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This is the third in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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Confederate General JEB Stuart

 

JEB Stuart’s Hunt for Horses

About a month after the battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart crossed back into Maryland with 1,800 soldiers. Their mission from Gen. Robert E. Lee was to capture equipment and horses that the Confederate Army needed. They were also to disrupt communication lines and destroy the C&O Canal or B&O Railroad when possible.

They moved through Washington County, Md., and Franklin County, Pa., taking what they needed and destroying what they couldn’t carry.

Rather than retracing their route through Washington County back into Virginia, Stuart was forced to take a southeastern route from Chambersburg, Pa. Rain had swollen the Potomac River making it impossible to cross at the time so they headed toward Frederick County.

Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton was on Stuart’s trail. However, some bad intelligence caused Pleasonton a delay that allowed Stuart to get around him and head towards Emmitsburg.

In Emmitsburg, Stuart’s men fought a cavalry battle with members of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry who were on their way to Gettysburg.

“It was one of two cavalry battles fought in the streets of Emmitsburg during the war,” said John Miller, historian for South Mountain State Park and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s expert on the Civil War.

Emmitsburg’s citizens welcomed Stuart’s men and gave them fresh bread, buttermilk, and meat. However, the fighting in Emmitsburg had given Union supporters time to warn other nearby towns forcing Stuart to cut short his visit. Fearing a strong Union response, Stuart headed south as quickly as he could.

Sarah Six’s family lived in Mechanictown. Word 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, Pa.

In the end, the hunt for horses didn’t yield much for the Confederacy.

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This is the second in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg during the Civil War. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

 

Union and Confederate Armies Trade Places in Emmitsburg

The Daughters of Charity archives hold accounts of the Union Army arriving in Emmitsburg on the evening of June 27, 1863. They camped around St. Joseph’s Academy and the officers used homes in Emmitsburg for quarters.

The army headed north on June 30 when “a sudden order was given to strike tents and march for Gettysburg. In fifteen minutes it was done, and Saint Joseph’s Valley relapsed into quiet. Father Gandolfo came out early to say Mass and unaware of the departure of the Northern Army was halted by some Confederate pickets…”

While the Daughters of Charity showed no favoritism in the war, the same didn’t hold true for the girls who boarded at the academy. Many were from Confederate states and were trapped in a country at war with their home states. As the Union Army prepared to leave, one girl is said to have climbed into the cupola on one of the buildings and signaled to Confederate scouts where the Union troops were and that they were leaving.

Confederate troops slipped into the area behind the advancing Union Army with the Daughters of Charity accounts noting, “The country now changed hands for a little time, and the Southern Grey swept round St. Joseph’s, not in large force, but detachments of cavalry, picket men etc.”

They stayed only hours before they, too, headed north.

John Miller, a historian for South Mountain State Park and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s expert on the Civil War, says the problem is that there is no record of the Confederates in Emmitsburg at that time, though there were a few hours during the early morning of  June 29 when it might have happened. He also says that an army the size of the Union Army could not have moved out in 15 minutes.

Sis. Betty Ann McNeil, former Daughters of Charity archivist, agrees that there are discrepancies in the timeline, but adds that the information comes directly from the accounts of sisters and Father Francis Burlando. These accounts were recorded in 1866, though, so their memories might have mixed up the dates.

Miller does note that on July 5, Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart and his men were acting as a rear guard for the slower-moving wagons leaving Gettysburg. He had been told that the Union troops had moved out of Emmitsburg and came in from the western side of town.

“The Union troops hadn’t left, though,” Miller said. “There was a small skirmish out near where the Emmit House is and Stuart’s men took 70 Union soldiers prisoner.”

