VIDEO: Transcript – Civil War in Jefferson County, WV Sept. 22-28, 1862 by Jim Surkamp

Montage.Bower922.928.No2 Click on image to greatly enlarge.

VIDEO: Civil War in Jefferson County, WV Sept. 22-28, 1862 by Jim Surkamp (captioned) Click Here. TRT: 25:51.

flickr.com set Click Here. 105 photos.

The first in this series of short videos, described the perilous time for Confederate cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart and his men at a seldom used river crossing. This, the second video of the series, is from September 22nd thru September 28, 1862 in Jefferson County, then-Virginia from the viewpoints of Heros Von Borcke and George Neese, two Confederate cavalryman, and Charles Fuller, a private from upstate New York who is on picket near Harper’s Ferry. Subsequent videos in this short series are more about the relief and anything-but-military pleasures of Stuart’s men on “R&R” at Stephen Dandridge’s well-stocked farm at The Bower. The military actions that punctuated and interrupted their fun-makings are chronicled in greater detail elsewhere at civilwarscholars.com.

During the respite in September-October, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army increased in size, adding more than 20,000 new, straggling and/or returning men. They rested well, because, even while they busied themselves destroying the Winchester-Potomac Railroad from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester and portions of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad west of Harper’s Ferry, Federal commander Gen. George McClellan was fending off entreaties from President Lincoln and Gen. Halleck to pursue Lee, conceding the need to secure Harper’s Ferry, and ordering the occasional, limited reconnaissance operations – but all the while complaining he needed more men, more shoes, more clothes and more horses.

Gen. McClellan’s failure to pursue Lee’s army during this period has been widely cited by historians as his greatest mistake and a lost opportunity to have ended the four-year war after just seventeen months. This video also gives a brief glimpse into making apple cider, the soft kind and the kind with more enduring effect. PLEASE NOTE: They spelled “Charles Town” two words, in one word – “Charlestown” – in those Civil War days, changed since by official directive.

George Neese, who grew up in Smithfield, also called Middleway, in Jefferson County, was in Stuart’s cavalry serving as a picket watching for any Federal incursions into Jefferson County, VA, coming out of Harper’s Ferry. From September 21st thru the 23rd, he wrote of his routine in the county after the dreadful Antietam battle: This morning September 21st, we moved to Charlestown, remained there about two hours, then went on picket a mile below town on the Harper’s Ferry road. This afternoon, we had preaching at our picket post by a minister from Charlestown. September 22nd: Still on picket. From our post we can see the white tents of an extensive camp of Yankees.

Charles Fuller, from Sherburne NY and in the 61st NY volunteer infantry regiment, was among the Federals who moved into Harper’s Ferry that day. He wrote: On the 22d of September the army moved, the Second corps headed for Harper’s Ferry, a distance of ten or twelve miles. We forded the Potomac just above the destroyed railroad bridge, and came to land opposite the ruins of the United States Armory. We went through the town and formed camp on Bolivar Heights. The time spent at this place was a soft kind of soldiering. Supplies were abundant. Drill, guard, picket and the police duties were light, and we had a thoroughly good time.

The scenery hereabouts is grand. Maryland, Loudoun and Bolivar Heights come together, and from the tops of their heights to the river level is hundreds of feet. The passes worn by the Shenandoah and Potomac are through the solid rock and the gorges are very deep and rugged.

On Septmber 23rd, Confederate cavalryman Neese, facing Harper’s Ferry wrote this: This evening at dusk we left our picket post and moved back to camp, which is in a wood four miles from Charlestown, on the Berryville Pike. – (Neese, pp. 126-127)

Federal soldier Fuller wrote of a comic moment of about that very same day, when he and a blue-coated friend tried to use advance picket duty to forage for tastier provisions:

Our picket line was a mile or two out towards Charlestown. While on one of these picketing details, while the first relief was on, Frank Garland (who would be killed in 1863 at Gettysburg-JS) suggested that, if possible, we slip through the line, go to the front and see if we couldn’t pick up something good to eat. We succeeded in passing the pickets and pointed for a farm house a half mile ahead.

