Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 3 Henry Bedinger & Alec Boteler – The Creative Congressmen by Jim Surkamp

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Alexander “Alec” Boteler who had inherited Fountain Rock, married Helen Stockton and they had Helen (“Tippie”), Charlotte (“Lottie”), Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), and Alec Junior.

Preceding Boteler as the area’s Congressman in Washington, was Henry Bedinger who met Caroline (“Carrie”) Lawrence, the daughter of a fellow Congressmen who, only after he found the forces of love unstoppable, consented to the pact. Before the Bedingers accepted the honorable adventure of setting sail for Denmark and Bedinger being our first ambassador there for most of the 1850s, the two young fathers and husbands were friends, both young lawyers with families. Each also had a strong penchant for art – for Henry poetry, for Alec drawing and painting. – (1).

Alec’s love of drawing and art is not surprising given he was the great-grandson on his mother’s side to Charles Willson Peale, the leading portrait painter in early America, who painted General Washington.

Boteler himself would write:
Drawing is my great delight. If I could have my way. I would have been an artist. But my father threatened to whip me if he ever saw me painting anything. I was descended from a family of painters and my father wanted me to stick to something more material. When my house was burned down during the war it contained some excellent specimens of the Peales, which were heirlooms there. Among other paintings was one representing the artist, to whom my great-grandmother’s picture is being shown on the easel by my grandmother, while she also seeks to steal away the painter’s brush.

While a student at Princeton Boteler’s passion for drawing surfaced in fantastic irrepressible ways.

His daughter, Tippie Boteler much later wrote:

While his future wife was en route to Princeton in a carriage she heard of this Alec Boteler. The story she heard of her (future) husband was that he had thrown a farmer into the water to copy his expression of terror and that the man accidentally drowned; and the young student never recovering from his remorse, had become a gloomy, morose and changed man! One afternoon soon after his arrival at college, in passing a large brick house, he noticed outlined against the window the profile of a beautiful girl who was evidently intent upon reading. He quickly drew out his pencil and sketchbook and made rapid outlines. On getting back to the college, he finished it and showed it to a fellow student in triumph as the prettiest girl he had ever seen. “Why, that is Miss Helen Stockton!” exclaimed his friend, who was A. S. Dandridge, who lived in Jefferson County and would own the Bower. “If you think she is up to your standard, I’ll take you to see her tomorrow night!”

But Alec Boteler’s meeting Helen Stockton inspired him out of the gloom his absurd behavior had wrought.

Once married and with responsibilities settling on their dreamy shoulders, Alec would love getting together with his creative friend and forever treasure their times together with the wives and children elsewhere.

Henry Bedinger was home at his ancestral home at Bedford nearby and just outside Shepherdstown around 1851 when he tossed off a limerick to his neighbor over the hill at Fountain Rock. The invitation, inspired by his recent readings of Robert Burns, went:

My wife’s awa;’ my wife’s awa’,
Na mair she can me tease;
She’s gan til her father an’ mither an’ a’,
And I can do as I please.

So if you’re in for a night of joy,
And gin grat fun ye wad see,
Just don your plaidie my merry boy,
And o’er the meadow to me.

A wee bit room in eastern wing,
A ceiling so love and snug,
A cheerfu’ bleeze in the chimney neuk
And ablains a bit of a jug.

A bit of jug wi’ the barley bree,
A jest and merry sang,
And twa, thra friends what helping me
To push the hours along.

The wind may roar an’ the rain may fa’,
My wife’s awa’, my wife’s awa’;
Na mair she can me tease,
She’s gan til her father an’ mither an’ a’,
An’ we can do as we please.

After serving in Congress for four years, Henry Bedinger left with his family for Denmark. Boteler, a self-admitted novice at business who pleaded with his uncle to not be given the responsibility of running his father’s prosperous cement mill along the river upon his father’s death, had a costly miscalculation. In 1852, a business calamity overtook Alexander Boteler in the failure of Willoughby R. Webb, a merchant of Shepherdstown, who built his woolen mill on the site of today’s Blue Moon Cafe with thirty employees and upon whose notes he had placed his name because of his friendship for Mr. Webb. He was thus called upon to pay nearly twenty thousand dollars, a large part of it his wife’s money, her father having left her considerable property. – (2).

That woe may have propelled him into the field of elected office with a steady salary, serving in Bedinger’s old Congressional seat from early 1859 until just before war broke out. In 1856, Congress had voted its first annual salary of $3,000.

Artist/Congressman Boteler created a cartoon of Charles Harper’s home and apothecary shop, still looking much the same adjacent on the eastern side of McMurran Hall on German Street. Sensing dark times ahead, Boteler added as its caption, the ominous words from Shakespeare’s Henry VI: “Heavy looks foretell some dreadful story hanging on thy tongue.” – (3).

In November, 1858, Ambassador Henry Bedinger finally returned home to Carrie and their three children who came back from Denmark two years earlier. Carrie disliked the card-playing of even the Episcopalian priest in Denmark. Henry was a favorite to King Frederick VII and many a late evening an excessively homely and sensitive man would materialize from the shadows looking for Henry for a chess game: Hans Christian Anderson, the famed children’s writer.

Carrie and the children marveled that the widespread Christmas custom they brought back from Europe – a decorated tree – was a completely new notion both in Long Island and Shepherdstown. The custom “caught on” in Europe when Prince Albert and Queen Victoria had one.

Fighting his homesickness, Henry wrote a long Shepherdstown-smitten poem to John Boroff, a blacksmith with a shop at the Washington and Princess Street intersection:

“To My Good Old Friend, Mr. John Boroff, of Shepherdstown, Virginia by the Exile.

I am walking on a Sandy Shore, hard by the Sound Sea,
And, to save me, John, I cannot tell why I should think of thee.
And yet, throughout this lengthened day, thy friendly face will come
To fill my soul with memories of happier hours and HOME.

Go where I will, do what I may, I cannot fail to hear
The roaring of thy furnace and thy hammer ringing clear.
What art thou forging now, John, that echoes such as those
Should cross the broad Atlantic from the thunder of thy blows?

My mind has run away, John, and all that I can do
Cannot coax it to come back again from Shepherdstown and you.
It is playing with those marbles, it is spinning the same top.
That often in your absence, John, I’ve spun within your shop.

Does the coulter of the plowman demand the glowing fire,
Or do thy sturdy strokes descend upon the wagon’s tire?
Art thou forming for the woodman’s axe an edge of perfect proof?
Or striking from the solid anvil strong shoes for horse’s hoof?

I know not and I cannot guess, but this I say to thee,
I would give a very pretty gift could I be there to see.
For I must confess the honest truth – my mind has run away
As limber legged Bill Russell did from you one sunny day.

It is wrestling with your prentice boy and tripping up his heels,
And shouting with a merry shout to find how cheap he feels.
It is moulding bullets at your forge, and yet with watchful eyes.
Lest your too sudden entrance should take it by surprise.

And when, with ears all wide awake, it hears your heavy stride.
Although the door is much too near, the window opens wide,
And with a bound away it goes, still leaving you to guess
What evil spirit could have left your tools in such a mess.

Homecoming, then tragedy:

In November, 1858, Henry Bedinger had indeed come home to Shepherdstown and his family to great joy. His daughter, Mary, watched from a window from their home at the southwest corner of Princess and German Street. In the center of the street that November night in 1858 was a huge bonfire, and her father’s joyous speechifying face shone in the hot blaze making them cheer more and more. Then, eight-year-old Mary noticed the adults in their house had become silent, huddled. Their father came home and, a great blow – suddenly was “called home.” Pneumonia took him. And Carrie sold Henry’s share of his ancestral home of Bedford back to his sister, Henrietta and her husband Edmund Lee, (a first cousin of the general, Robert E. Lee). Carrie then used the money to build a new, more modest home near town Carrie named Poplar Grove.

Carrie purchased the farm from Daniel Morgan with a brick house in the middle of a grove of great oaks and poplars. She built an addition to the old house with woodwork of black walnut so common in those days, and there she took her young family just before the storm of the war between the states took over their land. – (4).

The Bedingers’ writing genes continued to create through Henry and Carrie’s children.

Henry’s gifted youngest daughter, Caroline Bedinger, nicknamed “Danske,” was already a prodigious writing talent and even shared editing preferences in her poems with Mr. Boteler. Danske’s daughter, Serena, wrote in later years:

The Bedinger children seemed to have taken to writing books as ducks like to water. They all complained that paper was too scarce and too “hard to write on,” but they utilized every scrap that came to them. Danske’s foil was poetry with a few romantic stories for good measure. Mary’s (nicknamed “Minnie:), I’m told, was fairy tales, with which she could enthrall her younger brother and sister.

Of little Danske it can be said “the ink was in the baby. she was born to write a book” and she was. It was not long out of the cradle before she began to wield her pen. As she presented a book of original poetry, “A Present” to Hon. A. R. Boteler with a note in the book saying that he must excuse the writing, as the paper was hard to write on, and compared to Shakespeare and Milton were not so good either – another note calls attention to the fact that the “thee”‘s and “thou”‘s are customarily used instead of “you”‘s in poetry, and apologizes for a few “you’s that had slipped in. – (5).

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Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 4 The War Storm Gathers; Boteler Goes For The “South”by Jim Surkamp

336 words

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Alexander Boteler lived at Fountain Rock in Shepherdstown, WV – was Congressman before the War; Designed the Confederate Seal; In the Confederate Government; His Home was burned for his mis-deeds

Alex Boteler took his seat for the first time in the U.S. Congress the same month John Brown and four of his raiders were hanged in Charlestown, Va., after they tried to capture the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry and hoped to inspire a wholesale rebellion by those enslaved. They did succeed in igniting the enslavement issue.

With John Brown’s blow against slavery and the hangings of Brown’s raiders in Charles Town (“Charlestown” in 1860-JS) following convictions in a state court, a chasm of difference was made obvious to both Northerners and Southerners. Four candidates ran in the ensuing months for the Presidency, instead of the usual two because of the volatile political season, electing the Midwesterner, Abraham Lincoln.

Seeing they had lost the upper-hand in Washington, most deep South states seceded at once on the tragically mistaken assumption that Lincoln would not go to war to retain them. Moreover, the United States Army was small and the powers of the President as commander-in-chief were scarcely defined in the text of the Constitution. Little did they anticipate that Lincoln would simply create those powers in the void.

Boteler was bitterly opposed to the disruption of the Union, but, when Virginia seceded, he resigned from Congress and threw his lot with the Confederacy. He was a member of its Provisional Congress and later served in the first regular Congress of the Confederate States. He was chairman of the House committee which designed the Confederate flag, and, he himself combined suggestions from many and added his own to make the final seal. He offered the successful Joint Resolution 13 on April 30, 1863, making the seal official. The seal consisted of a picture of Washington on horseback, surrounded by a wreath composed of the South’s agricultural products. Boteler had an artist draw a sketch of the statue of George Washington located in the capitol grounds at Richmond. This reproduction was then sent to England, where it was made into a seal. – (1).

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Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 5 April, 1861 Drumbeats by Jim Surkamp

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James Walkenshaw Allen
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The elders in the Lee, Boteler, Bedinger, Dandridge, Allen, Douglas, Pendleton & Morgan households watch their men enlist. Many opposed secession but enlisted in the Confederate units when the Federals called out for thousands of volunteers. The Bedingers at Poplar Grove and Pendletons at Westwood were so deeply opposed to enslavement that they either didn’t do it or, at Westwood, gave the choice of freedom to the large number of those they had enslaved.

The act of provocation by Confederate forces at Fort Sumter in South Carolina gave President Abraham Lincoln the legal justification for calling for 75,000 volunteers to forcibly bring back those seceding states and their people. And the war would, it first appeared, start right in Jefferson County, where the strategic Baltimore & Ohio dipped briefly into Virginia, that had just acted to join a foreign country.

April 18, 1861 – On that fateful night after Virginia’s conditioned vote to secede from the United States, many local militiamen were already en route to Harper’s Ferry to take control of the federal arsenal, basing their action on a word-of-mouth understanding that their action was legal and officially sanctioned.

The acting militia commander, a 31-year-old, professionally-trained officer from Summit Point named James Allen, was confronted and cautioned by locally born but ardent Unionist, David Hunter Strother. – (1)

As the local militia moved towards Harper’s Ferry at the urgings of Turner Ashby on the night of April 18th, Strother, a lifelong friend of those present, intervened arguing that no formal, written order had been produced to authorize the militias to move on the Federal arsenal in the lower town and capture its estimated 16,000 weapons and weapons-making equipment. (In fact, the vote by the popularly-elected Virginia Secession Convention had occurred the previous day in Richmond voting 85-55 to secede, BUT only after the results were known of a referendum scheduled for the following month).

Just as Col. Allen was taking Strother’s point to heart and ordered his militia only so far east as Halltown pending the substantiation of his orders, when there erupted from the lower town out of their line-of-sight:

. . . flashes and detonations . . . several times repeated; then a steadier flame was seen rising from two distinct points silently and rapidly increasing in volume until each rock and tree on the Loudoun and Maryland Heights were distinctly visible and the now over-clouded sky was ruddy with the sinister glare. This occurred I think between nine and ten o’clock. Some thought they heard artillery. But the more skillful presently guessed the truth and concluded that the officer in command had set fire to the arsenals and abandoned the town.

With the ashes of the arsenal cooling, Strother perceived in the light of the next day, the enormity of the events:
I must confess that I felt this morning like a man wandering in a maze. . . . So it seemed that the sudden gust of emotion, excited by the lowering of our starry flag, had swept away the mists of speculation and revealed in its depth and breadth the abyss of degradation opened by secession. Yesterday I was a citizen of the great American republic. My country spanned a continent. Her northern border neared the frigid zone while her southern limit touched the tropics. Her eastern and her western shores were washed by the two great oceans of the globe. Her commerce covering the most remote seas, her flag honored in every land. The strongest nation acknowledged her power, and the most enlightened honored her attainments in art, science, and literature. Her political system, the cherished ideal toward whose realization the noblest aspirations and efforts of mankind have been directed for ages. The great experiment which the pure and wise of all nations are watching with trembling solicitude and imperishable hope. It was something to belong to such a nationality. This was yesterday. To-day, what am I? A citizen of Virginia. Virginia, a petty commonwealth with scarcely a million of white inhabitants. What could she ever hope to be but a worthless fragment of the broken vase? A fallen and splintered column of the once glorious temple. But I will not dwell longer on the humiliating contrast. Come harness up the buggy and let us get out of this or I shall suffocate. – (2).