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This is the first in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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 Confederate troops marching west on East Patrick Street, Frederick, Maryland, September 12, 1862. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick County, Md., citizens helped split the Union, but they also helped preserve it. As contradictory as that sounds, the Civil War divided Frederick County as much as it did the country. Within its borders, a smaller version of the war played out 150 years ago. Frederick County saw battles fought in and near its towns and reeled in the aftermath of other battles. It saw great military leadership and even greater displays of compassion. Both Union and Confederate troops occupied its towns and families were divided because of where their loyalties lay.

 

“Frederick County was a border county within a border state,” said Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County. Bordered by the Mason-Dixon Line to the north and the Potomac River along the southwestern edge, Frederick County has the traditional border between the North and the South as its northern border and the actual border during the Civil War to the southwest.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the National Road both ran through the county making it an important transportation center during the war as troops and supplies moved through the area.

“Frederick County was important to the Confederacy, too, as this was kind of their thoroughfare to the North,” Haugh said. He points out that the Confederacy had three major campaigns into Maryland and they all had ties to Frederick County.

Before the War

Frederick County’s experience in the Civil War could be said to have begun years before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina (where some Frederick County citizens were among the Confederate attacking force).

Roger Brooke Taney lived in Frederick City for 22 years practicing law. He moved to Washington to become a U.S. Supreme Court in 1835 and eventually chief justice. That is when case of Dred Scott vs. Sanford came before the court. His court ruled that slaves could not sue in federal court because they were not citizens, the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and Congress had no right to abolish slavery from its territories. The decision became so controversial that it is frequently listed as one of the causes of the Civil War.

John Brown had a scout in Frederick before his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and Frederick’s Home Brigade was part of the armed response to the raid.

Avoiding Secession

Frederick County’s split sympathies about the war drew a line across the county that was as clear as the one the war drew across the country. It was in this environment that Gov. Thomas Hicks brought the Maryland legislature in the spring of 1861 to vote on whether Maryland would secede from the Union. As divided as Frederick was, Annapolis was a bomb waiting to explode and a secession vote would have lit the fuse.

As the legislature debated the issue in Kemp Hall in Frederick, the federal government began taking steps to ensure that Maryland would not secede. Virginia had already done so and if Maryland followed, the Washington, D.C. the Confederacy would have entirely surrounded the Union capital. Federal troops arrested legislators with Confederate leanings and imprisoned them in Fort McHenry. When the time for the vote came, so many legislators were either afraid or imprisoned that a quorum couldn’t be reached.

“Some of the legislators did not even answer when their names were called. They were in the gallery, but they feared being arrested,” Haugh said.

Hospital City

In the fall of 1861, Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks created a military hospital in Frederick’s Hessian Barracks.

“From an operational standpoint, it was a perfect location,” said George Wunderlich, executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. “It was near the B&O Railroad so patients could be evacuated if need be. It had clean water and mountain air.”

The hospital was called Union Military Hospital No. 1 and unfortunately, there would be more, many more, in Frederick. Following the Battle of Antietam, Frederick would have 28 hospitals taking over most of the large buildings in the city.

Military Hospital No. 1 could house 900 patients, but it wasn’t until June 1862 that the number of patients began to climb toward that number.

On June 4, 400 Union sick soldiers arrived at the hospital and the medical authorities were not prepared for them. The doctors requested that the Daughters of Charity help care for them. The Daughters of Charity had a reputation as excellent nurses, and Catholic sisters were the only trained nurses in the country at the beginning of the war. More than 300 Daughters of Charity would serve in hospitals, battlefields, military prisons, ambulances and troop transports for both the Union and Confederacy during the war.

By the end of the war, Military Hospital No. 1 would treat more than 40,000 patients.

Antietam

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s first invasion into the north came in September 1862 and his first destination was Frederick City.

“He had been told that he would find plenty of men to sign up and volunteer in Frederick, but they gave him the cold shoulder,” Haugh said.

The Confederate Army occupied Frederick for only a few days, but hosting an army can devastate a town. The additional soldiers and horses overwhelm an area’s ability to support the numbers of people.