For a time no one responded to our knocks and helloes. At last a plump, red cheeked modest girl, of perhaps sixteen, appeared. We enquired for apples and told her if she would fill our haversacks, we would be glad to pay for them. She took them and soon returned with them filled with eatable apples. We paid her the price charged and started back.

We admitted to one another that it was not a prudent act and would go hard with us if we should be picked up. On our way back Garland glanced to the left, and said, “There’s reb cavalry!” I looked, and there, perhaps an eighth of a mile away, was a squad of horsemen, coming on a canter toward us. We were near a substantial rail fence on the right, and for it we sprang with all our powers. We went over it like circus performers, and put in our best strides for our line.

I think it was Garland that first discovered that the “men on horseback” were negro farm hands. They had seen our lively retreat and accurately interpreted the cause, and they were with their mouths open as wide as their jaws would admit, hee-hawing near the point of splitting. On this discovery we slowed down, and sauntered toward our picket line as unconcerned as possible, but the pickets had seen the performance, and at first had been misled as we were. As we came in, we proposed to go straight to the reserve where the detail from our regiment was. The officer in charge refused this and sent us under a guard of two men and a corporal to headquarters.

We steered the corporal to the shelter tent of Capt. Bull and explained the situation to him. He took it in, and, with a large assumption of military dignity, informed the guard that he would relieve them of any further duty in the matter, and they could go back to the front. Garland and I were glad to divide our apples with Bull and the others who knew of our adventure. It was one of the worst scares I had in the service, and cured me of any attempt at foraging outside the lines.

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Sept. 23 – Charles Town, VA.
Weather: fine day. – (Hotchkiss, p. 84).

Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s officer, Heros Von Borcke, is put to work . . . to, as Von Borcke wrote: Go to Charlestown with half the staff and establish a second headquarters, to which reports from Robertson’s brigade, forming the right wing of the Confederate picket line, should be sent, and from which, in case of urgency, they should be transmitted by me to General Jackson at Bunker Hill. – (Von Borcke p. 179).

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From Martinsburg, Von Borck & his two couriers bring a captured “spy.”

Our route lay through Martinsburg, where a well-dressed man, mounted on a good-looking horse, was turned over to me by the town authorities as a spy. He had been arrested there, and it was said the evidence was pretty clear that he had been engaged in this disgraceful business for a long time. I placed him between two of my couriers, giving them orders to shoot him down should he make any effort to escape.

In due time we reached Charlestown, a charming village, the county seat of one of the richest and most fertile counties in Virginia – Jefferson – and fixed our headquarters upon the farm of Colonel D., about half a mile from the town, immediately informing the commanding officer of Robertson’s brigade, Colonel Munford, of my presence. Colonel D.’s plantation was one of the most extensive and beautiful I had seen in America.

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Altona Farm – home in 1860 of Col. Braxton Davenport’s family

The stately mansion-house stood in the midst of fair lawns, and orchards prodigal of the peach and the apple; a little removed from which were large stables and granaries, and all around an amplitude of rich, cultivated fields, with a background in the distant landscape of dense forests of oak and hickory. The family consisted of the proprietor – whose military title of Colonel had been derived from the militia – his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, all of whom received me with the greatest courtesy and hospitality.

The Colonel was good enough to conduct me all over the estate, where many things interested me; among others the large cider-press, then in full operation, pouring out the sweet juice of the apple, of which everybody, white and black, was permitted to drink as much as he pleased.