Jefferson County’s fighting age male Union sympathizers, threatened with arrest for treason against the newly forming Confederacy, left the County and as the gravitational forces of solidarity brought most of the remaining white young men to enlistment points for the Confederacy – their “destiny was with Virginia” as Logan Osburn of Kabletown so famously concluded. Their wives and mothers began feverishly making havelocks and clothing for their young men. Roughly nine hundred men from Jefferson County would fight for the Confederacy in thirteen different units during the war. At least 130 Jefferson County-born, African-Americans fought in the United States Colored Troops and a smaller number of white Countians enlisted in a variety of scattered Federal units. – (3).

Eight thousand enlistees would flock to Bolivar Heights by May 23rd from as far away as Mississippi, joined soon by a mercurial West Point-graduated professor from Virginia Military Institute named Thomas Jonathan Jackson who quickly put them through their paces and drilled them so relentlessly that notions of war as a grand, brief lark were dashed and some complained that the exercises were meant to kill them sooner than a fired bullet. – (4).

James Allen was there, while his wife, Julia Pendleton Allen and their young son, Hugh Pendleton Allen, were at home on their County farm.

George Rust Bedinger, Henry Bedinger’s son by a previous marriage, and who rode in the ring tournament a few years prior on his horse “Saladin” was there with Alexander Boteler, Junior. The former was confident, encouraging, skillful; the latter, often angry to distraction because Bedinger mocked him mercilessly, for he suffered from a stutter. – (5).

William Fitzhugh Lee, a career army officer was raised, in part, by the Shepherdstown Lees after his father died in Alexandria. By the time of the war, he had graduated from Virginia Military Institute, had married Lillie Parran of Shepherdstown, and fathered their daughter, Laura. In April, 1861, he arrived to help in the instruction of the ever-increasing numbers of hungry recruits at Bolivar Heights all thinking they would defend Harper’s Ferry against invasion. His family were at their home on the northeast corner of German and Mill Streets, with Lillie’s re-married mother, Laura Parran Towner. – (6)

Edwin Grey Lee, who once dressed up as the “Knight of Alhambra” at the erstwhile tournament – the eldest son of Edmund and Henrietta Lee – likewise came “to camp” and was soon Jackson’s aide-to-camp. The Lees tried to visit him at Camp Jackson and Bolivar Heights near Harper’s Ferry while drilling was underway. – (7)

Henrietta Lee wrote her eldest daughter, Ida Rust:

Your Papa took Virginia (George Bedinger’s sister, also called “Diddie”-JS) and me up to see them last week. We met with our usual luck; broke down twice, and after various delays and accidents got there at half-past three, stayed half an hour, and jolted home, which we reached at ten o’clock at night, being eleven hours in the spring wagon.

Their horse Jimminy-Crimminy, had become skittish and refused to cross a small stream as they neared the noisy encampment. They were therefore compelled to borrow another horse to get them home.

Lee continued to Ida about their relative in Connecticut, Susan Cornwall:
I am sorry to say she has joined her voice to the baying and barking of the Northern bloodhounds, and seems crazy upon the subject of the Flag, Union and Constitution. . . Oh, at times I am so sick of noise and wrangling and contest that I long for the wings of a dove to flee away.- (8).

Henry Kyd Douglas, the 23-year-old, one time president of that ring tournament from a few years before, who lived with his family at Ferry Hill overlooking the Potomac from the Maryland side – arrived at the camp, come what may. His father, Rev. Robert Douglas was part-owner of the valuable covered, wooden bridge at river’s edge.

Henry Kyd Douglas later reflected on the issues of the Civil War and his place in it:

Personally I had no feeling of resentment against the people of the north because of their desire for the emancipation of the enslaved, for I believed Negro slavery was a curse to the people of the Middle States. As a boy I had determined never to own any one.

When on the 17th April, 1861 the Virginia Convention passed the Ordinance of Secession, I had no doubt of my duty. In a week I was back on the Potomac. When I found my mother sewing on heavy shirts – with a heart doubtless heavier than I knew – I suspected for what and whom they were being made. In a few days I was at Harper’s Ferry, a private in the Shepherdstown Company, Company “B”, Second Virginia Infantry. – (9).

On June 13, 1861, General Joseph Johnston, who replaced the less experienced Jackson, won the argument to not stay and defend Harper’s Ferry and ordered his force to evacuate Harper’s Ferry taking different directions. Some moved up the river, another larger force towards Charlestown. They would reunite in Berkeley County, make their way, some using rail, towards Bull Run/Manassas and fight in the first major battle of the war. Meantime the federal army under General Robert Patterson was, basically duped into remaining in the local region, not detecting the hurried movement of Johnston’s men to the Manassas battle location.

Douglas wrote: When Federal General Robert Patterson began to demonstrate from Hagerstown to cross the Potomac at Williamsport, General Johnston determined to evacuate Harper’s Ferry. I was with the regiment that marched to Shepherdstown to destroy the bridge over the Potomac at that point.

I was with the company that set fire to it, and when, in the glare of the burning timbers, I saw the glowing windows in my home on the hill beyond the river and knew my father was a stockholder in the property that I was helping to destroy, I realized that war had begun. I knew that I was severing all connection between me and my family and understood the sensation of one, who, sitting aloft on the limb of a tree, cuts it off between himself and the trunk, and awaits results.

Not long after I saw the heavens lighted up over in Maryland one dark night and knew that the gorgeous bonfire was made from the material and contents of my father’s barn, I saw that I was advancing rapidly in a knowledge of the meaning of war; and my soul was killed with revengeful bitterness. – (10)

As the armies inched closer to clashing, more men in Jefferson County enlisted – or at least tried to:

At Westwood near Summit Point, Hugh Nelson Pendleton’s son, Dudley Digges Pendleton, a half-brother to Col. Allen’s wife, Julia, was a graduate of Washington College. He had not yet realized his future wife “Tippie” Boteler. He enlisted June 19th into the First Rockbridge Artillery at Winchester, as war began to unfold. – (11).

At the Bower farm, sixteen-year-old Adam Stephen Dandridge wanted to enlist but was prevented by his concerned parents. On July 2nd, 1861, as the first area battle erupted in Berkeley County at Falling Waters, the cannon could be heard across the Valley with a different, strange effect on each individual who met the blasts. Wrote Dandridge’s daughter, Serena Dandridge, much later:

It was a piping hot July day, the first day of harvest in the long Terrapin Neck bottom, along the creek. The wheat was standing tall and fine that year, a heavy crop. Father was swinging the first cradle, and the colored cradlers were strung out in a long line beside him. He was only sixteen, but over six feet tall and wiry and tough. As the cradling went on, the sun’s heat beat down more and more fiercely. Suddenly the booming of cannon was heard from over the hills in the direction of Martinsburg.

Like an electric shock, the words – “The war has begun!” – ran through the field. Father said he saw one of the cradlers, a big strong colored man, give a yell and jump straight up in the air and fall down dead with sunstroke (It may be assumed that it was a heart condition. -JS). In the field, all was in confusion. Father flung his cradle down, and he and some of the boys got on horses and went off to join the battle. The dead man was carried home. The boys and horses were eventually corralled and brought back, the easier because the battle, which was only a skirmish, was over before they arrived. This was only the FIRST time Steve ran off to join the army.

When father was a young boy, The Bower was a busy and peaceful spot. He had learned to swim by being tossed into the flooded creek from the foot bridge by one of the older cousins, Phillip Pendleton Cooke, with orders to “swim you little devil.” The manly art of self defense was not neglected, and papa was a match for the best, black or white, but he says their bouts were always friendly. As the time of the Civil War drew near, excitement was in the air, and the boys made themselves bows and arrows and staged sham battles. One well-remembered day Steve dared the others to shoot at him, and one of the neighbor boys stepped up drew a bead on him quoting: “For Phillip’s right eye!” The arrow landed in father’s right eye. Of course the pain was terrible. Finally a cataract formed over the eye, and he was often in severe pain during the war. – (12).

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Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 6 Tragedy Descends on the Shepherd and Conrad families by Jim Surkamp

409 words

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Fanny Shepherd ALLEN dau of RD Shep and Eliz.StocktonBoteler

At the beginning of the Civil War, Davis Shepherd was captain of a small company of picked men appointed to guard the ford at his father’s place overlooking the Potomac River some five miles above Shepherdstown. The river was picketed on both sides and one of the Union camps was stationed directly across the river from the Lower Shepherd farm, as it was generally called.

Terrible rumors of danger to unprotected country families living in the path of the hostile army had caused the Boteler family to leave Fountain Rock and refugee in Baltimore. Davis Shepherd’s wife, Elizabeth (A. R. Boteler’s oldest daughter), and her little ones had also been unable to remain at the River Farm while Davis was on duty at his father’s place. She and her two little children were at the rectory with Dr. Andrews, whose big heart and hospitable home were opened freely to all who needed comfort and help of any kind.

Beautiful Mrs. Tom Butler, frightened from Rose Hill by another sinister rumor of the war cry of the enemy also took refuge at the rectory with her four children, and at different times during that spring and summer others sought shelter with the well-beloved rector, counselor and friend of the whole community.

Later in July came the news of Manassas A. R. Boteler’s son, Alexander, Jr. had been wounded, but little could be learned of his condition. Hearts were filled with anxiety for him and with grief for dear ones whose names were on the list of the slain. Tucker and Holmes Conrad, Peyton Harrison, W. F. Lee – these and others not less dear fell in that first great battle of the war. Old Mr. Conrad had met the messenger bringing him tidings of his boys at the gate.

“Which?” he asked.
“Both” was the answer.
There was at all times a wonderful calm about those who suffered loss. No “wind of words” bore back the rising tide of sorrow following a battle.
– (1).

Brothers in blood, in faith
Brothers in youthful bloom
Brothers in life
Brothers in death
Brothers in one same tomb
Well fought they the good fight
in death the victory won
sprung at one bound to heaven’s light
and God’s eternal son
Written by David Holmes Conrad and carved on the tomb of his two sons Holmes and Tucker
July 21-22, 1861 Manassas
Pvt Henry Tucker Conrad, Sgt Holmes Addison Conrad

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Thy Will Be Done – Chapters 6a & 7 by Jim Surkamp. War Explodes in Jefferson County; The Battle of Manassas/Bull Run is Over; William Lee is Dying

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Chapter 6a:

Jefferson County’s fighting age male Union sympathizers, threatened with arrest for treason against the newly forming Confederacy, left the County and as the gravitational forces of solidarity brought most of the remaining white young men to enlistment points for the Confederacy – their “destiny was with Virginia” as Logan Osburn of Kabletown so famously concluded. Their wives and mothers began feverishly making havelocks and clothing for their young men. Roughly nine hundred men from Jefferson County would fight for the Confederacy in thirteen different units during the war. At least 130 Jefferson County-born, African-Americans fought in the United States Colored Troops and a smaller number of white Countians enlisted in a variety of scattered Federal units. Eight thousand enlistees would flock to Bolivar Heights by May 23rd from as far away as Mississippi, joined soon by a mercurial West Point-graduated professor from Virginia Military Institute named Thomas Jonathan Jackson who quickly put them through their paces and drilled them so relentlessly that notions of war as a grand, brief lark were dashed and some complained that the exercises were meant to kill them sooner than a fired bullet. James Allen was there, while his wife, Julia Pendleton Allen and their young son, Hugh Pendleton Allen, were at home on their County farm. George Rust Bedinger, Henry Bedinger’s son by a previous marriage, and who rode in the ring tournament a few years prior on his horse “Saladin” was there. with Alexander Boteler, Junior. The former was confident, encouraging, skillful; the latter, often angry to distraction because Bedinger mocked him mercilessly, for he suffered from a stutter. William Fitzhugh Lee, a career army officer was raised, in part, by the Shepherdstown Lees after his father died in Alexandria. By the time of the war, he had graduated from Virginia Military Institute, had married Lillie Parran of Shepherdstown, and fathered their daughter, Laura. In April, 1861, he arrived to help in the instruction of the ever-increasing numbers of hungry recruits at Bolivar Heights all thinking they would defend Harper’s Ferry against invasion. His family were at their home on the northeast corner of German and Mill Streets, with Lillie’s re-married mother, Laura Parran Towner. Edwin Grey Lee, who once dressed up as the “Knight of Alhambra” at the erstwhile tournament – the eldest son of Edmund and Henrietta Lee – likewise came “to camp” and was soon Jackson’s aide-to-camp. The Lees tried to visit him at Camp Jackson and Bolivar Heights near Harper’s Ferry while drilling was underway. Henrietta Lee wrote her eldest daughter, Ida Rust: Your Papa took Virginia (George Bedinger’s sister, also called “Diddie”and me up to see them last week. We met with our usual luck; broke down twice, and after various delays and accidents got there at half-past three, stayed half an hour, and jolted home, which we reached at ten o’clock at night, being eleven hours in the spring wagon. Lee continued to Ida about their relative in Connecticut, Susan Cornwall: I am sorry to say she has joined her voice to the baying and barking of the Northern bloodhounds, and seems crazy upon the subject of the Flag, Union and Constitution. . . Oh, at times I am so sick of noise and wrangling and contest that I long for the wings of a dove to flee away. Henry Kyd Douglas, the 23-year-old, one time president of that ring tournament from a few years before, who lived with his family at Ferry Hill overlooking the Potomac from the Maryland side – arrived at the camp, come what may. His father, Rev. Robert Douglas was part-owner of the valuable covered, wooden bridge at river’s edge. Personally I had no feeling of resentment against the people of the north because of their desire for the emancipation of the enslaved, for I believed Negro slavery was a curse to the people of the Middle States. As a boy I had determined never to own any one. When on the 17th April, 1861 the Virginia Convention passed the Ordinance of Secession, I had no doubt of my duty. In a week I was back on the Potomac. When I found my mother sewing on heavy shirts – with a heart doubtless heavier than I knew – I suspected for what and whom they were being made. In a few days I was at Harper’s Ferry, a private in the Shepherdstown Company, Company “B”, Second Virginia Infantry. On June 13, 1861, General Joseph Johnston, who replaced the less experienced Jackson, won the argument to not stay and defend Harper’s Ferry and ordered his force to evacuate Harper’s Ferry taking different directions. Some moved up the river, another larger force towards Charlestown. They would reunite in Berkeley County, make their way, some using rail, towards Bull Run/Manassas and fight in the first major battle of the war. Meantime the federal army under General Robert Patterson was, basically duped into remaining in the local region, not detecting the hurried movement of Johnston’s men to the Manassas battle location. Douglas wrote: When Federal General Robert Patterson began to demonstrate from Hagerstown to cross the Potomac at Williamsport, General Johnston determined to evacuate Harper’s Ferry. I was with the regiment that marched to Shepherdstown to destroy the bridge over the Potomac at that point. I was with the company that set fire to it, and when, in the glare of the burning timbers, I saw the glowing windows in my home on the hill beyond the river and knew my father was a stockholder in the property that I was helping to destroy, I realized that war had begun. I knew that I was severing all connection between me and my family and understood the sensation of one, who, sitting aloft on the limb of a tree, cuts it off between himself and the trunk, and awaits results. Not long after I saw the heavens lighted up over in Maryland one dark night and knew that the gorgeous bonfire was made from the material and contents of my father’s barn, I saw that I was advancing rapidly in a knowledge of the meaning of war. As the armies inched closer to clashing, more men in Jefferson County enlisted – or at least tried to: At Westwood near Summit Point, Hugh Nelson Pendleton’s son, Dudley Digges Pendleton, a half-brother to Col. Allen’s wife, Julia, was a graduate of Washington College. He had not yet realized his future wife “Tippie” Boteler. He enlisted June 19th into the First Rockbridge Artillery at Winchester, as war began to unfold. At the Bower farm, sixteen-year-old Adam Stephen Dandridge wanted to enlist but was prevented by his concerned parents. On July 2nd, 1861, as the first area battle erupted in Berkeley County at Falling Waters, the cannon could be heard across the Valley with a different, strange effect on each individual who met the blasts. Wrote Dandridge’s daughter, Serena Dandridge, much later: It was a piping hot July day, the first day of harvest in the long bottom, along the creek. The wheat was standing tall and fine that year, a heavy crop. Father was swinging the first cradle, and the colored cradlers were strung out in a long line beside him. He was only sixteen, but over six feet tall and wiry and tough. As the cradling went on, the sun’s heat beat down more and more fiercely. Suddenly the booming of cannon was heard from over the hills in the direction of Martinsburg. Like an electric shock, the words – “The war has begun!” – ran through the field. Father said he saw one of the cradlers, a big strong colored man, give a yell and jump straight up in the air and fall down dead with sunstroke (It may be assumed that it was a heart condition. In the field, all was in confusion. Father flung his cradle down, and he and some of the boys got on horses and went off to join the battle. The dead man was carried home. The boys and horses were eventually corralled and brought back, the easier because the battle, which was only a skirmish, was over before they arrived. This was only the FIRST time Steve ran off to join the army.When father was a young boy, The Bower was a busy and peaceful spot. He had learned to swim by being tossed into the flooded creek from the foot bridge by one of the older cousins, Phillip Pendleton Cooke, with orders to “swim you little devil.” The manly art of self defense was not neglected, and papa was a match for the best, black or white, but he says their bouts were always friendly. As the time of the Civil War drew near, excitement was in the air, and the boys made themselves bows and arrows and staged sham battles. One well-remembered day Steve dared the others to shoot at him, and one of the neighbor boys stepped up drew a bead on him quoting: “For Phillip’s right eye!” The arrow landed in father’s right eye. Of course the pain was terrible. Finally a cataract formed over the eye, and he was often in severe pain during the war.

