Steve French, author of the acclaimed “Rebel Chronicles,” tells the factual story of the winding road in Andrew Thomas Leopold’s life.

2880 words

https://web.archive.org/web/20190710015245/https://civilwarscholars.com/2014/06/author-steve-french-on-andrew-leopold-video-transcript-link/

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French, Steve. (2012). “Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac.” New Horizons Publishing Company. Print. info-sfrench52@yahoo.com

VIDEO: Author Steve French on Andrew Leopold (Standing at the Entler ferryboat house on the Virginia side in Shepherdstown) Click Here. TRT: 25:23

In May of 1864, when Andrew Leopold was taken to Baltimore under guard to be taken to be transferred to Fort McHenry a Baltimore Sun reporter noted “he is a guerilla chief and spy and murderer of the blackest die.” Now whether all that was true or not remains to be seen. But Andrew Leopold was born in Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1841. His father was Mathew Leopold and his mother, Polly Leopold. His father soon died and later his mother would marry John Zittle of Sharpsburg. The boy grew up in the town; later on, he worked on farms – local farms along the C&O Canal. He was a friendly boy who knew people on both sides of the river, especially in Shepherdstown where he knew quite a few people and traveled over here quite a bit. Probably at this time during his teenaged years he met Thomas Hipsley, who lived over near Moler’s Crossroads, who was an especially close friend of his and served in the Confederate Army later on with him. In 1861, he would join the first Virginia Cavalry.

Some of his first actions in the Civil War would be right here when militia men from Virginia would fire across at union guards, guarding the C&O Canal. The Entlers who lived across the river at that time running the ferry, commented later on, especially Luther about gunshots ringing out and bullets flying in the ferry house on the far side. But he served in the 1st Virginia Cavalry until April of 1862. Then he joined the 12th Virginia Cavalry along with his friend, Thomas Hipsley. During that time he participated in the Valley Campaign with Stonewall Jackson. He wrote a letter home to his mother about his experiences during that time, attacking the Union camp. Later on, he’ll fight in the Battle of Second Manassas, and he’ll be wounded three times towards the end of that battle. And his brigade commander, Gen. Beverly Robertson, will mention in the official reports of the battle how brave a man Leopold was. But once again, he was wounded three times at the Battle of Second Manassas. He has a long recovery but about October, 1862, he is headquartered with Stuart, at Stuart’s headquarters at The Bower, not far from here in Jefferson County. Towards the end of October, he is dispatched with Capt. Redmond Burke with a small band of men and they come to Shepherdstown, and are in this area scouting and rounding up conscripts for a two or three-week period.

On November 19th, there is a skirmish along the river at Guard Lock 4. And at this time a civilian named Mortimer Cookus is shot and killed by Leopold, as he is trying to escape across the river. On the night of the 24th and 25th of November, Leopold, Burke, Burke’s sons are surrounded in a house in Shepherdstown by soldiers from the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. Burke is killed. Leopold and two of Burke’s sons are captured, Hipsley and a soldier named John O’Brien also. The next day they are taken to Sharpsburg. The Union soldiers come back to Shepherdstown to arrest Daniel Rentch, a noted Shepherdstown resident. They are taken to Fort McHenry. The soldiers who are captured – they’re released very soon afterwards, paroled.

And by January the first, 1864, they’re all back with Stuart at his camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia. That winter, as soon as he is exchanged and the others are exchanged, they’re back in the service – dispatched service – operating once again in the Shepherdstown/Berryville area, carrying mail back and forth between the citizens and armies, scouting and so on. On the night of March the 6th, he comes into Shepherdstown with John O’Brien, and he’s hunting for a man named Jacob Hudson. He finds Hudson caring for his uncle at his house at Shepherdstown. And he knocks on the door with O’Brien. Evidently he doesn’t know Hudson, but Hudson has been talking about him around town. When Hudson opens the door, Leopold asks for Hudson -“Is Hudson in the house?” – Hudson immediately becomes scared and he runs toward the back door and he is shot down. George Brantner, who was a former Confederate soldier, he’s seated right in that room, cannot tell whether it was Leopold or O’Brien who shot the young man, but he sure identifies him later on, because Leopold met Brantner at the door and (Leopold) told him he had mail for him. Leopold will come down the street that night. He will tell one resident here in the town that he did shoot a man up the street and then they will leave the mail here and head back for camp.

Ten days later, on the night of March 15th & 16th, Leopold and a group of men go to Sharpsburg, Maryland, and, in Sharpsburg that night they steal six horses from an oyster wagon, parked outside of a local tavern. After midnight on the 16th, they return to try to get across the river. They go to Bridgeport where the ferry is, directly behind me, and they knock on the door. They say they have a dispatch to take to Harper’s Ferry to (Federal) General Stevenson. The young man, Charles Entler and his friend Samuel Jones, that are in the office that night, sleeping in the office, refuse to answer the door. Finally, Leopold starts tearing the shutters off the windows and Charles decides to come out. Samuel Jones would later say he knew it was Leopold at the door, but he was too scared, too frightened to say a word. As Charles comes out the door, his brother, Luther, who is in the ferry house himself, walks outside; and, as soon as he gets outside, he hears a man shout at his brother: “By God, I’m Captain Leopold and I’ve been looking for you a long time.” Immediately the gunshot goes off, Luther turns, makes haste into his house to get his revolver. His brother, Charles, nineteen-years-old, runs off and dies in the road, going up towards Ferry Hill. Leopold and his men escape. Now, they’re wanted men. The Middletown Valley Register over in Maryland, a few days later, comes out with a long article about Leopold and his band and at the end of it says: “Leopold deserves a hempen collar.” So he’s a wanted man, not only by the authorities in Maryland, but by Union soldiers, especially Major General Robert Milroy, the famous “Grey Eagle,” who was headquartered at that time in Winchester.

