Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hidden Fort Sumter: History comes alive in Charleston Harbor

This weighty chunk of a Civil War cannonball was spotted  on rocks outside Fort Sumter.
(CLICK ON ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
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Probably washed ashore recently by Hurricane Irma, a huge chunk of iron amazed history geeks at Fort Sumter on a clear-blue sky Saturday afternoon. The weighty piece of Civil War cannonball was discovered by an eagle-eyed Center For Civil War Photography member among seashells and large rocks outside the walls of the fort in Charleston Harbor, which still may hold tons of ordnance. Thanks to Fort Sumter historian emeritus Richard W. Hatcher III, CCWP president Bob Zeller and vice  president Garry Adelman, who led an epic tour, history came alive at the massive fortification where the Civil War erupted on April 12, 1861. On a special day, the old, brick fort gave up some of its secrets.

           PANORAMA: Exterior of the fort. The huge cannonball chunk was found just
             beyond the sign (pan right). Click at upper right for full-screen experience.

'THE BEST SHELL CRATER'


                           Fort Sumter historian emeritus Richard Hatcher III explains.

THREE UNEXPLODED PARROTT SHELLS


Fired by Union artillery, this Parrott shell is buried deep in a thick wall.
Probably fired from nearby Morris Island, this shell juts from a wall.
The unexploded Parrott shells in Fort Sumter's walls are not believed to be a danger to detonate. 

Hatcher III talks about the most exposed Parrott shell.


ORIGINAL BRICKS, ANYONE?


At water's edge, original bricks appear among thousands of seashells outside the fort. Fort Sumter 
suffered great destruction during the Civil War. In a clean-up effort after the war, these bricks
 were dumped into the harbor.

REMNANTS OF THE ORIGINAL WHARF


Ships once docked here at the fort's original wharf, which extended about 140 feet into the harbor.

A CANNONBALL IN A MOST UNLIKELY PLACE


A massive cannonball peeks through a ventilator shaft at the site of the fort's magazine.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

In historic Charleston, South Carolina, a kaleidoscope of color

A nod to to the seamier side of the city's past.
(CLICK ON ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
Market Hall, where men and boys enlisted in the Confederate army.
In brilliant sunshine, a flag hangs from an 18th-century building.
Freshly watered garden on a windowsill.
A window garden and a backdrop of yellow.
A doorway surrounded by ocean-blue wall.
An ornate entranceway, a number painted in gold.
A majestic magnolia reaches to the sky.
Old Glory waves in a slight Charleston Harbor breeze.
A cat nap in a cemetery near historic St. Phillip's Church.
Light at the end of picturesque tunnel.
Two feet planted firmly in the past. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

'Stairway' to heaven? A visit to Fredericksburg Baptist Church

This ladder leads to the steeple of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Baptist Church.
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
A Union artillery shell fired from across the Rappahannock River smashed through these beams ... 
... and struck this interior wall in the attic of the church.
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Exterior view of the church.
For the past several months, I eagerly anticipated my visit to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Baptist Church, used as a Union hospital and observation point. I couldn't wait to climb into the steeple to see the view Federal officers had during the great battle fought here in the winter of 1862.

What great history!

After we climbed a small ladder into the church attic this afternoon, church administrator Dennis Sacrey quickly pointed out Civil War damage. A Union artillery shell fired from across the Rappahannock River had crashed through wooden beams and smashed into an interior brick wall. (The church suffered significant war damage,  Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park chief historian John Hennessy notes in this post on the excellent Mysteries and Conundrums blog.)

We then deftly avoided duct work, pipes and wires to make our way to space near a wall in the old church on Princess Anne Street. I stared up at the confined area that led to my ultimate objective.

"It's only about 60 feet up there," Sacrey told me as he shined a light on the ladder to the historic lookout point. The ladder looked like it went on forever. I deliberated for a minute or two. Fear of heights finally did me in. I chickened out.

But I did leave with a souvenir from my brief visit: a splinter in my hand.

