The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization developed for the preservation of the Town of Burkittsville and the surrounding agricultural area, its open spaces, history, culture, and architecture.
Burkittsville is a small rural town steeped in history and left virtually unchanged over the past 100 years. Some of its structures date back to the 1740s, when it was a trading village. It eventually developed into an agricultural support village for the farming community. Local craftsmen, iron and leather workers, cabinet shops, general stores and physicians were available in Burkittsville. The town is surrounded by some of the richest agricultural land in Frederick County. The fields were covered in grain crops especially rye which was used to produce some of Maryland’s finest rye whiskey.
The Civil War was brought to a quiet valley when Gen. Robert E. Lee crossed into Maryland in an attempt to influence Maryland to secede and to demonstrate to the Federal Government the South’s ability to move an army and threaten Washington. Lee crossed the Potomac and moved into Frederick City looking for local support. Realizing Lee’s move into Maryland, McClellan, who had been put back in charge of the army, moved from Washington to Frederick to confront Lee. Lee move west into the Middletown Valley and McClellan followed. Lee blocked the South Mountain Passes, Turners, Foxes and Crampton’s Gap. Crampton’s Gap is just above the Town of Burkittsville and the road to the pass runs through Burkittsville.
The first full engagement of the Confederate and Federal armies took place in the Middletown Valley. Burkittsville had to play its role as it lay between the opposing armies. Nearly 2000 Confederates led by Howell Cobb and nearly 13,000 Federal soldiers under the command of Gen. Wm. B. Franklin fought in Burkittsville and the surrounding area. They commandeered buildings, some used as surgeries, saw substantial damage as did many private residences. Gen. Wm. B. Franklin commandeered the Shafer farm (Hamilton Willard Shafer) to view the progress of his army in taking Crampton’s Gap, but due to the delay in taking that Gap and not having provided relief in Harper’s Ferry from an attack by Stonewall Jackson, he was sent to Sharpsburg along the Antietam Creek. This set up the bloodiest single day in the Civil War.
The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of the story, the Town of Burkittsville, and the surrounding areas in which these events took place. We are preserving the buildings and the open spaces so a visitor can experience the homes and the view shed, and the rolling hills of Burkittsville as a nineteenth visitor would have found them.
The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. participates in the Maryland Heritage Area (MHAA), Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) and as a Land Trust (MET). We ask for public support to help preserve this special place in Maryland.
By the late summer of 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac was in disarray. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the leadership of rising star Gen. Robert E. Lee, was crossing the Potomac River into Maryland. Lee's army was bolstered by victories on the Penninsula and at Second Bull Run. They advanced through the fertile fields of Frederick County, Maryland to gather food and supplies, recruit what were thought to be Southern sympathizers, and to threaten Northern cities prior to the elections of 1862 in order to gain foreign support for the Confederacy.
President Lincoln had relieved Gen. George McClellan from command of all the Union forces in March 1862, during the bitterly unsuccessful Penninsula Campaign, and replaced him with Henry Halleck. While McClellan, still in charge of the Army of the Potomac, was pulling his army off the penninsula and back to Alexandria by water, John Pope's Army of Virginia was ordered to engage Lee overland from Washington. He also failed to stop the southern forces, in part, because McClellan failed to reinforce him at Second Bull Run. Frantic to stop the advancing Confederate forces, Lincoln asked McClellan to assume control over the defense of Washington, relieved Pope of his command of the Army of Virginia, and combined both forces under McClellan to engage Lee. McClellan had to organize his forces quickly. The Second Battle of Bull Run ended August 30th and Lee's advance forces crossed the Potomac on September 4th. (Clemens, 2002)
Lee's army headed to Frederick, Maryland. He was hoping to draw the Union forces away from Washington, as well as Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry in Virginia, but Halleck ordered the Union garrisons in Virginia to remain there. Lee then devised the plan to destroy or capture these garrisons. General Walker's division would take Loudon Heights, Lafayette McLaws' and Richard Anderson's divisions would capture Maryland Heights, and Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's three divisions would take Martinsburg and approach Harper's Ferry from Bolivar Heights. Major General James Longstreet headed to Hagerstown with two divisions and left D.H. Hill's division in Boonesboro to protect Fox's and Turner's Gaps. McLaws left a small force at Crampton's Gap, about seven miles south of the other passes. (Hartwig, n.d.)
