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“The National Road”

(US 40A)

JoAN bittner FRY

While perusing information for books I wrote, I was intrigued by the history of the National Road. This road links centuries of American history. Taverns and towns that are over 250 years old and mountain passes that were of strategic importance during the Civil War can be found on over 25 miles of this old road. If you’re looking for a day trip this summer, you may want your children or grandchildren to help plan a mystery trip to investigate the wonders close by.

Begin with the wonderful Mason Dixon Welcome Center on Route 15 in Emmitsburg, the South Mountain Welcome Center on Route 70 in Myersville, and/or the internet. As you travel, wonder about the miles and miles of straight road between Frederick and Middletown and ponder how this could be done with horses and men and very few hand tools and without modern equipment.

Climb the first Washington Monument in Boonsboro, see Gathland State Park and the War Correspondents Memorial Arch honoring Civil War correspondents, the overlook at Gambrill State Park, Braddock Heights (which was an amusement park in the 1920s), or the WWI Doughboy statue in Funkstown.

Let your passengers be your guide and don’t forget Potomac Street Creamery in Boonsboro or More Ice Cream (was Main’s) in Middletown.  Take a picture to send to The Catoctin Banner. Next time you may want to go to Cumberland on the National Road.

Middletown

Just west of Frederick, Route 40 splits in two: the old road and Route 70. Bear left and take US 40A, which is the old road. Stay on US 40A for this trip. In the early 1900s, travelers stayed at motor lodges or tourist cabins, such as the former Barbara Fritchie Cabins in Frederick.

Middletown is a small village near the base of South Mountain, west of Frederick. It was the center of activity in the days before the Battle of Antietam. In September of 1862, Union and Confederate forces would march along the National Road through the town.  US 40A crosses South Mountain at a point called Turner’s Gap. It was there, along with nearby Fox’s and Crampton’s Gaps, that the Battle of South Mountain was waged on September 14, 1862. The battle, which was a Union victory, is called by some the “Prelude to Antietam,” which would occur three days later near Sharpsburg.

The Middletown Valley was a north-south route that brought German immigrants to the area.  This German heritage is evident in Middletown’s two Lutheran Churches, as well as Christ Reformed Church, built in 1818, and Zion Lutheran Church, built in 1859.

There is plenty more history at Turner’s Gap besides being a battle site in the Civil War. First, the Appalachian Trail crosses the National Road there. The Old South Mountain Inn has seen plenty of history since it was built in 1732. Many dignitaries in early American history once stayed here, including Henry Clay, who many consider the father of the National Road. The tavern was commandeered by John Brown’s militia before his raid on Harpers Ferry. During the Battle of South Mountain, it served as headquarters for Confederate General D. H. Hill.  Today, South Mountain Inn is well known throughout the area for its fine dining.

Boonsboro

Sitting west of Turner’s Gap is the town of Boonsboro. The National Road through Boonsboro has historical significance because a 10-mile section here was the first to be built with a macadam surface in 1823. The process, named for John Loudon McAdam, greatly improved the quality of the National Road, and by 1830, 73 miles of the highway had been converted to a macadamized surface. The method simplified what had been considered state-of-the-art up to that point. Single-sized aggregate layers of small stones, with a coating of binder as a cementing agent, were mixed in an open-structured roadway.

The First Washington Monument

Boonsboro was founded in 1792.  The town prospered in the 1830s when the National Road was alive with westbound horse and wagon traffic that kept its blacksmith shops and 82 stores busy, and its inns and taverns filled with travelers and teamsters.  Boonsboro has the distinct honor of being the first town or city in America to dedicate a monument to George Washington.  Standing on South Mountain 1,200 feet above the town of Boonsboro, it commands a view of overwhelming beauty of the Cumberland Valley and several counties of West Virginia.