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HOW THEY MADE APPLE CIDER

The key ingredient to a delicious apple cider is a spoonful of time in just the exact right amount. Apple cider has to be just the right blend of the juice of a sweet apple, a tart apple and some in-between flavored apples. Cider apples first were gathered in piles in the orchard or were carried inside and sorted out sometimes with eating apples, after which they were then stored for two or three weeks prior to milling. Never do you press apples without milling first. Milling breaks the apples down into a pulp that is exposed to the air and sunlight, letting the apple brown further and giving the cider that brown tinge and, more importantly, letting the sugar concentrate into its juices. Early Euro-American settlers would mill their apples, gradually filling the central pier of a circular milling operation with about three hundred pounds of apples over an hour, while a horse powered a grindstone, made of local stone; and this grindstone ground the apple into a pulp. The farmer or assistant followed the horse using a stick to scrape pulp that stuck to the walls of the pier while also adding more apples. As this apple pulp was being milled, the worker would add buckets of water to it, because the cider was the prime pay in the early days for the men who were picking and harvesting the apples. A few buckets of water were needed to dilute the apple pulp by about fifteen per cent to keep its alcohol content down. In a good season the alcohol content of this pulp could be as high as nine per cent. After the apples had been milled the pressing followed and that process has changed very, very little. The pulp is positioned under a press, and kept in place by being wrapped into layers of either rye or barley straw at right angles. Today cloth is used. The press then presses down on these layers, squeezing out juice that exits into a stone trough. This apple juice, or “nectar,” is either bottled into containers that you’ll find on your store shelf, or it would be stored in tanks, or, in the olden days, wooden casks to be fermented into something more potent.

Colonel D. took much pride in showing me his stock of Cashmere goats, the first pair of which he had himself imported many years before, at a cost of several thousand dollars. . . .

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Von Borcke’s “captured spy” gets away:

I was not a little embarrassed at headquarters by my prisoner, and was compelled to ask Colonel D.’s permission to use one of the rooms of a house in his garden as a jail for the night, to which I had the spy transferred, with orders that he should be bound hand and foot.

It was very soon reported to me, however, that he made a very obstinate resistance to this treatment, and it became necessary for me to proceed in person to the lodge to have my orders carried out. While the work of securing him was going on, the spy broke out in a most excited manner against me, saying that he was a gentleman, and that he should not fail hereafter in making me personally responsible, and punishing me for my conduct. I begged him, very politely, to be quiet, assuring him that if I could but follow my own convictions of propriety, I should save him from the inconvenience and discomfort of his bonds by hanging him – before the next morning. I regretted afterwards that I had not done so.

Colonel D. being obliged to make use of the temporary prison the following morning, I had the delinquent released from his manacles, and placed him in charge of a trusty young courier, named Chancellor, in whom I had the fullest confidence, and who had always accompanied me on expeditions of peculiar peril. About half an hour later, as I was just making the latest entry in my journal, Chancellor rushed into the room in the wildest excitement of rage and mortification, and informed me, with tears actually streaming from his eyes, that the spy had escaped. Having imprudently permitted him to walk out near a large field of Indian corn, then fully in tassle, the spy had profited by a momentary inattention on the part of his keeper to jump into the thicket of green stalks, and vanished behind their luxuriant blades before poor Chancellor was able to fire a shot at him. In a few minutes, I myself and most of my men were in the saddle, searching the fields narrowly, but without success; and I was obliged to relinquish the game, and return to headquarters, as the boom of artillery, sounding from beyond Charlestown, announced that there was other work to be done. – (Von Borcke, pp. 179-181).

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September 24
Weather: Fair and warm

Federal cartographer, David Hunter Strother, who was from the local area, on orders, made drawings of Harper’s Ferry from memory for commander Gen. George McClellan, who was still headquartered near Sharpsburg, MD. Strother wrote that day:Today is a light rain and a decided change in the weather from summer to autumn . . . I spent the morning in topography . . . I am already getting weary of inaction and wish we would move into Virginia . . . McClellan is a capital soldier, but has no capacity to take political lead. The people are strong and willing but “there is no king in Israel.” The man of the day has not yet come.

The very next day – the 25th – the Federals did move from Harper’s Ferry on reconnaissance on Charles Town. Wrote Confederate cavalryman Neese: This morning we ordered up the Berryville pike. We went about three miles toward Berryville, then came right back to camp. After we got back we moved camp to Leetown, which is seven miles from Charlestown, on the Smithfield and Shepherdstown road.
- (Neese, p. 127).