A lifelong member of the church, Sacrey has been up in the steeple dozens of times. Here are images he took from that fabulous spot:

LOOKING SOUTH. (Steeple photos courtesy Dennis Sacrey)
LOOKING WEST.
LOOKING WEST TOWARD HURKAMP PARK.

From the safety of ground level, I shot the "Now" image below to pair with the 1864 "Then" image by James Gardner. For a large-format version , go to my Then & Now blog here.


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Saturday, October 07, 2017

A last supper, then 'dread realities of war' for brothers

       PANORAMA: Antietam National Cemetery. Ephraim Eager's remains may lie here.
                                     (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)

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Shortly before two momentous battles, Private James H. Eager of the 5th Pennsylvania Reserves was fortunate to enjoy supper with his older brother in the camp of the 19th Indiana. A sergeant in the Hoosier State regiment in the Iron Brigade, Ephraim Eager had moved west in 1857, leaving behind his sisters, brother and widowed mother in Lewistown, Pa.  In Pennsylvania, the Eager boys had worked as printers at a newspaper published by their brother-in-law.

This tattered newspaper obituary for Ephraim Eager
 was marked "B" in the pension claim file of his mother.
Elizabeth Eager was granted a Civil War pension at the standard
 rate of $8 a month. (National Archives via fold3.com)
The chance meeting in mid-September 1862 was the last time James saw Ephraim alive.

On Sept. 14,  1862, the Federals forced the Confederates from the passes at South Mountain, a prelude to much more severe fighting three days later by the banks of Antietam Creek. "We drove the enemy from one of the best and strongest positions they ever occupied," James wrote to his mother about his first battle. "Families were robbed of fathers and brothers on that day." At Turner's Gap, Ephraim led his battle-hardened company against troops from Georgia and Alabama.

At the "desperate fight" at Antietam,  the "dread realities of war," James wrote, "were brought to our own door."

In the brutal, back-and-forth fighting near the Hagerstown Pike, Ephraim fell with a bullet wound in his stomach while leading Company A, the Union Guards. Carried from the field by comrades, he died a short time later and was "decently buried by the boys of his company." In battle nearby, James narrowly escaped being maimed himself when a bullet passed over his shoulder and struck Private Henry Couts standing behind him above the eye, killing him.

Eager was "killed almost
 instantly,"  wrote 19th Indiana
 Captain Alonzo Makepeace,
 shown in a post-war image.
(ancestry.com)
"We fell back, and the rebels, thinking we were whipped, advanced with a cheer," James wrote Oct. 6 from a camp near Sharpsburg, "but were driven back by a flank movement. You would be surprised to hear them cheer. It resembles a lot of school girls at recess. It is far different from the manly voice of the men of the north."

Only 25, Ephraim "fell in the cause of his country," the Lewistown (Pa.) Gazette lamented, "gallantly fighting for those rights handed down to us by our revolutionary fathers." In Eager's adopted state of Indiana, the Anderson Union also offered an impressive tribute.

"Among those who have fallen victims to this wicked rebellion," it said, "we know of no one who was more generally regretted, and whose death cast a deeper gloom upon society, than our dear friend Ephraim B. Eager."

"He was a young man of much promise and high social qualities," the Union noted in a finishing touch in the obituary, "kind and generous in his nature, had gained the friendship of a large circle, and was respected by all.

Marker for Indiana unknown
at Antietam National
Cemetery.
"But he's dead -- and over his green tomb shall ever wave the emblem of fadeless recollection. He sleeps for the flag, and may its stars shed their tears over his loyal soul forever."

A little more than a month after Ephraim's death, Captain Alonzo Makepeace of the 19th Indiana wrote a brief note to Eager's sister, Marion Shaw. Ephraim was "killed almost instantly while behaving handsomely in command of the Co.," he explained. His marked grave had been visited by his brother, the officer wrote, and "all regret his death."