Towards the end of April around April 21st, Union forces are sent out of Berryville and they go to Castleman’s Ferry. That night, they will capture Leopold, and, once again, some of the Burkes – Hipsley and some other men when they surround the house, and they threaten to burn it down, if the Confederates don’t come out. They’re taken to Winchester and put in the Clarke County jail. While in that jail, one of Milroy’s citizen spies named Michael Graham from Woodstock, Virginia, talks to Leopold and finds out what he wants. Leopold wants to either join the Union Army or be allowed to get out of jail and go to Ohio. In return he will tell Milroy who the scouts and spies are in the lower Shenandoah Valley. He will meet with Milroy, and Milroy will listen to all this, but Leopold plays his hand too fast, and tells Milroy what he needs to know beforehand. So Milroy won’t agree to give him his freedom or allow him to switch sides and join the Union Army, but he will pack him to the prison at Fort McHenry. The inner fort was where only the most notorious Confederate guerrillas and partisans are held.

Now over in Sharpsburg at this time, Polly Zittle will hear of her son’s dire circumstances, and she will ask daughter, Sally Zittle, who is Andrew’s half-sister to come to Shepherdstown and meet with Mary Louise Entler and convince her to take her south – for Entler to take Zittle south – and meet with J.E.B. Stuart and try to arrange some sort of deal where(by) Andrew can get out of prison. So, at this time, Andrew is already at Fort McHenry. The girls meet here and they head south. Now, Entler was a – maybe we’d call spy today – but she was mostly concerned with delivering the mail between – once again this mail system between the army and the citizens. The girls get as far as Berryville. They’re taken into custody one morning at the Berryville hotel and sent to Winchester. Here they are going to meet – once again – General Milroy, who is in a big argument with a lot of women there. It’s over a cow. All of the sudden, the girls come in. He turns around and sees them and says: ”What do you want?” They tell him and he shouts out: “By God, I wouldn’t have any trouble here if it wasn’t for the women!” The women in Winchester. So, he listens to them, talks to them a while, then he will pack them off to Harper’s Ferry. At Harper’s Ferry, they are put under guard there, kind of loose guard – the Stipes Boarding House. They’ll stay probably close to six weeks there under sort of a house arrest. Mary Lou Entler will even meet her future husband Walter Herrington, who is a telegrapher for the Union Army at Harper’s Ferry. The girls are eventually sent to Baltimore and, while there, they will take the Oath of Loyalty to the Union, although the girls would say: “We really didn’t mean it. We dropped the Bible on the floor. So we didn’t swear to it on the Bible.” When, especially Miss Entler, gets back to Shepherdstown, she’s met right at this location as she comes across the ferry by hundreds of people and she’s a very gracious local hero for a long time afterward. (Back to Leopold).

He’s in the prison at the inner fort. He’s with a number of noted desperadoes, including William Boyd Compton (Belle Boyd’s cousin), who had been captured behind the Union lines in Fairmont, West Virginia. Captain Joel Baker, the guard, comments that most of the prisoners of the group – there’s about eight or nine in the guard room – most of the prisoners are cultured gentlemen, but not Leopold. Baker would write that Leopold is not trusted by the other prisoners. They think he would sell them out for just a few cents. Leopold is held in prison until mid-December, 1863, when he is put on trial by a military tribunal. He’s charged with a number of crimes, of being a guerrilla, murderer, violating an act of war, and being a spy. The tribunal is led by Col. W. W. Bates of the 8th New York heavy artillery. The Judge Advocate is Lieutenant Roderick Baldwin. Leopold will represent himself, but he will have the help of a local, Baltimore attorney, Milton Whitney Esq. who was well-known in Baltimore for many years. The trial opens up. A lot of local residents come from here to Fort McHenry to testify, including Daniel Rentch, Luther Entler, Samuel Jones, other men from Shepherdstown and also General Milroy will appear. The trial will go – on and off – for probably three, almost four, weeks. They break for Christmas a while; they break for different witnesses to arrive.

Finally, two charges are dropped, but he is still charged with being a guerilla and murderer, both capital offences. His defense rests on that he wasn’t a guerilla, that he was a Confederate soldier, especially dispatched into this area by J.E.B. Stuart. Also, he refused to admit that he had murdered Charles Entler. He said he didn’t have anything more to do with the murder of that young boy than any of the judges on the tribunal; and, he said the shooting of Cookus was just part of a local skirmish. So he denied being a guerilla; he denied being a murderer. In his summation, Lt. Baldwin, the Judge Advocate, would say: we owe something to the people of the border who have been hounded from their home, who have been murdered at their doorstep. We need to protect them. The verdict comes back. He is convicted of murder: the murder of Entler, the murder of Cookus – and he is convicted of being a guerrilla. Afterwards, the verdict and the results of the trial – goes up through the chain of command.