McClellan divided his army up into three wings assigned to Generals Franklin, Sumner & Burnside. Franklin's wing was sent to Crampton's Gap in defense of Harper's Ferry. (Clemmons, 2002)
As dawn broke on Sunday morning, September 14, 1862, the gunners of Chew's Battery reached the summit of South Mountain from their camp at the western base. There was a light chill in the air as temperatures would climb to the 60-65 degree range. ("Battle." 2002)
"Several miles to the east rose the Catoctin Mountains, which must have appeared at that early hour as dark, shadowy silhouettes, ... [and stretched out before them, the] ... 'beautiful Middletown Valley ... with its wooded hills, pleasant fields, hamlets, and towns reposing in the quiet calm of a peaceful Sabbath morning.' Yet that quiet calm would soon be shaken." (Hoptak, 2011, p. 131)
"Franklin's orders were to move at daybreak, on the morning of the 14th [September], by Jefferson and Burkittsville, as soon as practicable, and debouch upon Rohrersville, in Pleasant Valley, in order to cut off the retreat of or destroy McLaws's command." (Clemmons, 2002, p. 296) Starting at Buckeystown at 6:00am, Franklin's men marched the four miles to Jefferson. (Clemmons, 2002, p. 296) As the thirteen thousand men of the Sixth Corps tediously summited the Catoctin Mountain from the east, they were also stunned by the beauty of the valley stretched out before them. George Bicknell, an officer with the 5th Maine declared it was "the loveliest landscape" he had ever seen. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 132) After waiting an hour in Jefferson, they continued to their march to within two miles of Burkittsville, arriving at noon. Franklin thought that the gap was heavily guarded on both sides of the road leading out of Burkittsville with batteries at Browsville Pass and at Crampton's Gap. He knew the pass would have to be taken by infantry and assigned the job to General Slocum's divison. (Clemmons, 2002, p. 296)
Franklin, a career soldier and gifted engineer, had a reputation of not performing well in independent command, and perhaps owed his close association with McClellan to his rank of Major General, commanding the Army of the Potomac's Sixth Corps. The Sixth Corps was divided into two divisions commanded by Henry Slocum and William "Baldy" Smith. Slocum's 1st Division consisted of three brigades led by Colonels Joseph Bartlett and Alfred Torbert and Brigadier General John Newton. Smith's 2nd Division's three brigades were commanded by Generals Winfield Scott Hancock and William Brooks, and Colonel William Irwin. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 132)
"Shortly after noon, as the cannon fire began to intensify, William Franklin established his headquarters at the stately home of Martin Shafer - one mile east of Burkittsville - and then sat down to enjoy a bite to eat. He granted his footsore soldiers a reprieve, as they had covered the six miles from Jefferson in just over two hours. ... Generals Henry Slocum, Baldy Smith, Winfield Hancock, William Brooks, and John Newton soon joined Franklin at headquarters, and together the officers - essentially the entire Sixth Corps brass, excepting only Colonels Bartlett, Torbert and Irwin - enjoyed a round of cigars." (Hoptak, 2011, p. 138)
Prior to this fraternal activity, Franklin received communication from General McClellan, directing him to clear the Confederate cavalry from Burkittsville, occupy the pass, and relieve Colonel Miles in Harper's Ferry. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 138) The cannon fire mentioned in the above quote refers to Wolcott's 1st Maryland Battery (8 guns) positioned to the left of the road just out of town and Ayre's regular battery on the right of the road and far to the rear of Wolcott's, close to Franklin's headquarters. These batteries began to unload on the rebel positions prior to noon and continued uninterrupted through the battle. (Clemmons, 2002, p. 296)
Throughout the morning, Confederate General Paul Semmes tried to reinforce the Gap, but McLaws did not realize the size of the attacking Federal force, relying on erroneous information from General Stuart. Stuart had left Colonel Thomas Munford with the 2nd and 12th Virginia Cavalry, 275 men, and Chew's Battery at Crampton's Gap. Semmes had 300 men at Brownsville Pass and Munford, a total of 800 at Crampton's Gap. McLaws sent Cobb's Brigade of 1350 to the gap as reinforcements. (Hoptak, 2011)
Captain John Boyle, of the 96th Pennsylvania, gave this description of the Confederate defenses:
The enemy's infantry were posted behind a stout stone wall, breast high, which extended along a country road [Mountain Church Road] skirting the base of the mountain, which, here, was precipitous and rough...Their sharpshooters were hid and protected by the trees and boulders which cover the side of the ascent, while their artillery occupied the heights. The approach was through corn, and over stubblefields and meadows, separated from each other by stone and zig-zag fences and spotted with thickets, stone piles, rocks, gullies, and quagmires. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 140)
Back at Franklin's headquarters, the Shafer farm, the generals were mixed on which side of the defenses they should attack. When Slocum was asked who would lead the attack, he replied that Col. Joseph Bartlett would. Franklin sent for him and upon arriving at headquarters, he was asked for his opinion, which was to attack on the right, over the ground previously described.
Slocum's three brigades formed up for the attack at 3:00pm. The brigades were stacked up in six fronts each separated by 150-200 yards. George Neese, a Confederate half way up the slope described the assault this way:
...stood for awhile and gazed at the magnificent splendor of the martial array that was slowly and steadily moving toward us across the plain below like a living panorama, the sheen of the glittering side-arms and thousands of bright, shiny musket barrels looking like a silver spangled sea rippling and flashing in the light of a midday sun. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 143)
The battle began at 4:00pm. Bartlett's 5th Maine and 16th New York advanced to within 300 yards of the Confederate line, standing behind a wooden fence, firing at the enemy. For some reason not explained, Newton's brigade had not advanced. When they finally advanced to where Barlett's brigade was engaged, an hour later, they took over the fight from Bartlett's men, who were nearly out of ammunition. Torbert's Brigade quickly followed. Barlett and Torbert galloped up and down behind the lines, directing their men on, but no ground was gained. Slocum ordered Wolcott's Battery A, 1st Maryland Light Artilley, forward, through town. Lt. James Rigby later recalled that as soon as the battery turned on the road...