Early on the morning of July 4, 1827, two years before the completion of the majestic shaft on Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore, the patriotic citizens of Boonsboro assembled in the town square and marched to the “Blue Rocks” high above the town and by the heaving and hauling of heavy limestone rocks, nearly completed a memorial 54 feet in circumference and about 20 feet in height dedicated to the Father of Our Country.  The day was spent in hard work, the men stopping only briefly for a noonday meal and rest.  Heavy stones were moved and put in place, many of them weighing as much as a ton.  Before nightfall, several Revolutionary War veterans climbed its crude stairway and fired a volley of musketry from the top of its masonry.

The monument, once in ruin, was rebuilt in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which was in existence from 1933-1943.  It is easily accessible a short distance off Route 40A, two miles east of Boonsboro. This quaint but impressive monument, built by the hard toil of inspired men, testifies to the fervid patriotism and loyalty of Maryland citizenry.

The CCC was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1943 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18-28.  James McEntee was the head of the agency.  A part of the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.  The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory.  Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

From Boonsboro, follow US 40A to Funkstown, noticing the beautiful Pennsylvania-German bank barns with their limestone-faced gable ends.  In Funkstown, find the Doughboy Monument to WWI veterans.

Dahlgren Chapel

Across from the South Mountain Inn and bordered by the Appalachian Trail is The Dahlgren Chapel.  Dahlgren is located at the summit of Turner’s Gap in Western Maryland between Middletown and Boonsboro.  The Gothic Revival stone chapel was built in 1881 and was consecrated as the Chapel of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Most of the building materials came from the immediate area of the site, while a marble altar was imported from Italy.

The chapel was built for Sarah Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren, daughter of Congressman Samuel Finley Vinton, who had married Admiral John A. Dahlgren, inventor of the Dahlgren gun in 1865.  John A. Dahlgren designed the 9-inch “soda bottle” gun combining greatly improved ballistic characteristics with a higher safety factor.  Dahlgren guns were muzzle loading naval artillery designed by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870), mostly used in the period of the American Civil War.  Admiral Dahlgren died in 1870.  In 1876, Mrs. Dahlgren, who was a noted author, purchased what is now the Old South Mountain Inn and transformed it into a private residence. 

After a period under the ownership of the Sisters of the Holy Cross from 1922 to 1925, the chapel returned to the Dahlgren family.  It was purchased in 1960 by Richard G. Griffin who undertook a restoration.

The property was acquired by the Central Maryland Heritage League in 1996.

The chapel is included in Turner’s and Fox’s Gaps Historic District but as a non-contributing structure, owing to its post-Civil War construction, which places it outside the historic district’s time of historic emphasis.

Middletown Valley from Braddock Heights, MD, showing National Highway (U.S. 40).

Remains of Washington Monument, peak of South Mountain, erected by citizens of Boonsboro, MD, in 1827.

Courtesy Photo of Postcard

Scatter Come Together

by Priscilla Rall

The motto for the 190th Field Artillery Long Tom Battalion (FAB) refers to its cavalry history going back to the Civil War. It reflects the cavalry tactics for a hard fought battle. But instead of horses, the 190th FAB used modern artillery pieces. A member of battalion’s headquarters group was a farm boy from near Sabillasville. Walter Leon Harbaugh was born on December 29, 1916, on the small farm in the home of Murry and Minnie Brown Harbaugh. The local area is named for his family, Harbaugh Valley. Walter had a large family, one of five children, and there were many chores to do each day. The family butchered hogs and then smoked the meat. Walter remembered they used sassafras and hickory chips for the fire. For two straight days, they had to make sure the fire did not break out into flames or “blaze up.” They also had two cows to milk, and had to cut wood for the cookstove and heat. They would use a cross-cut saw and then drag the log with horses to the mill. By age eight, Walter was using horses to plow. Thankfully, Maude and Colonel were gentle giants. At first, Walter went to a one-room school on Quirock Road and then to the school in Sabillasville. By his early teens, the Great Depression was in full swing. He left school at age 15 to work in construction and help the family.

But, soon, war loomed over the world, and Walter was drafted in June 1941. He was to serve one year. But after six months, war came to the United States, and he was in for the duration.

