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Emmitsburg Area In the Civil War

Wayde Chrismer

Part 2 of 4

Mount St. Mary’s College During the Civil War

With students, teachers and administrative personnel from both North and South, political feelings at the Mount were strongly divided. Prior to the war, it had suffered severely from political Know-Nothings (a subject treated lengthily elsewhere. ) When war itself broke out, its personnel, as individuals, had little choice but to take sides though there was no open hostility between themselves. The school suffered both spiritually and financially. ‘‘There were 173 students in 1859-60, not including seminarians, ‘ But ‘‘the number of pupils in 1861-62 was the lowest in half a century 67, with 28 seminarians.’’ In mid-wartime ‘‘the catalogue of June 24, 186.3, showed 94 boys and 27 seminarians.

Scores of its students followed geographical leanings to go with one army or the other. No restraint was put upon their going other than what the Federal Government could apply. Its administrators had a different problem. Graduates of its seminary were occupying high religious offices in North and South. Bishop Quinlan "from the extreme South" wrote President McCaffrey in February 1861 before the war commenced: "Tho’ wishing from my heart to see a long and prosperous Union . . . I am afraid that it is now vain, to hope for its reconstruction and preservation Bishop Elder at Natchez in July ‘61 wrote: "We are continuing our prayers for peace but a fair and honorable peace." Among those who "gave the Confederacy the ‘aid and comfort’ of sympathy if not overt action The Mountain cites the Rev. Thomas R. Butler, Vicar General of the Covington, Ky. diocese. Of him it says: "In the interest of some Southern prisoners, he visited Pres. Lincoln. They’ were kind red spirits in their hearts, tender charity and love of justice and right as each saw it." Though thus suggesting that Fr. Butler was a Southerner, it adds that "he never after allowed in his presence a sneer at Abraham Lincoln either by word or look.’’ These were men formerly associated with The Mount. It was a different thing for Dr. McCaffrey school president and responsible for all its official actions. How he managed to get away with what he did without being arrested is difficult to imagine. A priest of later days who had been "a prefect in the days of the Civil War" wrote in 1906: "In and around the College [there was] a very bitter feeling towards the North. Dr. McCaffrey in his remarks was exceedingly bitter.

The same authors state: "The long years of uninterrupted authority had rendered Rev. John McCaffrey more than autocratic ‘‘ saying his motto might well have been I am the College." They add: "Had he accepted the mitre of Charleston’ he would during the Civil War, have been among the most ultra of those with whom his deepest sympathies were: he was a Southerner of the most uncompromising type. There can be no doubt that his actions at The Mount during the war supported it." Though he claimed that it was in the interests of neutrality, Father McCaffrey refused to let the American flag be displayed on the campus. 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.

The Mountain quotes an 1863 graduate writing after the war: "Whilst there were strong partisans, both among the faculty and students, for both sides, the general aspect of the college was neutral ground. Still the prevailing sentiment of the college was in favor of the South ... The adherents of the South among the faculty were: The President, Dr. McCaffrey: Henry McMurdie, Professor of Logic and Director of the Seminary; George H. Miles, Professor of English Literature; Col. Daniel Beltzhoover, a graduate of West Point and a classmate of General Grant, professor of Mathematics and Commandant of the Mountain Cadets; and James Hickey, Professor of Writing and Drawing. The Union men were: Rev. John McCloskey, Vice-President and Treasurer; Rev. Leonard Obermeyer and Rev. John B. Byrne. Henry Dielman, Professor of Music, and Jean Maurice, Professor of French, were neutrals. In the Seminary, John D. Crimmens was the most pronounced Republican or Abolitionist."

There are two discrepancies here of the sort that make Civil War historians desperate if they truly seek the truth. McCloskey is called a Union man, vet the same work associates him intimately with the Rebel Gen. Stuart. That Beltzhoover was a "classmate of Gen. Grant" is definitely un­true. The historical Register of the U.S. Regular Army shows that Beltzhoover entered West Point on the very same day that Grant graduated.