Perhaps because the marker for his makeshift grave was destroyed by the elements, Eager's remains were never recovered by the family. Instead of a grave in his native or adopted state, the former newspaper printer's final resting place is unknown. He may lie among the nearly 4,800 Union soldiers in Antietam National Cemetery.

NOTE TO SERGEANT EAGER'S SISTER: 'KILLED ALMOST INSTANTLY'


National Archives via fold3.com

EPHRAIM EAGER'S 1860 LETTER TO HIS MOTHER


Eager lived in Anderson, Ind., which he described in a letter to his mother Elizabeth in January 1860 as a "rather sickly place" because of the "great many deaths" that had occured there that winter. Of his marriage possibilities, he told his mother, "No prospects of your prodigal getting married – haven’t thought of it yet." This letter was found with his mother Elizabeth's claim for a Civil War pension.

National Archives vis fold3.com
Anderson, Monday morning, Jan. 10, 1860

Dear Mother,


This morning I again assume my seat to write to you. I have been well since you heard from me last. Christmas and New Year’s passed off very quietly in Anderson [Ind.], but not so with it in Lewistown [Pa.] I suppose. I rec’d one very nice gift from a lady friend. It was a gold pencil and pen – cost about eight dollars. There has been a great many deaths in Anderson this winter – rather a sickly place. No prospects of your prodigal getting married – haven’t thought of it yet. I enclose ten dollars $10, which I should have done New Year’s day had it been convenient. Please answer immediately on receipt of this that I may know you rec’d it.

Your affectionate son,

E.B. Eager

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For more Civil War condolence letters on my blog, go here.

SOURCES AND NOTE:

-- Ephraim B. Eager pension file, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., via fold3.com.
-- Lewistown (Pa.) Gazette, Oct. 1, 1862 and Oct. 15, 1862.
-- Eager's obituary in the Anderson (Ind.) Union was reprinted in a Lewistown newspaper on an unknown date.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Antietam soldier snapshot: Carried off by a 'very bad fever'

Gravestone for 57th New York Private Henry F. Bugbee at Antietam National Cemetery.
(Find A Grave)
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As he lay dying in a tent in Frederick, Md., 57th New York Private Henry F. Bugbee wanted a "few lines" written to his wife back home in Hyde Park, N.Y. Wounded by a gunshot during an attack at Bloody Lane at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, the father of four young children was sent to a field hospital before be was admitted Oct. 6 to Camp A, a tent hospital in a field about a mile and a half west of Frederick. Throughout the town, the Union army medical staff had set up makeshift hospitals in churches, schools, an old army barracks, private homes, a butcher shop and elsewhere.

By Oct. 19, 1862, Bugbee's condition had worsened significantly, and the 31-year-old soldier died at about 6 that night.  He was "wounded in the left leg," wardmaster L.F. Buck of Ward H wrote in a short condolence note to Bugbee's wife, Sarah, "but catch'd a very bad fever to it, which carried him of (sic)."

Bugbee left only meager effects: less than a dollar, "several likenesses" and letters, all of which Buck noted were "under the care of the clerk of this hospital." Whether the "likenesses," perhaps photographs of Henry's wife and children, were returned to the family is unknown.

Shortly after her husband's death, Sarah applied for a widow's pension. Government assistance, approved at a rate of $8 a month, was discontinued when she remarried in November 1865. The Bugbee children -- Sarah, 8; Isabella, 6; Phillip, 4; and Oliver, 1 -- were entitled to receive a pension until each turned 16. (For an excellent explanation of Civil War pensions, go here.)

After the war, Henry's remains were disinterred in Frederick and re-buried in Sharpsburg, Md., at the national cemetery in Lot F, Section 25, Grave No. 270.

CONDOLENCE NOTE TO SARAH BUGBEE: 'IT IS MY SAD DUTY ...'


Page 1: National Archives via fold3.com.
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
Page 2: National Archives via fold3.com.

Have something to add (or correct) in this post? E-mail me here.
For more Civil War condolence letters on my blog, go here.