Walter trained at Fort Sill and then for 13 weeks at Fort Shelby in Mississippi. Finally, he set sail on the Queen Elizabeth as it zig-zagged across the Atlantic to avoid German subs. In seven days, they landed in Glasgow and soon crossed the Irish Sea in old cattle boats. He continued his training in mechanics, as the company had 6x6s, weapons carriers, prime movers, and jeeps. His unit was part of the 1st Army V Corps and was, by its nature, extremely mobile so that it could support the troops wherever they happened to be. While in Scotland, he managed to visit Belfast, but because of the black-out, he “couldn’t even find a pub.”

Walter was chosen to complete commando training taught by British soldiers who had recently been in North Africa. He was impressed by the British soldiers and got along well with them. With their stiff upper lip, they didn’t let anything bother them. In training, they used live ammunition, and one lieutenant was accidently shot in the ankle, but it could have been worse! For one of their exercises, they were taken outside at night and given just a map and a flashlight and had to find their way back to the base. They regularly made 25-mile marches, but that didn’t bother this tough farm boy. Back with his unit, they practiced beach landings after waterproofing their vehicles. They’d go out at about at 2:00 a.m. with a stove pipe extending from the exhaust pipe to keep the water out. Another time, they were left in the moors, but were not told the 110th Airborne was also there trying to “ambush” them. At the end, if you had a chalk “X” on your back, the troopers had gotten to you!

Finally, it was D-Day. Walter and his battalion were in a staging area and soon loaded in boats to cross the choppy channel. The 190th FAB landed on D-plus 2 at Omaha Beach. By 9:00 a.m., Battery A was firing at the enemy. Harbaugh was with the Group Headquarters Battalion and was soon fighting through the hedgerow country. The 190th supported the 29th Division in Normandy until St. Lo. There, Walter went to a hillside and looked down on the devastated city; he could see only a few church steeples sticking out from the ruins. They then fought their way across France, assisting in the Falaise Pocket. Then they stopped just for a day to participate in the victory parade through Paris. Then, through Aachen, where they faced heavy enemy resistance. Later, at St. Vith, there were three men in one foxhole. A shell hit the foxhole dead-on and killed the man in the middle, but left the ones on each side unharmed. In November, they spent 25 days giving support to the units caught up in the hellish battle in the Hurtgen Forest. In Walter’s words, “your life wasn’t worth a plugged nickel.” After that, the 190th was called on to help out in the Battle of the Bulge. As the Army crossed into Germany, the 190th found themselves at the Remagan Bridge. By this time, Harbaugh had enough points for a 45-day furlough. Fortunately, while he was in the good old USA, the war ended.

After taking a little time off to decompress from the war, Walter went back to working construction. Some of you may know of the Rocky Ridge Brick plant. Well, he was the foreman for that huge job.

Walter met Molly Emma Gates at a dance, and they were married soon after. They had six children. Son Leon was in the Vietnam War, and son Lamont served in the National Guard—a family that certainly served our country well and faithfully.

Walter Harbaugh died on December 30, 2017, at the age of 101. The last time I saw him, less than a year before his passing, he refused to let me get a ladder, and he picked the apples he wanted to give me himself! Rest in Peace, dear friend.

Courtesy Photos of Walter Leon Harbaugh

Recollections of the Civil War, Part 2

by James Rada, Jr.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles recounting Sarah (Six) Schnure’s recollections of life in Thurmont during the Civil War. Schnure wrote her recollections while living in Hollywood, California, in the 1930s.

Sarah Six had been ten years old when the war started. She had watched most of the fighting-age men march off to join the Union Army in 1861. She had watched wounded soldiers being transported through Mechanicstown.

Her family lived in a state of uncertainty. They knew very little of their friends and family who had marched off to war. They didn’t fear an invasion so much as worried over losing what they had to Confederate scavengers.

Word had spread through the region that Confederate soldiers were taking horses and cattle when they found them. If they paid, they paid in Confederate scrip. Sarah’s father, William Six, was so worried about losing his stock that he took his two horses north to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania.