Chapterette 7 – Willie Lee is Dying and E.G. Lee Remembers:

Chapter 7: The Battle of Manassas/Bull Run is Over; William Lee is Dying: William Morgan Writes “My dear Anna” About Events: Thirty-one-year-old William F. Lee of Shepherdstown falls at Manassas. The family comes to his bedside: A touching first-hand account of the Battle of First Manassas was written in a personal letter from William Lee’s beloved cousin, Edwin Gray Lee, to William’s mother, Mary Catherine Lee, describing the battle, his lingering illness, and death. You know we left Winchester on the 18th of July. We reached Manassas Junction on the 19th and on the morning of Saturday the 20th we were placed in the reserve to General Longstreet behind the woods in rear of the Battlefield of the 18th. While we lay there I repeatedly saw Willie and conversed and laughed with him. Early on the morning of the 21st we were moved and we continued to shift our position until about 10 A.M. when we finally took one in reserve to Gen. Bee’s Brigade. During this morning I saw William frequently. About 11 o’clock we got a request from Gen. Bee to come to his support. Gen. Jackson (I was his aide-de-camp) sent me to move the various regiments forward. And the last time I saw Willie was just as I bore the order to Col. Cummings to move his men. He was looking as calm and cheerful as ever. I saw him, and at 20 minutes before 12 o’clock, we entered the battle. The order of our Brigade was as follows – On the right was the 5th Regt. Next to the 4th, the 27th was in column in reserve to the 4th, and in front of the 4th were 21 pieces of our artillery. On the left of the 4th was the 2nd, and on the left of the 2nd the 33d, which was Wm’s Regiment. which made the left of the Brigade. About 2 P.M. the battle became terrific, while the sharp rattle and the occasional thunder of a volley from a whole Regiment, mingled with the crashing of shot, the shriek and whistle of bullets, the bursting shell, and the hoarse, loud tone of fierce command made it all seem doubly terrific and grand. About 2:30 or 3 P.M. “Rickett’s Battery” was brought on the hill, put into position and unlimbered. It fired two shots, when it was charged by the 33rd. They drove the yankees from the guns but were not strong enough to hold them, and were driven back. They charged again, William leading the left wing and Colonel Cummings the right, and again took the battery and again had to abandon it. It was in this charge that William. was shot. (All these particulars I learned afterwards.) Col. Cummings rallied his men, charged the third time, and took and kept the Battery. The 33rd lost more than one third in killed and wounded. (NOTE: Of 450 men present in the 33rd Virginia Regiment, 43 were killed and 140 wounded. When Willie was shot, he walked back up the hill, but did not fall. He remarked to an officer, “I am shot”: and the blood began to trickle from his breast. He was assisted to a distance of more than half a mile in the rear of the battlefield ground, and he then had to lie down. About 3 o’clock I was accosted by Dr. Cornelius Baldwin of the 33rd who asked me if I knew Capt. Lee was shot. My heart sank as I told him no, and I begged him to take me to him. He said no, if I could stay with Dr. McGuire (who was overwhelmed there with the wounded) he would bring him there. I urged him to make all speed, and in a few minutes he brought William to us in a light spring wagon. We lifted him out as tenderly as we could and laid him in the shade, on the ground. The day was extremely hot and all around us was dust and confusion. Wounded men in every conceivable state of mutilation and lying all around. Dr. McGuire immediately unbuttoned Willie’s coat and vest as far as he could. The wound was right in the centre of the breast between the 1st and 2nd studs of his shirt. The missile that inflicted the wound had struck the third button of his coat, partly tore it off, and it passed downwards, driving the cloth of the coat, waistcoat and small waistcoat button, together with his shirt, about an inch-and-a-half into the breast. It required nearly the whole of the surgeon’s strength to draw these things from the wound, while I held him in my arms. The wound gave him much pain; the Dr. carefully dressed it and laid him down in quite an easy position. Whatever it was that struck him did not enter the breast: It either fell off, rebounding when he was shot, or else it was pulled out, unobserved, with the clothing. He was too much hurt to be allowed to talk, and the only communication he made was either assent or dissent, indicated by the movement of his head. After his wound was dressed, I gave him some water and asked him if he felt easier. He nodded. I then told him he must not speak, but that I must tell him that we had whipped the enemy and would soon drive them from the field. Just then our gallant Brigade made its final charge, and Generals E.K. Smith and Elzey came up with their fresh troops. The enemy broke and ran in the wildest panic, and the mighty, never, never-to-be forgotten shout of victory arose. I sat down by him and said: “Willie, do you hear that? We’ve whipped them and they are flying! The day is ours and we have gained an overwhelming victory!! Oh, how his glorious eye brightened, as he feebly waved his hand, and still more feebly whispered “hurrah!” At this moment Brig. General Jackson came up with a shattered finger to have it dressed; as soon as it was done, he directed me to get on my horse and ride back with him on the field. A young friend who was by Willie’s side assured me he would never leave him and would see him well and comfortably taken care of and fixed. I was utterly unable to leave the field of battle until after dark, and even then I had not fulfilled the orders I had to execute. I got to my Brigade about midnight: and next morning early I went to the house where I learned Willie had been taken. It was owned by some good Scotch people named “Pringle.” The house was full of wounded, among them Br. Gen. E. K. Smith, who was removed during the day. Willie was in a large room downstairs and during all the time save three days, was alone. My excellent young Harrison from Berkeley, was by him, nursing him as tenderly as though it had been his own brother. He had been up with him the whole night. Willie was still suffering very much, but was much better. He had the best medical attendance the army afforded, in Drs. McGuire, Conrad and Straith. The latter was with him day and night the whole time. He was still forbidden to talk; but he beckoned me to him and said, in a low whisper: “Eddie, write to Lil and Mother.” I said: “Yes Willie, but don’t talk.” He smiled and was perfectly quiet. All that day and night he was in much pain, but it diminished and the next morning (Tuesday) he was much better. Before day I went to his wife, and in the morning as soon as I got a little rest, I wrote to you. He seemed to suffer less all day than he had done, and during part of it, seemed really bright, and I couldn’t help hoping he would get well. He asked me twice if I had written to you, and seemed quite satisfied when I told him I had, but I wouldn’t let him or rather did not encourage him to talk of you although I knew his thoughts were with you and his wife and child continually. At night he was not so comfortable as during the day, but next morning he brightened up again and continued so much better until Thursday; indeed until Friday morning early that I determined to write to you saying that the Drs. hoped for his recovery, as indeed they did during part of Wednesday and Thursday. But it did not continue. Young Harrison had to leave me on Tuesday morning, when my cousin, George Bedinger came to aid me in nursing him. To both of them we owe many, many thanks. Their kindness and watchful attention could not have been greater possibly. Cousin Lillie did not get my letter, as I did not know where she was. But being at Strasburg, she learned on Wednesday that Willie was wounded and on Thursday she and Mrs. Swann, her cousin, came to the house where we were. They had great difficulty in getting there, but the kindness of some officers helped them through. During all this time Col. Cummings and others of his Regiment came over continually to enquire after him. Dr. Talcott Eliason, who lived up the road some little way, was more than kind, also. Eliason supplied so many comforts and conveniences. On Friday morning Willie began to grow worse. In the afternoon Mrs. Towner (Lillie’s mother) and Pa and Edmund came. I knew then from the Surgeon there was no hope. Oh how my dear father wept over one whom he loved as his own son! Constantly Willie asked us briefly as possible, to read to him and sing to him. And every thought, and every breath was but full of confidence and faith and love towards our Heavenly Father and the Blessed Savior. He grew gradually worse from this, gangrene having ensued. On Saturday he said “Dr. is there any hope”? Straith (who was unremitting in his efforts) replied “I fear there is none”. His wife and all of us were around him. He said: “I had hoped to live, but if Thou orderest otherwise, Oh Father, Thy will be done”. He asked Pa to pray; but he was weeping so that he could not and I prayed for him, for his wife and child, for his Mother and for us who loved him dearly: “That all of us might bow with humble hearts to the will of that God whose every act is full of love; that we might kiss the hand that ever chastens for our good and remember that those who departed in Jesus, were only ‘gone before’.” And when I finished, he took up the prayer, for he could not talk much, but how fervently and how, how beautifully. And I know that God will answer that prayer of his faithful dying servant. From this moment he was conscious scarcely at all. He suffered much until Sunday night: but after that he was insensible to pain. I sat by him, watched him, nursed him and scarcely ever left his side during the whole time. But I have nothing more to tell. At twenty minutes before nine o’clock on Tuesday night, July 30th his brave heart ceased to throb and the blessed Father of Mercy took him to Himself. And when I looked upon his thin but calm and beloved face (for oh dear Aunt I loved him) my heart went up to God for those he left behind. And surely He will be with and bless them for hath He not promised? He was so gentle, so patient, so full of love to those who were around him. He has only gone before, dear Aunt Mary, to await you in his Father’s home. The faithful soldier of Christ’s Cross has gone to join his Lord’s glorious army – never, never more to leave it. I have since then been commissioned as Major to the 33rd Regiment which he was on duty with; and often wish you could hear the expressions of regard, respect and love with which the command, from its commanding officer to the command soldier invariably speak of him. No sadder loss than that of his loss could ever have been made to them. He fell, not unmarked, unknown, & unloved; but with his sword in his strong grasp, as the leader of gallant soldiers many of whom fell by his side, and mourned by hundreds who knew him but to love him. And above all, far above all, he fell, not without hope in God – And to that Gracious God and Loving Father, dear Aunt I commend you: Oh may He in his Great Mercy be with you, bless you, sustain you, & comfort you. My God, my Father, while I stray, Far from my home on life’s rough way, Oh, teach me from my heart to say,“Thy will be done.” Though dark my path and sad my lot, Let me be still and murmur not, But breathe the prayer divinely taught, “Thy will be done.” Renew my will from day to day; Blend it with Thine and take away, All that now makes it hard to say, “Thy will be done.” Let but my fainting heart be blest, With Thy sweet Spirit for its Guest; My God, to Thee I leave the rest, “Thy will be done.” Though thou hast called me to resign, What most I prized, it ne’er was mine; I have but yielded what was Thine, “Thy will be done.” Renew my will from day to day; Blend it with Thine and take away, All that now makes it hard to say, “Thy will be done.” Then, when on earth I breathe no more, The prayers, oft mixed with tears before, I’ll sing upon a happier shore, “Thy will be done,” ”Thy will be done.”

NEXT: Chapterette 8. Click Here.

“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 9 October-December, 1861 – Fountain Rock’s Nighttime Search Takes Away Lizzie’s Husband Rezin Davis Shepherd Jr. To Prison by Jim Surkamp

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Elizabeth Stockton Boteler-mrs Rezin Davis Shepherd + Alexander R. Shepherd-her son2

During the next two months Davis Shepherd spent most of his time in camp, but when off duty would come to his family at Fountain Rock.

In November, 1861 all the Confederate forces on the river were called in and he was ordered to report with his company to Colonel McDonald at Winchester. The same day that this order was received a message was brought to him that Redmond Burke had escaped from the Old Capitol Prison in Washington and was waiting to see him in Shepherdstown. Davis met the Confederate scout in the village and received from his hands copies of the plans of fortifications around Washington. Burke feared that he might be taken and wanted copies of his papers to be in safe hands in case of accident

The men of Davis’ company were housed for the night in the old market house and he came back to Fountain Rock. In the meantime, Mrs. S. one of the Union sympathizers of the town, was hastening up the river to the yankee camp with word of Redmond Burke’s return and of the whereabouts of Davis and his company.

Acting on information given by this woman, the soldiers encamped in Maryland, crossed the river and came to Fountain Rock at midnight. The rap of bayonets on the door roused the family, who were ready in a few moments to meet the crowd of soldiers who pushed into the house and swarmed all over it in every direction.