The mountain continues: "Though the professors and students took sides and were firm in their opinions there was never any ill-feeling entertained nor violence indulged in." No sooner had the war broken out than Southern-born students made haste to leave for Dixie. Some thirty left with Beltzhoover, who later commanded a Louisiana battery. Among others was Louis Victor Baughman, son of the editor of The Frederick Citizen, later suppressed by the Yankees. During the Antietam campaign, at least six left to join Lee’s troops in Frederick. In 1864, when Gen. Early made the final Confederate raid on Maryland, a Mississippi parent was persuaded by two student sons for permission to join him. One son was killed during a raid in the neighborhood of Hagerstown" but the other escaped. Not all Southern-born students left, however, and The Mount wrote off their expenses because funds for their maintenance could not be sent to the school. The college also contributed money towards the maintenance of Southern students at the American College in Rome for the same reason.

In addition to financial losses incurred by a drop in enrollment, the subsidization of Southern students and natural economic problems, the school is supposed to have expended huge sums on the purchase of quickly depreciating and ultimately worthless Confederate bonds. We can find no substantiation for this in The Story of the Mountain. It was a standing joke when this writer attended The Mount (and never contested by the authorities to my knowledge) that Msgr. B. J. Bradley, its president, could have papered the largest room there using nothing but the valueless Rebel bonds with which the schools’ archives were said to be filled. In any case, Mount Saint Mary’s came out of the war with nearly all her temporal possessions lost, but with her glorious records of the past untarnished and her spirit unbroken.’

Probably like most of her lay neighbors in Emmitsburg, the college, by and large, looked upon the conflict as a biographer cited in The Mountain wrote of Archbishop John Hughes of New York, the school’s most famous graduate during the Civil War: "When the rebellion first broke out in 1861, he hoped and prayed for peace until all room for hope was gone. He was not carried away by the war-like enthusiasm which broke out all through the North after the capture of Fort Sumter; though he was by no means a believer either in the doctrine of State sovereignty or the right of secession. [He had written:] ‘I am an advocate for the sovereignty of every State in the Union within the limits recognized and approved by its own representative authority when the Constitution was agreed upon . . . I hold that South Carolina has no State right to interfere with the internal affairs of Massachusetts . . . But the Constitution, having been formed by the common consent of all parties engaged in the framework and approval thereof, I maintain that no State has the right to secede, except in the manner provided for in the document itself .

Let’s end this account of The Mount with an anecdote probably un­known to all its readers. John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, was taught "at a school kept . . . in a little one-story brick building . . . in Baltimore a graduate of Mt. St. Mary’s College, Martin J. Kerney." So writes James J. Williamson, one of Mosby’s Rangers, who says he was a classmate there with Booth, along with the latter’s brother Edwin and John Sleeper Clarke, yet another actor, who later married the Booth brothers sister, Asia.

The Story of St. Joseph’s in the War

Unlike its masculine counterpart across "The Valley", St. Joseph’s was non-military and became involved in politics only briefly, again at the hands of the Know-Nothings as will be noted later. The Mother House of The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Joseph’s in the \alley of Emmitsburg, Maryland" by which ponderous title its best-read historians define it, was almost solely known for the many works of charity and mercy to which its founder, St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton, had dedicated it.

There was scarcely a community of any consequence in North or South here the sisters from Emmitsburg did not perform their acts of charity of mercy. They served in hospitals in Richmond, Winchester, White House, Gordonsville and Lynchburg (Virginia); in New Orleans, Natchez andl central Georgia; in Washington, New York and Philadelphia; in Frederick, at Point Lookout, and, Baltimore; and also actively on the actual battlefields of Harper’s Ferry, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg to name but some.

In June 1861, the Confederate doctor in charge of military hospitals in Richmond "called upon Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg to come to the relief of the sick and wounded soldiers in that neighborhood." Archbishop Hughes of New York, learning of the request, wrote Archbishop Kenrick in Baltimore that, though he understood the Sisters "would be willing to volunteer a force of from fifty to one hundred nurses’’ he had ‘‘very strong objections." He reasoned that "Maryland is a divided community at this moment and feared political misinterpretations if they were sent to nurse Confederate wounded when they were needed in the North to which Maryland, officially, still belonged. They did go there later however. Also, most high Catholic officials feared that the sisters might, inadvertently, be used for improper military purposes. They were quite right. No sooner had ‘a group of brave sisters left Emmitsburg on June 9(1861) for Frederick" through which they would pass on their way to the Harper’s Ferry Battlefield, than a local man tried to give a sister a letter that "a gentleman in Emmitsburg desires you to put in a Southern post office after you have crossed the [Yankee] lines." The author says "The sisters remained quiet and made the best of the incident’ an ambiguous statement taken to mean that the sisters declined.