Finally, they reach that April, Judge Advocate Joseph Holt. Holt reviews all capital cases for Abraham Lincoln. In a four-page review, Holt will say this man has been convicted of these crimes and he deserves the death penalty. In late April, 1864, Abraham Lincoln will sign off on that. At that time, Leopold is taken from the guard room, shackled. He’s put in a cell, still in the inner fort, but not with the rest of the men on death row. During that month, there is a big escape from the guard room at Fort McHenry. William Boyd Compton leads the rest of the men in the escape and they all eventually get back to the Confederate lines. On the evening of April the 22nd, Leopold will be informed by his chaplain, Doctor Reese, that his execution will be the next morning. He will meet with Reese that evening for prayer and communion. During the winter, Leopold would become a committed Christian. He studied the Bible frequently. He had another small book that he would study. They had prayer. Reese left for a while.

About, five-thirty, he would return. Once again, they would talk of the afterlife. Then he (Leopold) would go out under guard, get on the wagon atop his coffin, and he would ride to the execution site right outside the walls. Captain Robert Baylor of Charlestown was also a prisoner at Fort McHenry at the time. He was out on the grounds of the fort and as he passed Baylor, Leopold would wave to Baylor and said: “Tell the boys I remain true to the cause.” As they neared the execution site, he could see the soldiers of the fort lined up on three sides of the gallows. The gallows there could have four executions at the time. (Federal) Major General Lew Wallace was there, later on the author of “Ben Hur.” He was the commander-in-chief of the Eighth Corps Middle Department, and Brig. General W. W. Morris, the sixty-six year old commander of Fort McHenry was also there. He was helped off the wagon. The reporter for “The Baltimore American” said that “Leopold went up the steps firm and undaunted.” Once atop the scaffold, he was asked for any last words and Leopold pointed to Gen. Morris and said: “Old man, you’re the reason I’m here. But I’ll forgive and I’ll meet you in Heaven.” After that, he stepped back. The hood was put on his neck by Private Elijah Brown, and then the rope put around his neck. Just afterwards, Morris gave the signal, and then – Leopold dropped into eternity. He would hang there for about twenty minutes before the soldiers took him down. There were friends there in Baltimore, some of Leopold’s friends.

They brought him back to Sharpsburg, where he was prepared for burial. A few days later, he was going to be brought to Shepherdstown to bury in the Soldier’s Cemetery. His plot will be right beside Redmond Burke, his old Captain. But he’s going to be brought across here by the undertaker, (with) of course his mother and sisters are with that group. They’re going to ride up this hill. At the Entler Hotel, there is a group of Unionists shouting at the undertaker to go back. Beforehand these same people had (gone) to the cemetery and warned the over four hundred mourners there to leave, but they ignored them. They go to the cemetery – once again – there’s a big crowd there. Lots of girls crying and so on. He is buried. Although maybe a year before, Leopold had been a hated person by most Confederates in this area because they heard that he was going to switch sides. By this time, he totally redeemed himself.

His conversion to Christianity, his bravery on the scaffold had turned him into a local hero. Later on, that same day, the Unionists would strike. They would come back and would steal the undertaker’s hearse and his horses and ride away with them. Whether he was really guilty of every crime that he was accused is questionable. He wasn’t a guerilla. He was a member of the regular Confederate Cavalry and there’s some question, on the murder of Entler that it might have O’Brien did the shooting.

Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 1 – 1850s – The Days That Never End – But That Did – The Day of the Horses – The Ring Tournament in Leeland Field by Jim Surkamp

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The wheat harvest was gathered, and the heats of midsummer were beginning to drive all who had means and leisure to congregate about famous springs and cool places in the mountains.

It was really the discovery of printing that killed chivalry, soul and body. Then the power that comes of knowledge passed over to the unarmed people. The unlettered prince could no longer delegate the writing and reading of his letters to a hired valet.

Tuesday August 4th, 1857, Shepherdstown, Va.:

The Day of the Horses – The Ring Tournament in Leeland Field.

On Tuesday last, a large assemblage of people, consisting of the youth and beauty of Jefferson, and Berkeley counties, Va., and Washington County, Md. collected at Leeland, near this place to witness the exciting scenes of a Tournament that came off there. – (1).