Davis Shepherd disappeared at the first noise of their approach and no one knew where he had hidden himself – a much safer situation than if the four frightened women had helped him find a hiding place. A demand was made for candles to aid in the search, and Helen (Tippie) Boteler went to the pantry, but was so closely surrounded by men that she could not raise her hand from her side. She could raise her voice, however, and cried out indignantly, “Is this to be allowed?” Immediately the men fell back, and procuring the necessary light, she carried it for the searchers from room-to-room.

They thrust their bayonets through every mattress, even lifting with the point of a bayonet, the mattress of the crib in which little Fanny was sitting up in still, wide-eyed terror. Finding an old musket in the corner of one of the garret rooms, they seized on it with enthusiasm.

“Cap! aw, Cap! here’s a gun.” One of them cried. “Take it by all means,” said Tippie holding up the candle. “You will find it worthless. There are no useful arms here; they are all in the hands of our brave soldiers!” This pronounced with as much fervor as she could command seemed to end their interest in the weapon and they left it where it stood.

Finally they came to a curious cubby-hole under the roof where the old and newer parts of the building joined. This low attic space was entered by one of the soldiers, who had to crawl through a doorway not more than two-and-a-half feet high to search it. He came back in a moment, his face white and eyes staring. “There’s a man in there!” he exclaimed, with as much fear in his tone as if he had found a wildcat. Davis Shepherd came out before they had time to fire at him and stood tall and straight in the narrow landing at the head of the garret stairs, facing his captors. He had taken off his uniform containing the papers and left them under the eaves. The soldiers did not go back for them, but allowing time only for a hasty completion of toilet carried him off with them at once.

When the little group of women saw him there in the hands of the enemy with an unknown fate before him, all possibility of brave sounding speech left them, and husband and wife said goodbye with the expressionless quiet of desperate self-control.

On their way through town the company separated. One of the squad went to the market house. The leader knocked at the door and called out in the darkness. “Get up, boys! Davis Shepherd is out here and wants you right away!” “All right!” “We’re coming!” “I’ll go anywhere with Davis!” “I’d get up to fight a yankee any time of night!” Came the answering calls from Davis’ guard as they scrambled from bed and went out one-by-one to meet their unexpected capture. The other division of the company was on the lookout for Redmond Burke. They had been directed to the house of George McGlincy, the town constable. Not finding the man they wanted here, they took McGlincy prisoner instead.

But Redmond Burke was in the house all the time. When the alarm came, he was seized with terror. He was a brave man, but the idea of being trapped this way was an agony! “Hide me! Hide me!” he begged of McGlincy’s daughter. She took him to the top of the house and pointed to the rafters. A man could lie along one of the heavy beams in the obscurity of the dark garret in comparative safety if he could once get there. Burke looked up, measuring the distance above his head with a quick eye, then turned to “Gin” McGlincy in dismay. “Here, stand on my shoulder!” she whispered; and she stood firm while he swung himself up, his heavy-nailed boot making a deep mark in her flesh.

As she came down the stairs she met the search party who were just entering. The sight of them filled her with anger, and taking her stand at the head of the narrow stairway with an axe handle she beat back the soldiers who attempted to come up. When she finally allowed them to pass her, Burke had so successfully hidden himself that they soon gave up the search.

In the dark dawn, the soldiers rowed back across the river with their prisoners and discussed the adventures of the night in Davis Shepherd’s hearing. “My, but don’t those rings on Miss Boteler’s fingers sparkle!” said one. “I’m coming back to get ‘em someday!”

“I’d like to have a picture of her!” said another. “Did you see how her black eyes flashed when she said: “They’re all in the hands of our brave soldiers?” mimicking the dramatic manner of (Tippie Boteler-JS) .

One must not at this late day dwell upon the horror of prison life nor tell the story of all that Davis Shepherd suffered while in the hands of the Federal authorities. Two deliberate attempts were made upon his life, one at Keedysville and again at Williamsport. He was put in solitary confinement. At one time he was taken desperately ill and the doctor who tended him looked him over and remarked, “It’s a pity Alex Boteler’s son-in-law should die a natural death!”

When they reached Washington he was made to march up and down the streets in the custody of his self-important captors until he could walk no further. They had to carry him at last to his cell in the Old Capitol prison. When the articles for exchanging him as a political prisoner were prepared – it was said he was a prisoner of war; and when preparations were made for his exchange as a prisoner of war, he was declared a political prisoner. His health was wrecked by poisoned food given him; every indignity was put upon him. Filth and disease surrounded him. – (1).

NEXT: Chapterette 10. Click Here.

“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 12-13 The Battle of Antietam & The Bower Legend by Jim Surkamp

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Just before Antietam, when the Confederate troops passed over into Maryland, Davis Shepherd, Junior rode to Kearneysville to meet them and came into Shepherdstown at the head of the army on his beloved horse – “Jinny” – a soldier among soldiers once more, though armed only a riding whip. The weight of his oath of neutrality seemed for a time lifted from him. – (1).

War ravaged the fields of Virginia harvesting men, remnants strewn as Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson coordinated a series of stunning reversals on the poorly led men fighting for the Union cause.

Then Lee boldly calculated to move his 70,000 men across the Potomac River at White’s and other fords the first week of September into the North. He hoped to carry the momentum to a negotiated separation from the United States for the Confederacy by demoralizing and swaying voters in the Northern states as they planned to vote for new Congressmen in November. Virginia needed to recover and harvest its grain. He may have known that England had already placed on its agenda a decision on whether to throw its weight – and domination of the seas – in favor of a “dis-uniting” of the United States – pending results of fighting on the battlefields of Maryland. The Deciding Stage was set.

But Lee knew grimly that his best fighters who were with him that hot, dry September could not last in a long war against the North’s deep resources and manpower. He played all his cards that September. This, Lee felt, was the last, best chance for the South to strike a winning blow. – (2).

The Dragons Are Approaching:

September, 1862, was in the skies of the almanac, but August still reigned in ours; it was hot and dusty. The railroads in the Shenandoah Valley had been torn up, the bridges had been destroyed, communication had been made difficult, and Shepherdstown, cornered by the bend of the Potomac, lay as if forgotten in the bottom of somebody’s pocket. We were without news or knowledge, except when some chance traveler would repeat the last wild and uncertain rumor that he had heard. We had passed an exciting summer. Winchester had changed hands more than once; we had been “in the Confederacy” and out of it again, and were now waiting, in an exasperated state of ignorance and suspense, for the next move in the great game. – (3).

Surprised that the 12,700-man garrison at Harper’s Ferry was not evacuated to be closer to Washington, Lee daringly decided to capture the garrison, entailing Lee’s breaking-up of up his army, which had dwindled down to just 40,000 from the 70,000 ten days prior. Men were exhausted, filthy, only semi-clad, and would at times, just lay down on grass and die.

Lee sent more than half his army towards Harpers Ferry less than seventeen miles away, but in three very different directions to encircle the garrison commanded by a fusty general named Dixon Miles. Stonewall Jackson led the force of 28,000. – (4).

Some of Jackson’s men coming to Harper’s Ferry from the west passed through Shepherdstown.

We found ourselves on Saturday morning, September 13th, surrounded by a hungry horde of lean, dusty tatterdemalions, who seemed to rise from the ground at our feet. I did not know where they came from, or to whose command they belonged; I have since been informed that General Jackson recrossed into Virginia at Williamsport, and hastened to Harper’s Ferry by the shortest roads. This would take him some four miles south of us, and our haggard apparitions were perhaps a part of his force. They were stragglers, at all events – professionals, some of them, but some worn out by the incessant strain of that summer. When I say that they were hungry, I convey no impression of the gaunt starvation that looked from their cavernous eyes. All day they crowded to the doors of our houses, with always the same drawling complaint: “I’ve been a-marchin’ an’ a-fightin’ for six weeks stiddy, an’ I wish you’d please to gimme a bite to eat.”

Their looks bore out their statements and when they told us they had “clean gin out,” we believed them, and went to get what he had. They could be seen afterward asleep in every fence corner and under every tree, but after a night’s rest they “pulled themselves together” somehow and disappeared as suddenly as they had come. – (5).

If the Federal Commander Gen. George B. McClellan ever knew that Lee – located just a short march to the west from his own 87,000 men encamped around Frederick, Maryland – had scattered his much smaller army across fifty square miles with a river dividing it, Lee would have been doomed. One would think.

But McClellan, in fact, DID learn all about Lee’s situation at just the right time to act, but Lee survived.

The order that Lee shared with three division commanders on September 9th was being read avidly by Gen. McClellan in Frederick’s marketplace by noon on September 13th. Two privates using an abandoned, once-Confederate camp site near Buckeystown, saw in the debris what looked like cigars wrapped in paper. Of course it turned out the paper was far more important than the cigars. – (6).

“At last, now I know what to do! Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home.” McClellan famously said to Gen. John Gibbon nearby.

It became one of the most dramatic battles because Jackson’s men had to capture Harper’s Ferry’s 12,700 man garrison in almost no time allowed, and make the daylong march back to Lee’s army fragment at Sharpsburg – before Lee’s fragment army was wiped out by McClellan’s witting, advancing army of 87,000. In fact, hastened by the information from the found lost order, the very first of McClellan’s men to cross the Antietam Creek to Sharpsburg did so a bare three hours after the last of Lee’s men. And the Federals, perhaps surprising the Confederates with their celerity, fought and beat the rear-guard Confederates, all across South Mountain – the north-south ridge separating the two armies as they advanced.

The Confederate wounded began arriving at Pack Horse Ford just below the sleepy Virginia town of Shepherdstown.

Monday afternoon (September 15th) at about two or three o’clock, when we were sitting about in disconsolate fashion, distracted by the contradictory rumors, our negro cook rushed into the room, her face working with excitement. She had been down in the ten-acre lot to pick a few ears of corn and she had seen a long train of wagons coming up from the ford and, (she said) “They are full of wounded men, and the blood is running out of them that deep,” measuring on her outstretched arm to the shoulder. This horrible picture sent us flying to town, where we found the streets already crowded, the people all astir, and the foremost wagons of what seemed an endless line, discharging their piteous burdens. The scene speedily became ghastly, but fortunately we could not stay to look at it. There were no preparations, no accommodations – the men could not be left in the street – what was to be done? . . . Here they were, unannounced, on brick pavements, and the first thing was to find roofs to cover them. Men ran for keys and opened up the shops long empty, and the unused rooms; other people got brooms and stirred up the dust of ages; the swarms of children began to appear with bundles of hay and straw, taken from anybody’s stable. These were hastily disposed in heaps, covered with blankets – the soldiers’ own, or blankets begged or borrowed. – (7).

On the Eve of An Epic Battle

As night drew nearer, whispers of a great battle to be fought the next day grewlouder, and we shuddered at the prospect, for battles had come to mean to us, as they never had before, blood, wounds and death. – (8).

Wrote Federal officer Rufus Dawes the night before Antietam: We passed over open fields and through orchards and gardens, and the men filled their pockets and empty haversacks with apples. About dusk, sharp musketry and cannonading began in our front. It was nine o clock at night when our brigade reached the position assigned it. The men laid down upon the ground, formed in close column, muskets loaded and lines parallel with the turnpike. Once or twice during the night, heavy volleys of musketry crashed in the dark woods on our left. There was a drizzling rain, and with the certain prospect of deadly conflict on the morrow, the night was dismal. Nothing can be more solemn than a period of silent waiting for the summons to battle, known to be impending. – (9).

The day began overcast, but became later a cloudless, blue-sky, perfect day in the mid-seventies. Col. John Gordon of the 6th Alabama Regiment later wrote: “It was in marked contrast with other battle-grounds. On the open plain, where stood these hosts of long hostile lines listening in silence for the signal summoning them to battle. There were no breastworks, no intervening woodlands, nor abrupt hills, nor hiding-places, nor impassable streams. The space over which the assaulting columns were to march, and on which was soon to occur the tremendous struggle, consisted of smooth and gentle undulations and a narrow valley covered with green grass and growing corn. From the position assigned me near the centre of Lee’s lines, both armies and the entire field were in view. The scene was not only magnificent to look upon, but the realization of what it meant was deeply impressive. Even in times of peace our sensibilities are stirred by the sight of a great army passing in review. How infinitely more thrilling in the dread moments before the battle to look upon two mighty armies upon the same plain. . .” – (10).

Then the bloodiest day in American military history began in the dew and fog from a night rain.

On the 17th of September, cloudy skies looked down upon the two armies facing each other on the fields of Maryland. It seems to me now that the roar of that day began with the light, and all through its long, dragging hours its thunder formed a background to our pain and terror. If we had been in doubt as to our friends’ whereabouts on Sunday, (possibly referring to Dudley Digges Pendleton, Henry Kyd Douglas, Edwin Gray Lee, among others-JS) – there was no room for doubt now. There was no sitting at the windows now and counting discharges of guns, or watching (as they did during the Harpers Ferry battle) the curling smoke.

We went about our work with pale faces and trembling hands, yet trying to appear composed for the sake of our patients, who were much excited. We could hear the incessant explosions of artillery, the shrieking whistles of the shells, and the sharper, deadlier, more thrilling roll of musketry; while every now and then the echo of some charging cheer would be borne by the wind, and as the human voice pierced the demoniacal clangor we would catch our breath and listen, and try not to sob, and turn back to the forlorn hospitals, to the suffering at our feet and before our eyes, while imagination fainted at the thought of those other scenes hidden from us beyond the Potomac.

On our side of the river there were noise, confusion, dust; throngs of stragglers; horseman galloping about; wagons blocking each other, and teamsters wrangling; and a continued din of shouting, swearing, and rumbling, in the midst of which men were dying, fresh wounded arriving, surgeons amputating limbs and dressing wounds, women going in and out with bandages, lint, medicines, food. An ever-present sense of anguish, dread, pity, and I fear, hatred – these are my recollections of Antietam. – (11).

There was this terrific battle. The noise was as much As the limits of possible noise could take. There were screams higher groans deeper Than any ear could hold. Many eardrums burst and some walls Collapsed to escape the noise. Everything struggled on its way Through this tearing deafness As through a torrent in a dark cave. The cartridges were banging off, as planned, The fingers were keeping things going According to excitement and orders. The unhurt eyes were full of deadliness. The bullets pursued their courses Through clods of stone, earth, and skin, Through intestines pocket-books, brains, hair, teeth According to Universal laws And mouths cried “Mamma” From sudden traps of calculus, Theorems wrenched men in two, Shock-severed eyes watched blood Squandering as from a drain-pipe Into the blanks between the stars. Faces slammed down into clay As for the making of a life-mask Knew that even on the sun’s surface They could not be learning more or more to the point Reality was giving it’s lesson, Its mishmash of scripture and physics, With here, brains in hands, for example, And there, legs in a treetop. There was no escape except into death. And still it went on–it outlasted Many prayers . . . – (12).