One night while William was away, Sarah was spending the night with her friend Mollie Foreman. The young girls were sleeping in the back of the house when they heard something that awakened them. They realized that it was the steady tramp of horses’ hooves.

They crept downstairs, unlocked the front door, and stepped out onto the front porch. From an upstairs window, someone whispered hoarsely, “Go in and shut that door!”

“I can tell you, we went up those stairs quietly but faster than we had gone down, for when we realized we were down there alone and in inky darkness, we felt as if a rebel was after us for sure and we were scolded good and proper,” Sarah wrote.

All they had been able to see were the shifting shapes of horsemen moving in the night. In the morning, she found out that the men had been suspected Confederate soldiers.

While the town had hidden from the Confederates, they were overjoyed when Union soldiers came to town.
“Everyone (except southern sympathizers) came on the streets and with waving flags, gave them a welcome for they were usually close on the heels of a reported invasion, which made them doubly welcome,” Sarah wrote.

Another night, the town was once again awakened by troops riding through town. This group stopped in front of the Six house when they saw a light shining in a second floor window. They called up to the person in the lighted room.
William wouldn’t answer them, but Sarah’s mother walked to the window and called out, “What do you want?”
“Where does George Johnson live?” one of the men replied.
“Who are you?”
“We are Union men. We are going to Chimney Rock to display signals. We were told Mr. Johnson would feed our horses and point the way to the mountain.”
“How do I know that you are Union men?”

The soldier rode up closer to the house and into the light. “See the uniform?” the soldier asked.
She did, but she still doubted. The soldier finally talked her into telling him where Johnson lived. He was home. He fed the horses and then led the soldiers up the mountain in the dark. Eventually, those people who were still awake did see signals on the mountain.

Since there were no street lights, children stayed close to home as night began to fall. They would sit on their porches and sing Union songs.
Mechanicstown was eighteen miles from Gettysburg, but it might as well have been hundreds of miles, according to Sarah. She knew the name of the town and that it had a college in it, but that was all. Sarah wrote that the road to Gettysburg was so bad and full of stones that it was sarcastically nicknamed “featherbed.”

She remembers seeing the soldiers marching to Gettysburg. “The weather was cloudy with rain and very sultry,” Sarah wrote. “It hurts me even now as I can see those poor men on that forced march in heavy wool uniforms, not allowed to stop for a drink but some would scoop up a hand full from the gutter alongside the street.”

They heard nothing of the battle until they started seeing weary soldiers marching south.
She also remembered the solemn tolling of the church bells after news of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was announced.
Such sad memories for a child to have.

Recollections of the Civil War

by James Rada, Jr.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two articles recounting Sarah (Six) Schnure’s recollections of life in Thurmont during the Civil War. Schnure wrote her recollections while living in Hollywood, California, in the 1930s.

Sarah Six was ten years old in 1861. Her family lived in Thurmont, and Sarah grew up seeing how the Civil War affected life in town. Decades later, in the early 1930s, she wrote up her recollections of the war for her son. When the writings were discovered after her death, the Catoctin Enterprise published the writings.

Her first memory associated with the Civil War was when the entire town turned out at the downtown square to see the Thurmont men march off to Frederick to be sworn in as soldiers. She wrote, “Never shall I forget that morning that crowd of women trying to be brave and send off their men with smiles when their hearts were breaking.”

The men seemed excited, as if they were venturing off for a grand adventure. For many of them, it would be an adventure, since in the days before the Western Maryland Railroad reached Mechanicstown, they hadn’t ever ventured far from town in their lives.

In the years to come, the wives and mothers of Mechanicstown would live in a state of anxiety, wondering what had become of the husbands and children. News about the war did not arrive often. There was no daily newspaper and mail came only three times a week. The telegraph had not been installed in town, and the telephone did not exist.

“News traveled slowly and when there was a battle on, many days would elapse before any report of it reached our town,” Sarah wrote.

In support of their Union soldiers, the women of Mechanicstown would often gather at St. John’s Lutheran Church to bag up old linen that would be sent off to Union hospitals to be turned into bandages. Sarah and other children would do their part by gathering wild cotton that was also sent to the hospitals.