SOURCE:

-- Henry F. Bugbee widow's pension file, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., via fold3.com.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Note from Antietam: 'You must be prepared for bad news'

Union surgeon Anson Hurd cares for wounded at the Otho J. Smith farm, near the 
Antietam battlefield. 108th Corporal Richard Morrell died there on or about Oct. 4, 1862.
(Library of Congress collection)
                  An Alexander Gardner photograph of the Otho J. Smith farm hospital.
       (HOVER ABOVE  FOR "NOW" PHOTO | Then: LOC collection | Now: John Banks.)

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When Richard Henry Morrell went into battle at Antietam the morning of Sept. 17, 1862,  he bore immense responsibility. The 45-year old shoemaker had a family that included his wife, Margaret, and 10 children -- four boys and six girls -- ranging in age from 11 months to 17 years. The Morrells had emigrated from England in the 1850s, settling in Rochester, N.Y.

"(He) is well cared for, but the Doct is much concerned about him,"
 S.D. Porter wrote of Richard Morrell, seriously wounded at
the Battle of Antietam. (National Archives via fold3.com)
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
Despite his family obligations, Morrell enlisted in the 108th New York as a private in July 1862 -- he was promoted to corporal later that month. Less than two months later, he marched through a farmer William Roulette's field with rest of the 108th New York en route to an assault on the Rebels' position in a sunken farm lane.

Sometime during the attack on Bloody Lane, a bullet or piece or artillery shell tore into Morrell's arm, which required two amputations. He was taken to General William French's division hospital at Otho J. Smith's farm, less than a mile from the battlefield.

While Morrell recuperated there, a man from Rochester visited with the grievously injured soldier, whom he noted was in dire condition. "[He] is well cared for, but the Doct is much concerned about him," S.D. Porrter wrote Sept. 28 in the one-page note, presumably to Margaret. "He may recover, but you must be prepared for bad news."

The bad news came in a short note to Morrell's wife dated Oct. 14, 1862, from Bolivar Heights, Va., and signed by two 108th New York officers:
"Dear Madam, I take this opportunity to inform you of the death of your husband. He died on or about the 4th day of this month after having his arm amputated twice. Once at the elbow and again at the shoulder. He seemed to be getting along well when lockjaw set in and after intense suffering [of] three days died. His remains were neatly draped and he was buried at Sharpsburg, Maryland. His personal effects I will forward to you by Express tomorrow. Anything further in regard to him will be cheerfully furnished by your obdt. svt. and sympathy in affliction."
Although Morrell's final resting place is unknown, he may be buried among the thousands of other Union soldiers at Antietam National Cemetery.

LETTER TO THE WIDOW: "HIS REMAINS WERE NEATLY DRAPED"


PAGE 1: National Archives via fold3.com
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.
PAGE 2: National Archives via fold3.com

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SOURCES:

-- Richard Morrell widow's pension file, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., via fold3.com.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Message in a bottle: How Antietam soldier's remains were ID'd

The marked battlefield grave of a Union soldier from Pennsylvania who was killed at Antietam.
(Alexander Gardner | Library of Congress)

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Shortly after the war, the grim task of disinterring bodies of Union soldiers from the Antietam battlefield and the immediate surrounding area fell to the United States Burial Corps. Most remains were re-buried in a national cemetery established on a hill overlooking the south end of the field, Confederate-held ground on Sept. 17, 1862.

The Corps' work was daunting.

7th Maine Private William C. Stickney's
 weathered gravestone at Antietam National Cemetery.
(Find A Grave)
"The country is dotted over with soldiers’ graves," a  New York Tribune correspondent wrote from Sharpsburg, Md., in January 1867. "Some were killed in battle and in skirmishes, others died of disease or woods in the hospital, and not a few at private houses. They are buried by the roadside, in the woods, in the fields, and frequently in gardens."