...the Rebels turned their guns upon us, and such as a shower of shot and shell fell around us not easily imagined; but we went through at a gallop, and as we passed through the village, the women waved their scarves and bid us God's speed, though all of them were in tears, for while they stood in front of their houses, the Rebel shells were tearing down their back fences and kitchens. (Hoptak, 2011, p. 147)
Hearing reports of activity south of town, Franklin, concerned that the Rebels might flank Bartlett's left, directed Smith to send a brigade in to the left of Burkittsville Road. Smith sent Brigadier General William T.H. Brooks' Vermonters up through the David Arnold Farm where they engaged the 2nd Virginia.
Once together, Bartlett and Torbert ordered the troops into an extended battle front nearly a mile wide, starting about 200 yards north of the Burkittsville Road. They ceased fire and reloaded. The time was 5:20pm and the light was fading away. Without consulting Slocum, they ordered their men forward at the double-quick. The 96th Pennsylvania, at the extreme right, had the worst terrain to cross, ending with a cornfield. When they came out of the cornfield, they were barely 20 paces from the Confederate line. They were hit with a massive volley from the Confederates at the wall. The entire line went to the ground either hit or attempting to duck the spray of lead, but they quickly got up and advanced to the wall, sending the Rebels up the hill. (Clemmons, 2002, p. 305)
Slocum's Division advanced up the eastern side of the mountain and down the western side, stopping at the base. The 4th Vermont proceeded one half mile south along the crest of the mountian and captured the battle flag of the 16th VA, and then proceeded to the western side of the mountain, camping at the base by Slocum's men. The 2nd VT went straight over the mountain to the western side. Hancock's brigade, held in resrve, stayed on the eastern side of the mountain. "The Union pursuit was halted by darkness, the weariness of the men, and the dislocation of the commands, consequent upon the broken character of the field." (Clemmons, 2002, p. 309)
Results of the Union victory included the capture of 600 prisoners, 700 stands of arms, one artillery piece, and four colors at a cost of 113 killed, 418 wounded, and two missing. The Confederates had 70 killed, 289 wounded, and 602 missing. (Clemmons, 2002, pp. 310-312)
Battle of South Mountain Scientist Page. (May). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://kms.kapalama.ksbe.edu/projects/2002/civilwar/battle12/scientist.html
Clemens, T. G. (2002). Ezra Ayres Carman and the Maryland Campaign of September 1862 (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Savas Beatie LLC.
Hartwig, D. S. (n.d.). The Maryland Campaign of 1862. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam/history/the-maryland-campaign-of-1862.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Hoptak, J. D. (2011). The Battle of South Mountain. Charleston, SC: The History Press.
Battle of Crampton’s Gap September 14, 1862 Burkittsville Tour (starting from the east)
All research performed by Jody Brumage.
Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm was built circa 1840. Is was owned by Dr. J.D. Garrott in 1858 based on the data in the Isaac Bond maps of Frederick County 1858. The property was sold to Martin Shafer, uncle to Hamilton Willard Shafer, prior to the Civil War. Gen Wm. B. Franklin used the property as his headquarters Sept. 14 1862. Gen. Franklin could view the Town of Burkittsville and Crampton’s Gap from this vantage point.
Ortho Harley House Ca. 1845 (Distillery Lane Ciderworks) was used by advancing Union forces entering the Town of Burkittsville. Ortho Harley was the son of one of the founders of Burkittsville, Joshua Harley. Gun emplacements on the farm were used to return fire from confederate cannon on the mountain. Ortho Harley told Union forces to stay off of his front lawn that Sunday morning, apparently not knowing what was about to happen.
Biser House at 305 East Main Street. This house, along with the neighboring white dwelling at 307 East Main Street, was owned by Daniel S. Biser. Born in 1801, Biser served thirteen terms in the Maryland House of Delegates, serving as Speaker of the House in 1841 and 1843. Biser also served on the board of directors for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. This dwelling, built of brick laid in common bond, beautifully displays the typical Victorian-era embellishments that were made to many houses in Burkittsville in the latter part of the 19th century.
Friend's Goodwill or the Dr. John D. Garrott House at 103 East Main Street. Standing at the center of Burkittsville, Friend's Goodwill Farm served as a main route for Union soldiers to approach the mountain on September 14, 1862. During the battle, the farm belonged to Dr. John D. Garrott, the father of Dr. John E. Garrott, who was noted for having helped with wounded in the hospitals.
Dr. Garrott, the elder, is not recorded as rendering his services to the soldiers, likely due to his advanced age. Dr. John D. Garrott died in 1863.
Before Garrott's ownership, this farm had belonged to the namesake of Burkittsville, Henry Burkett. The 1830 census lists Burkett as owning ten slaves, making him one of the largest slave holders in the village.
Since the battle occurred before the harvest, Garrott's fields likely provided soldiers with much needed nourishment, and tradition recounts that the doctor's cookhouse, standing just to the rear of the house, was employed for use to feed wounded in the hospitals following the battle.
Dr. John E. Garrott's House at 101 East Main Street. As wounded poured into the village of Burkittsville on the evening of September 14, 1862, Dr. John E. Garrott offered his services to the Army Surgeon Alfred Castleman. Together, the men were able to dress the wounds of all soldiers being treated in either hospital "B" or "C." Surgeon Castleman stated that, "having, by the kind assistance of Doctor Garrott, a good and excellent physician of the village, got through my dressings and seen my patients well asleep, I, in company with Doctor G., visited other hospitals to offer our services to the Surgeons there." Castleman later recounted that the other surgeons were asleep. Disgusted by there lack of treatment of the wounded in other hospitals in the village, Dr. Garrott asked to be relieved of duty the following morning. Dr. Garrott's elderly father was also a doctor, but, records do not mention him helping with the treatment of soldiers. No records support Burkittsville physician, Dr. Tilghman Biser, who lived across the street from Dr. Garrott, as assisting with the wounded. Dr. Garrott's house is an example of an early frame house, later updated with elements of Queen Anne style, including the porch, cross gable, and projecting bay, all likely post-Civil War alterations.