Roughly 40,000 artillery shells were fired that day, some 20-pounders traveling as far as 1900 feet traveling at 1,250 feet per second. Possibly a hundred muskets or rifles fired every second for hours. – (13).

No one ever talks about the sound. It was a day of only thunderous sound in Shepherdstown over two miles away.

Gen. Alpheus Williams wrote his wife in New York City: The roar of the infantry was beyond anything conceivable. . . Imagine from 8,000 to 10,000 men on one side, with probably a larger number on the other, all at once discharging their muskets. If all the stone and brick houses of Broadway should tumble at once the roar and rattle could hardly be greater, and amidst this, hundreds of pieces of artillery, right and left, were thundering as a sort of bass to the infernal music. – (14).

It is utterly incomprehensible and perfectly inconceivable how mortal men can stand and live under such an infantry fire as I heard today. Judging from the way the musketry roared the whole surrounding air between the lines must have been thick with flying lead. – (15).

Cheated out of a meal by the order, Gen. John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade charged with “a shout as piercing as the blast of a thousand bugles” across a cornfield toward federal positions in the morning – a fierce futile charge that dropped 82 per cent of all the soldiers in one charging regiment. – (16).

Both commanding generals were ill-informed, Lee thinking his army was closer to 70,000 not yet realizing the deep loss to straggling; McClellan, always one to operate on the estimate of the enemy’s forces at what could charitably be called the “maximum possible” number. McClellan acted in a way that reflected his strange conviction that Lee had 100,000 men.

But what enabled Lee to manage the slaughter better than McClellan was where he chose to watch things. The more inexperienced McClellan set up shop in a comfortable home two miles to the north getting his intelligence through the lens of a telescope, eyed by someone other than himself. The concluding written-down orders were then galloped out to the battlefield to the appropriate commander, often long after the orders pertained.

Lee, more experienced and oblivious to personal physical risk it would seem, watched with his hand seriously hurt and bandaged from his horse near the Hagerstown Pike on a knoll. There, he was able to see emerging dangers and lateral off verbal orders directly to the intended commander.

How the two Generals opted to be informed almost determined the outcome.

The whole day – and the war itself – was coming down to a “warm” discussion among Generals McClellan, Sumner and Franklin on whether McClellan should make use of about 20,500 fresh, undeployed men into the battle – right at a time, unbeknownst to them – when Lee had virtually no reserves left and was fighting almost on pride alone. – (17).

Thousands of well-led federals closed in from the Sunken Lane area on what remained of the paltry Confederate position near Hagerstown Pike. Confederate Captain M. B. Miller double-charged his two guns with spherical case and canister causing them to leap ten to twelve inches into the air with each firing. With no time left, these only two brass guns — remarkably – brought down what observing Confederate General Longstreet called “the aggressive spirit of their right column” – Col. Francis Barlow and, another shot brought down the Federal commander of the entire front, Gen. Israel Richardson. The federal advance stalled, saving the Confederates. – (18).

Lee ordered Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart to probe the terrain between the extreme Union right and the riverbank of the Potomac to see if there was room to press the remnants of his army around the end of the Union line, to either escape or turn the Union line. But the prompt, persuasive reply from 42 Union guns quashed that plan.

Moreover, if the advancing, slightly opposed Union forces crossing the Burnside Bridge, totaling 8,600 men, could get to the Main Street of Sharpsburg, then all Confederate escape routes were blocked and the entrapped army of Northern Virginia would be defeated.

By 4 PM, McClellan chose to agree with Gen. Sumner, calling off any offensive on the main battlefield and decided to not attack Lee with his thousands of fresh bluecoats, leaving Lee able to fight another day. – (19).

Federal Genls. George Greene, who captured the Dunker plateau earlier in that day, and the wounded Joe Hooker, whose men fought all morning, both volcanically cursed at this premature quitting.

Musing on McClellan’s wayward thought processes to not take action, Lee’s chief of artillery, Edwin Porter Alexander, later wrote: For Common Sense was just shouting, “Your adversary is back against a river, with no bridge & only one ford, & that the worst one on the whole river. If you whip him now, you destroy him utterly, root and branch and bag and baggage. Not twice in a life time does such a chance come to any general. Lee for once has made a mistake, and given you a chance to ruin him if you can break his lines, and such game is worth great risks. Every man must fight and keep on fighting for all he is worth. – (20).

What about the one last chance for victory for the Federals?

Burnside’s drive was thrown back by the perfect attack by Confederate Gen. A. P. Hill’s 3500 men, arriving on their 17-mile march from Harper’s Ferry – a stunning clash that stilled the carnage at last on that impossible day.

. . .the explosives ran out And sheer weariness supervened And what was left looked round at what was left. Then everybody wept, Or sat, too exhausted to weep, Or lay, too hurt to weep. And when the smoke cleared it became clear This has happened too often before And was going to happen too often in the future And happened too easily Bones were too like lath and twigs Blood was too like water Cries were too like silence The most terrible grimaces too like footprints in mud. – (21).

After dark, Lee’s commanders drifted automatically back to Lee’s tent and each had a private conference with him.

Henry Kyd Douglas ventured out into the dark mystery of the sodden grounds, where cries inside a haystack faded into meuling – then silence. The dead and dying lay as thick over the land as harvest sheaves. The pitiable cries for water and appeals for help were much more horrible to listen to than the deadliest sounds of battle. Silent were the dead, but here and there were raised stiffened arms; heads made a last effort to lift themselves from the ground; prayers were mingled with oaths, the oaths of delirium; . . . men were wriggling over the earth; and the midnight hid all distinction between the blue and the gray.

My horse trembled under me in terror, looking down at the ground, sniffing at the scene of blood, stepping falteringly as a horse will, avoiding human flesh; afraid to stand still, hesitating to go on, his animal instinct shuddering at this cruel human mystery. – (22).

Wounded continued to overflow in Shepherdstown.

When night came we could still hear the sullen guns and hoarse, indefinite murmurs that succeeded the days’ turmoil. That night was dark and lowering and the air heavy and dull. Across the river innumerable camp-fires were blazing, and we could but too well imagine the scenes that they were lighting. We sat in silence, and a drawing close together, as if for comfort. We were never hopeless, yet clung with desperation to the thought that we were hoping. But in our hearts we could not believe that anything human could have escaped from that appalling fire. – (23)

On Thursday, September the 18th, the two armies lay idling facing each other, but we could not be idle. The wounded continued to arrive until the town was quite unable to hold all the disabled and suffering. They filled every building and overflowed into the country round, into farm-houses barns, corn-cribs, cabins – wherever four walls and a roof were found together. . . . There were six churches, and they were all full; the Odd Fellows’ Hall, the Freemasons’, the little Town Council room, the barn-like place known as the Drill Room, all the private houses after their capacity, the shops and empty buildings, the school-houses – every inch of space and yet the cry was for (more) room. The unfinished Town Hall had stood in naked ugliness for many a long day. Somebody threw a few rough boards across the beams, placed piles of straw over them, laid down single planks to walk upon, and lo, it was a hospital at once. The stone warehouses down in the ravine and by the river had been passed by, because low and damp and undesirable as sanitariums, but now their doors and windows were thrown wide, and with barely time allowed to sweep them, they were all occupied, even the “old blue factory,” an antiquated, crazy, dismal building of blue stucco that peeled off in great blotches, which had been shut for years, and was in the last stages of dilapidation. – (24).

Late on the 18th was almost moonless. Then, a thunder storm and Lee’s discovery that morning of just how weak his army had become – set cannon wheels rolling quietly down the pike, the soft shuffle of men marching at the double-quick into the water at Boteler’s Ford. 25,000 tattered men, carrying wounded, and getting away. All night Lee and Jackson stood on their horses in the Potomac River, as the often Clogged stream of wagons and men crossed back into Virginia – and home. At ten AM the next morning, Gen. Walker passed Lee at mid-river confirming that he was the last fighting force to which Lee said softly: “Thank God.”

Netta Lee returns to her home of Bedford that rainy evening after caring for wounded all Thursday at Parran House in Shepherdstown (in 2014 on the northeast corner of Mill and German Streets):

When I got back to Bedford that night I found the house, Father’s office, and every vacant space full of soldiers. General Loring (should be “Lawton.”-JS) had been badly wounded and with his doctor and orderlies had Brother Edwin’s room in the eastern wing. In the next room, was young Tom Barlow with a broken leg and his brother Jack to nurse him. Jack came with tears in his eyes and asked us to care for them; they were from Williamsburg, Virginia. My uncle, Colonel Richard Henry Lee, though not wounded was induced by Father to stay with us. Then General Robert E. Lee’s son, “Rooney,” had his horse fall on his leg and sprain it badly; he was in the little room next to General Loring (Lawton) and remained a day or two. In the room next to my own was a poor fellow named Willis, who soon began to develop typhoid fever, was ill for weeks and died there. In my father’s office in the yard, a soldier sat propped in an arm-chair, holding his arm which rested on his knee. There was a puddle of blood between his feet; blood was dropping from a wound, small and not painful, but it had dropped all day; we had tried to get a surgeon to tie the artery; we feared he would die before morning.

At last Mother sent a note to dear old Dr. Quigley, our family physician. It was dark and it was raining, but he came to us, with only a dim lantern to guide his footsteps. He told us he could not see to take up the artery, but thought his medicine would clot the blood and stanch it until morning. It did relieve the patient, who slept quietly all night with a friend beside him. Next day came a report that the yankees were crossing the river and paroling all wounded whom they could not imprison, so before they reached Bedford, our young cavalryman was propped on a horse and with his friend, they hastened to the Confederate lines. They stayed at Dr. Logie’s beyond Kearneysville, until able to travel further.

Oh, those awful days! Houses searched and men arrested without cause. Mr. Davis Shepherd and a company of young men became a home guard. Naturally he was betrayed by Union sympathizers, sent to the Old Capitol Prison, became very ill and returned home to die. – (25).

On Thursday night we heard more than the usual sounds of disturbance and movement, and in the morning we found the Confederate army in full retreat. General Lee crossed the Potomac under cover of the darkness, and when the day broke the greater part of his force – or the more orderly portion of it – had gone on toward Kearneysville and Leetown. (The larger portion with Lee, Jackson, and Stuart actually moved west towards Martinsburg, then encamped at Bunker Hill. Their rearguard defenders under Gen. A. P. Hill went towards Leetown.-JS). – (26).

General McClellan followed to the river on Friday morning, and without crossing got a battery in position on Douglas’s Hill, and began to shell the retreating army, and in consequence, the town. What before was confusion grew worse; the retreat became a stampede. The battery may not have done a very great deal of execution, but it made a fearful noise. It is curious how much louder guns sound when they are pointed at you than when turned the other way! And the shell with its long-drawn screeching, though no doubt less terrifying than the singing minie ball, has a way of making one’s hair stand on end. – (27).

The stream of fleeing soldiers on the Kearneysville Pike went by Poplar Grove, the home of the Bedingers just south of Shepherdstown and the family soon had about a hundred men on the lawn, in the house or in their barn. Described by descendant Serena Dandridge as “the intelligent devoted angel,” 48-year-old freedman Abram Dixon helped the family with the overwhelming need.

When Poplar Grove was the center of such artillery shelling, and when the rest of the family was safely ensconced in the cellar, little Danske stayed behind despite the family’s pleadings to join them in the room above. Finally she closed her reading matter, R. M. Ballantyne’s ‘Coral Island’ and remarked: ‘Now I can tell my descendants that I finished a book during a battle!’- (28).

(This popular book is considered by literary scholars as a model for the 1954 book by William Golding “Lord of the Flies.”) – (29).

Someone suggested that yellow was the hospital color, and immediately everybody who could lay hands upon a yellow rag hoisted it over the house. (But) when the firing commenced, the hospitals began to empty. All who were able to pull one foot after another, or could bribe or beg comrades to carry them, left in haste. – (30).

The men were described by one of their numbers as: sun-burnt, gaunt, ragged, scarcely at all shod, specters and caricatures of their (our) former selves. . . they (we) had fed on half-cooked dough, often raw bacon as well as raw beef, had devoured green corn and green apples; they (we) had contracted diarrhea and dysentery of the most malignant type, and, lastly, they (we) were covered with vermin . . . (31).

Mitchell continues:

In vain we implored them to stay; in vain we showed them the folly, the suicide, of the attempt; in vain we argued, cajoled, threatened, ridiculed; pointing out that we were remaining and that there was less danger here than on the road. . . The cannon were bellowing upon Douglas’s Hill, the shells whistling and shrieking, the air full of shouts and cries; we had to scream to make ourselves heard. The men replied that the “yankees” were crossing; that the town was to be burned; that we could not be made prisoners, but they could; and that anyhow, they were going as far as they could walk, or be carried. And go they did. Men with clothes about their heads went hatless in the sun, men with cloths about their feet limped shoeless on the stony road; men with arms in slings, without arms, with one leg, with bandaged sides and backs; men in ambulances, wagons, carts, wheelbarrows, men carried on stretchers or supported on the shoulder of some self-denying comrade – all who could crawl went, and went to almost certain death. They could not go far, they dropped off into the country houses, where they were received with as much kindness as it was possible to ask for; but their wounds had become inflamed, their frames were weakened by fright and over-exertion; erysipelas, mortification, gangrene set in; and long rows of nameless graves still bear witness to the results.

Our hospitals did not remain empty. It was but a portion who could get off in any manner, and their places were soon taken by others, who had remained nearer the battlefield, had attempted to follow the retreat, but having reached Shepherdstown, could go no farther. We had plenty to do, but all that day we went about with hearts bursting with rage and shame, and breaking with pity and grief for the needless, needless waste of life. – (32).

Among the new arrivals from battle, Edward Moore of the First Rockbridge Artillery, apparently with George Bedinger and Steve Dandridge made his way to the Bedinger home in Shepherdstown. If Dandridge was indeed present at Poplar Grove, he would not have known that within fifteen years he would marry one of its inhabitants and spend the balance of his life at this home, as it become his own.

Moore wrote: On the following day at our hospital the heap of amputated legs and arms increased in size until it became several feet in height, while the two armies lay face-to-face, like two exhausted monsters, each waiting for the other to strike. About sundown that afternoon I was put in an ambulance with S. E. Moore, of the College company, who was in a semi-conscious state, having been struck on the brow, the ball passing out back of the ear. The distance to Shepherdstown was only three miles, but the slow progress of innumerable trains of wagons and impedimenta generally, converging at the one ford of the Potomac, delayed our arrival until dawn the next morning. About sunrise we were carried into an old deserted frame house and assigned to the bare floor for beds. My brother David, whose gun had remained on picket duty on this side of the river, soon found me, and at once set about finding means to get me away.