The tournament lists were staked out on a long level of evenly mowed turf some four hundred yards in length, guarded on either side by a railing of rope, and spanned near the further extremity by an arch of evergreen boughs, from the centre of which the ring was suspended. Outside of these lines were double rows of light wagons and carriages, regularly packed and filled with eager spectators. Near the centre were several extensive pavilions, made of wagon covers, bolting-cloths, or more agreeably thatched with fresh green boughs, shading rows of rough plank seats already occupied by the elite of the company – rustic dames whose silks and ribbons, or maidens whose delicate cheeks, shunned the scorching sunshine. Between this dress circle and the rope harrier the space was crowded with the undistinguished multitude of leather-faced mountaineers, squatting or lounging upon the grass, of lint-headed, bare-legged children, and negroes full of eager hilarity and vociferous expectation. Behind all, barns, stables, sheds, fodder-racks, fence corners, and umbrageous thickets afforded shelter for the four-footed chivalry who were to play the leading part in the amusements of the day. – (2)

Prior to the tilting the Gallant Knights were addressed by the President, Mr. Henry K. Douglas, of Ferry Hill, Md. in the following neat and appropriate speech. His delivery was bold, clear and impressive for one so young:

Gallant Knights – You have assembled here today not for the purpose of provoking Iron Mars, but that you may exhibit your devotion to the fair daughters of Eve, and given them assurances that as you now make known your consciousness of their charms, so you will ever consider it your greatest duty and supreme pleasure, to protest those charms though death alone be your reward.

You need no allusion to Knights of ancient days to increase your valor, nor stories of bleeding champions and fainting ladies to arouse your gallantry. You possess that generous spirit which would welcome the sword as readily as the harmless lance, did the cause of love require it. But even if you did not, you have before you a picture of loveliness that could change the hermit to a sprightly courtier, make the tottering sire forget his hoary hairs, and straightway as a boy again. And the merry hearts of these fair ladies are beating in unison with yours, for as your fleet steeds pursue their swift course, and you hasten towards the fatal ring, they wait an anxious sympathizing expectation and hail your success with a smile or announce your failure with a sigh. Knowing that you feel doubly inspired by the beautiful scene before you, and bearing on your banner the motto: “Cupid and the Ladies,” I bid your charge and may the God of Love grant you success and your reward the smiles of the fair with crowns of rosy garlands. – (3)

The hour had come, the trumpet call had sounded. The enlisted knights were already mustered behind the barn. The chief marshal of the tournament a handsome fellow, superbly mounted, with peaked beard and flowing locks cultivated expressly for the role, bobbing with plumes and fluttering with rosettes, with an air of egregious importance, was galloping to and fro, posting his guards, heralds, and pursuivants at their proper stations.

The ladies were lightly and gracefully dismounted, and their horses led away. Choice seats had been reserved in the green pavilion, and a sweep of the chiefs broadsword removed the rope barriers from their path. As (one lady) ascended the steps all the men and boys within range jostled each other and stretched their necks to catch a glimpse, while all the rosy cheeks turned pale with curious envy. The music ceased, the vocal murmurs died away. The orator and knights remounted to join the muster behind the barn.

Again the signal bugle was blown, and a troop of horsemen burst into the lists at full gallop. They were received with a storm of drums, trumpets, brass-bands, cheers, and waving of handkerchiefs and banners. Charging through the whole length of the course, they executed some pretty military maneuvers, and wheeling, galloped back to their starting-place. The parade resembled the grand entree at a circus, or, perhaps, a fancy ball on horseback. The knights were attired variously, according to their whims and pretensions, each wearing some token – a glove, a handkerchief, a ribbon, or bouquet from the lady in whose honor he proposed to risk his neck and exhibit his skill. Two or three were masked, and wore no favors by which they might be distinguished unknown, perhaps, except to their lady-loves, with whom there had been a secret understanding.

At length all the preliminary ceremonies were concluded, and the game commenced. Then the judges were posted beside the arch where the ring hung suspended. Heralds to proclaim the count, grooms and attendants to replace the ring when taken off and to assist any cavalier in case of an accident. Others along the line kept back the eager and excited crowd with drawn sabres, while at the lower end the chief marshal called a roll of the knights, who took their places in line in order as they were named. – (4).

We never before saw such an array of female beauty and chivalry, as was there assembled:

The following are the names of the officers and Knights:

President – Henry K. Douglas
Heralds – James L. Towner, Samuel Moore
Judges – R. Davis Shepherd, Jr., Samuel B. Neil
George H. Murphy – Knight of Ivanhoe
Thomas Chapline – Hotspur
R. T. Berry Harvy Percy
E. G. Lee – Knight of Alhambra
George R. Bedinger – Saladin
Joseph T. Hess – Rienzi
Daniel Morgan – Long Star
Dr. P. Grove – Knight of Woodburry

(In a previous tournament held at Shannondale Springs, the president had been Col. John F. Hamtramck of Shepherdstown; R. D. Shepherd, Jr. won three consecutive contests, allowing him to award the Queen of Love and Beauty to Miss Rosa Parran of Shepherdstown). – (5).

The riding at Leeland was very graceful and well done, exiting and animating, evidencing great proficiency in Equestrianism and abundantly showing that the chivalry of the Old Dominion is still in keeping with the world-wide reputation she has won in days of yore.

After three alternate charges by each Knight, R. T. Berry, George H. Murphy, and Dr. P. Grove, were declared the victors; after which the Knights were again marshalled in front of that array of beauty and love that could be with the many colors of the rainbow, when the coronation took place as follows: – R. T. Berry crowned Miss Julia J. Hays, of Sharpsburg, MD., Queen of Love and beauty; George H. Murphy selected Miss Mary Abbott of Georgetown, D.C., First Maid of Honor; Dr. P. Grove selected Miss Lillie Parran, Second Maid of Honor.