One night around midnight in 1862, the Six family was awakened by a barking dog. Then they heard Henry Foreman, the neighbor’s son, calling, “Get up, Mr. Six! The rebels are coming.”

The family got dressed and turned out into the street, along with the rest of the town. In the dark of night, they watched army ambulances come through the town with wounded that they were transporting to safety in Pennsylvania. They also came with news that the rebels had crossed the Potomac River.

Most likely, this would have been early in the morning of September 5. After General Robert E. Lee’s victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run at the end of August, Lee moved his army into Maryland, with the intention of securing a victory in the North. He wanted to keep his army on the offensive and influence the fall elections in the North so that congressmen and senators willing to recognize the Confederate States of America might be elected. In addition, Lee needed supplies for his army that the South was running out of.

As the army had approached Frederick, citizens, military, and patients from the United States Military Hospital fled the city.

As the ambulances moved through town, drivers and patients requested food and coffee. It was provided as much as the citizens could manage, but Sarah noted that because Mechanicstown had no bakeries, many homes went without bread for breakfast that day.

Some of the residents in town packed up and headed north with the army. Others hunkered down and hid valuables, livestock, and food.

“Mother had valuables packed and ready to flee into the mountain. I had few treasures but two of them were in my pocket—a small silk union flag and my treasured china doll,” Sarah wrote.

The Confederate army did not continue north from Frederick. They turned west and would go on to fight the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam before retreating south back across the Potomac.

Charles “Chuck” Caldwell has talked with Civil War soldiers, fought against the Japanese in WWII, and chased mushroom clouds after atomic bomb explosions. Now ninety-two years old, he had become part of the history that he loves so much.

His story is now the focus of a fascinating new biography by The Catoctin Banner’s contributing editor James Rada, Jr. Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy takes the reader on a journey from the Civil War to the age of the atom bomb and back again as it follows Caldwell’s adventures in life.

Chuck first came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1936 on a family vacation and then again in 1938 to attend the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg as a fourteen-year-old boy. The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg was the last great reunion of Civil War Veterans. About 2,000 aged men gathered in the fields between the Peace Light Memorial and Gettysburg College. Caldwell was there to meet with as many as he could and ask them about the Civil War. To mark the occasion, he had an autograph book filled with pictures of him with the Civil War Veterans and their autographs, Civil War units, and hometowns. He even has the autographs of the men who turned out to be the last-surviving Union and Confederate Veterans.

Born in Princeton, Illinois, in 1923, Chuck spent most of his youth growing up in Orrville, Ohio. A Crimson Tide fan (still to this day), he was in his freshman year at the University of Alabama in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He joined the Marines and was sent to Parris Island for training in January 1942.

During WWII, he served in the Pacific Theater and fought at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Guam. He received a Purple Heart for wounds he received at Guadalcanal. That is also where he contracted malaria.

At the end of the war, he married Jacqueline Murphy, a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) he met in the hospital while recovering from a malaria attack.

After the war, Chuck went back to the University of Alabama on the G.I. Bill, and by the time he graduated in 1949, he had a job waiting for him in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The city had only been recently loosening its secret status to allow the public more access to the place where the first atom bomb was developed.

Chuck made displays and drawings for the newly formed Museum of Atomic Energy. He worked there about a year, until he was recalled to service for the Korean War. He didn’t have to fight in this war. When he returned home, he decided to switch jobs. He took a job doing technical drawings for one of the plants in Oak Ridge.

He spent the summers of 1957 and 1958 at the Nevada Test Site, setting up sensors in fake towns in the desert. When an atom bomb was detonated, he was part of the teams that would go back into those towns to try and find any of the fissionable material that they had set up for the test.

“I bet I am one of the few people still around who has actually been under an atomic explosion,” Chuck said.

In the early 1960s, Chuck became a full-time artist, sculpting miniatures for a variety of clients, including Major League baseball teams, the Franklin Mint, and the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum. Some of his miniatures were even displayed in the Knoxville World’s Fair.

