Sunday, February 26, 2012

Antietam: Rare Dunker Church artifact

Helen Mumma, a Sharpsburg, Md. resident, painted a scene of the Dunker Church on this original
shingle from the church. She sold the shingles to veterans who returned to the battlefield, according to

Matt Reardon of the New England Civil War Museum. Below: Close-ups of front and reverse of shingle.

At the New England Civil War Museum in Rockville, Conn., there are plenty of wonderful artifacts as well as some weird and bizarre ones.

X-ray of a 16th Connecticut Infantry veteran who had a Civil War bullet embedded in his body?

Got it.

Flattened bullet removed from the above soldier?


In this 1884 photo, two men sit on the front steps of the Dunker Church
 in Sharpsburg, Md. (Mollus Collection)
Forage cap that belonged to 14th Connecticut veteran Benjamin Hirst?

It's there.

Bullet that mortally wounded 21st Connecticut colonel Thomas Burpee at Cold Harbor?


Also among the period letters, rifles, swords and photographs of soldiers is an unusual relic from the Battle of Antietam: a shingle from the Dunker Church, the small, whitewashed building around which savage fighting swirled during the first phase of the bloodiest day in American history.

In the decades after the Civil War ended, Sharpsburg resident Helen Mumma collected original shingles from the Dunker Church and then painted scenes of the small building on them. Mumma sold the shingles at a small souvenir stand in Sharpsburg, according to Matt Reardon, the very enthusiastic executive director of the museum. (See video below.)

Reardon isn't sure how the Dunker Church shingle ended up in the New England Civil War Museum, which is housed in the second floor of what once was the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) headquarters. Four Connecticut regiments fought at Antietam, so it's likely a veteran bought it from Mumma and brought it back from Sharpsburg after a trip to the battlefield, Reardon said.

The New England Civil War Museum is only 25 minutes east of Hartford, just off I-84. The museum is open two Sundays a month; admission is free, but donations are accepted. If you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.


  1. John, I think there's a similar relic in the Museum of History in Gettysburg, PA, owned by Eric Dorr.

    1. Scott: Yes, I know Erik. I believe I have seen one of these there at his Baltimore Street museum.