The coronation was performed by the President in a graceful and becoming manner and each was prefaced by a neat speech in the most beautiful language.

At night the exercises of the day were wound up by a magnificent Cotillion.

After the selection, the company repaired to the hotel where a most sumptuous feast was spread there with the flow of champagne and the exchange of toasts consumed the afternoon. Every one then retired to their rooms to prepare for the fancy ball. At about half past eight o’clock, the spacious ballroom was thronged with spectators awaiting entrance of the Queen and her Champion and cortege and attendants.

At the sound of music, the folding doors at the upper end of the room were suddenly opened, and the Queen and her Champion, richly dressed in fancy costumes, the same wreath of such freshness . . . resting on his brow, appeared followed by the Knight and Maids of Honor and a long train of attendants all fancifully attired. They proceeded to the far end of the room and took their stand when the crowds made their obeisance. Then the Queen and her Champion and three Knights and Maids of Honor took hands, formed and danced a cotillion, and the ball was opened for the evening. I have been to many balls and have seen much in this way, but have never seen one so bright and beautiful as this.
The many characters represented every nation, and flitted before you in such rapid succession that it was impossible to identify. A few, however, were very conspicuous.

There were some others whom we noticed were magically attracting much attention, and there was one, “the gayest in the revel, the lightest in the dance,” who “Like a fairy on a festival morning, She tripped in the merry quadrille, Bright blushes her features adorning, She conquered the crowd at her will.”

The dancing was kept up until the “wee hours of morning admonished them to part. And this ended a gala day long to be remembered by all.”- (6).

At an earlier ring tournament at Shannondale Springs in the County, an older generation prevailed. “The president of the day, one Henry Bedinger addressed them in such eloquent tones and elevated and inspired sentiments that the dullest bosum was roused to the highest daring and the true spirit of ancient chivalry was revived. . . The speech of Mr. Bedinger was most appropriate and beautiful. When he had concluded, the knights repaired to the place of starting. Then began the most splendid contention that I ever witnessed. It is impossible to give a detailed account of it, but the horses catching the spirit of the rider, flew like the wind and their flashing eyes and foaming mouths betrayed the high excitement . . . Mr. Lewis Washington, as the English hunter of the 15th century, so superbly he filled the character so to very life, and Mr. John Pendleton Kennedy in the court dress of Louis the 14th looked remarkably striking and handsome.” – (7).

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Thy Will Be Done – Chapter 2 Working Jefferson County’s Peaceful, Fertile Lands by Jim Surkamp.

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The highly profitable wheat fell to the scythe at The Bower where young tall, wiry Adam Stephen Dandridge took place in the line along with enslaved African-Americans John Pinco and “Levin.” – (1) (2).

Harvest crews helped from farm-to-farm.

If the neighbors had not finished their harvest, the force was allowed to go and help them out, receiving for themselves the usual wages. In all the fields of corn, the outside rows were planted in a broomcorn for the Negroes’ use and they spent the long winter evenings in making brooms, baskets, hampers and split-bottom chairs all of which found a ready sale in the country stores. The chairs were of all sizes from the large porch chairs down to low, sewing chairs and chairs for children. They managed to make them very comfortable and they were substantial and lasted a lifetime. – (3).

The “cultural Congressman,” Alexander Boteler may have not been on the crew but the young men born of Philip and Hannah Thornton swung their scythes in unison at Fountain Rock farm near Shepherdstown and when possible were part of Hugh Nelson Pendleton’s crew, farm and home at Westwood in the southern end of the County, even after ten of the African-American Thorntons in Jefferson County, opted, with support, to take passage on the barque “Cora” in May, 1855 and they sailed to Cape Palmas, Liberia Africa to start anew. – (4) (5).

Wheat was coming off Edmund and Henrietta Lee’s Oak Hill Farm on the Philadelphia Waggon Road opposite and to the immediate west of Boteler’s Fountain Rock, relying on Nace and others to harvest and get the shocks of wheat in to the barn.

September would bring more indoor work for the County’s farms.

In September, the cloth and yarn for winter work were brought home from the factory along the river and the work of making up began and was only finished at Christmas.

In every household there was a woman who could cut out the garments and all the younger girls had been taught how to sew and knit. During the year, all the girls in clean frocks assembled in some room in the great house every morning and the class of sewers and knitters was presided over by some bespectacled old Negro woman whose word was law to the girls. The work of making up the clothing and knitting yarn socks went on under her supervision, and at Christmas every man and woman on the place appeared in new clothes and new shoes and warm woolen stockings.

Every man had an overcoat every four years and a flannel hack jacket called by the Negroes the “warmus” to wear under his waistcoat in cold weather.

