The Humble Harvest & Eternal Voices – (2) by Jim Surkamp

by Jim Surkamp on September 5, 2016 in Jefferson County


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Researched, written and produced by Jim Surkamp

VIDEO: The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Part 2 TRT: 21:48/27:40 (incl. Credits). Click Here.


The Humble Harvest and Eternal Voices October, 1862 Jefferson County, West Virginia After a Great Battle . . .


But just as she passed the window best seen by the Sharpshooters, a gust of wind blew her skirts and a curtain aside. Shots immediately announced that the light had been seen.


I asked how the child had been killed. A reply given was, in substance, the same as the old man’s. With both hands, she slowly and solemnly raised the blood stained cover off the little breast, saying in sobs as she did so, “Just look here.”


Deeds of valor are no longer dreams gone by. We live in knightly days; our men are dauntless men. Will there ever be one to write the life of the common soldier?


The regiment had not lost a man to be sure, but had seen a genuine fight, heard the scream of the shells and seen a caisson blowing up and men knocked over.

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”Well, you are from the Old Sod, ain’t you?” My reply was simply, ”Yes, sir.”


I sent the wagon to Mr. Moore and 27 bushels by measure. The day was fine for seeding. No military to be seen on our side of the hill.


Pa is becoming rather tired of our South Carolina soldier. Thinks he is sufficiently well to leave.


It was a sparkling beautiful morning of autumn and I enjoyed the ride home the more for being fortunate enough – firing from my horses back with my revolver – to kill a grey squirrel, which, as our mess arrangements had been thrown into utter disorder by the events of the last two days, was gladly welcomed the same evening on our dinner table.

October 10 – Friday Weather: rainy towards evening

Irish-born St. Clair Mulholland who commanded the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, when it pulled into Harper’s Ferry on the train:


The train carrying the regiment arrived at Sandy Hook near Harper’s Ferry at daybreak, October 10th.


The men woke up and tumbled out of the cars, sore, sleepy, and tired and formed line, and as the sun came over the hills, slowly moved through Harper’s Ferry and climbed up the steep incline to Bolivar Heights.
A halt for breakfast on the crest, and the men lit their little fires on ground that was literally covered with fragments of Confederates’ shells, the whole ground being strewn with pieces of shells, round shot, and debris of the battle. While the boys were eating and looking around at the magnificent scenery, a very amusing though rather serious incident occurred.


A regiment from Maine, a new regiment also, came up to join the Second Corps and halted to prepare breakfast, and finding plenty of thirty-pound parrot shells lying around used them to build fireplaces — forming four or five of the oblong bolts in a ring with the points up, making an excellent resting place for the coffee pot. But when the fire in the center began to roar and crackle and the coffee to boil, the shells began to explode, much to the amazement of the boys from the Pine Tree State. Half a dozen of the cooks were wounded, the coffee spilled, the whole corps had a good laugh, and the men of Maine had learned something. At noon the regiment fell in, marched over to the headquarters of the Irish Brigade and reported for duty. The Adjutant General, Major Tom O’Neill, assigned the command a spot on Bolivar Heights, on a bluff overlooking the Shenandoah River, on which to pitch camp, and the streets were soon measured off and tents erected. Towards evening, when matters had gotten into something like order, the Brigade Commander, General Thomas Francis Meagher, came to make a visit out of courtesy to his new command. He came in state, splendidly mounted, and surrounded by a brilliant staff, the members of which seemed to wear a deal more gold lace than the regulations called for. Meagher was a handsome man, stately and courteous, with a wonderful flow of language and poetic ideas. When the canteen had been passed around the conversation became animated — Meagher displayed a most gracious manner that was captivating and charming to a remarkable degree, forming a strange contrast to his mood at other times when he tried to be stern, and his manner was not so affable. A pleasant evening it was, and when the General and his gorgeous staff rode away in the darkness, he left a pleasing impression behind him. The camp at Harper’s Ferry will always be remembered by the members of the regiment with pleasure.October 11 – Saturday Weather: cloudy and cool in the morning, rain during the night. At Rock Hall farm, Mary Ambler wrote in her diary that day: Saturday October 11th – The wagons were here again today but Pa is tired out with selling and refused them anything but hay. They beg for that at any price. October 12 – Sunday Weather: cloudy in the morning. October 13 – Monday Weather: cloudy during the day, rain during the night.