It was during this time that 96-year-old Barbara Fritchie defied Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson and flew the Union flag while the Confederate Army was marching out of town. Her actions turned her into a folk heroine who was immortalized in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.

As the Confederates were leaving, one soldier left behind Lee’s orders issued to the army. A Union soldier found the orders wrapped around a set of cigars.

“How much the lost orders changed the course of the war is debatable,” said Barbara Justice, a national park ranger at Monocacy Battlefield. “Some say most of the orders had already been carried out, but others say that it caused [Union Gen. George] McClellan to speed up his pursuit so that Lee didn’t have as much time as he expected to have to carry out his plan.”

The Union Army caught up with the Confederate Army on South Mountain. Fighting began there and carried over to the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history.

Following Antietam, wounded poured into Frederick. “Imagine a town of 10,000 getting 8,000 wounded in, which almost doubles the population, and those 8,000 men are helpless. They need to be fed and cared for. They and the horses brought in with them create a tremendous amount of additional biomass that pollutes the water. Things disappeared very quickly when an army came through. Financially it must have been devastating for them,” Wunderlich said.

Monocacy

During the summer of 1864, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early came through the county with his army and ransomed Frederick for $200,000. He demanded the ransom in gold or medical supplies or he would burn the city to the ground. City officials managed to pay the ransom and Early continued south intending to capture Washington. A smaller Union force fought Early’s army during the Battle of the Monocacy. The battle delayed Early and allowed Washington’s defenses to be reinforced

“I think it’s very possible they [the Confederate Army] could have captured Washington,” Justice said. Could they have held it? Probably not, but they could have burned it and the capture would have had an effect on the effect on the 1864 Presidential election.”

When the war ended in April 1865, Frederick citizens celebrated the end of three years that had been marked by invading armies and deprivation.

“It was a fascinating time to live in Frederick County, but it must have been scary knowing you were in the path of armies,” Haugh said.

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What’s the oldest photographs that you have seen? I think most people would think of Civil War photos being the oldest, and at close to 160 years old, they are old.

 

They aren’t the oldest photos around, though. A few heliographic photos from the 1820s still exist. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented heliography in 1822. He used Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt, to coat on glass or metal. It hardened the more it was exposed to light. When the plate was then washed with oil of lavender, the hardened areas remained. It could then be printed as an engraving would be.

 

Then in the late 1830’s, Louis Daguerre brought the world what is considered the first true photographs. His process was called a daguerreotype. He exposed a silver-plated copper sheet to iodine crystal vapor. The interaction formed a coating of silver iodide, which is light sensitive, on the plate. The plate, which is in a camera, is then exposed to a scene.

 

The problem with both heliographs and daguerreotypes was that they required long exposures. Daguerre realized that shorter exposures created a faint image that could be developed into an easily visible image when exposed to mercury vapor heated to 75 degrees Celsius. The mercury vapor also set the image so that it could be no further developed.

 

A final wash in heated salt water then created a plate that was safe to be handled and displayed.

An article in National Geographic said that upon seeing his first developed image, Daguerre said, “I have seized the light – I have arrested its flight!”

Daguerreotypes are the first type of photos that reached America.

 

The reason I bring both of these up is that I found an interesting YouTube Channel by Chubachus. It shows a series of the oldest surviving photos in the United States. These photos date back to the early 1840s. Another video I found showed the oldest photos in the world, which are heliographs dating back to the 1820s.

These photos aren’t dramatic like many Matthew Brady’s photos from the Civil War, but it is fascinating to see images of the world that are nearly 200 years old.

Forget about imagining America from paintings or descriptions. Why watch a movie that creates an older America using CGI when you can look at the real thing?

The photos in these videos remind me of an article I once saw that showed photographs of people who had lived during the Revolutionary War who managed to still be alive when photography reached America.

For me, it was like having a window opened that looked into the past.

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Thurmont’s Western Maryland Railroad Station.