Wrote Von Borcke: On my way to the scene of action, I met a courier from Colonel Munford, who reported that the enemy had driven back our pickets opposite Harper’s Ferry, and was advancing towards Charlestown in considerable strength. I found the brigades drawn up across the broad turnpike leading to the river, on a slight range of hills beyond Charlestown, and our artillery well posted, already hotly engaged with two Federal batteries. A large number of our men were dismounted as sharpshooters, and the firing ran briskly along the whole line. The combat grew for a time fiercer and fiercer, and the Yankees seemed determined upon driving us off; but during the afternoon we assumed the offensive and repulsed them heavily, chasing their flying columns into the protecting fortifications of Harper’s Ferry. – Borcke, pp. 261-265.

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Evening Sept. 25 – Von Borcke returns to Davenport’s:
Weather: fine day. – (Hotchkiss, p. 85).

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Sept. 26-27: Von Borcke enjoys the countryside of Jefferson County with locals.

The next two days, 26th and 27th September, passed in perfect quietude, and I greatly enjoyed the glorious autumn weather, riding all over the country with Colonel D.’s son-in-law, and visiting the neighboring plantations, which, almost without exception, were large, fertile, and beautiful. Among others, I visited the mansion of Colonel Lewis Washington, a descendant of George Washington, who had in his possession the sword which Frederick the Great of Prussia had given to his ancestor, with the inscription, “From the oldest living general to the greatest.” We also visited the noble estate of Mr T., who had travelled much in Europe, and who gave us an excellent dinner, where we passed some pleasant hours over the walnuts and the wine.

All around the dwelling were magnificent hickory-trees, which were inhabited by innumerable tame grey squirrels that were great pets of Mr T.’s, and amused me exceedingly with their nimble and graceful antics. On the way home we passed a large plantation which, I was told, belonged to a free negro, (James Roper-JS) one of the richest men in the county, who was himself the owner of . . . slaves. My pleasant companion took care also to show me, with a certain pride, what he called the old ruin – a dismantled church, a short distance from Charlestown, which had seventy or eighty years ago been burned down, and which looked quite picturesque, with ivy trailing from its shattered walls and Gothic windows. Upon me, long accustomed to the century-stained ruins of Europe, the ‘old’ church of Jefferson did not make the desired impression. – (Von Borcke, pp. 182-183).

George Neese wrote on September 27 and 28th: The howitzer went to Berryville on picket. Today (the 28th) we left Leetown at noon and marched till after dark. Camped three miles east of Berryville. Mrs. Charles “Fanny” Aglionby and her fourteen-year-old son, Frank, spent the 28th, again, caring for the wounded from the Antietam Battle at the “hospital,” their Elk Branch Presbyterian Church in Duffields. Autumn shone in battle reds.

References:

Fuller, Charles A. (1906). “Personal Recollections of the War of 1861, as Private, Sergeant and Lieutenant in the Sixty-first regiment, New York volunteer infantry.” Sherburne, NY: News Job Printing House. Print.

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Neese, George M. (1911). “Three years in the Confederate horse artillery.” New York, NY; Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company. Print.

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Image Credits/Flickr Set:

Images of Fanny Aglionby and Frank Aglionby – Aglionby Archive – Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town, WV.

Image of Rev. Abner Hopkins – courtesy Charles Town Presbyterian Church.

Present-day images – St. George’s Chapel, Altona Farm sign. – Jim Surkamp.

Biscoe, Thomas and Walter; Halltown Ridge, W. Va. With Ruin on Left; Looking Southwest (028450) – August 2, 1884, Saturday 11:00 a.m
wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 19 February 2013.

Biscoe, Thomas and Walter; Charles Town, Old Virginia, From Pike 3/4 of a Mile South of Town (028385) Aug. 1, 1884. wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 19 February 2013.

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butterworth primitive stove p. 105 figure 1.

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United States. The Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. (1864). “Map of Loudoun County and part of Clarke County, Va., Jefferson County and part of Berkeley County, W. Va., and parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties, Md.” (“Copied by J. Paul Hoffmann, Top’l Office, A.N.Va.” – “Approved S. Howell Brown. 1st Lt. Engs. Troops in chg. Top’l. Dep’t. A.N.Va. March 23rd 1864.”). [Hotchkiss map collection; no. 43]

United States. The Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. (1864). “Map of Loudoun County and part of Clarke County, Va., Jefferson County and part of Berkeley County, W. Va., and parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties, Md.” United States. The Library of Congress: American Memory. “Maps Collection.” 27 Oct. 2009 Web 10 Sept. 2010.