Interestingly, bodies with red hair and whiskers were "invariably found in an almost perfect state of preservation," the reporter noted, "while all other colors are found in a state of decay." Sometimes "relics" were found in the graves -- "three ambrotype likenesses," a silver watch and ring, rusted pocket knives and even a rosary, "which some pious soldier had carried, perhaps as a charm against deadly bullets." Burial crews occassionally found a piece of artillery shell with a skeleton or a bullet rolling around the interior of a fractured skull -- awful reminders of the carnage that occurred in late-summer 1862.

Identification was impossible for many soldiers. "The ‘frail memorials’ erected by their comrades have disappeared," the Tribune reporter explained, "and everything seems to have been taken from their persons that could lead to their identification."

A soldier from Maine, however, was among the "lucky" ones. When his remains were uncovered, a bottle was found containing a small piece of paper that read: “Wm. C. Stickney, Co. C, 7th Regt. Maine. Died Sept. 26, at 11 o’clock p.m. Residence, Springfield, Maine.” The 22-year-old son of a farmer was originally buried either at Smoketown, one of the two large tent hospitals near the battlefield, or at a VI Corps hospital, perhaps at Hagerstown, Md.

Whoever performed the noble act of identifying his body with the messaage in a bottle is lost to history.

One of 12 children of Rachel and Moses Stickney, William was shot in the left shoulder, probably during the 7th Maine's futile charge on Henry Piper's farm. "... he was a sound and able bodied man," Charles D. Gilmore, an officer in the 7th and 20th Maine during the war, recalled in 1869, "and one of the best soldiers I ever knew.”

            PANORAMA: The 7th Maine made a futile attack through the Piper orchard.
                                    (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)

For William's parents, their son's death undoubtedly was traumatic. Neither Rachel, 56, nor Moses, 59, was in good health, and the couple depended on William for financial support. During his little more than a year of service in the Union army, William sent home about $10 a month.

“Mrs. Stickney has no property, either real or personal excepting a cow worth about thirty five dollars," neighbors noted in an affidavit in Rachel's claim for a mother's pension. "She has since the death of her said son William C. Stickney supported herself by working for her neighbors (and) with what assistance she has received as charity from her friends." William, the neighbors recalled, "contributed regularly and constantly to the support of his said mother."

William's father may have been in more dire condition than his mother.

Able to do "but very little labor" for years, Moses suffered from "chronic rheumatism & hemorrhoids of a very distressing character," the family's longtime physician noted. "... His disease was brought on by hard labor & exposure, river driving, and hard fare.”

Mrs. Stickney's pension claim was approved at the standard rate of $8 a month. The national cemetery where her son was buried was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1867. Whether the Stickneys ever visited William's simple grave there is unknown.


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SOURCES:

-- New York Times, Oct. 2, 1862.
-- New York Tribune, Jan. 8, 1867.
-- Stickney, Matthew Adams, Stickney Family: A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of William and Elizabeth Stickney From 1637 to 1869, Salem, Mass., Essex Institute Press, 1869.
-- William C. Stickney pension file, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., via fold3.com.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A farmer's daughter: 'The room was full of dead men!'

In an undated image, the Henry Piper farmhouse.  (Library of Congress)
The Piper farmhouse and outbuilding date to the war. (Library of Congress)

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Confederate General James Longstreet used 
Henry Piper's farmhouse as headquarters
during the Battle of Antietam.
(Library of Congress)
About 15 years ago, I stayed in the room James Longstreet may have slept in at the old Henry Piper farmhouse, the general's headquarters during the Battle of Antietam. Although I didn't see any ghosts during my visit at the bed and breakfast, I watched an eerie scene from the porch one inky-black night: fireflies flickering over the rolling fields near the house. As I rocked in a chair, the B&B owner told me something I never forgot. "We like to think the souls who fought here," Lou Clark said of Mother Nature's light display, "are still among us."

We can only imagine the death and destruction that took place in late-summer 1862 on Piper's farm, in the center of the Confederate line, just south of the infamous Bloody Lane. Elizabeth Piper, who fled the property with her family before the battle on Sept. 17, witnessed it first hand.