Private William McCarter, controlling his stammer, was called to Commander Meagher’s tent: Early on the morning of the 13th, our colonel sent me a message to be ready to accompany him to the headquarters of General Meagher at ten AM. I was a perfect stranger to him. . . Had I been guilty of any crime or misdemeanor worthy of reproof or punishment?I, however, rigged myself up in my dress uniform, brightened up all my buttons and brasses and presented a pretty fair soldierly appearance. . . . On entering the tent of Gen. Meagher, the usual salute passed between the two commanders and me.“General, here is your man.” “Ah,” said the General, “be seated.” With that pleasing smile on his countenance which he always wore when addressing personally any of his soldiers, he asked, ”Well, you are from the Old Sod, ain’t you?” My reply was simply, ”Yes, sir.” Meagher then put his hand into his coat breast-pocket . . after seeming not to have found what he wanted . . he called his orderly.“Do you know what became of the piece of poetry titled ‘The Land of My Birth’ with the name ‘McCarter’ written on the back?” (The orderly brought it from a writing desk nearby). Then glancing at me, Gen. Meagher held it out asking: “Is that your handwriting?” “Yes sir,” I replied. I also stated, “Yes, sir, that is my handwriting.” (McCarter wrote the poem in 1860 in Philadelphia and, later, an officer at camp read the poem and McCarter gave it to him as a gift). After some discussion with the other officer, Meagher said: “he (McCarter) writes so well. I am in much need of a clerk for the brigade. He could make himself more useful and be of more service in that capacity. Turning to me, he asked, “What say you yourself, McCarter?” “Fix it between yourselves, gentlemen,” said I, “I am satisfied.” “Thank you,” responded Gen. Meagher.


St. Clair Mulholland later put to paper his fond memories of those days at Bolivar and Harpers Ferry:The camp at Harper’s Ferry will always be remembered by the members of the regiment with pleasure. The weeks spent there were full of enjoyment. Plenty of drills and hard work, to be sure, but still time enough for visiting through the camps, and rambles through the old, historic town. The ruins of the Engine House where old John Brown made his last stand was a point of great interest to all. The magnificent scenery, the bright, sunshiny days, and the visit to the army of many ladies all lent a charm to a new life. That truly lovely woman, Mrs. General Thomas Francis Meagher, spent a week or two in camp, and many other wives of officers took advantage of the peaceful days to visit the army.


Then there was the frequent target practice down by the river bank where the boys fired away at imaginary Confederates and filled trees full of buck and ball, with an implied understanding that the trunks were Confederate Generals . . . – Annie Marmion remembered the terror begat from random sharpshooting from the Maryland Heights:


One night a lady visitor at our house (to visit Annie’s father, Dr. Nicholas Marmion) attempted to carry a light to her bedroom, a necessary part of her toilette being to put her hair in curl papers and she enjoyed doing it before a mirror. She concealed her tallow candle, the only thing available at the time, behind her ample skirts and person, but just as she passed the window best seen by the (sharpshooters), a gust of wind blew her skirts and a curtain aside. Shots immediately announced that the light had been seen, and very soon after a knock is heard on the door. It is a message from the Commanding Officer to the effect that “signals to the Rebels” having been seen emanating from the house the family are allowed one hour in which to quit the place, as the house will be shelled. The excitement is of course intense in the little circle, it is about nine o’clock at night; the children are awakened out of their sleep, into each little hand is put as large a package of clothes as it can handle; the farm wagon is brought out and, not withstanding it is night, it is well flagged, it is quickly filled with beds and bedding, the only things it seems possible to take. The family is about to mount in upon the beds when the order is revoked to the untold relief of the anxious Father and Mother and the great disappointment of the children who are keen for adventure.


Mullholland continues his reveries of his Harpers Ferry of October, 1862, almost oblivious to adjacent pockets of deep suffering and travail. He wrote: . . . the quiet picket line, three miles out towards Halltown ; the evening camp fire, reviews, martial music, and all the pomp and display of war rendered the days pleasing indeed. The First Division, Second Corps, of which the regiment had now become was known as Hancock’s Division, The Irish Brigade consisted of the Sixty-ninth, Eighty-eighth and Sixty-third New York and Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Regiments. The three former were Irish regiments, the latter like ours(and William McCarter’s – JS) One Hundred and Sixteenth was composed principally of Americans and had been placed in the brigade temporarily. The men quickly fraternized with the old regiments and were soon fast friends. There was very little sickness in the command and not one death during the time it was camped at Bolivar Heights, but in many other Pennsylvania regiments camped nearby there was a great deal of fever and many funerals. It seemed strange that the men of the regiment, chiefly from the city, from the factory and workshop, should stand the exposure of the camp better than the men who came from the country. At Harper’s Ferry the command improved rapidly in every duty of the soldier.


The picket line near Halltown ran through a delightful country. Firewood and food were plentiful, and picket duty was a pleasure rather than a pain. At one point the line ran between two farm-houses in which resided lovers — the boy within the Union line and his lady-love over the border. Neither were permitted to communicate, but they would come as close to the picket as allowable and look sweet at each other. Happy was the officer of the day who could eat breakfast with the lover and then cross the line and dine in the house of the beloved. He was sure to fare well in return for any brief message that he might carry.