Caldwell’s story is a fascinating one about an ordinary man who has been a part of so many extraordinary events in history. Rada’s narrative, based mainly on interviews with Caldwell and a review of his personal papers, captures the story perfectly.

Midwest Book Review called Rada “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.”

Rada is the author of six historical fiction novels and nine non-fiction history books, including No North, No South…: The Grand Reunion at the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Battlefield Angels: The Daughters of Charity Work as Civil War Nurses. He also won a first-place award for local column writing from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in May, 2016. The award was for his “Looking Back” column that runs monthly in the Cumberland Times-News.

Clay Soldiers retails for $19.95 and is available at local bookstores, online retailers, and his website at www.jamesrada.com.

by James Rada, Jr.

— 1938 —

The End of a Generation in Thurmont

When Thomas H. Shelton died on February 19, 1938, Frederick County lost its last Veteran of the Civil War, seventy-three years after the war ended.

Shelton died at the home of his daughter-in-law, Stella Shelton, who lived near Rocky Ridge. The ninety-seven-year-old had been healthy at the start of the month, but then his health had quickly turned, and he had been sick for about a week prior to his death.

As a young man of eighteen, Shelton had served in Company I of the 1st Maryland Regiment. He had missed fighting at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, because he had been taken as a prisoner of war at Harpers Ferry the day before.

Eventually he was paroled, and he returned to his company and was with them when they fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. His company did not fight in the other nearby battle at Monocacy in 1864.

When the war ended and his regiment was discharged, Shelton re-enlisted with the 13th Regiment.

Shelton was buried with full military honors in the Garfield Mt. Bethel United Methodist Cemetery. He had outlived all of his children, but he was survived by nine grandchildren, twenty-seven great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Frederick County had lost its last two Civil War Veterans within four months of each other.

Although Shelton hadn’t been a native Frederick Countian, Henry Clay Fleagle of Thurmont had been. He had been the second-to-last Civil War Veteran in the county, and the last one who had lived his life here.

Fleagle died in November 1937 at age ninety-four. He was a first-generation American whose parents had been born in Holland.

He had been born in Unionville and served in the Civil War under Capt. Walter Saunders.

“He served for nearly the entire four-year duration of the war, charging with the line of blue at Gettysburg,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The end had been a relief for Fleagle. The Frederick News reported that he had been only partially conscious the week before his death at the home of his son, George Fleagle.

Henry’s wife, Lillie Creager, had died two years earlier. He was survived by one daughter, who was married to Wilbur Freeze, four sons, nineteen grandchildren, and twenty great-grandchildren.

Henry was also the last member of the Jason Damuth Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Thurmont.

It would still be nearly two decades before the last Civil War Veteran died. The final Veterans of the Confederate States armed forces died in the 1950s. A number of men claimed to be last remaining Confederate Veteran. These men died throughout the 1950s. Many of their claims were debunked as more information about their births was uncovered. The largest problem in verifying their claims was that many Confederate records had been destroyed or lost, because the Confederate government had no official archive system.

Pleasant Crump of Alabama died at the end of 1951 at the age of 104. He was the oldest of the group of Confederate Veterans who had a verified service record.

The last Union Veteran was Albert Woolson, who died in 1956 at the age of 109.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, following Woolson’s death, “The American people have lost the last personal link with the Union Army … His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the War Between the States.”

BK-87-Veterans2

Photo is from 1916 and shows a group of Civil War Veterans posing in front of the grocery store that stood on North Church Street. This building was located in the now-vacant lot next to the Historical Society building.

 

Veterans Gathering 1916

A view of Veterans standing in front of the old town hall.

Photos Courtesy of Thurmontimages.com

Mount St. Mary’s and the Civil War

by James Rada, Jr.

Looking Back COLUMN photoIn the years leading up to the Civil War, Mount St. Mary’s enjoyed prosperity. The college celebrated its golden anniversary in 1858, and student enrollment was around 200 young men and growing.