Dr. Tilghman Biser's House at 102 East Main Street (Gardens Only). While Dr. Tilghman Biser is not reported to have aided army surgeons during the hospital effort in Burkittsville, his nephew, Lewis Lamar had a close tie to two Confederate ranking officers who died in the Battle at Crampton's Gap, apparently unknown to the young man who was apprenticed to Dr. Biser, learning to become a physician. Two cousins of Lamar, Colonel John B. Lamar and Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson M. Lamar, were both mortally wounded at the Gap. While the story of Colonel John Lamar is not well recorded, a unique artifact from Lt. Col. Lamar has remained in Burkittsville, a book which belonged to him, the "Southern Review," an academic journal of the 19th century. Within the cover of this book is the inscription "This book was given to Col. Lamar previous to his demise from a gunshot wound received at Crampton's Gap, given to C.E. Slifer for favors rendered during the fall of 1862." The Lt. Col.'s story is one like so many who were taken in by local families in hopes of a swift recovery. The house, much like the Dr. John E. Garrott house across the street, is an early frame structure "updated" in the late 18th century with Queen Anne elements, such as the porch, cross gable, and projecting bay.
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 3 East Main Street. The Lutheran congregation in Burkittsville predates the founding of the town itself. Beginning in the 1810s, services were held in the Karn Cabinet Shop until 1829 when the Union Church (SMHS) was built. After sharing the Union Church with the Reformed congregation for 30 years, the Lutherans erected St. Paul's Church in 1859. The church served as a field hospital after the Battle of South Mountain and both its lecture hall and sanctuary housed wounded soldiers. The Romanesque-styled tower and narthex were added to the church in the 1870s. Inside the church's Colonial Revival-styled sanctuary is an 8-rank Moller Pipe Organ, originally installed in 1914.
The Burkittsville School or St. Paul's Parish Hall at 5 East Main Street. Newly constructed at the time of the battle, the village schoolhouse was another structure used as a hospital following the battle. Some traditions state that the schoolhouse served as an operating room. Army Surgeon Alfred Castlemen, who was serving at the Lutheran Church states that the house next door was also being used as a hospital. This could account for either the Reformed Parsonage or the schoolhouse, the two neighboring structures which framed St. Paul's Church in 1862.
According to a claims report, the schoolhouse was used a hospital from September 18, 1862 through January 31, 1863. In 1907, the trustees of the school requested reparations from the Federal Government, asking for $600.00. According to the case, War Department records indicated that a payment of $40.50 was made to the trustees of the school in August of 1863, and thus no money was awarded to the school.
This structure continued to serve Burkittsville as a schoolhouse until a new Elementary School, today the Burkittsville Ruritan Center, was built in 1904. Later, the building was purchased by St. Paul's Church for use as a Parish Hall.
South Mountain Heritage Society at 3 East Main Street. South Mountain Heritage Society, founded in the early-1990s, is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Burkittsville. The museum is located in the historic Resurrection Reformed Church. The original section of the building was constructed in 1829 as the "Union Church," owned jointly by the Reformed and Lutheran congregations. After the Lutherans built St. Paul's Church next door in 1859, the Reformed congregation rebuilt the old Union building into its present form in 1860. Further renovations took place in the 1890s when the Sunday School wing was built onto the back of the church and the bell tower was added. The building blends elements of Greek and Gothic Revival styles with Italianate and Queen Anne decoration. Resurrection Reformed Church served as "Hospital D" in the wake of the Battle of South Mountain, housing wounded soldiers in its sanctuary until January 31, 1863. After several decades of decline in the size of its congregation, the Reformed Church closed in 1979 and donated the building to the town. In 2000, the building was restored to its 1896 appearance by the South Mountain Heritage Society. The sanctuary maintains the pews from the 1860 renovations, furnishings from the 1896 alterations, and a historic pipe organ, built in Baltimore between 1851 and 1862, one of the oldest organs to survive intact in the state of Maryland.
Union Cemetery at 5 East Main Street. Henry Burkitt deeded land to the Reformed and Lutheran congregations in 1831 for their "Union Church" and to provide a common burial ground for the village. This oldest section of Union Cemetery is located behind the old Reformed Church (now the South Mountain Heritage Society museum). In the months following the Battle of South Mountain, Union Cemetery was the site of temporary burials for U.S. and Confederate soldiers who died while being treated in the field hospitals around Burkittsville. Union Cemetery was expanded to its present size in the 1890s. Among the over 1,000 people interred at Union Cemetery are the Rev. Emmanuel Slifer, a Dunker preacher who represented his pacifist congregants in court when they were drafted into military service during the Civil War; the Hon. Daniel Biser, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1841 and 1843; Manassas J. Grove, member of the Maryland House of Delegates and founder of the M.J. Grove Lime Company; John D. Ahalt, industrialist who founded the Mountain Spring Distilling Company in Burkittsville in 1879; and Dr. Arlington Grove Horine, physician for the B&O Railroad and a popular, long-serving Mayor of the City of Brunswick.