Tobacco was issued to each worker once a week. Sometimes it was bought in kegs of about 100 pounds and was called black-strap and one strap, sometimes two, was the ration. Some people chewed it and some of them smoked in their corncob pipes. This was before the days of fertilizers when tobacco was raised on virgin soil. Every year a farmer would clear a small patch of ground sufficient for the wants of his farm and plant it in tobacco. The fragrance of the Negroes’ corncob pipe was notorious and was due to the fact that no fertilizer had been used in growing his tobacco. – (6).

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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).

NEXT: Chapterette 4. Click Here.

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

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ARBoteler_Enhanced_Cropped
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).

NEXT: Chapterette 5. Click Here.

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

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James_W_Allen_Cropped
James Walkenshaw Allen
recruit012

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).

NEXT: Chapterette 6. Click Here.

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

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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 – Chapter 8 August-September, 1861 – Returning to Fountain Rock and Family Does Not Exceed The Reach of Armies by Jim Surkamp.

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Fountain Rock, the Boteler’s Home , today the site of the pavilion at Morgan’s Grove

In the after years the young people listening to these wartime tales never forgot, amid more exciting things, the description of the first night at Fountain Rock after the heart-burdened hurry of the journey back to war-clouded Virginia. The sound of the wind in the trees, the ripple of the water pouring through the dairy, the soft stir of insect life, all the “live murmur” of the summer night fell upon the travelers with strange impressiveness after the hustle and jar of the city.

Hope, fear and consolation were seldom voiced. The Fountain Rock family could not bear to stay longer in Baltimore and as soon as a pass could be obtained from the provost marshal of the city, Gen. Lew Wallace, Mrs. Boteler and her two daughters, Helen and Charlotte, returned to Fountain Rock. There they found Mr. Boteler and his wounded son. How changed the boy was! His wound, tho disabling was not serious, but he had been ill from exposure and his mother and sisters did not recognize at first in the pale, bearded man the boy who had been full of youthful vigor and confidence a few months before. He left in a few weeks to rejoin his regiment while his father was occupied at home and in the valley camps nearby. The quiet of the country felt strangely at first upon the overstrained nerves of the returning refugees. – (1).

That August, on information from Shepherdstown blacksmith and Unionist, Joe Welshans, federal troops of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry, under Col. Leonard encamped on the Maryland side of the Potomac from Shepherdstown, came to Fountain Rock in the middle of the night to arrest Boteler, then a Confederate Congressman.

Tippie Boteler wrote:

Pa had half-dressed & gone down to the back doors, at which he found massed bayonets & finding there was no escape went himself to the (front) door, threw it wide open & asked what they meant by coming at that time of night to a gentleman’s house . . .

Boteler was held for a day and then released, a decision criticized later by a higher-up. After he was freed, Tippie Boteler wrote that one (enemy soldier) said: “You are a very dangerous man.” Pa said, “yes, last night unarmed, barefoot & half-dressed.” – (2).

Rezin Davis, Lizzie Shepherd & Their Three Children Have Company.

Shortly after this return Elizabeth Shepherd joined her husband at the Lower Farm, where Davis Shepherd’s father and mother had been since spring. As the summer wore on, the yankees encamped on the other side of the river grew more and more aggressive, and one morning in September they opened fire full upon the place. Bullets whizzing through the trees and minie balls flattening themselves against the stones of the river front of the house kept those within in dread for hours.

It soon became imperative that the family should seek safety elsewhere. A few necessary articles were hastily gathered together, the children were lifted through the windows facing south out of reach of the constant fire, the grown people crept out through the basement. Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd, Sr. and their daughter went to John Shepherd’s and Davis and his family went, of course, to Fountain Rock.

That night the Union soldiers (from Indiana-JS) came across the river and took possession of the abandoned house. They told the servants left on the place that they might have anything they wanted. The negroes afterwards described with graphic detail the revels of the occupying soldiers, who amused themselves by placing wine glasses on their boot toes and kicking them up against the ceiling and smashing other fragile articles found in the china closet and on the mantels. They were afraid to eat any of the provisions, for fear of poison, they said, but they were quite as willing to appropriate for destruction as for us and soon put the place in sorry condition. All the preserves and pickles in the pantry were emptied in an unpleasing puddle in the front yard. The doors were split from top to bottom by sabre strokes, and many things of value were carried away for souvenirs. The servants were delighted to exercise their wits in recovering for Mrs. Shepherd some of the things taken by the soldiers and told with glee how they had “stolen them back for the mistress.” – (3)

Two cousins of the Botelers, also from Shepherdstown, enlist in the First Rockbridge Artillery and 12th Virginia Cavalry in October, 1861 – joining the many other relations in those units.

BOTELER, CHARLES PEALE: Pvt. Res. Shepherdstown, Enl. Centreville 10/23/61. Present 10/12-31/61 and 2/1-5/62. Ab. on leave for 34 days 2/6/62. Present 3/62 until transf. Ashby’s Cav. 4/2/62. In Signal Corps Army of NVa. 10/1-11/30/63. Brother of Henry Boteler.

BOTELER, HENRY: Res. Shepherdstown. Enl. Fairfax CH 10/10/61. Present 1/10–31/61 and 5/1-2/62. Ab. on 34 days, beginning 2/6/62. Present 3/62-8/31/64. Present 9-10/64, promoted 7th Cpl. Present 11-12/64. Surrendered Appomattox 4/9/65. Brother of Charles P. Boteler. – (4).