Hundreds of post-war memoirs and letters by both Yanks and Rebs that this writer has perused attest to the complete charitable impartiality of the sisters, stating that "their tender care was given to all." Men in blue and gray, lying side by side in the same battlefield hospitals, vied for the honor of being cared for by the ‘‘ladies in the big white hats.’’ Barton says sisters serving in Richmond hospitals at the time of the Seven Days Battles in 1862 were told 1w Yankee soldiers, doubtless jokingly, "that they had received orders from their general ‘to capture Sisters of Charity if they could as the hospitals were in great need of them.’’

Barton says of Emmitsburg: "That section of country in which the Mother House was located was in possession of the Union army most of the time. The house was looked upon as sacred property by the generals of both armies and never molested by the soldiers." Following the battle of Antietam, General McClellan personally thanked the Sisters, saying "I am proud and happy to see the Sisters of Charity with these poor men.’’ In New Orleans, Yankee General Butler (in command there then) "personally thanked Sister Maria Clara, Sister Superior in charge of the Emmitsburg nuns, writing that ‘no one can appreciate more fully than myself the holy, self-sacrificing labors of the Sisters of Charity. Sisters to all man­kind, they know no nation, no kindred, neither war nor peace’."

One post-war woman author who served as a nurse during the war and. judging from other remarks, had little regard for Catholics, wrote of the Sisters of Charity with whom she served at Point Lookout, the huge Union hospital for Confederate prisoners of war at the tip of Southern Maryland: "Twenty-five Sisters of Charity with the priest and Sister Superior had supervision over the patients in a part of the cottages . . , and we some­times caught a glimpse of a sweet placid face under the long white bonnets which they’ wore. They’ were ceaseless in the work of mercy amongst those poor suffering soldiers . . . One of them died at the hospital and was buried in the wave-washed cemetery, surrounded by the graves of the soldiers.’

After the battle at nearby Antietam, "The Superior of the Sisters of Charity, with the people of Emmitsburg, collected a quantity of clothing. provisions, remedies, delicacies and money. The overseer of the Community drove in a carriage to the place, with Father Smith, C. M., and two of the Sisters some thirty miles" to care for the wounded of both sides. who were being housed in every kind of shelter barns, sheds, pens and even under fodder shocks.

"On July 4. 1863, the day after Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg] Rev. James Francis Burlando, with twelve Sisters left Emmitsburg for the battlefield, taking refreshments, bandages, sponges and clothing. On reaching Gettysburg, the Sisters did all they could to relieve and console the wounded soldiers. Their assistance was divided without partiality to both Yankees and Rebs alike, whether in an improvised hospital or on the bare fields of the carnage-strewn area."

Altogether, at least 232 Sisters from Emmitsburg are positively identified as having served during the Civil War in one way or another. Of these, Dr. Jolly breaks down their places of birth, showing that 41 came from the Northern free states, 52 from slave states (including Maryland

and the District of Columbia) and 139 from foreign countries mostly of Ireland and Germany. She identified only two as being Emmitsburg natives Sister Mary Catherine Chrismer, who served at Gettysburg, and m Sister Mary Rosina Quinn who, she says, "formed a part of the Ambulance In corps, and served on land and on water in the South and in the North."

Lay students of St. Joseph’s Academy, like their Mountain counterparts, also came from all over the nation. Certainly some of them who were able to get back to their Southern homes did not return to the school. Others were forced by circumstances to stay there for the duration, and at least one little Southern girl died and was buried at the school. They were probably in the group which welcomed a Pennsylvania Regiment of Yanks shortly before the battle of Gettysburg. Barton writes that as the regiment was approaching St. Joseph’s Academy near Emmitsburg, a long line of young girls led by several Sisters of Charity took their position along the side of the road and at a word from the Sister in charge all fell upon their knees and with upturned faces earnestly prayed for the spiritual and physical safety of the men who were about to go into deadly battle.

Emmitsburgians Who Fought In The War

The historian will go crazy who tries to determine with certainty how many Marylanders actually fought in the two armies. A faster way to an asylum is to try to learn where they came from. No two historians can agree upon the numbers involved. The History and Roster claims 62,959; the OR’s credit the state with 46,638. This writer’s name-by-name check, eliminating all duplications, finds a figure of about 40,000 to be more likely correct.