On March 2, 1915, David Firor kissed his wife goodbye and told her that he would be back on the evening train from Baltimore. Then he headed into the city to buy Easter items for his store on East Main Street in Thurmont.

 

That evening, “The train came but Dave did not come home, and it was taken for granted that he did not get to finish his shopping and remained until next day as he had done on future occasions,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

When he failed to come home the next day, Firor’s wife and mother began to worry. They began to make inquiries at the places where he typically went, but no one could help them with any information.

Rumors began to run rampant. He had met with foul play in the streets of Baltimore. He was running from creditors because his business was about to go bankrupt. Both of these proved false.

Firor’s brother, J. W. Firor, was a professor at the University of Athens in Georgia. He took a leave of absence from his teaching to join his family in Thurmont. Then he set off for Baltimore to search for his brother in hospitals and other institutions.

Firor was 31 years old and had a medium build.  He stood 5 feet 6 inches tall and had black hair and eyes. He wasn’t particularly distinguishable from among hundreds of men in the city. J. W. made his inquiries, though, and walked through the hospital wards and looked at John Does in the morgue.

No sign could be found of him.

Ten days later, Grace Firor received a telegram from her husband. He was in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Losing all trace of his identity, knowing nothing whatever of his whereabouts until he was put ashore penniless from a dredge boat at Jacksonville, Florida, and cared for by a family of Italians, David Firor, of Thurmont, last Tuesday for the first time in a week realized who he was,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

The cause of the problem was what Firor called “sleepy-headedness” and the doctors called aphasia. In recent months, he had started sleeping a great deal of the time and when he slept, he was nearly impossible to wake. His mother even said that he could fall asleep talking or standing up.

Even after being found in Jacksonsville, he had an attack where he slept for 18 hours straight.

When asked about what had happened to him, Firor said that he couldn’t remember how he came to be on the boat. The last thing he remembered was speaking with Helen Rouzer, formerly of Thurmont, in a Baltimore Department Store.

He also had taken $60 with him to Baltimore when he left Thurmont. It was all missing when he reached Jacksonville. He didn’t remember what had happened to it, but since no orders were delivered to the store, he apparently didn’t spend the money on what it had been intended for.

Some people suggested that he may have been robbed. While this is a possibility, Firor still had his gold pocket watch on him when he was found. It seems unlikely that a robber wouldn’t have taken it as well.

Firor apparently never solved the mystery of what had happened to him during the missing days. He didn’t even know whether he had been conscious for most of them.

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Victor-Victrola.jpgWar can certainly be a time of danger, but there are other times when soldiers are in camp stateside or behind the lines when they can relax.

Camp Meade near Laurel was named for Maj. Gen. George Meade. It became an active army installation in 1917. During World War I, more than 400,000 soldiers would pass through the camp to be trained for the war. It was the training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions, and one depot brigade.

During the course of the war, 704 Garrett Countians would serve in the military and most of them were sent to Camp Meade for training. The Garrett County boys in Camp Meade in October 1917 were part of a company of 250 men from Garrett and Allegany counties and Baltimore City. The traveling agent with the B&O Railroad who had charge of the Garrett County recruits when they were taken to Camp Meade, said of them, “The boys from Garrett county were the finest bunch I have so far taken to any camp.”

Once at camp, their training went well. “We arrived safely in camp, and most everyone is well and getting along fine with our drills, considering the time we have been here,” six of the recruits – Henry Byrn Hamill, Earl W. Alexander, Harry M. Setzer, Paul R. Liston, Robert R. Glotfelty, John W. Livengood – wrote in a letter to The Republican.

They were healthy and happy. The Republican described them as “the finest specimens of young manhood in the country.”

They were bored, though.

The six recruits, who were representing all of the Garrett County recruits, asked if a subscription fund could be started to buy them a Victrola “as the time when off duty would pass much faster if we had a Victrola to cheer up the boys from ‘Old Garrett,’ and serve to keep them from getting blue,” the letter read.