Cost/Horine House at 6 East Main Street. Displaying the simplicity and refinement of Federal architecture, the Cost/Horine House is one of the best-preserved structures built during Burkittsville’s first period of growth and economic prosperity from the 1830s until the outbreak of the Civil War. The front façade of the house displays Flemish Bond brickwork, a technique for laying brick in which long and short ends of the brick are laid in an alternating pattern. This technique was considered to be the most aesthetically-pleasing method of brick construction and was accordingly quite expensive to build. Closer inspection reveals that the side and rear walls of the house are laid in the more cost-effective Common Bond. This pattern of differing brick construction can be found in many early structures throughout the town.
The Reverand Emmanuel Slifer House and Tailor Shop at 1 East Main Street. This house, built in Federal style stands on one of the oldest lots in town, site of a tavern dating back to the eighteenth century; and was most likely built by John Slifer in 1821.
It was passed to his son, Reverand Emmanuel Slifer, who moved into the house with his wife upon their marriage. Reverand Slifer was a pastor of the Dunker Church, which is located on Route 17 about a mile north of Burkittsville, today known as Pleasant View Church of the Brethren.
During the Civil War, Rev. Slifer served on the Committee for Religious Objectors and Exemption, helping soldiers, whom we now call Conscientious Objectors, who had been drafted.
In 1864, Rev. Slifer served as the petitioner for the Butts family whose son, Joseph, had enlisted in the Maryland Volunteers in 1862 and died in 1864. He succeeded in having a pension granted to the family. At home, Rev. Slifer was a tailor, and his products were much sought after for their quality.
The one story brick structure next to the house was built by Rev. Slifer in 1845 to serve as his tailor shop. On September 9, 1862, Col. Thomas Munford of the C.S.A. Cavalry, used the tailor shop for his headquarters.
Following the battle of South Mountain, the Christian Women's Association, a community based group formed to aid in the hospitals, used the tailor shop for a medical supply. Rev. Slifer's wife was a member of this organization.
Horine's Store at 2 West Main Street. The soldiers making their way up Main Street towards the mountain, found the commerce of the village to be centered at the town square; including this building, which at the time housed a general store, operated by the Horine Family. Store ledgers indicate that goods were purchased by soldiers of both sides during the time Burkittsville was occupied. Stores within the village were extremely important, especially to soldiers, who were often under-supplied. This property had been a commercial establishment since its construction in the early 19th century by Captain Joshua Harley, who owned the first store in Burkittsville. In 1824, this store became the home of the Harley's, and later Burkittsville Post Office. The Horine Family continued to operate their store for over a century after the battle, although the name was changed to Gordon's in its later years. Today, the building houses P.J. Gilligan's Mercantile, making Two West Main Street, Burkittsville's oldest commercial structure
Hightman's Store at 1 West Main Street. Another of Burkittsville's oldest commercial structures, this house was originally built as a tavern around 1815.
At the time of the battle, this building housed John Hightman's Store; as with Horine's across the street, Hightman's Store was crucial to many soldiers and even more so since the Post Office had been relocated to this store just before the battle in 1861.
Following the battle, many letters were sent to families who had lost loved ones through this post office. Soldiers who died in the hospitals were sometimes consulted by nurses or other soldiers to write a last letter home, while others did not have the chance. One such letter mentions a soldier who died in the Reformed Church, written by a fellow soldier who assured his family that their son had spent his last moments as comfortably as possible.
Many poignant letters such as this were the only notice a family received as to the fate of their sons, making the post office a crucial institution. This property remained an active general store until the 1980s, owned for much of the twentieth century by the Guyton family.
The John Hightman House at 5 West Main Street. This historic home, built around 1845, was the center of a small industrial center at the time of the battle in 1862. Owned at the time by the Hightman Family, a blacksmith shop was operated behind the house and served as a "fix-it" shop to the village. The horses of both Confederate and Union soldiers were shod here, and repairs to equipment might also have been made.
Hightman operated a store on the square for much of the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The Hightman House is considered one of the best preserved houses in Burkittsville, and today remains almost entirely identical to its appearance during the Civil War era. The only significant change to the structure is the cross gable, likely added in the late 19th century to "update" the house.
The Home Place at 8 West Main Street. "The Home Place" is one of Burkittsville's earliest documented structures. The rear ell wing of this composite house was built in the late-18th century of half-timbered framing, a construction technique transported from Europe dating back to the medieval period. Few examples of this construction style exist in Frederick County today. The front section of the house was built in the early 19th century of logs. In the 19th century, this was home to the Arnold and Miller families and in the 20th century, Deborah Aughenbaugh, Burkittsville's first female mayor lived here.
7 West Main Street. Georgian-Federal style home built between 1836 and 1840. The lot on which the house was built was one of only two lots bequeathed to friends by Henry Burkitt, the village founder, in his 1836 will. In 1857, just prior to the Civil War, the house was sold to Henry Shafer. Henry Shafer and his family witnessed thousands of Union and Confederate troops passing by from their front windows. On September 13, 1862, Burkittsville was occupied by Confederate troops under the command of Brig General Howell Cobb who had been assigned to guard Crampton’s Gap located to the west of the village. According to local historians, 7 West Main St and the house next door were occupied by Virginia Cavalry under the command of Col. Thomas Munford. Munford had selected these homes because of the blacksmith’s shop in the rear alley they used to reshod their weary horses. The home remained in the Shafer family until 1926.