“The Mount was thriving, as was most of the South thriving before the Civil War,” Father Michael Roach, instructor of church history at the Mount, said on the DVD “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…”

This changed with the outbreak of war in 1860; the school began to lose students and faculty who were sympathetic to the southern cause. More than half of the students prior to the war came from the South. Not all of them headed home, and the school wound up supporting them because funds from the students’ parents could not make it north.

The college expenses increased while income fell off. During the 1859-1860 school year, Mount St. Mary’s had 173 students, not including the seminarians; two years later, the enrollment had fallen to 67 students, its lowest number in fifty years.

The remaining students and faculty began to take sides in the conflict, either pro-Union or pro-Confederacy. While this created some tension on campus, it never became open hostility. The consensus opinion seems to be that a majority of the campus supported the Southern cause.

“[President John] McCaffrey eventually, and some of professors, were monitored, observed, by President Lincoln’s loyalty police. These were men appointed all over the country to keep an eye on folks who might be or were suspected of being Confederate sympathizers,” Steve Whitman, associate professor of history at the Mount, said on the DVD “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…”

Though Confederate in his sympathies, McCaffrey was not hostile to the Union. A Pennsylvania officer wrote, “Two miles from Emmitsburg, we passed Mount Saint Mary’s, and taking advantage of a moment’s halt, a party of three or four rode up to the main entrance…We were cordially received by the president and with characteristic hospitality a collation was in preparation for us.”

In the fall of 1862, the sounds of battle during the Battle of South Mountain could be heard at the college.

“As we were going up to Mass to the old church on the hill, and as we were returning from Mass, we could hear the firing distinctly. Yet, recreation went on the terraces and the ordinary routine of college life was followed, as if nothing unusual was happening,” Monsignor James T. Dunn, an 1863 Mount graduate, wrote after the war.

After the battle of Antietam in September 1862, six of the seven seniors remaining in the school slipped away to visit the battlefield, leaving only a note for McCaffrey that read: “Dear Doctor McCaffrey: We are very sorry for what we are going to do but we cannot help it. Please do not be worried about us: we will be back surely on Friday evening. Yours truly. Class of ‘63.”

This wasn’t the first time boys had left the campus without permission to see a battle or soldiers. McCaffrey decided to put an end to it. When the boys returned three days later, McCaffrey expelled them. However, within a month, he changed his mind and reinstated them.

Small Confederate raids occurred around the college and “Vice-President, Rev. John McCloskey, an excellent horseman and a notable figure on horseback, rode for quite a distance alongside the commander, General J. E. B. Stuart,” according to Dunn.

The next big event for the college was in 1863, as troops entered the area on their way to Gettysburg. “Many of us sat on the fences along the road watching and listening to their sayings. We naturally looked upon the men as sheep led to the slaughter, and we were not a little surprised when we overheard two of them closing a bargain on horseback with the remark: ‘Well, I will settle with you for this after the battle. Will that suit you?’ The other party readily assented. The whole period of life is treated as a certainty, even by men going into battle,” Dunn wrote.

He wrote that his commencement was held about a week earlier than planned “on account of the threatening appearance of everything without, and so that the students might safely reach their homes.”

Mount President John McCaffrey was known for his Confederate sympathies and refused to let the U.S. flag fly. “When Lincoln was shot, Federal orders were issued ‘for every house to display some sign of mourning. An officer visited the college, but there was no sign visible,’ until Dr. McCaffrey produced ‘a small piece of crape’ on a door which had been opened back so that it would not be visible until disclosed,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

In the spring of 1863, Mount student Maurice Burn was arrested by Union soldiers for sedition. Burn, who was from Louisiana, had written his father and expressed his Southern sympathies. Burn was jailed when he refused to sign an oath of loyalty to the Union. McCaffrey wrote Lincoln pleading Burn’s case, and the youth was released to McCaffrey’s custody.

In all, three students were killed during the war, according to “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…” One of these young men was Maurice Burn, who had been arrested and paroled for sedition. Those young men were buried at the college cemetery on the mountain.