(1) POST – The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 1 2753 words. (Repost from 5.17.2016)

(2) POST – The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 2. 3275 words.

(3) POST – The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 3. 2933 words.

(4) POST – The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 4. 5470 words.

(5) POST – The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 5 – Conclusion. 10,449 words.


UPDATED: The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Pt. 5 – Conclusion TRT: 29:00/53:34 (incl. Credits). Click Here.

The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Part 4 – Skirmish TRT: 23:35/33:48 (incl. Credits). Click Here.

The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Part 3 TRT: 14:08/26:14 (incl. Credits). Click Here.

The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Part 2 TRT: 21:48/27:40 (incl. Credits). Click Here.

The Humble Harvest, Eternal Voices – Part 1. TRT: 17:25/21:14 (incl. Credits). Click Here.


Charles Aglionby Papers and Civil War Diary, Volume 2 – Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town, WV.

Ambler, Anne W. (1971). “Diary of Anne Madison Willis Ambler (1836-1888): A Civil War Experience.” (submitted by her granddaughter, Anne Madison Ambler Baylor – Mrs. Robert Garnet Baylor). Magazine of the Historical Society of Jefferson County.” Vol. Volume XXXVII. Charles Town, WV: Jefferson County Historical Society, p. 29.

Ames, Mary Clemmer. (1872). “Eirene or A Woman’s Right.” G. P. Putnam & Sons: New York, NY. pp. 155-178.

Ames, Mary C. (1872). “Eirene, Or A Woman’s Right.” New York, NY: G. P. Putnam & Sons. 5 February 2003 Web. 5 March 2016. pp. 155-177.

Chew, Roger P. (1911). “Military Operations in Jefferson County, Virginia (and West Va.) 1861-1865.” [s.l.]: Charles Town, WV: published by authority of Jefferson County Camp, U.C.V. [by] Farmers Advocate Printing. pp. 36-37. 26 October 2004 Web. 20 June 2016.

Marmion, Annie P. (1959).”Under Fire: An Experience in the Civil War.” William V. Marmion, Jr. editor. self-published.

McCarter, William. (1996). “My Life in the Irish Brigade – The Civil War Memoirs of Private William McCarter, 116th Pensylvania Infantry.” edited by Kevin E. O’Brien. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group. 5 February 2003 Web. 5 March 2016.

Mulholland, St. Clair Augustin. (1899). “The story of the 116th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry. War of secession, 1862-1865.” [Philadelphia, F. McManus, jr., & co.]. 26 October 2004 Web. 20 June 2016.

The Official Record of the War of the Rebellion Report of W. Hancock, Chapter XIX, Official Record, Series I, Part 2, Vol. 19. Hancock, Caldwell, Zook, Munford reports. pp. 91-97.


Reports of Winfield Hancock
p. 90.
Report of Brig. Gen. Winfleld S. Hancock, U. S. Army, commandinq First Division, Second Army Corps. OCTOBER [10], 1862. I am now in Charlestown. The enemy have taken the right hand road toward Berryville, toward the Shenandoah. I believe they have nothing but horse artillery and cavalry. They now hold a knoll and the Winchester road. As soon as I establish my line beyond the town, I will send the cavalry forward. I have had 9 men hurt. WINFD S. HANCOCK. General COUCH.

OCTOBER 10, 18621 o’clock. GENERAL: I cannot ascertain how much cavalry force was here, with any certainty. All numbers are stated, from 200 to five regiments. There were from five to seven guns. The enemys cavalry pickets are moving about to my right and left rear; I therefore have to picket those roads a good deal. This will reduce the cavalry force available to move forward, to about 600 men. This command seems small; still, as I have received no other instructions, I will order Colonel iDevin to proceed. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

Image Credits – Includes images from the corresponding video:

(For Marmion, Mulholland and McCarter, see “References”)

Mary Ames – frontispiece – “From a New England Woman’s Diary in Dixie in 1865.” 19 January 2001 Web. 20 June 2016.

Annie Marmion from book’s frontispiece.

St. Clair Mulholland – courtesy of the US Army HEC, Carlisle, PA.

William McCarter – from book’s frontispiece: 5 February 2003 Web. 5 March 2016.

Charles Aglionby – from Vol. 2, Aglionby Papers, Jefferson County Museum – Charles Town, WV.

Semblance of Anne Madison Willis Ambler – Thomas Faed – “Lady Writing a Letter

detail, Thomas F. Meagher – The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. 13 September 2013 Web 20 June 2016.

Meagher with raised hand – Library of Congress by Mathew Brady 4 January 2015 Web. 20 June 2016.
and – 24 December 1996 Web. 20 June 2016

Heros Von Borcke – Uploaded by bruceyrock632 16 September 2011 Web 20 June 2016.