Neese, George M. (1911). “Three years in the Confederate horse artillery.” New York, NY; Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company. Print.

Neese, George M. (1911). “Three years in the Confederate horse artillery.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movie, Music and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
pp. 126-127.

Reed, Chester A. (1914). “The bird book : illustrating in natural colors more than seven hundred North American birds, also several hundred photographs of their nests and eggs.” Worcester, Mass.: C. K. Reed. Print.

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chapel
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spy
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child hobby horse
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United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967). “Population schedules of the eighth census of the United States, 1860, Virginia [microform] (Volume Reel 1355 – 1860 Virginia Federal Population Census Schedules – James City and Jefferson Counties).” Jefferson, Kanawha, King George, King and Queen, and King William Counties).” Washington, D.C.: Gov’t Printing Office. Print.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967). “Population schedules of the eighth census of the United States, 1860, Virginia (Volume Reel 1355-1860 Virginia Federal Population Census Schedules – James City and Jefferson Counties).” Jefferson, Kanawha, King George, King and Queen, and King William Counties).” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.
U.S. 1860 Census – Jefferson County, VA. p. 160.

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damselsinregress.wordpress.com 24 May 2009 Web. 18 February 2013.

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Thomas T. Munford, Class of 1852
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schoolmaster
dhs. may, 1872 p. 805
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women in parlor (bullet-making)
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p. 4

Crayon, Porte (Strother, D. H.). “The Mountains, Pt. V.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume 45, Issue: 268, September 1872, pp. 502-516. Print.

Crayon, Porte. (September 1872). “The Mountains, Pt. V.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. ebooks.library.cornell.edu 7 May 2008. Web. 29 May 2011.
man washing face
p. 502

View of the camps of the Army of the Potomac, on Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, after the battle of Antietam
Forbes, Edwin, 1839-1895, artist; Date Created/Published: 1862 Sept. loc.gov 16 June 1997 Web. 6 February 2013.

League Studios; Ruins of St. George Chapel on Middle Way Pike Near Charles Town, W. Va. (037886) December, 1931. wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 20 February 2013.

Portrait of Mrs. John Thomas Gibson and Granddaughter, Frances Davenport Packette (037802)
wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 20 February 2013.

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Malus_domestica_-_K%C3%B6hler%E2%80%93s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-108.jpg pharm1.pharmazie.uni-greifswald.de

http://pharm1.pharmazie.uni-greifswald.de/allgemei/koehler/koeh-eng.htm

Mrs. Charles “Fanny” Aglionby and son Francis Aglionby
Aglionby Diary – Jefferson County Museum – Charles Town, WV.

Elk Branch Presbyterian Church, Duffields, WV flickr.com.

George Washington/Frederick the Great sword
New York State Library start date unavailable Web. 19 February 2013.

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Lieut Franklin K. Garland tombstone marker
Stelly, Karl findagrave.com 26 January 2012 Web 20 February 2013

armory; picket; view from Camp Hill
Civil War Harper’s Weekly, March 11, 1865, p. 152 sonofthesouth.net start date unavailable Web. 14 February 2013.

“American caricatures pertaining to the Civil War.” (1918). New York, NY: Brentano’s. Print.
protesting spy p. 118.

Sandstein (talk) Five Civni (“Rubens”) apples on a plate. wikipedia.org January 2009

Beach, Spencer A.; Booth, Nathaniel O.; Taylor, Orrin M.; (1905). “The Apples of New York.” Vol. 1. New York (State). Dept. of Agriculture. Albany, NY.: J. B. Lyon Co., Printers.

Beach, Spencer A.; Booth, Nathaniel O.; Taylor, Orrin M.; (1905). “The Apples of New York. Vol. 1.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.
Winesap p. 374.

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