CONFEDERATE FOOTSTEPS

 

PAGE SEVENTEEN: MAY 16, 2011...SHEPHERDSTOWN & SHARPSBURG

 

 

We left Harpers Ferry, went back to Halltown because that's the way the 13th went, then turned right and headed north up

230 toward Shepherdstown. Most of the march this direction took place in the dark as they arrived at their brief camp by

the Potomac at 4 AM. Jim knows every foot of this area like the proverbial back of his hand and all day as we drove along,

he would point left or right and say the such and such Confederate regiment camped here or the such and such Union regiment

camped there.

 

 

A friend of his owns this land and we pulled briefly off just to have a look and he pointed to where various units camped.

 

 

I kept trying to picture it being dark and very tired soldiers marching along here on their way to battle. Jonathon came along here twice, going

up to Sharpsburg walking and the opposite direction in the back of the wagon from Shepherdstown after he was wounded.

 

 

There are a LOT of pictures of roads, I know, but that is the point of the trip...to find the roads or near the roads that the 13th

marched along, to get a sense of the lay of the land they went through. That was what I wanted, to get in touch with that.

 

 

This is another farm a friend of Jim's owns. I love this country, the green fields rolling to the long blue ridges of the mountains.

 

 

We went through the minute towns of Reedson and Uvilla that were there at the time, not really towns at all, and then

Jim turned right on the smaller Trough road that led more directly to the ford on the Potomac south of Shepherdstown.

River Road put us out, not unexpectedly, at the river and near the ruins of the old cement mill that was there just north

of the ford.

 

 

 

 

 

Almost classic-looking ruins in the woods by the river. Jim said there would not have been many trees in the area at the time

because they would have been used in the cement mill.

 

 

Path down to the Potomac with the ford a little to the right

 

 

More of the mill

 

 

The area near the ford

 

 

Carl and Jim, who actually did not consult with one another before dressing in jeans and grey shirts, discussing fordish matters.

 

 

 

 

Then we drove on north along the river into Shepherdstown.

 

 

These small old towns are so much the way they were 150 years ago, the buildings anyway. Can the cars and the paved streets.

 

 

It's in one of these shops that Seth took Jonathon after the pull out from Sharpsburg.

 

 

We crossed the Potomac on the modern bridge at Shepherdstown and Jim cut back down the opposite side of the river

on Canal Road to get back to the area across from the ford. It follows along the old canal and Jim runs on the towpath here,

too. Then he turned left and we started uphill toward Sharpsburg. In the early part he says the road they followed was most

likely in the field off to the left,

 

 

but comes up and merges with the present road just above this hilltop.

 

 

We came out to our first vista of the battlefield. Jonathon didn't fight in this area, though. It's a very large battlefield.

 

 

 

The Harpers Ferry Road led us into Sharpsburg, which is, again, much the way it was.

 

 

 

When you see a fence with five rails, it is where an original fence was. If it only has four rails, it's just a modern fence with

no relation to the battlefield.

 

 

Past the town, we pulled into a small parking place right in front of the Dunker Church. This is the view across the

road from the church.

 

 

And from the parking place looking across the road down to the visitors center, where we did not go.

 

 

The Dunker Church

 

 

Part of the inside of the church. That window to the right of the door is the one I have the feet and arms dropping out of into the pile.

 

 

Looking out the front door of the church across the road

 

 

The left side of the church which is of special interest to me as this is the side where I had Jonathon brought after the battle.

The West Woods are just beyond.

 

 

This is again that window with the limbs piled outside.

 

 

All through the land here are many sections of rock sticking up. This is looking toward the West Woods from the left side

of the church.

 

 

The pitcher on the doorstep of the side door of the church

 

 

...and on that window

 

 

The right-hand side of the church and the Woods

 

 

Back to the left again

 

 

Looking north from the church. The house and barn were not there during the war. An elderly man lives there and

when he is gone, the park will get the land and tear down the house and barn and restore that area to the way it

looked during the war.

 

 

We drove up a way and turned to the left because Jim wanted to show me the beginnings of a rocky ledge that runs into the West

Woods. Most of the ledges are hard to see as they are covered in tall grass or shrubs, but it was along a larger section of this that

Jonathon was pinned down in the afternoon of the battle.

 

 

That's Jim up there in the shade by another section of ledge.

 

 

I went up the hill and walked out toward him through the part where the grass was mown

 

 

but the ledge was submerged in tall grass. Jim took this picture for me, showing a tip of the ledge.

 

 

Then we drove back down and parked near the obelisk marked # 5 in this picture. Jonathon came up through the woods

with McLaws so we walked from the obelisk in that direction.

 

 

 

There are four big old trees that were young and here during the battle and are called the 'witness trees' because of it.

You can see two of them toward the left of this picture and one off to the right. Jonathon came from beyond them toward

where I am standing.

 

 

A witness tree to the left of the dead tree. We walked down past those.

 

 

 

 

 

Back up nearer the obelisk. Jonathon would have gotten up about as far as the cannon. The witness trees are down in the woods

past them.

 

 

This lion is Jim's favorite monument at Sharpsburg.

 

 

I wanted Carl to see the Bloody Lane section of the battlefield even though Jonathon didn't fight there. When we parked near it,

Jim pointed to the cannon off to the right and said that's where he'd been during a re-enactment of the battle.

 

 

The lane is a sunken farm road between the two lines of stacked rail fences. The Confederates were in the lane and

Union troops were advancing across the field on the top left of this photo. I'm not getting into details here as the battle

has many intricate parts to it and I'm dealing only with where Jonathon was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we drove back up toward the church and turned right down a lane along the cornfield to this house which over the

years has had a number of men in uniform knock on its door asking for water or food and then suddenly disappearing.

Many, many, MANY men died in the cornfield.

 

 

I like the simplicity of this marker. Jim said it used to have real rifles but they kept getting taken.

 

 

He drove us more around the battlefield...

 

 

...and down to the Burnside Bridge, where a whole 'nother part of the battle was fought.

 

 

 

We drove through Sharpsburg again and just out of town he pointed to the marker in this grove which is where Lee had his tent.

 

 

We went back through Shepherdstown and out past the Elwood Cemetery where so many of the wounded Confederates

who died in town or in trying to get out of the town are buried.

 

 

Through the fence you can see the marker of an unknown soldier with CSA at the bottom and the

grayer marker to its right is for a Mississippi soldier who died in Shepherdstown.

 

 

Then we drove back to the Walmart parking lot and said good-bye to Cousin Jim...for the time being.

THANK YOU, JIM! YOU'RE THE VERY BEST!!

 

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