105 West Main Street. Like many houses in Burkittsville, this seemingly Victorian period structure is actually a product of several generations of building and expansion. The original section of the house located at the back of the present structure was possibly built by Daniel Grove Biser in the 1850s. Thomas and Rebecca Karn lived here from 1867 until the 1890s. Thomas was a carpenter and the front section of the house was built during his ownership. Featuring projecting bays and gables clad in wood shingles, this later addition, completed as early as 1873, is an early vernacular expression of Queen Anne style. For a brief period between owners in the 1890s, the house was owned by Outerbridge Horsey, operator of a rye whiskey distillery south of town on the old Needwood Plantation, one of Burkittsville's major industries in the late-19th century.
The Tannery Master's House at 109 West Main Street. This historic home dates to the early 19th century, likely built by Ezra Slifer, who owned the tannery before Michael Wiener, who was living in this Federal styled house with his family during the time of the battle. The Tannery Master's House is one site which is directly involved in a significant legend of Burkittsville's history: the visit of Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1862. The mystery of Lincoln's return route to Washington D.C. from Antietam gives the setting of Burkittsville as one of his stops. According to Wiener and Arnold family traditions, the President stopped and ate lunch on the rear sleeping porch of the house in the shade of the massive tree which still looms behind the structure. According to General William Franklin's Notes on the Maryland Campaign, "...when Mr. Lincoln visited the army, he came through Crampton's Gap; he told me that he was astonished to see and bear of what we had done there. He thanked me for it, and said that he had not understood it before. He was in a respects very kind and complimentary." The home burned in 1890, but was rebuilt within a year. Today, the house stands newly restored after several years of abandonment.
The Michael Wiener Tannery at 111 West Main Street. The Michael Wiener Tannery was the largest industrial complex within the village of Burkittsville when soldiers passed by on their way to battle in 1862. The Wiener Family purchased the tannery from the Slifer Family in 1846. Michael Wiener, a Bavarian immigrant, was a well-trained tanner. By the time of the war, Wiener had expanded the complex to include a pottery kiln, wheelwright, a blacksmith, and carpenters shops, and even a loom. The center portion of the present hous at 111 West Main Street is all that remains. The structure, built of stone on the first level and brick on the second, served as a manager's and magistrate's office. Widely respected, Wiener had a contract to produce saddles for the Austrian Army. While records have never been located to state how much was stolen from the Wiener's during the war, it can be assumed that they were at a great loss. Local tradition states that the army confiscated all of Wiener's saddles. The tannery continued to operate until the early 20th century. After laying in ruin for several decades, the building was restored and expanded to produce the modern house seen today.
The David Arnold Farm was established in 1789. It was the home of Burkittsville's founder, Revolutionary War veteran Captain Joshua Harley. David Arnold operated the farm in 1862 where much of the fighting of the Federal left wing took place. The house had a smaller footprint at that time and it was expanded to its present size in 1873. Stories exist of the Arnold women baking pies for Confederates staying in the house and later, Union sharpshooters firing from the barn on the Confederates up the hill. The Vermont 4nd and 2th marched on the south side of the road heading up to Crampton’s Gap.
The New Jersey 2nd and 4th Regiments moved on the north side of the road (on the right in the photograph) which was part of the Arnold farm in 1862. Sarah Margaret Arnold was born on the Arnold farm in 1858. Her mother told the 5 year old “Margaret” to sit in the Spring House and eat her bread and ham and wait until the soldiers passed. The white washed stone spring house still sits by the side of the road today. Margaret married Hamilton Willard Shafer and moved to the Shafer farm one mile away.
The Isaac Bond Map of 1858 showing the existing buildings and ownership of the properties. Note that St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, which was built in 1859, is not shown.
Added five properties to the Tour page.
Last week, we met with Julie Schablitsky and Aaron Levinthal of MDOT and gave them a tour of the Shafer farm and the Gilligan farm. Julie is the Chief Archaeologist and Assistant Division Chief of the Culrural Resources Section of the Environmental Planning Division of the State Highway Administration. Aaron is an Archaeologist and Lab Director with the SHA.
We have tentatively set up 10/7-25 as the time period that Julie's department will use metal detectors and ground penetrating radar to cover the Shafer farm (all 5 acres if possible) and part of the Gilligan farm. The goal of the project is to dig for artifacts to help explain the history of the property. We will set up a tour and approve hours for those interested in the project, to view their work. They will also be helping us out with interpretive signs and materials.
Added a page for the upcoming (2020) 158th Battle of Crampton's Gap.
Added entries to the Tour page and an image to the History page. More importantly, there is now a Mobile website that you will be directed to automatically, when you try to access the site from your smartphone.
Added pictures of mowing to the latest Blog, added 78 images from the 156th Battle of Crampton's Gap to the Images page, added 6 videos to the home page, lower left (click to increase size), added to the Tour page, and updated the rest of the site.
For updates to the 156th Battle of Crampton's Gap, please go to the event page on Facebook here!
The donations from Cedar Ridge Soaps have been updated. The link will take you directly to their home page. When placing your order, use the code HWSF for BPA to receive a donation.