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“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 10 January, 1862 – A “Chilling” Account of Stonewall Soldierhhod

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Chapterette 10: A Love-Prospecting Henry Kyd Douglas Writes Tippie Boteler from a 2nd Virginia Infantry Encampment Amid the Worst Winter Weather Conditions in West Virginia, Yet Perhaps Unable to Warm Her Heart.

Henry Kyd Douglas

January, 1862 – A “Chilling” Account of “Stonewall” Soldierhood

Letter from Henry Kyd Douglas to Tippie Boteler, Winchester, January 12, 1862.
My Dear Miss Tippie – I’ve been to the Springs since I read your delightful last (letter). It may appear to common people as a very peculiar taste but it is a matter of taste alone, and as I never enjoyed the pleasure of visiting this or that locality in the summer and in time of peace, I did have an opportunity of going to Bath (Berkeley Springs) in winter, when everything was gilded with snow. You perceive therefore that the “one great wish so new to all hearts” that our Brigade might not be sent to Romney, was gratified in a very Delphic and to us unsatisfactory manner. But we all stand on a level (I mean all of Jackson’s and Loring’s commands) now. Before this trip it was a common thing for the members of Genl. Loring’s command to remark that it was very true though Stone-Wall had seen some hard marching and a goodly share of sharp fighting, but they had never endured the hardships of the mountain bivouac, or been exposed to the blasts of western Virginia and its deep snow. They recounted their severe trials, their hair-breadth scrapes, in wonderful eloquence, until that credulous portion of Christendom – the female sex – listened with admiration and awe and began to the chagrin of us Jacksonites to love them for the dangers they had seen. But we’ve got even now. They have been compelled to admit that they have endured within the past two weeks what they never endured before. With sufficient degree of zeal, we will hereafter be able to hold our share of the sympathies of those who hear of this the hardest march since those of Napoleon. But it has had a terrible effect upon the troops, as the overflowing hospitals of Winchester attest. About eight hundred soldiers have been rendered unfit for duty by sickness and four-horse wagons are continually arriving filled with living evidences of the hardships we have seen, while scores of sick soldiers that cannot be accommodated are being daily sent off to Staunton and other hospitals. I think the sentimentalists who imagine that there is no way to die in war but in battle, would be shocked at the sight of those who are expiring without a wound, and would feel disposed to modify that Plato quotation,”Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (Not by Plato, but from the Roman lyrical poet Horace’s Odes III.2.13 – JS). The line can be roughly translated into English as: “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.) – (1).

But to begin at the beginning and be as brief as possible – for I’ve nothing else to write about and may as well fill my letter with a short account of our trip to the Springs (a la correspondent for news-paper) however uninteresting it may prove.

About 4 o’clock on New Year’s morning we were awakened by an untimely reveille and long roll. Every soldier knew before he left his bed (excuse my civilized style of saying “bed”) that a march was before him in celebration of the advent of 1862. No one knew whither, but a majority dolefully thought of Romney. About day-light we were on the way, puzzling as to our course. The day was pleasant, although rather warm for marching. It was soon evident that the whole army (militia included) was along and an active expedition was expected. About dark we bivouacked (which means we encamped within tents).

Our brigade was placed upon a high hill covered with pine-trees, resembling the spur of a mountain. Very soon the winds commenced blowing in real winter blasts and increasing in fierceness kept it up all night. Our baggage, being in the rear of the whole wagon train which was about 5 miles long, did not reach us at all that night and consequently we were left exposed to the “cold chilly winds” without a blanket and many without their overcoats. Pine fires were built, but the smoke and sparks were dashed in all directions so furiously that it was almost impossible to stand near enough to the fires to keep moderately comfortable (by moderately I mean one side – for while it would be warm the other side would be freezing).

Many threw themselves down on the ground, determined to try and sleep amid the smoke and sparks. The consequence was that very few of them escaped without burned clothes. I know I did not. I laid down by the fire and, covering my head with the cape of my overcoat, tried to sleep. I had just succeeded in getting into a nap when I was awaked by a severe shake and on looking up found several soldiers engaged in putting out the fire which had caught my overcoat in several places. Satisfied that sleep under the circumstances was impossible I stood by the fire for the rest of the night – and was duly thankful in the morning that I was still alive. At the sounds of the drum the march was resumed and continued until about 3 p.m. when we bivouacked until next morning and commenced the march again. This was a cold disagreeable day but we kept up the march until after 10 at night.

In the meantime we had white-spotted evidence that it was going to snow and to add to the disagreeability of the march, some poor fellows fell in the many runs we crossed after dark, and the ice on their clothes soon reminded one of sleighing times only this situation was not quite as comfortable as it might have been in ordinary times. That night we had more than our quantity of bed-clothing for, in putting my head out from under the blankets, whither it had been driven by sleet and snow, I found in the morning about two inches of the old goo(s)man’s geese feathers on top of my bed. I had observed frequently during the night that the snow (which is much more insinuating and curious than rain) had penetrated through the small crevices between the blankets and brought itself in very disagreeable contact with my head and face.