With no agreement as to numbers, even from Maryland as a whole, we can only speculate on who came from Emmitsburg. According to The History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers, War of 1861-5 (a two-volume work on Union soldiers compiled for the General Assembly in 1898 and hereafter called "The History and Roster",) there were enlisted in Frederick County six companies, or parts thereof, for the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Maryland Infantry Regiments, and probably some for the 1st. The county also raised four companies for the 1st Potomac Home Brigade Infantry and two for the Third. Numerous veterans from those latter two who "re-upped" when their enlistments expired and joined the 13th Regt. were probably also from Frederick County, as were a part of one company in the 3rd Maryland Cavalry.

It is entirely possible that there were Emmitsburg men in each of the companies enlisted in Frederick. Three uncles of my mother named Humerick, though spelled variously in the History did so, and it is not likely that they went there unaccompanied by local friends. Of one thing only is this writer certain. That is, that many of the men in Company C of Cole’s Cavalry, as it came to be known but officially the 1st. Regt. Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry, came from Emmitsburg. Not only was the company originally known as John Horner’s Cavalry Company and organized by that Emmitsburgian, but many of the men in it bear surnames with a distinctive Emmitsburg flavor some known personally to this writer in his childhood in the town. The regiment ultimately grew to 12 companies, but Companies A, C and D, from Frederick County, and Company B from Cumberland, were organized into a single battalion under Col. Henry A. Cole.

Horner and most of his Emmitsburg companions were mustered into Federal service on Aug. 27, 1861, but John Horner resigned and left the company June 10, 1862. It was Oliver A. Homer, also of Emmitsburg and originally a private in the company, who rose to be a Major on the regimental staff, who achieved greatest individual fame with it and came to be known as the outfit’s leader. It was Captains Albert M. Hunter and Henry Buckingham who officially succeeded the organizer, however. Listed as officers in the company are these others bearing local names: 1st Lt. John M. Annan (killed accidentally Nov. 13, 1861); 1st Lt. W. A. Horner; 2nd Lt. Hiram S. McNair.34

Listed among the company’s non-commissioned officers and privates are these other familiar Emmitsburg names: Sergt. Andrew A. Annan; George Cease (more likely Seiss but misspelled, who was killed in action Sept. 2, 1862 probably at Leesburg, Va.); George T. Eyester (or Eyster), Theodore Fites (or Fitez), who was taken prisoner Jan. 1, 1864, almost certainly by Moshy’s guerrillas whom the battalion was fighting near Upperville, Va. at the time and who died in prison Dec. 10, 1864; there were also Thomas F. Fraley, Win. A. Fraley, Sergt. John F. Gilson, John H.Gelwicks, George L. Gillelan, Corp. Charles A. Gilson, Joseph T.Gelwicks, Corp. George T. Gelwicks, Richard N. Gilson (who died Aug. 3,1864, of wounds received in action in the post-Monocacy fighting that chased Gen. Early back across the Potomac); Silas McAllen Horner, Jacob Hartzell, Michael Hoke, John F. Knott, Noah Koontz, Samuel J. Maxell (who later became a Lieutenant on Cole’s staff and was captured Sept. 2, 1862, also probably at Leesburg during the fiasco that followed Second Bull Run; he was exchanged and fought with the regiment until its final muster-out June 28, 1865); Samuel N. McNair, wounded in action Sept. 2, July 1862 and discharged for disability though The Roster mistakenly carries is him on the rolls until Jan. 7, 1865; also Thadeus A. Maxell, killed in action June 8, 1864 during fighting in the Shenandoah while repelling Early’s entry in to Maryland; John H. Mentzer, John Munshower, John M.

Morritz (also carried as "Moritz" who died Nov. 15, 1863); John Reifsnider; Sgt. George W. Shriver, captured Jan. 1, 1864 and who died Aug. 27, 1864 in Andersonville Prison; John Slagle, Edward Wenchoff, taken prisoner Jan. 1, 1864 but obviously exchanged for he is carried on the rolls until June 6, 1865; John F. Wetzel and William J. Weddle. That there were probably other Emmitsburg area men in this company, the writer willingly acknowledges, and suggests that the reader search the roster for others whom he can identify.

Emmitsburg can be proud of two things in connection with Company e C: though 16 of the 180 men listed in the company at one time or another, deserted it, not one of those who sounds like an Emmitsburgian was among them, Also, almost all of these "Emmitsburgians" not only served out the original terms of their enlistment (except the founder) but re­enlisted and were still in service when the regiment was mustered out in June of 1865.