Our 2nd Annual Burkittsville House and Garden Tour is scheduled for Saturday, May 19. Go to our page on this website that has links for purchasing tickets and looking at our Facebook Auction to place bids.
SANTA CLAUS AMONG OUR SOLDIERS. CHILDREN, you mustn't think that Santa Claus comes to you alone. You see him in the picture on pages 8 and 9 throwing out boxes to the soldiers, and in the one on page 1 you see what they contain. In the fore-ground you see a little drummer-boy, who, on opening his Christmas-box, beholds a jack-in-a-box spring up, much to his astonishment. His companion is so much amused at so interesting a phenomenon that he forgets his own box, and it lies in the snow, unopened, beside him. He was just going to take a bite out of that apple in his hand, but the sight of his friend's gift has made him forget all about it. He has his other hand on a Harper's Weekly. Santa Claus has brought lots of those for the soldiers, so that they, too, as well as you little folks, may have a peep at the Christmas number. One soldier, on the left, finds a stocking in his box stuffed with all sorts of things. Another, right behind him, has got a meerschaum pipe, just what he has been wishing for ever so long. Santa Claus is entertaining the soldiers by showing them Jeff Davis's future. He is tying a cord pretty tightly round his neck, and Jeff seems to be kicking very much at such a. fate. He hasn't got to the soldiers in the back-ground yet, and they are still amusing themselves at their merry games. One of them is trying to climb a greased pole, and, as he slips down sometimes faster than he goes up, all the others who are looking at him have a great deal of fun at his expense. Others are chasing a greased boar. One fellow thought he just had him; but he is so slippery that he can't hold him, and so he tumbles over on his face, and the next one that comes tumbles over him. In another place they are playing a game of football, and getting a fine appetite for their Christmas dinner, which is cooking on the fire. See how nicely the soldiers have decorated the encampment with greens in honor of the day! And they are firing a salute to Santa Claus from the fort, and they have erected at triumphal arch to show him how welcome he is to them. But Santa Claus must hurry up and not stay here too long; for he has to go as far south as New Orleans, and ever so far out West; so he says, "G'lang!" and away he goes through the arch like lightning, for he must give all our soldiers a Merry Christmas. http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1863/january/battle-fredericksburg-description.htm
You are viewing one of Thomas Nast's Most Poignant Civil War Illustrations. The illustration is Captioned, "Christmas Eve, 1862." The illustration shows a Civil War soldier on picket duty on a cold lonely night. The snow is falling around the lonely union soldier, as he looks longingly at photographs of his family. At this same time, the illustration shows his wife, praying for his safety, and his safe return home. Their children lay asleep in the bed as the wife prays. If you look carefully in the upper left of the illustration, you will see one of the very early Thomas Nast images of Santa. Santa can be seen approaching the chimney, and his reindeer are parked on the roof. http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1863/january/christmas-eve.htm
We met with Maryland Delegate Barrie Ciliberti today at the farm. Read about this on our blog here.
Added 123 more images from the 155th Battle of Crampton's Gap event courtesy of Erika Burgoyne-Hongell. Erika was asked to be the official photographer for the event. If you would like a high resolution copy or print of any photograph without the watermark, contact Erika at firstname.lastname@example.org here.
Added 67 more images from the 155th Battle of Crampton's Gap event courtesy of Carl Byrd here.
Added 129 images from the 155th Battle of Crampton's Gap event here.
An Open Letter to the Residents of Burkittsville:
The Burkittsville Preservation Association thanks each and every one of you for your participation in the 155th Battle of Crampton’s Gap! We also thank you for sharing our wonderful town with the participants. It was evident to all of them that we take pride in our town and they could not have been more complimentary of you. Time and time again, they individually remarked at how period the town felt, not marred by 21st century trappings and commercialization beyond the necessities of roads and power. They recognized that we are lucky to live here. This was the perfect setting for street fighting!
We are especially grateful for your enthusiasm. As we drove around on Saturday, shuttling participants to the Ciderworks, Crampton’s Gap, Charlie’s barbecue, parking at the Ruritan, and the individual camps, everyone was out sweeping and pruning. The cars disappeared from the streets and it was like we were living in a Twilight Zone episode. The Confederates, meager in number, camped without tents in Guyton Park. They marveled at the beautiful vista the morning sun exposed. They also worked on eliminating the grape and apple surplus in the park!
The Federals enjoyed camping surrounded by corn fields, taking advantage of the buildings and vistas which appeared in their photographs. They also kept period photographer and former resident, Todd Harrington, busy producing some great keepsake images. Our neighbors from Pleasant Valley, Larry and Julie McGrane, provided their wonderful service to the army as the Christian Commission.
We also want to thank Diane Tso, Cara Murray, and Liz Richardson for handling registration and giving historical tours of the Hamilton Willard Shafer house. Their pleasant and caring manner went a long way in setting the tone for our participants, who had long journeys getting here. They came from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia. Thanks also to Ryan Conklin, author of the book “The 18th New York Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster,” for talking to the Federal reenactors on Saturday.