George Neese – 7 August 2008 Web. 20 June 2016.

At 23 May 2002 Web. 10 May 2016:

Godfried Schalcken – Young Girl with a Candle;

Winslow Homer – The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty, 1863;

George Harvey – Scene of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, circa 1837;

Jervis McEntee – A Misty Day, November, date unknown

p. 117 – John Brown Fort and Engine House

“Battles and Leaders. Vol. 1.” (1887). Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel (Ed.). 26 October 2004 Web. 20 June 2016.

Coffee Coolers 21 May 2006 Web. 20 June 2016. (Edwin Forbes drawings and etchings taken from ‘Life Studies of the Great Army’ series, documenting military life in the Army of the Potomac.” – 1876: 14 January 2006 Web. 20 June 2016:

[Unidentified African American woman].

Unidentified woman, possibly Mrs. James Shields, in mourning dress and brooch showing Confederate soldier and holding young boy wearing kepi.

Unidentified deceased child.

Unidentified girl.

drummer boy.

Lieutenant William Bowen Gallaher of Co. E, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment in uniform and Virginia state seal belt plate, with revolver and cavalry sword.

Group of 26 unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with stacked bayoneted muskets in front of tree.

Three unidentified soldiers playing cards, smoking, and drinking in front of American flag.

Unidentified soldier in Union cavalry uniform with banjo, sword, and pipe.

Unidentified woman resting her arm on a book entitled History of Slavery.

Unidentified soldier in 1st Virginia cavalry great coat.

Unidentified soldier of Laurel Brigade Virginia Cavalry Regiment with tobacco pouch.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with unidentified woman.

Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform in front of painted backdrop showing view from porch; unidentified woman with small child on her lap. 18 February 2012 Web. 20 June 2016:

Military map showing the topographical features of the country adjacent to Harper’s Ferry, Va. including Maryland, Loudoun and Bolivar Heights, and portions of South and Short Mountains, with the positions of the defensive works, also the Junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.;

Harpers Ferry NHP. 22 April 1997 Web. 20 June 2016:

Circa 1865 view of Virginius Island from Jefferson Rock. A Union troop train is passing across the island on the Winchester and Potomac Railroad. The ruins of Herr’s Mill, burned by Confederate raiders in October 1861, are visible in the upper right. Year: 1865. Image Credit: Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP. 22 April 1997 Web. 20 June 2016;

Nicholas Marmion – Image Credit: Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP.

Image of Thomas Hite Willis and Elizabeth R. Willis – from “The Hite Families in Jefferson County: Jacob Hite and Immediate Family, John Hite, Oldest Son of Jacob; Thomas Hite, Second Son of Jacob; James Hite, 1776-1855; George Hite, Youngest Son of Jacob; Hite-Willis Descendants; Thomas Hite Willis, 1800-1884; Nathaniel Hite Willis, 1842-1914.” Volume XXXI. 7 May 2008. Web. 20 Oct. 2010:

a recipe for cooking trout – p. 350.
Crayon, Porte (Strother, D. H.). “The Mountains. Pt. IV.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 44, Issue: 267, August, 1872.

Point of Rocks, MD. by Meyer Brantz, p. 595.
Mayer, Brantz. (April, 1857). “June Jaunt.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Vol. 14, Issue: 83. April, 1857. pp. 592-612.

Harper’s Weekly start date private Web. 20 June 2016:

p. 292.
Halltown by D. H. Strother Harper’s Weekly May 11, 1861.

p. 428.

Harpers Ferry as evacuated by the Confederate Troops. Sketched by our Special Artist July 6, 1861.

p. 422.

Scenes of Camp and Army Life in General Williams’s Brigade – Sketched By Our Special Artist on the General’s Staff, July 6, 1861.

p. 453.

The Daughter of the Regiment – Scenes About Camp – (By Our Special Artist With General McDowell’s Corps D’Armee), July 20, 1861.

Officer images from:
Mulholland, St. Clair A. (1903). “The story of the 116th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers in the war of the rebellion; record of a gallant command.” F. McManus, Jr.,

Lieutenant William H. Bibighaus, pp. 160-161.

Captain George Frederick Leppine, pp. 98-99.

Lieutenant Robert T. McGuire, pp. 53-54.

Brig. General Thomas Francis Meagher, pp. 12-13.

Winfield Hancock. p. 128.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Dale, pp. 216-217.

Major-General John R. Brooke, pp. 242-243.

Captain and Brevet Major Samuel Taggart, pp. 304-305.

Captain and Brevet Major Henry D. Price, pp. 324-325.

Searching for Arms, Plate 5
Volck, Adalbeert J. (1864). “V. Blada’s War Sketches.” London, Baltimore. 29 March 2013 Web. 20 June 2016

116th Pa. regimental flag 29 August 2004 Web. 20 June 2016