In a remarkable letter written on Oct. 4 , 1862, and published in the Wilmington (Ohio) Watchman 19 days later, Henry Piper's 22-year-old daughter described Confederates arriving at the farm two days before the battle. She also claimed she met Longstreet, Robert E. Lee and Daniel Harvey Hill on the Piper's porch.

But it was the horrible aftermath of the battle that was seared into Elizabeth's brain.

"When I reached home, I could scarcely recognize the place," she wrote in the letter to her friend, Sally Farran of Wilmington. "I entered the yard, which was covered with bloody clothing, straw, feathers, and everything that was disgusting. I went up the steps and opened the dining room door and was thunderstruck. Great Heaven! What a sight met my gaze. The room was full of dead men! Pools of blood were standing on the floor. "

Henry Piper
(Courtesy
 Jacob Rohrbach Inn)
Used as a makeshift hospital, the Pipers' house had been "pillaged from garret to cellar," according to Elizabeth, a Unionist. In October 1862, her father filed a damage claim with the government for $25. Later, he filed another claim, asking for thousands more. An award was approved for $2,488.85 -- a figure that included $25 for damage to the house and barn, $300 for damage to fencing,  $117 for bacon, lard and tallow and $72 for wine and condiments. But the amount was not paid because Piper had not produced a certificate of loyalty. (Hat tip: Jacob Rohrbach Inn blog.)

Elizabeth Piper's letter  -- discovered recently on microfilm in an Ohio library by friend of the blog Dan Masters and first published on his blog -- was described as "very interesting" by the Watchman editor.  "...we commend it to the perusal of our readers,” he wrote, adding it “bears upon its face the imprint of truth and honesty.”


            PANORAMA: The 7th Maine made a futile attack through the Piper orchard.
                                    (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)

Near Sharpsburg, Maryland
October 4, 1862

Dear Friend,

As all have gone from home this morning I find it very lonesome and I know of no mode in which I could more pleasantly pass an hour or two away than in answering your letter which I received a few weeks ago; but I write this letter under far different circumstances than the last I wrote you. I suppose you know to what I refer: the battle of Antietam, or more properly called the Battle of Sharpsburg though I presume you have no idea how it was.

You have heard of the Rebel army crossing into Maryland. They were in the state a week or more before they were molested. On Sabbath morning, General McClellan's army overtook them on South Mountain which lies between Frederick and Boonesboro. The Rebels were there defeated. The first I saw of the Rebels was early Monday morning. They would come in six, eight, and ten at a time for breakfast. About 9 o'clock, I went up on the hill above our house as I heard the Rebel army was all moving across the river. The principal part of them was then crossing into a field about half a mile from where I stood. I was there perhaps ten minutes, when I observed they again had marching orders. In a short time, I perceived them throwing down our fence, and the whole column was entering. In a few minutes, the fences were all level with the ground and as far as the eye could see was one living mass of human beings.

In her 1862 letter, Elizabeth Piper claimed she met
Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and
 Daniel Harvey Hill on the family's porch
before the Battle of Antietam.
(Library of Congress)
At 10 o'clock, Generals Longstreet, Lee, and Hill were on our porch. We inquired of them if there was any danger, and if they anticipated having a battle. They answered us they did not -- that they intended only remaining an hour or two and passing on, although they admitted it was the most splendid position they could possibly have. I inquired of them why they were planting cannon in every direction? They replied it was merely to cover their retreat, and gave us every assurance if there was any danger whatever, they would give us warning in time. Our yard was so crowded that it was almost impossible to move. I had often heard of the condition of the Rebel army, but thought it must be exaggerated, but a great many had no shoes, no hats, in fact they were filthy in every respect. They would eat anything they could lay hands on. I believe we fed 200 in half a day, besides the officers who took dinner with us.