The anticipation grew in town as the time came for the opposing forces to meet. The battle plan went a little off script, but as normally happens, it was for the better. There was almost constant firing somewhere on the street as they battled, heading west with the predictable conclusion. The town’s people, their guests, and lucky passersby witnessed something that is getting harder to see. Although there are younger men joining the ranks, the majority of reenactors are getting long in the tooth. Add to this our current political climate regarding views on the Confederacy and the loss of large event promoters, and it is getting harder to find places for quality events. Those of you lining the streets could not have been more appreciative. One reenactor, the victim of “taking a hit,” was welcomed on to someone’s porch for a cold beer! Women in period dress and not, handed cookies and apples to other “wounded” men.
We would like to thank Mark Carroll and his able assistant Jayme Marshall for a fabulous meal. I heard compliment after compliment about the delicious meal each participant enjoyed. The Southern boys also received some leftover biscuits and ham for breakfast! Rebecca, Rachel, and Nan provided tasty desserts while helping out Relay for Life. Charlie Cottingham, Kirk Evans, and Marissa Smith provided wonderful music at dinner. If it wasn’t period, it was darn close. They also came back to the Federal camp to play awhile, providing the camp with some great period atmosphere.
We also give a shout out to Troop 1066 in Jefferson, for providing numerous water containers when our plans for pumping water timed out. We were so close to being able to use the newly installed hand pump, courtesy of Tri County Pump Service, but our water quality tests weren’t good enough yet.
Thanks also to Gladhill Tractor for their donation of a John Deere lawn tractor for the farm. Matt Morris, Frederick County’s Agriculture Agent, bush hogged the more wild part of the HWS farm for the event and helped with road closures and shuttling participants. And a thumbs up to Tyler Savage for a job well done, pitching in where we needed him with a great attitude and work ethic, not lost on the participants. Thanks also to Jody Brumage, bringing the SMHS museum to the front porch while members prepared for their big fund raising book sale! St. Paul’s and the Ruritan Club provided the best sites for both the dinner and parking. Thanks to all the participants for without you there can be no event. You provide a living link to the past, educating young and old alike. You could not have been more gracious guests! And thanks to the board members of BPA, the last week especially, for their hard work and preparation, making the event a success!
Is anyone up for repeating the event in 2018?
Added Architectural Drawings of the barn and outbuildings from the NPS HPTC to the Documents Page. here.
Added the Deed History of the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm to the Documents Page. here.
Watch an animated 3D video of the Shafer house made by Preservation Maryland on the Blog at here.
Added information about Tim Reese's Sealed With Their Lives on the Home page and added two documents to the Documents page courtesy of Tim Reese; Colonel Bartlett's 1889 National Tribune article on his Crampton's Gap remembrances and a selection from Tim's High Water Mark.
View images of the Federal campsite on the Hamilton Willard Shafer farm on the Blog here!
Read about Tri-County Pump Service working at enabling water service at the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm on the Blog here!
Thank you to all who came to or helped with our first House & Garden Tour! Unfortunately, our NPS HPTC work day was cancelled due to the weather today. We hope to reschedule soon.
If you shop at Amazon, you can now donate 0.5% of your purchase price to BPA. Just click the button below the scrollbox and find out how!
Cedar Ridge Soaps will make donations as a percentage of sales marked for BPA. Just click the button for Cedar Ridge Soaps in the righthand column and follow the directions!
For a copy of our first seminar for the residents of Burkittsville and how you can participate in the September Reenactment, click here!
BREAKING NEWS (03/12/2017):
The Burkittsville House & Garden Tour is coming May 20th! The proceeds will go toward the preservation of the Hamilton Willard Shafer farm. You can help out by volunteering for jobs before the event here or jobs during the day of the event, Saturday, May 20th here.
BREAKING NEWS (02/23/2017):
Thanks to Preservation Maryland, the roof is sealed! It doesn't look pretty, but it will allow the interior to dry out so that interior work may start. Also, read about what's going on in a recent Middletown Valley Citizen in the Blog here!.
BREAKING NEWS (02/12/2017):
1) Today was a work day in the attic of the house. Todd, Jody, and Alex sifted through the trash and brought the artifacts down to the second floor where their historical value may be obtained in a dry, light-filled work area. The attic is almost swept clean! 2) We have announced Jody's consulting position on the Home page with a link to his blog. 3) We have also added a link to the crowdrise page where Preservation Maryland is raising funds for our roof repairs. The image above is looking south from a hole in the roof!
BREAKING NEWS (02/03/2017):
Added our new logo to the Home page and redesigned the Images page while adding 50 new photographs.
BREAKING NEWS (01/01/2017):
Check out new postings on the blog!
BREAKING NEWS (12/08/2016):
Check out new postings on the blog!
BREAKING NEWS (11/30/2016):
Check out new postings on the blog!
BREAKING NEWS (11/10/2016):
Recent articles published on the blog!
BREAKING NEWS (09/18/2016):
Shannon C. Shafer and Sarah B. Shafer have donated the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm at 1606 Gapland Road, Burkittsville, MD, to the Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. to preserve the property so that future generations may understand the property's significance in the Battle of Crampton's Gap.!
BREAKING NEWS (05/19/2016):
Blog is now active!
BREAKING NEWS (03/20/2016):
We will be listing any future events on this page including volunteer clean-up efforts, tours, fundraisers, living histories, site improvements, and reenactments.
There are currently no events planned for 2019.
September 11-13, 2020, the 158th Battle of Crampton's Gap. By clicking the button below, you will be take to the desktop page for this event.
By clicking on the Images brick below, you will be forwarded to the Images page on the desktop website.