The only conveyance available was George Bedinger’s (NOTE: A step-son to Carrie Bedinger from the first marriage of Henry Bedinger.-ED) mother’s carriage, but my brother’s horse — the same brute that had robbed me of my bedding at Leesburg — now refused to work. The booming of cannon and bursting of shells along the river at the lower end of the town admonished us that our stay in the desolate old house must be short, and, as brigade after brigade marched by the door, the apprehension that ‘they in whose wars I had borne my part’ would soon ‘have all passed by,’ made me very wretched. As a last resort, I was lifted upon the back of this same, obstreperous horse and, in great pain, rode to the battery, which was camped a short distance from the town. S. E. Moore was afterward taken to the Bedingers’ residence, where he remained in the enemy’s lines until, with their permission, he was taken home by his father some weeks later. – (33).

With so many starving soldiers begging, food became scarce at the Grove and the family, like many, lived largely on cornbread and dried apples. – (34).

We presently passed into debatable land, when we were in the Confederacy in the morning, in the Union after dinner, and on neutral ground at night. We lived through a disturbed and eventful autumn, subject to continual “alarms and excursions,” but when this Saturday (September 20, 1862) came to an end, the most trying and tempestuous week of the war for Shepherdstown was over. – (35).

Some wounded rebels did not got back to Virginia soil:

The innovative Medical Director of the Federal army, Jonathan Letterman reported afterward: In addition to our own wounded, we had to care for two thousand five hundred Confederate wounded from the battle of South Mountain, Crampton’s Gap and Antietam. . . Those in houses progressed less favorably than those in barns, those in barns less favorably than those in the open air, although all were in other respects treated alike. – (36).

With wounded from both sides on both sides of the river, Dr. Abner Hard, lead a covert advance with an Illinois regiment that surrounded Shepherdstown and its surprised inhabitants. Confederate officers were taken prisoner and Dr. Hard also recovered Federal wounded to bring back to Maryland. They also rounded up Edwin Gray Lee who was visiting his parents at Bedford. He was released a few days later in early October in a prisoner exchange.

Hard wrote: Friday, September 26, 1862 – Ascending the hill through a deep ravine the body of a soldier was discovered, too much decomposed to be recognized. Near the village we encountered the rebel pickets who beat a hasty retreat, but our movements were ordered and executed so quickly and with such celerity, that the village was surrounded and occupied before many were aware of our presence. The place had the appearance of one immense hospital, nearly every house being filled with wounded, which had been taken from the battle of Antietam. Among them were some union prisoners, which we provided for with great pleasure. . .

We drove the enemy some three miles beyond the town, and took about thirty prisoners, among them Lieutenant Colonel Lee of the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry. He was finely mounted and equipped, and expressed himself greatly chagrined at being captured. Toward evening the regiment returned to camp with their prisoners, proud of their day’s work.

On (Sunday) the 28th, our newly appointed Chaplain, Rev. Philo Judson, arrived and preached his first sermon.

Monday, September 29th, a reconnaissance in force was made, General Pleasanton commanding. Colonel Farnsworth being unwell our brigade was under the command of Colonel Williams, of the First Massachusetts Cavalry. Halting for a short time at Shepherdstown, our wounded men, found there, were conveyed across the river in small boats and sent to Sharpsburg.

While engaged in the discharge of this duty we observed those in charge of a hospital near the river, took especial pains to prevent our going around a certain house. Our suspicions were aroused, and thinking there might be some soldiers secreted there, one of the officers of the regiment was made aware of the facts. He at once instituted a search, though strenuously opposed by the family. No soldier was found but a fine cavalry horse with full equipments was discovered in a cave in the hill, which made an excellent addition to our own animals.

A few miles further on at a farm-house we found Colonel Magill and other rebel officers, suffering from severe wounds. The Colonel had an arm amputated at the shoulder, which, for want of proper care, was alive with maggots. After dressing their wounds we learned that the Colonel had been educated at West Point, and was a classmate of General Pleasanton. – (37).

Friday, October 3, 1862 – Henrietta Bedinger Lee writes her daughter, Ida Rust in Loudoun County:

Your dear letter came safely yesterday, it was a balm and comfort to my tired mind and weary body. Your dear father returned from his exile about two weeks since, when our army passed into Maryland. Oh, what a time we have had with that army. The fight near Sharpsburg filled our town to overflowing with wounded and dying men. Every vacant house, every church and nearly all the private homes have been full. I had eleven, and with their attendants, sixteen. Now I am sitting by your father’s sick bed. For a week he has been quite ill with typhoid; yesterday his fever left him, but in spite of all our entreaties he would get up and he would eat some cheese; the consequences were a horrid night and more fever. I am very nearly worn out with anxiety and watching. Added to this is a sad case upstairs: a young man who has been ill since the battle; he was badly wounded, then typhoid set in, and now, for several days, he has been in a dying condition; he cannot survive this day. I have another young man in Eddie’s room, who is doing well, though he was badly wounded. The others were removed to Winchester, though many were utterly unfit to go.

(Referring to the federal shelling from Ferry Hill) . . . the shells passed over the east wing of Bedford, trimming the trees in the garden and scaring old Kizia who was digging the cabbage bed, out of her senses. Seven of the shells were picked up unexploded. Oh, how many desolate homes, orphan children and widowed mothers has this vile cruel and oppressive war has caused.

Your dear brother (Edwin Gray Lee) came from a bed of sickness in Lexington to see us last Thursday. I had not seen him since last spring. The yankees were informed of his visit by this vile old Abram Snyder, whom he met in the road; they surrounded the house, captured him and his pet horse, which had been stolen, and to recover which, he had that day paid $75. – (38).

Dr. Hard’s regiment came looking for officers, while Edwin Gray Lee was sitting on the portico of Bedford using field glasses. His younger sister, Netta Lee, was about to go to town to buy some hops to make a hops pillow for her sick father. Getting word of approaching yankees, Edwin rushed to the stables, saddled his horse and fled across the fields in the direction of Morgan’s Grove. Unfortunately he got into the swamp, where the federals surrounded him and captured him. – (39).

Henrietta Lee continues:

Edwin was paroled, but his horse, revolver and saddle were taken from him. He is with us now but expects to leave tomorrow in order to be exchanged. Poor fellow! Old Ginny, which he hired as a cavalry horse, was also stolen the night before last, or rather captured, as his rider was in a house in town and a yankee came along and took the horse off.

I have not been in Town for nearly two weeks. Two wounded men died at The Rectory last week and Lila has been sick – but is recovering. Annie did not get (illegible) to stay those days with me. The days she arranged to come, all the wounded were brought in. She is well and her little children very sweet. Tippie spent the day here on Wednesday. She is as precious and lovely as she can be and I think the young Captain she has taken a fancy to, thinks far more of himself and his promotion, than of her – he is very full of himself, that is certain. Tippie always speaks most lovingly of you and wishes she could see you and be near you as who does not. . .

(Referring to the Federal Provost Marshal in Sharpsburg) she writes: No tyrant of the old world ever displayed greater despotism. Is it not sad that so many of our poor wounded should be in such hands. Heaven shield us from their grasp. Sue (Mrs. Lee’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Edwin Lee-JS) writes as if she hoped you would come and spend the winter with her – but there is still so much uncertainty. I supposed you have not yet decided. It is thought that (Mary) Dare Parran has made a conquest of a Dr. Tinsley who is here attending the sick and wounded. I can’t say much for her taste. He is staying at her Mothers, is from Williamsburg and an acquaintance of Edwin’s, he dined with us, but he did not take my eye.

I could fill several sheets with interesting accounts of our wounded and sick soldiers, and I do say if we have had a specimen of the way the Physicians treat those poor men through out our southern land, it is no wonder they die in scores. It seems to me this war has crushed our humanity from the hearts of men. O that it might please God to end it and give us back our loved ones to our homes and hearts again. I could amuse you by the hour with some items, especially I wish I could transcribe a note I got from a gentleman during our season of confusion & nursing, It was a rare note to send a lady. The last of Carrie’s (Caroline Bedinger, widow of Henry Bedinger and mother of Danske, Henry, Mary, Virginia and George at Poplar Grove.-JS) wounded left a week ago. Col. Calhoun of South Carolina and like the one who left us, he parted with tears and sobs. Poor fellow. I could have wept with him. But darling my paper is nearly exhausted, I fear I will find this rather bulky for my envelope. I will squeeze it in. Thank dear A. (Ida’s husband Armistead) for his kind sweet letter, this must answer his and yours as I have a scarcity of paper & envelopes. Kiss him and the precious boy & little Beckie, My heart is pining to see you all. God our Father bless and keep you all for Jesus sake. Ever your loving Mother. PS I have no strength or wish to read this over, let no eye see it; destroy as soon as read. – (40).

Earlier on Monday, September 22nd, President Lincoln had given the bloodbath that was here a reason with his most lasting action, the announcement and later signing into law of the Emancipation Proclamation, making the carnage at Antietam part of a war for the freedom of the enslaved. A young nation would continue killing itself for issues so divided and hopeless, many entrusted solutions to Providence alone. The war would rage down its long dusty path for thirty more months, leaving this nation with a deep, everlasting, contemplative scar; and some were nobly saved, to the last best hope of earth.

Chapterette 13 – September-October, 1862 – The Bower – “If these walls could talk”

After the Antietam battle, Confederate men crossed at Pack Horse Ford below Shepherdstown while Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry crossed further upriver at the more dangerous Shepherd’s Ford.

After a final battle Saturday, September 20, 1862 at Shepherdstown at Pack Horse Ford, they all went into camp to rest, eat and “de-bug” themselves. Stonewall Jackson’s men encamped at Bunker Hill below Martinsburg with Gen. Lee, then Lee moved further south to near Stephenson’s Depot.

Federal commander, George McClellan, confounded and vexed both the enemy and President Lincoln with the myriad reasons he’d dole out for not restarting the fight with Lee’s recovering but weaker army, choosing instead to “vacation,” as it were, on the Maryland side of the Potomac.

Stuart’s cavalrymen even mocked McClellan’s inertness in early October, taking Gen. Lee’s order to re-cross into Maryland and to Pennsylvania and ride around the entirety of McClellan’s army, grabbing a thousand horses en route. This staged show of strength had the additional purpose of keeping McClellan indecisive. Lee was also, by this show, politically influencing mid-Atlantic voters who would cast votes within a month for a new Congress.

This chapter, however, is about how J.E.B. Stuart’s 36-50 some odd-man staff (and their friends) found paradise at The Bower, and made the most of it for a month. The Bower was the home of Adam Stephen Dandridge, the friend of Alexander Boteler who years before introduced Boteler to his future wife at Princeton College in New Jersey.

The fun and hi-jinks of these men, coming directly from a most horrible scene, have become the stuff of legend. The Bower, looking west from its magisterial perch atop a hill along the Opequon, remains, to this day in the Dandridge family and is protected with a permanent conservation easement. (NOTE: The original main home burned and was rebuilt in the 1890s on the same footprint and brick frame but with the addition of dormers and a wrap-around porch, the style of that period.)

One can only surmise that after the Dandridges extended their hospitality to Stuart’s contingent that upon their departure, left the Dandridge family cleaned out of provisions and extremely vulnerable to retribution by the Federal armies.

The Legend of the Bower Serena Catherine Dandridge, one of the two eldest, young daughters of the Bower’s owner, wrote:

The host and hostess welcomed not only their friends, but their friend’s friends, to what was merrily nicknamed ‘Liberty Hall.’ The resources of the house were manifest, fat cattle in the pastures, poultry in the surrounding hills, many gardens in the rich bottomlands in front, with fifty servants always at one’s beck and call. Every bit of room availed to hold a guest. In the attic and on vast mattresses thrown down, in lack of other accommodation, the children dreamed sweetly of the morrow. Back of the house lay numerous terraces and plots, planned and planted by the artistic taste of my grandmother. Here amidst the rich shrubberies, we’d look sheer across the Valley, from Blue Ridge to the North Mountains, all over the lovely land . . . We gloated on the Paradisical beauty of the beloved home and loved to put a wealth of flowers about it, and to read its praises written, as they often were in prose or verse. – (1).

Monday Morning, September 29th – Heros Von Borcke first sees The Bower:

Weather: very warm, dry and dusty. – (2). When I arose from my grassy couch at sunrise on the 29th, I found, indeed, that the half had not been told me of The Bower. Our headquarters were situated on a hill beneath a grove of lofty umbrageous oaks of primitive growth, which extended, on the right, towards the large mansion-house, the thick brick walls of which, in the blush of the early sunlight, were just visible in little patches of red through the rich verdure of the embosoming garden. At the foot of this hill, skirting a main road to which the slope was smooth and gradual, ran the bright little river Opequon, its limpid waters breaking through and tumbling over the hills and rocks, thus forming a cascade of considerable height, with rainbows in its spray as the sun changed every falling drop into a ruby or a diamond.

This lovely entourage was now enlivened and diversified by the white tents of our encampment, the General’s, with its fluttering battle-flag, in the centre, by the smoke of the camp-fires where the negroes were busily engaged in cooking breakfasts, by the picturesque groups of officers and men who were strolling about or cleaning their arms, and by the untethered horses and mules which were quietly grazing all over the ground. One may be pardoned some extravagance of language in attempting to describe a scene which brought a feeling of thankful happiness of the soldier, weary of the excitement, the toil, the hardship, and the anguish of war.

We had now plenty of food for our exhausted animals, which had undergone so much fatigue and privation, and our own commissariat was far more abundant than it had been for many weeks. The long mess-table, at which we dined together in the open air, was loaded with substantials that seemed dainties and luxuries to us, who often for days together had gone without food, and at best could secure only a meagre repast.

Frequently, when the mocha, of which we had captured a large supply from the enemy, was smoking invitingly on our breakfast-table, we had the pleasure of greeting the proprietor as a welcome guest at our morning meal at headquarters; later in the day a lady’s skirt might even be seen in the streets of our encampment; but regularly every night we proceeded with our band to the house, where dancing was kept up till a late hour. – (3).

Evening Wednesday-Very Early Morning Thursday, October 1-2 – Shepherdstown, VA: Stuart and Von Borcke visit home of Lillie Parran Lee, East German Street, Shepherdstown, VA. and she gives Stuart the silver spurs her husband wore when he died at the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run, spurs that Stuart was given years earlier and that he had graciously given to her husband and close friend, William F. Lee. While visiting, Stuart also invited her and many of the town’s young ladies to a Ball at The Bower. – (4).

Thursday Weather: forenoon – quite warm; afternoon – thundering, small clouds passing around; evening fine breeze sprang up. – (5).