But I am getting admirably prolix. The next day we entered Bath and our brigade quartered there for the night. Our camp staid in a beautiful cottage built by Mr. McGilmer of Bath for a summer residence and slept on the spring lawn. It was beautifully furnished, French bedsteads, etc. oil-cloth and matting on the floor; innumerable beautiful engravings and some very handsome paintings around the walls – entirely too handsome for soldiers’ barracks. I should have preferred a good stable loft. But I’m glad to say nothing was injured and we left it very early next morning. But we had at least spent one night in Bath and that in the winter.

Did you ever read “The Daltons”? If so do you remember the description of Baden, the celebrated German watering place in winter. The resemblance to Bath is clear. To those who live at such a place all the time, the contrast between summer and winter must make either one or the other, according to the fancy, all most unendurable.

Just imaginatively repeople Bath with its summer visitors, gauze drapes, bare arms, low necks, light slippers, bare-heads – walking through the snow, stepping on ice, and watching the white rocks and leafless trees on the barren hill that rises up among the winds and seems to protect Bath. Wouldn’t it be a suggestive but strange sight? But we left Bath and went on to the river about four miles. The yankees had fled precipitately from Bath and owing to the cowardice and inefficiency of the contemptible militia, had escaped us, except about 24 prisoners. However, we got several yankee storage-houses with army stores to the value of 30 or 40,000 dollars, burned Capon Bridge and tore up a part of the B&O R. Road. Our camps fared very well in yankee plunder, some getting jackets, some hats, shoes etc. and some entering into speculations by selling what they had captured or stolen. But the suffering of the soldiers during these few days and until the army arrived where it now is, was greater, much greater than I had described, between rain, snow, ice and cold. It was the Valley Forge of the Revolution, even to the frozen and bleeding feet. I cannot bore you by a description and even if given it would seem almost incredible.

One little episode was decidedly interesting to the soldiers. Amid the snow and ice, several messes in our camp regaled themselves with corn and tomatoes, canned, taken from the yankees and as delightful and fresh as I have ever seen them in winter. The last march the army took to where it now is – was a dreadful one. The road was almost an uninterruptible sheet of ice, rendering it almost impossible for man or beast to travel, while by moonlight, the beards of the men, (not mine), matted with ice and glistening like crystals, presented a very peculiar yet ludicrous appearance. I have not been able to find a man in the 2nd Reg. who did not fall down at least twice. I laid down (rapidly and with emphasis) three times. 3 men in our brigade broke their arms falling, and several rendered their guns useless. Several horses were killed and many wagons were compelled to go into night quarters along the road, being unable to get along at all. Nearly all the march of 18 miles was made after dark. But I’ll describe (it) no further and but leave the brigade and regiment where it is – about 23 miles from here at Unger’s store.

How long they will remain there and what they will do next I know not, although I should not be surprised to see them here before long. Col. Ch. Jas. Faulkner has gone to Richmond for orders. You know he is one of Genl. Jackson’s aide de camp.

Probably you have asked what I am doing in Winchester with my company so far away. I arrived here last night. A general court martial convened by Genl. Johnston meets here to-morrow, of which I am Judge-Advocate, viz. prosecutor for the court, or in other words it is my duty to prepare and try all the cases brought before it. I have 15 to begin with and will be kept here at least 2 weeks, probably a month. I was ordered here (by) Genl. Jackson last night and came with Ned Lee who is a member of the court. Were it not for the court I would now be in Shepherdstown, as I could have received a furlough several days ago, but was detained and sent here for duty. I am certainly not sorry to get away from camp, although the duties of a Judge-Advocate are many and his responsibility great. I will send this letter to you at Shepherdstown although it is probably from what you said in your last that you are in Lynchburg. Hoping to hear from you very soon, with a letter that will rival mine in length, with many good messages to you, Ma and family, I am Yours in inexpressible friendship, Henry Kyd Douglas – (2).

February 11, 1862 – Winchester, Va. – Sickness Rewards Col. Allen with the Welcome Trappings of Home Life.

Because of sickness and duties like Douglas’ at the court-martial hearings in the Winchester Courthouse, Col. James Allen, the commander of the 2nd Virginia infantry, enjoyed the comforts of a home there and the presence of his wife, Julia, and their little son, Hugh. In a letter to James’ sister, Fanny, Julia wrote:

He was taken about ten days ago with a disorder of the stomach & bowels, which he neglected, & continued at the Court House every day through all the rain & mud until he was so weakened as to be forced to stay in and have a Doctor. He has now been in bed five days with more or less fever all the time, though the original disease is controlled, Nature seems to be slow in righting herself. He is kept on very light diet, Toast & Tea, Jelly and Oysters & by the way there is no Green Tea to be gotten in this place, and the Coffee, mostly or wholly Rye. I wish I could get at some of Mother’s stores now. Mr. A. won’t drink Black Tea which is Hobson’s choice here. The Dr. said he had no fever this morning and thinks he will be up in a day or two! Mammy came up to me last Saturday and is a great help! – (3).

NEXT: Chapterette 11. Click Here.