Friday, September 25, 2020

Buried with comrades under an elm near Crampton's Gap

The American Battlefield Trust has saved some of the old Jacob Goodman farm, where
3rd New Jersey Private Charles Hamilton Bacon was originally buried.

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I have driven Mountain Church Road, near the beautiful, forever-in-a-19th-century time caspule village of Burkittsville, Md., scores of times. Now that drive near Crampton's Gap will be even more meaningful.

A father of five, Charles H. Bacon
was killed at Crampton's Gap
on Sept. 14, 1862.
(Historic Days in
 Cumberland County
 New Jersey
Late on the afternoon of Sept. 14, 1862, VI Corps troops swept across Mountain Church Road in hot pursuit of vastly outnumbered Confederates retreating toward Crampton's Gap. Among those soldiers was 3rd New Jersey Private Charles Hamilton Bacon, a father of five and a "consistent Christian" from Bridgeton, N.J. Sometime during the attack -- perhaps at Crampton's Gap on the mountain or near Mountain Church Road below it -- the 32-year-old soldier in Company F was fatally wounded in the abdomen.

When I returned from my weekend trip to Antietam and beyond, I found a note from a Bacon descendant in my in-box. "I am obsessed," she wrote, "with trying to find any information I can about him." Serendipitiously, the final image I took during my  Burkittsville excursion was of the very farm on Mountain Church Road where Charles was buried under an elm tree with eight other comrades. I forwarded the photo and other information on Private Bacon to her.

The descendant also shared with me this heart-rending condolence letter -- published in the West-Jersey Pioneer on Sept. 25, 1862 -- from regimental chaplain George R. Darrow to Bacon's widow, Ann: 

            GOOGLE STREET VIEW: View of old Jacob Goodman farm and ground upon
    which VI Corps advanced near Burkittsville, Md., on Sept. 14, 1862. (Battlefield map)

Mrs. Charles Bacon

The papers, 'ere you receive this, will have announced to you the sad intelligence of the death of your husband. Amid the carnage of the battlefield he fell, having with his regiment charged on the enemy and while pursuing them in hot haste and pouring a deadly fire upon a routed foe. He went into the fight with unusual vigor, his health having greatly improved recently, faltering not until a ball passing through his Testament, which he always carried with him, entered his abdomen and caused his immediate death. His captain was wounded at the same time, and while I was assisting in getting him to the rear where a surgeon could be found, he told me of Bacon's fall.

I went immediately in pursuit of him and found him dead. His diary, Testament and purse I took from his person and handed them to his Lieut. [Charles F. Salkeld], who will forward them to you [at] the earliest opportunity. I buried him with eight of his comrades, who fell in the same fight, under an elm tree in the same field where the regiment charged on the enemy, on the estate of Jacob Goodman, north of the village of Burkittsville, about half a mile distant. We had our funeral on Monday afternoon, the drum corps and comrades of the deceased assisting in the burial of our brave dead. 

Brother Bacon was a good man, a consistent Christian, and I feel that his loss to me is very great. But what an affliction to you, his companion. May the God of all grace abundantly sustain you in your loneliness and sorrow -- you know how to trust Him. Let your faith take hold of the Everlasting arm and you shall be borne up a little while longer when all our sorrow shall end.

Yours truly, 

G. R. Darrow, Chaplain 3d N.J. Volunteers, Franklin's Army Corps

In the 1860 census, Charles Bacon's occupation was listed as "roller." He probably was
a factory worker. (National Archives via

On Nov. 8, 1862, the West-Jersey Pioneer wrote that "perhaps our sadest duties as a journalist is to chronicle the decease of the brave hearts who go forth to battle for their country," And it singled out Bacon, noting the "stern worth, intelligence and patriotism" of the private "entitles him to more than a passing notice, and will long keep green the memory of that brave, true man." 

The remains of Bacon and his comrades probably were disinterred from the Goodman farm shortly after the war. Charles' final resting place is unknown. 

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  1. As the third great granddaughter of Pvt Charles Hamilton Bacon, I am grateful to you for this!

    1. I am the 2nd great grand daughter of Charles. I am so happy you saw this blog and commented on it. Please contact me if you want to. Karen Paulus

    2. My pleasure! See comment below from another descendant. I can connect you if you'd like.

  2. Thanks for this, John! It's great to see those personal details.