was asked where he and others of their officers were when his horse was shot from under him and he said, by a board fence near the town. Tell me where that was and I can tell you in the writing of some history, they speak of this as being Gen. D. H. Hill, but when the question was asked of General Longstreet he didn’t say it wasn’t him. Where this occurred was on the hill near the Citizens’ Cemetery. A number of the officers were riding up looking across the Antietam when one said to the General that he was exposing himself and they would make a target of him. This was hardly spoken when a shell hit near him and the next minute one hit his horse’s front legs, and the General went over the horse’s head. One other question was asked, if he and the other commanding officers considered this a forced fight and he laughed and said, “My young man we had more time to get away before the battle than we did after it.” (Reilly)

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Middle Bridge

Where the Iron Bridge now stands over the Antietam was a stone bridge. This bridge was called the Lee or Middle Bridge after the battle and by the piers getting undermined by washes, it went to the bottom in 1891. The water was a depth that the entire structure was hidden. The Rev. B. R. Carnaham, of Keedysville had just crossed a few minutes before and heard the crash and looking back he realized what he had just escaped. He was on his way to this place to preach. Near by stood the old mill erected by the Orndorfs in 1768. This was just five years after the town of Sharpsburg was laid out. This mill had been and is known by many as the Orndorf, Mumma, Newcomer, and the Jacob A. Myers Mill, and to reach this mill in the early days the Old Bloody Lane road was made and its depth at places was caused by its many years of usage. From the Hagerstown Pike to the Observation Tower a good portion of it remains nearly the same and from the tower to the left is Richardson Avenue. It follows the ravine from the east end of the Piper Farm lane to the pike. The Hagerstown Pike was built about the year 1856 and was nearly a new pike when the battle of Antietam was fought. The immense army going backward and forward over it nearly ruined it, but the Company received pay for its damages from the Government. (Reilly)

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Burnside Bridge


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Final Attack

Colonel Eshelman, who had command of one of the batteries that stood on the site now used as the National Cemetery Hill, said when they were forced to vacate, they by a special order from General Lee, were lined up in the fields southwest of the Harper’s Ferry road. Colonel Eshelman said to General Lee that it was almost useless to do this, as they were nearly out of ammunition. General Lee said to line up and leave the Yanks under the impression that we were ready for them and as the Union forces had their General Signal Station on top of Elk Ridge, east of the Burnside Bridge, they could see all of the movements of both armies and acted accordingly. This was about the state of affairs on the 18th, giving a bluff getting ready to leave the battlefield, which they did on the night of the 18th, and by noon of the 19th everything except their wounded was across the Potomac River. A flag of truce was sent up at the Dunkard Church by the Confederates asking for time to bury their dead and care for their wounded, but trusted them to the Union soldiers to care for and bury. (Reilly)

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National Cemetery

Pvt. W.A. Salisbury, 34th N.Y. #827. He is not buried under it. His brother-in-law brought him home. On Oct. 2, 1862, at 8am, Moon and another man arrived at William's grave. For $10 the man agreed to exhume the body and haul it to Hagerstown. "The man I employed carefully removed the dirt until he came to [a] blanket that had been placed over three dead in one grave. Seperating the blanket in the middle there I beheld the dead brother 'sleeping the sleep that knows no wakening.' It was just two weeks subsequent to the battle, and the features and contours of the face was easily recognized." (Bivouacs)

Henry Struble, Co. C, 8th PA Res., #3829. Remains not his. He was wounded at South Mpuntain where he was taken to a hospital and placed next to another man who was thirsty and asked for a drink from his canteen. Struble survived and went back to Youngwood, PA where he bacame mayor in 1898. He passed away in 1912. Every year he would send flowers to decorate his grave at Antietam. (Bivouacs)

Capt. Werner Von Bachelle commanded Co. F., 6th Wisconsin. #858. Killed in the Cornfield. Always accompanied by his Newfoundland dog. On the morning of Sept. 19th the burial detail found the dog dead on his owner's chest. They buried them both together on the spot. Five years later he was reinterred to the cemetery, possibly along with his dog's remains.

George Simpson, color sergeant 125th PA. #3953. Only soldier in cemetery with a monument. (Bivouacs)

Where the National Cemetery now stands was a large rock on the south side near where Mrs. Bryant’s monument stands. This rock was called General Lee’s rock and it is said he stood on this rock and gave orders on the day of the battle, but when the Cemetery was established in 1866 it was partly taken out and graded over; if it had been left it would have been one of the historic marks for visitors, for many would take pride in saying they stood on Lee’s Rock at Antietam. (Reilly)

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