Netta Lee recalls how she and a group of older, more sophisticated Shepherdstown ladies rode in a van provided by Confederate General J.E.B.Stuart, visiting her relative Gen. Robert E. Lee and going to an unforgettable night of dancing and festivities at the Bower.

Now we had just returned from Bunker Hill where we had been to visit General Lee, whose headquarters were there. I had messages from my mother and Mrs. George Robinson and several others. These greetings I was not forgetful to promptly deliver to General Lee, and when he told me goodbye, he graciously put his arm around me, as he sent his love to my mother saying: ‘Take this kiss to her, too; and here is one for Mrs. Robinson; and last but not least, this one for your sweet little self!’ – (6).

Evening Tuesday, October 7 – The Bower & The Grand Ball:

Netta Lee continues, describing The Bower and the ball, after coming from Gen. Lee: When we arrived at The Bower, a servant brought up an officer’s card for ‘The Ladies of Shepherdstown.’ At once, Margie (Boteler-JS) said, as she read aloud the card: ‘Major Frank Huger! Oh, I know he has come to call on me; I met his cousin in St. Louis.’ But Eliza (Hamtramck-JS) knew somebody else who knew him and thought he had come to seek her. I modestly remarked: ‘I wonder if he can be my brother’s old chum and schoolmate at Mr. Ben Hallowell’s school in Alexandria?’ Cousin Lily called to us to hurry down and I followed the others to the porch below. The older girls were first to be introduced; then came my turn. When my name was mentioned, he (Frank Huger) came quickly across to me, bowing low and offering his hand, saying: ‘I came here especially to see you, Miss Lee, for I am sure you must be the sister of my old chum, Edwin Lee. Am I not right and may I shake your hand?’ Well, I did feel a little triumphant, for I had been called ‘Bread and Butter’ all along the trip, yet I got three kisses from our General Lee and he called me his ‘sweet little cousin’ when he gave me mine. – (7).

Evening Tuesday, October 7 – The Bower and the Grand Ball’s Music Program: – (8).

Grand Overture – Orchestra Cottage By The Sea – Sweeney. Lilly, Dear – Sweeney. When The Swallows Homeward Fly sung by Stuart Looka Dar Now by Capt. Tiernan Brien Going Down To Town played by Sweeney Ever of Thee Money Musk The Separation I Ain’t Got No Time To Tarry Evelyn Lively Piece Soldier’s Dream

Sweeney’s “orchestra” as described by William Blackford: We had at headquarters a capital band of singers who were (p. 162) accompanied by Sweeney on his banjo, Bob, The General’s mulatto servant, on the bones, and occasionally, by a violin, and other instruments. But the main standby was Sweeney and his banjo, and every evening at The Bower this formed a part of the entertainment. – (9).

Blackford gives his account of the Ball’s mysterious – uproarious – couple – “The Pennsylvania Farmer and His Wife” – actually Von Borcke and Brien. One evening, when there was an invited company and the parlors were all full, Von Borcke and Brien gave us another capital performance. They were to appear as Paddy and his sweetheart. Mr. and Mrs Dandridge were the only two persons in the secret, and Von Borcke and Brien were taken secretly upstairs for preparations under their care. Von Borcke was transformed into a blushing maiden weighing two hundred and fifty pounds and six feet, two and a half inches tall; a riding skirt of one of the girls, supplemented by numerous dainty underskirts and extended by enormous hoops according to the fashion then in vogue, hung in graceful folds to conceal the huge cavalry boots the huge damsel wore.

Her naturally ample bosom palpitated under skillfully arranged pillows, and was gorgeously decorated with the Dandridge family jewelry and ribbons; while ‘a love of a bonnet,’ long braids of hair, and quantities of powder and rouge completed her toilet, and in her hand she flirted coquettishly a fan of huge dimensions. Colonel Brien was admirably disguised as an Irishman dressed in holiday clothes, with a flaming red nose, Billycock hat, a short pipe, and a short, thick stick stuck under his arm. The absences of these two had been accounted for on some plausible pretext, so that when they made their appearance in the ballroom the surprise was complete. Both acted their parts to perfection. Paddy entertained the fair girl on his arm with loud and humorous remarks as they sauntered around the room, to which she replied with simpering affectation that was irresistibly ludicrous. No one had the faintest conception as to who they were, so perfect was the disguise.

Before the company recovered from the surprise of their appearance the music struck up a lively waltz, and ’round and ’round the couple went, faster, and faster went the music, and faster and faster flew the strangers. It was not until in the fury of the whirling dance with hoop skirts flying horizontally, that twinkling amid the white drapery beneath, the well-known boots of Von Borcke betrayed the first suspicion of who the lady was. As suddenly as they had come they vanished, waltzing out through the open door and followed by convulsive roars of laughter from the delighted audience. Nothing would satisfy the company but their reappearance and in they came arm-in-arm to enter into conversation with their friends. The skill of their disguise and their acting was now even more remarkable than at first. It was really difficult to detect their personalities even then. – (10).

Von Borcke gives his own first-hand account of the same masquerade described by Blackford:

On the 7th, a grand ball was to take place at The Bower, to which Mr D. had invited families from Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, and Charlestown, and in the success of which we all felt a great interest. As an exceptional bit of fun, Colonel Brien and I had secretly prepared a little pantomime, ‘The Pennsylvania Farmer and his Wife,’ in which the Colonel was to personate the farmer and I the spouse. Accordingly, when the guests had all assembled and the ball was quite en train, the immense couple entered the brilliantly lighted apartment – Brien enveloped in an ample greatcoat, which had been stuffed with pillows until the form of the wearer had assumed the most enormous proportions; I dressed in an old white ball-dress of Mrs D.’s that had been enlarged in every direction, and sweetly ornamented with half-a-bushel of artificial flowers in my hair. Our success greatly outran our expectations. Stuart, exploding with laughter, scrutinized me closely on all sides, scarcely crediting the fact that within that tall bundle of feminine habiliments dwelt the soul of his Chief of Staff. Again and again we were made to repeat our little play in dumb show, until, getting tired of it and wishing to put a stop to it, I gracefully fainted away and was carried from the room by Brien and three or four assistants, amid the wild applause of the company, who insisted on a repetition of the fainting scene. When, in a few moments, I made my appearance in uniform, the laughter and applause recommenced, and Stuart, throwing his arms around my neck in a burlesque of pathos, said, ‘My dear old Von, if I could ever forget you as I know you on the field of battle, your appearance as a woman would never fade from my memory.’ So the joyous night went on with dancing and merriment, until the sun stole in at the windows, and the reveille sounding from camp reminded us that the hour of separation had arrived. – (11).

Sunday, October 26, 1862 – Stuart’s born-in-the-saddle horsemen play “double-dare-ya” – Von Borck’s Revenge.

Von Borcke challenges Blackford and Stuart to riding derring-do. This occurred two weeks after Blackford and Stuart led 1800 cavalrymen in a madly dangerous ride around Federal Gen. George McClellan’s entire army, driving deep into Pennsylvania and coming back triumphantly to the Bower. Von Borcke was specifically ordered to stay behind at Bower and not join the expedition, possibly due to his reputation for running horses hard to exhaustion with his considerable size and weight. The following might have been Von Borcke’s defiant answer for the subtle insult. – (12).

On Sunday the 26th of October, there was a grand review of Hampton’s brigade, which was attended by the ladies from far and near, and as the day was lovely, it proved a fine military spectacle. When the review was over, the officers of our own and Hampton’s Staff assembled to witness the trial of a diminutive one-pounder gun, which turned out to be of very little account, and afterwards we had some equestrian sports, matches in horse-racing, fence-jumping, &c. Captain Blackford, who, with a thoroughbred chestnut mare, attempted to take a high fence just in advance of Stuart and myself, had a severe fall, which was fortunately unattended with serious consequences.

Remarking upon it, that, in my opinion, the fault lay not so much with the horse as with the rider, Stuart said, “Hear Old Von, how grand he talks!” Then turning to me, he added, in a banter, “Why don’t you jump the fence yourself, if you know how to do it better?” I had never leaped my heavy-built Pennsylvanian as yet, and I was in doubt whether he was equal to the lofty barrier, but as there was no possible escape from Stuart’s challenge, I struck my spurs into his sides, and over he went like a deer, amidst the loud applauses of the General himself and other spectators. I had now the laugh on my side, and very soon afterwards the opportunity of bantering Stuart, when he could say and do nothing in reply. Returning to camp, we took, as a short cut, a road that led through a field of Indian corn; upon getting to the farther end of which, we found that the fence, usually pulled down at this place, had been recently put up, making a formidable barrier to our farther progress. Stuart and others observing this, turned off to the right, towards the main road; but seizing my opportunity, I cried out to him, “General, this is the way;” and clearing the five-barred fence in a splendid leap, I arrived at headquarters several minutes in advance of my comrades, whom I welcomed upon their approach, rallying my chief very much for not having followed my example.

Our long and delightful sojourn now drew rapidly to its close. Guest after guest departed, and every day the indications of a speedy departure became plainer. At length on the 29th of October, a hazy, rainy autumn day, the marching orders came, and the hour arrived for the start. A number of the staff did not fail to indulge in the obvious reflection that nature wept in sympathy with us at the separation.

With heavy hearts indeed, we left the beautiful spot, and bade adieu to its charming, kindly inhabitants. Silently we rode down the hill, and along the margin of the clear Opequon stream, musing on the joyous hours that had passed away – hours which those few of our dashing little band of cavaliers that survived the mournful finale of the great war, will ever hold in grateful remembrance.

General McClellan, the Federal Commander-in-Chief, having largely reinforced his army with regiments from the new levy of 300,000 volunteers called out for nine months, and having brought it to a strength of 140,000 men, well equipped in every respect, had at last determined upon a forward movement, all unknowing at the time that the supreme command was soon to be taken from him by the Government at Washington. The right wing of the Federal forces, by a strong demonstration towards Harper’s Ferry, made a show of invading Virginia from this point, but the great bulk of the army crossed the Potomac about fifteen miles lower down, near the little town of Berlin. General Lee, having been opportunely informed by his vigilant cavalry of the enemy’s operations, had commenced, in the mean time, a movement on the opposite side of the Blue Ridge, in a nearly parallel direction towards Front Royal, being about a day’s march ahead. Longstreet’s corps was in the advance, Jackson’s troops following slowly, covering the rear, and still holding the passes of the Blue Ridge, Snicker’s, Ashby’s and Chester Gaps. The cavalry under Stuart had orders to cross the Ridge at Snicker’s Gap, to watch closely the movements of the enemy, retard him as much as possible, and protect the left flank of our army.

So we rode quietly along in the tracks of our horsemen, who, before the Staff, had left “The Bower,” had proceeded in the direction of Berryville. Our mercurial soldiers were as gay as ever, and even the most sentimental members of the Staff had rallied from the despondence incidental to departure from our late encampment, when during the afternoon we reached en route the little town of Smithfield, where, under Bob Sweeney’s direction as impresario, we managed to get up a serenade for the amiable widow who had entertained me with such hospitality.

Meanwhile the rain, which had been falling when we rode off from “The Bower,” had ceased, a keen north wind had set in, and it had begun to freeze hard, when, late at night, we reached Berryville, chilled, wet, and hungry. The provisions of the country had been more or less consumed by the troops who had preceded us on the march, and it was therefore regarded as exceedingly apropos that we were invited to supper by a prominent citizen, at whose pleasant house we greatly enjoyed a warm cup of tea, a capital old Virginia ham, and afterwards a pipe of Virginia tobacco before a roaring wood-fire.

Our troops bivouacked about two miles from town; and as on a march, for the sake of the example, we never took up our quarters beneath a roof, we left our hospitable entertainer about midnight, and established ourselves in an open field under some old locust-trees, near several large fodder-stacks, which furnished us with abundant food for our horses. It was a clear, cold, starlight night, and as we had no protection from the frost but our blankets, we kept in lively blaze several tremendous fires, the wood for which each and every one of us had assisted in collecting. General and Staff were all fast asleep, when, on a sudden, we were aroused by a loud crash, which startled even the feeding horses and mules. One of the old hollow trees, against the trunk of which our largest fire had been imprudently kindled, after smoldering for hours, had at last yielded to the force of the wind and fallen heavily to the ground, fortunately without doing any damage whatever.

In the early morning, when we awoke to the reveille, the fires had quite burnt out, a white hoar-frost lay thickly over every object around us, and the shivering officers of our military family expressed in every feature their ardent desire for a good warm breakfast. As we were discussing the probabilities of such a thing, we were most agreeably surprised by the kind invitation of a neighboring planter to satisfy ourselves at his hospitable board, an invitation which we did not hesitate to accept. To provide against a future want of breakfast, when a good Samaritan might not be so near at hand, our careful mess-caterer, the portly doctor of our Staff, availed himself of the opportunity of purchasing a quantity of hams and bacon, which, being deposited for safety in an army wagon, were stolen before two hours had elapsed by some of our rascally negro camp-followers.

The sun shone down with the warmth and glory of the soft Indian summer, a season of peculiar loveliness in America, when we reached the Shenandoah, our passage of which was extremely picturesque. The banks of this beautiful stream are often bold, and sometimes even majestic, the current breaking through gigantic cliffs which rise to the height of several hundred feet on either side, or flowing placidly along between wooded shores, whose stately trees, where the river is narrowest, almost intermingle their branches. The forests skirting the course of the Shenandoah were now glowing with the gorgeous hues of the American autumn, which the landscape painter cannot adequately reproduce nor the writer properly describe. The light saffron of the chestnut trees was in effective contrast with the rich crimson of the oaks and maples, while the trailing vines and parasites displayed every tint from the palest pink to the deepest purple. Upon the opposite shore, at a distance of only a few hundred yards from the margin of the river, rose the mountain-range of the Blue Ridge thickly covered with forest, within whose depths the head of our column was just disappearing as we arrived at the bank. The main body was passing the stream, while here and there a single trooper might be seen watering his horse or quietly examining his weapons. – (13).

Up to November 2, 1862 – Rezin Davis Shepherd Jr.’s Final Days

While The Bower was a scene of triumphs other than the fighting kind, quieter, poignant last days came and went for the family of Rezin, Lizzie, Fannie and Alexander Shepherd, as life ebbed away from their dying father’s body. Lizzie was also pregnant with their third child. Rezin’s health was ruined by his imprisonment at Old Capitol Prison, where he was taken for possessing maps given to him by a spy of the federal fortifications of Washington, D.C.