The exploits of Cole’s Battalion were among the most heroic and spectacular of any organization in the Eastern theater of war. See an article by this writer in The Emmitsburg Chronicle on Oct. 20, 1967 for fuller details of their activities. The men themselves stuck together as a fraternity long after the war. As late as 1892 they were holding reunions at the local Grand Army of the Republic headquarters, banqueting at the old Western Maryland Hotel, and holding "campfires" where they relived their old days in the field and camp. Most other information about Emmitsburgians who fought in the War is negative. Emmitsburg organized a body of "Union Zouaves composed of the flower of the young men of Emmitsburg in mid-May of 1861" but no such group appears anywhere in any records of the State or Federal government or in those works that treat of such independently organized groups. These Zouaves must have stemmed from Governor Hicks’s early 1861 orders from Washington for Maryland to provide four regiments for the protection of that city’. Maryland was still hassling with Union authorities as to how and where such men should he used. Hicks demanded that they not be sent out of the State or, at the farthest, not beyond D. C. Also, many Northern officers distrusted the loyalties of all Maryland men. The Zouaves were reportedly officered by Capt. Isaac S. Annan., 1st. Lt. William Wardsworth, 2nd Lt. Samuel Maxwell, Orderly Sgt. Samuel Eyster, Corp. David Gillan [more probably Gillelan] and Ensign James McCullough, Some of which names we’ve seen earlier in Company C of Cole’s Cavalry.

Records of the Union draft as it affected Frederick County might have given helpful information but they are not available. "David Agnew was the local draft officer for Emmitsburg under the President’s call for troops in 1862" and probably had records of Emmitsburg men in service. However, William Mahoney, Commissioner of Enrollment and Draft for this county, was arrested by the Confederates [during the Antietam campaign in Sept. 18621 and the enrollment books destroyed." Under that 1862 call the county was asked for 259 more men to add to the total of 1019 it had already provided. Presumably, therefore, the records of at least 1,278 (and possibly their places of residence) became Confederate possessions and were later lost if not immediately destroyed. This was not actually a draft but a call for more volunteers. The first actual mandatory draft was riot instituted until July of 1863.

A writer in The Story of the Mountain says "The people around Emmitsburg and in the town were very evenly divided at the outbreak of the War of 61. A company of volunteers marched off openly one day to strike for the Union cause; whilst others discovered that they had important business demanding immediate attention down in the direction of Dixie’s land. The latter went off without the aid of brass bands; and if any tears were shed at parting they rolled in secret. Too much guesswork is involved in any Confederate accounts for this writer to speculate about who, from Emmitsburg, might have fought for that army. Readers who may want to know if their ancestors fought with the Confederacy are referred to two sources where there are listed some names which sound as though they could be Emmitsburg related. They are "The Index to the Maryland Line, etc." published in Annapolis in 1944; and A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1861, Richmond, 1964.

The History of Emmitsburg also lists a few Emmitsburgians who are buried in local cemeteries, but states nothing else. It identifies these: Major 0. A. Horner, IA. John M. Annan, Enos McDannels, Presbyterian; Isaac Heagy, Noah Koontz, Thadeus Maxell, Benjamin Cehrhart, Joseph Wills, John Shields, James Peoples, James Mcllhenny, Jeremiah Stranesbaugh, Lutheran; C. W. McPherson, Jacob Settlemyer, James Arnold, Peter Cook, Augustus Little, John Murphy, Theodore Cook, Jacob I. Topper, Nicholas Seltzer, Catholic; John Constant, Nathaniel Millsbury, John Rosensteel, Joseph Shorb, Henry Taylor, George Seiss, College; Jacob Reeves, John Spence, Philip Long, Mountain View; John Kipe, George Kipe, Sabillasville; Frederick Nindle, Fairfield; John Hunter, Gettysburg; Joseph Davidson, Rocky Ridge; Peter Glasser, Mt. Joy; Joseph Zech, Henry Gelwicks, Joseph Coombs, Andersonville; Emory Gilson, died in prison; Newton Gilson, killed in battle.’ To this list, the writer can add one more name. It is that of James J. Hospelhorn, the town’s last surviving Civil War soldier, whose obituary the author wrote for The Emmitsburg Chronicle as a youngster. He was buried in the Lutheran Cemetery as a squad of riflemen from the Francis N. Elder Post of the Emmitsburg American Legion fired a final salute over his grave.

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