Although today, Victrola has become a generic term for old phonographs, back then a Victrola was a brand of phonographs with an internal horn that was manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Company. They are not the older versions of phonographs that Victor used in its logo. This version had an external horn, and a dog sat in front of the horn to hear his master’s voice.

True Victrolas were first marketed in 1906 and quickly gained popularity. That popularity helped bring down the price to roughly $100 ($1,870 today) depending on where it was purchased.

The Republican staff jumped into action starting the subscription fund not only for a Victrola but also records that could be played on it. Not waiting for the next issue, staff began notifying people in town about the request.

Within an hour after the subscription efforts began, $46.50 in donations had come into the news room from 41 donors. E. H. Sincell pledged the most ($5) and some people pledged as little as 25 cents.

One minister gladly donated a dollar to the fund, telling the editor, “Never do you start anything for the boys again unless I am in on the ground floor. If this is insufficient for the purpose or if you want to raise another fund for anything else to come to me.”

The citizens of Friendsville took up a collection and raised $11 from 11 donors. The Girls Club of Gormania raised another $5 and mailed it to the newspaper office.

After a week, $83 had been raised from 74 donors. Within two weeks the $100 goal had been surpassed, and the boys from Garrett County had an enjoyable way to pass the time by the end of October.

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razor_blade_020Men have shaved their faces for thousands of years. Some of the earliest materials for razors were clam shells, flint, shark’s teeth and pumice stones, all of which were sharpened on rocks. Though they worked, they certainly didn’t leave men’s cheeks feeling smooth as a baby’s bottom. There was also a danger of slicing your throat or your palm while getting rid of your five o’clock shadow.

Clean-shaven men were seen more commonly in the 11th Century. At that time, not only were people focusing more of personal grooming with things like perfumes, but the Roman Catholic Church began urging its men to shave as way to distinguish themselves from men of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The two churches had separated in 1054.

When men began working with metals, bronze razor blades appeared. However, it was the age of steel that allowed razor blades to make their greatest advances. As blacksmiths created sharper knives and axes with more-durable edges, it was only logical that they also use those skills to create better razors.

What has become known as the first modern razor was created by Benjamin Huntsman in the 1740. Huntsman worked in Sheffield, England, which would eventually give its name to the Sheffield Razor. Between 1740 and 1830, these blades were often marked as “cast steel” or “warranted.”

Huntsman used a special process to create steel with superior hardness so that it could hold a thin, sharp edge. These blades were easier to sharpen and held their edge longer. When these early blades did lose their edge, they were sharpened like knives were. Razor-Blades__74514_zoom

The next improvement to razors was to hollow grind them and replace the wedge-shaped edge with a concave, bevelled edge. Hollow-ground razors began showing up around 1825, though the process wouldn’t be fully refined until the end of the century.

As razors became sharper, some inventors began turning their eyes to increasing the safety of razors. The first safety razor was developed in 1770 by Jean-Jacques Perret of France. It was a straight razor with a wood guard. The Kampfe Brothers patented their safety razor in 1880. This razor had a removable handle, a head that caught excess lather and a wire guard along the blade.

King Gillette started developing his innovations to the safety razor in 1895. His idea was to use cheap, disposable blades in a safety razor. Producing this razor was still impossible until 1903 when MIT graduate William Nickerson helped Gillette develop the disposable blade.

Shaving now became convenient and easy. Gillette provided razors to the U.S. military, which allowed him to introduce millions of men to the new technology, which they then went on to use once they left the military.

Jacob Schick followed a different direction for improving the razor. He patented an electric razor in 1923.  However, the design was unwieldy and Schick continued to refine it until he began selling them in 1931.

The Gillette company also introduced the first cartridge razor in 1971. The cartridge had two fixed blades in it and could be easily attached to a handle.

Companies still continue to look for new innovations and refinements to help men and woman find the way to get a closer shave.

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