In these last days, the family anxiously travelled the few miles back and forth from Fountain Rock with support from Tippie Boteler and their own smaller abode, called the River Cottage. (located today off Shepherd Grade Road.-JS)

On one of these visits to his children at Fountain Rock, word came hurriedly there that their father, Rezin Davis Shepherd Jr. was dying and wanted to see the children. Then young Aunt Helen (Tippie Boteler), who had devoted herself to little Fanny and Alexander, took them to their father. The night was dark and cold and the drive long and lonely over a rough road. The Confederate sentinels halted the carriage just outside the village; the solemn-eyed and sleepy children leaned against their aunt while she hurriedly explained her errand.

The tragic ending of a brave, good life came the next morning, Sunday November 2, 1862. In the Trinity Episcopal church four miles away, Dr. Andrews and his devoted congregation were at the same hour offering prayer to the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort that after this painful life ended he might dwell in Life everlasting. – (14).

NEXT: Chapterette 14. Click Here.

“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 14 November 14, 1862 – Henry K. Douglas Writes Tippie . . . Longingly by Jim Surkamp

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Friday, November 14, 1862 – Cold and Imprisoned, Henry Kyd Douglas persists in writing Tippie Boteler though she was having her head turned by Dudley Digges Pendleton, the Rockbridge artilleryman and family friend.

My Dear Miss Tippie –
You won’t. I will: which means if you are so extremely formal that you cannot write to me because you have seen me since I have written, you need not think you are thus to get rid of me. But I am in too good humor to quarrel or even to scold, and even now when I am disposed to write you a good humored and lengthy letter. Mr. Adams has sent thru special messengers to say that he is about to start immediately and can’t wait etc. So you must imagine these few lines to be “limited sweetness, long drawn out” and answer as I would have written. For it is just this moment I have returned from Winchester where I was summoned to Court (Martial not civil, I assure you). Yesterday I bid goodbye to Lieutenant General Jackson (for a while at least) and assumed command of Co. B. I hope if I remain here long enough, to regain some of the discipline and efficiency which used to characterize it. But I hardly hope to succeed as the material is far from being what it was when it just went into service. I must confess that it was with regret that I left the Genl. especially as he expressed an unwillingness to relieve me and was exceedingly cordial in his expression of good will at parting. But I thought it was my duty, under the circumstances, to take command of the company for a time, at least so expressed myself to the general and took my departure. So much briefly. I saw your Pa before he went to Richmond and thought he looked badly. I would express my sorrow with you in the recent bereavement of your sisters and family, but am not used to such things and have always had an idea that such remarks of condolence were generally ill-suited to allay or satisfy grief and consequently misplaced. But Mr. Adams is becoming impatient and won’t wait. Remember me to your Ma and family and please write soon and at length. Goodbye. Yrs., as always, Henry Kyd Douglas. I did not notice this until I had finished my letter. It will be sufficient excuse to say that it is the autograph of Lieut. General Stonewall Jackson, as it really is. HKD – (1).

After the Antietam Battle that September, and the month-long sojourn for both armies, the Federal army finally recrossed in large numbers into Virginia and wended its way south until the next great, tragic battle – Fredericksburg – took place, but with a new Federal commander, Ambrose Burnside.

NEXT: Chapterette 15. Click Here.

“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 15 Dec., 1862 – Dudley Digges Pendleton Is In Fredericksburg Fight by Jim Surkamp.

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Chapterette 15 – Thursday, December 11 – Monday, December 15, 1862 – Dudley Digges Pendleton, Tippie’s Future Husband, Vividly “Paints” the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va. including His Own Heroic Act.

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It has been said that the soldier never sees a battle, but many of us both men and officers, saw that battle while participating in it. Many who repelled the fierce and wonderfully determined attacks on Marye’s Hill, and those who occupied that day the corresponding hill across the ravine, through which passed the country road into the town, had impressed upon their memories a scene not often equaled for its terrible grandeur. Nor did any other battle of the war offer such a scene; for Gettysburg and the fierce conflicts around Richmond, from the nature of the ground, gave a much less comprehensive view to any observer, no matter what his position.

I happened that day to have charge of a big gun, cast in Richmond, which was placed in an earthwork on the hill above spoken of, to the right of Marye’s Hill, facing the town. Before the plans of the enemy developed, this gun was employed in firing at the innumerable wagon trains, and any batteries that were within its range on the opposite side of the river. We soon drew upon ourselves a very heavy fire, many of the opposing guns being beyond our range. These guns would throw rifled shells far beyond us into the woods as well as many immediately around us. After the battle began it was evident to the Federals that Marye’s Hill must be taken. So masses of troops were concentrated under cover of a prodigious discharge of artillery upon the batteries on Marye’s Hill and upon the gun in this fortification, and the attack was made under this protective fire. This Hill was often a point of observation for General Lee and other officers, giving as it did, a full view of the opposing army in its efforts to cross. The earthwork in which this gun was placed was so faced as to enfilade the railroad cut leading into the town and across which the enemy’s infantry had to pass in the charge upon Marye’s Hill. Between the cut and the heights was a plane nearly level until nearing the height when it became quite steep.

As soon as the first advance of the troops occurred, and they descended the steep side of the deep cut, we brought the big gun to bear upon the trench, filled as it was with men struggling into it on one side and up in the direction of Marye’s Hill on the other side. It was not a difficult thing to get a range that would play havoc with this mass of men. The only hindrance was the tremendous fire which the gun drew upon itself from the opposite side. Smoke at every discharge obstructed the view for a time, but by stepping aside partly behind the fortification, I could avoid this and follow the huge shell in its flight.

Things strangely dissimilar may resemble each other, and this fearfully destructive shell, as my eyes followed it, remind me of nothing so much as the rapid disappearance of a dove when its line of flight is directly away from the observer. The dark object could be followed until it reached the mass of toiling soldiers, when, if it burst, it seemed to empty the cut of men, and if it did not, a long red lane was to be seen as it passed through. Sometimes I fancied I saw parts of human bodies rising as the explosion occurred and then dropping back to the earth. The scene of the explosion of the mine under our lines at Petersburg served to convince me that this was indeed a reality and not a fancy. Odd conceits sometimes possess us.

The long cut, the moving mass, the lanes mowed through it, reminded me of wanton dealing death to hosts of ants as they constantly advance, unchecked by the ever-increasing pile of dead comrades. Our gun became so hot that we were forced to cool it frequently, but after doing service, which was proved good by our own observation, it burst. I had stepped aside to observe the effect of the discharge, when, instead of seeing the dove-like messenger of death pass from it, as before, the entire forepart of the gun, in front of the trunnion, went whirling over and over, down the hill in front of us. Small portions flew to each side, and the entire rear took the back track for the woods, following the Union shells. Strange to say, no one was hurt. As soon as possible we brought “Long Tom” into position. This gun had been used in forcing observation balloons to shift their position or come down somewhat further up the river than Marye’s Hill. There it had caused some very precipitate descents but now it was needed for surer work.

Among the generals who occupied the hill for observation was General Barksdale, whose brigade occupied the line in front of this earthwork, and to its right down the river. After the enemy despaired of forcing their way across the river here and determined upon the move to Chancellorsville, we had a lull in the storm of shot and shell. I used it to examine the effect of the grand charges upon Marye’s Hill. Not an inch of the surface of the bricks on the front of the house exposed to this fire was free from the work of a minie ball. Bushels of flattened ones were to be seen on the ground, while the woodwork was torn to pieces by them, independently of the destruction wrought by the cannon.

The level between the house and railroad cut was covered with the dead and dying. The pieces of wood used between the powder and ball in cannon were as thick here as I ever saw them during the war, except at a point between the lines at Spotsylvania Court House, where the breastworks of the two lines had been run very close together and each gun seemed discharging its contents into the throat of another, which in one instance, actually occurred. We sent this ball back to the enemy, with our compliments, but they had ruined a Napoleon gun for us. General Barksdale’s troops held the line until the advance on Chancellorsville. He was upon the hill at the time that Sedgwick’s troops came in sight. It happened that he had no attendant, all his staff being temporarily absent with orders.

I said to him: “General those troops are yankees.” He said: “Oh, no! It is impossible!” Presently, recognizing the uniforms, he exclaimed: “My God! who will save my regiments down there?” The ground below this hill was impassable for a horse, owing to brush, high-cut stumps and bushes, while it was difficult for anyone not light and active to get over it. Not wondering at this question I told him that I would go and warn the men. Of my war experience, that run over such rough ground and back again was the most severe. The regiments fell back in time to hinder the advance, but were not sufficient to hold the enemy. Therefore other troops on their way to Chancellorsville had to be recalled. My horse had fortunately not broken away from where it was tied and I was sent after some of these troops. I passed two or three brigades whose commanders refused to return unless other orders brought them. Next, I reached General Gordon, who immediately reversed his column, on hearing of the passage of these troops asking only that General Early be informed of the necessity of the case. But for his promptness in taking in the situation though he had no orders from the commanding General, I have always believed that the enemy would not have been driven back and the Confederate success at Chancellorsville very materially lessened. – (1).

NEXT: Chapter 16. Click Here.

“Thy Will Be Done” (17) – July 3, 1863 – George Bedinger Falls at Gettysburg

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https://web.archive.org/web/20180824031724/https://civilwarscholars.com/2014/12/thy-will-17-july-3-1863-george-bedinger-falls-at-gettysburg/

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George_Bedinger_Cropped

Gay, brilliant Bedinger, whose presence imparted an electric touch to those around him ; I shall ne ‘er see his like again! – (1).

George Bedinger, now a Captain, had recently written his sister Virginia “Diddie” Bedinger after the Battle of Chancellorsville that took the life of Stonewall Jackson:

In line of Battle near Chancellorsville
Monday May 14th 1863

My dear Virginia,

Yesterday we fought the most terrible battle of this war, attacking the enemy in his chosen position and driving him at every point, our Brigade behaved magnificently but lost very heavily. Our brave General’s remains will reach Lexington before this gets to you. Today we are in line and throwing up breast works, whether we will attack or the enemy retreat further, I cannot say. I’m pretty certain of more fighting. Thank God I am spared to write you this note, tho’ half of my little company were killed or wounded. Uncle George is safe, so is John Boldoin, both send love to you. Mr. Pendleton [Gen. H. N. Pendleton or Alexander Pendleton] and Henry Douglas [Henry Kyd Douglas] are well.
I do not know how I am to send this to you.

Your devoted brother
GR Bedinger
Love to all – (2).

By then Captain George Bedinger had won over his Irishmen in Company E – The Emerald Guard from the Shenandoah Valley – in the 33rd Virginia Infantry with his strong, active and graceful natural bravery. Wrote one:

In camp and on the march, (he) was always gay and cheerful, and though reared in ease and affluence, made himself and his comrades merry amid their privations and discomforts. During the long artillery duel in which his battery was engaged at Kernstown, he was always in the right place, and in spite of the dangers to which he was exposed and of which he was fully conscious, could not resist the temptation to be merry and to provoke merriment in others, at his own and his companions’ occasional impulses to dodge the noisiest shells with which the enemy were making the day hideous. – (3).

Bedinger’s unit was then folded into the Second Corps after Jacksons’s death and Lee’s army stealthily moved northward to re-invade Maryland and Pennsylvania, crossing June 16, 1863 below Shepherdstown, then, to Chambersburg until an order came for the 2nd Corps to join the battle shaping up around Gettysburg.

They did little until an order came sending for Bedinger’s men at 3 AM on the morning of the 3rd. The regiment marched off with the rest of the brigade towards the enemy position atop Culp’s Hill. After daybreak, the regiment advanced in line of battle towards the enemy who was “strongly entrenched in a most advantageous position.”

There and then is where the unbreakable Bedinger broke, leading his fearless men far ahead of all others – toward the mouth of the federal cannon. Then George Bedinger was dead, a state so “unlike” the confident captain.

The regiment would keep trying to advance up the slopes of the hill, “in intervals” as their men took cover behind rocks and trees. Although the regiment exhausted its ammunition within an hour or two, at least part of the 33rd remained engaged for almost five hours, as partial supplies were received upon the field. – (4).

When the losses were known, Captain J. B. Golladay, wrote in his official report:

It would be invidious to speak of the bearing of particular officers and men when all manifested such remarkable coolness and intrepidity during the sanguinary conflict. The loss of Captains [G. C.] Eastham and [George R.] Bedinger is felt and mourned (the first falling to rise no more on the evening of the 2d instant, and the latter on the morning of the 3d instant, perhaps farther in advance of the line of battle than any other officer or man), as well as a list of non-commissioned officers and privates, who certainly composed part of the flower of the regiment. – (5).

Bedinger’s cousin, Edwin Gray Lee, penned the obituary that appeared in several of Virginia’s newspapers in the following week:
We regret to learn that among those killed in the recent battle near Gettysburg, on the 3rd day of July, was Capt. Geo. R. Bedinger, of the 33d Va. Infantry. He was a son of the late Hon. Henry Bedinger (U. S. Minister to Denmark under Mr. Pierce) and though quite a young man, he had won for himself a most enviable reputation for unusual gallantry and skill. He entered the service as a private, earned his promotion upon fifteen battlefields, and at last has fallen where brave men love to die, leading his men up to the cannon’s mouth. He was slain in Ed Johnson’s charge upon the entrenchments. – (6).

After the reports filtered back with the armies to Shepherdstown and Virginia “Diddie” Bedinger learned of her beloved brother’s death, restraint was called for. There was an occupation federal army in town with martial powers. Bedinger’s body was not recovered or returned.

Henry Kyd Douglas did not return from Gettysburg either, but he was not dead. Riding about near Culp’s Hill on his horse “Ashby,” and not heeding calls for him to take cover, a sharpshooter in the woods fired, drilling a ragged wound in his left shoulder. Douglas was still in Gettysburg, imprisoned and hospitalized. He eventually was taken to a prison for Confederate officers in Lake Erie, called Johnson’s Island. – (7).

Early in the morning of July 16, a federal officer came to Poplar Grove, the home of Diddie and Mrs. Carrie Bedinger, Diddie and George’s step-mother, and asked Mrs. Bedinger to lend him a book. He told her that it was hot in his tent and that he had nothing with which to wile away the tedium. Carrie led him into the sitting room and showed him the bookcase. He scanned the shelves, then selected Walter Scott’s “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” Carrie was sure he would never see the book again.

Around noon, firing was heard from the direction of Kearneysville, where Union troops were attacked by Confederate cavalry under Brigadier Fitzhugh Lee and Colonel John R. Chambliss. The Union men were driven back toward Shepherdstown. . . . The federals placed their guns on a low hill on the Poplar Grove property and an artillery duel began. Just at dusk a Union orderly rode up to the Grove with a book in his hand. It was Scott’s “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” The orderly thanked Carrie Bedinger. The officer had been wounded and was in an ambulance elsewhere. – (8).

NEXT: Chapterette 18. Click Here.