Our house was completely surrounded with cannon and before 2 o'clock I was startled to hear the report of the cannon of the Federal army, which was not more than two miles back. The shell exploded about ten yards from the house and wounded two men. The next moment a messenger came directing us to leave the house instantly as it was in the range of the Federal army's guns. We took a few dresses on our arms, locked up the house, and started off. The man who is living with us took the horses and we all walked about a mile and a half when father said, if possible, we should walk on and they would go back for the buggy. They again reached the house though it was raining grape and shell in every direction.

We went three miles back of the Rebel lines to my uncle's place (Samuel Piper) where we remained Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday till the afternoon, when the Federal army began shelling a house just below where we were. We were quite near the river and there was no other alternative; we were compelled to cross into Virginia, and remain until that battery was removed. We then returned to uncle's and remained until Friday morning [Sept. 19] when we heard they were all gone, or at least the greater portion of them.

We knew it was impossible to get home with the buggy or horses and, as excitement gives strength, Sue and I determined to walk home. A gentleman offered to accompany us and off we started, prepared to encounter all we should meet. We had not proceeded more than a mile when we came to a Rebel hospital. I stopped a few minutes to look at the wounded. It was sickening in the extreme. My heart bled to see human beings in such a state of suffering. The yard was filled with the dead, dying, and wounded, the latter dying from starvation. I had nothing with me to give them, so I procured a few apples with great difficulty and gave to a few. You could hear nearly all of them calling their dear old mothers' names, or their wife, sister, or some other absent loved one.

Henry Piper's  barn, enlarged since the battle. (Library of Congress)
An undated image of slave quarters on the Piper farm. (Library of Congress)
Another undated view of  the slave quarters. (Library of Congress)
But not to tire your patience, I will hurry on. The road and fields were strewn with haversacks, canteens, guns, and other articles in every direction. Trees and fences were knocked down and deep holes plowed in the earth by balls, shot, and shell. As we came home, my heart almost died within me. However, I did not think of turning back.

When I reached home, I could scarcely recognize the place. I entered the yard, which was covered with bloody clothing, straw, feathers, and everything that was disgusting. I went up the steps and opened the dining room door and was thunderstruck. Great Heaven! What a sight met my gaze. The room was full of dead men! Pools of blood were standing on the floor. I only looked one glance and passed on. I next went into the parlor. The dead had been removed from here, but the carpets were full of stains, the furniture broken up, and everythe ing destroyed. The house had been pillaged from garret to cellar. Our clothing was taken, and what they could not take was torn up, in fact everything of any value whatever was gone. Our shoes, stockings, shawls, dresses, bonnets, even down to our toothbrushes, and if you would have gone from cellar to garret, not a mouthful could have been found to eat. Our cattle had been killed; the sheep, hogs, chickens, and everything were gone. We had 300 chickens, besides turkeys, geese, etc., but now we have not one.

In Alexander Gardner's image, Confederate fallen in Bloody Lane.
"The dead were lying so thick in this lane," Elizabeth Piper
wrote, "that it looked like the living mass."
(Library of Congress | See "NOW" version here.)
The officers had the dead removed from the house and I put the colored men to removing the carpets, charging them to clean the floor before they left. I then prepared to leave, when in the yard I first noticed what I had before failed to see. I looked in the orchard and the adjoining fields and they were dotted with dead. In the meantime some of our friends, having heard that we had gone home, came in and we, with a number of others, went to that part of the battlefield which was in the upper orchard and our cornfield where those desperate charges were made. You could have walked five miles and not been off the battlefield. No tongue can tell or pen describe the horrors of the battlefield. The lane that separates our farm from Mr. [William] Roulett's had been washed into a tolerably deep gulley, and this was used as a rifle pit. The dead were lying so thick in this lane that it looked like the living mass. [See large-format Then & Now on my photo blog here.]

In the evening I went to Sharpsburg. I did not return until Monday. The dead had not all been buried when I returned. I tell you we are living in style now; no carpet on the floor in some of the rooms and only one room in the house that a cannon ball had not penetrated. Everything is remarkably high priced. My friend, I have not told you half, but I can write no more at present. Do not understand me to say that all the damage was done by the Rebels; at least half was done by Federal forces.

E.P.

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