Shepherdstown Battlefield Spring Fling Weekend on April 5 & 6/24

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Sponsored by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association,
Historic Shepherdstown Museum, Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission,
and the Shepherdstown Opera House.

Battle of Shepherdstown History Talk

Friday, April 5, 2024 at 7 pm Shepherdstown Opera House

Author Thomas A. McGrath
Bay State Blood and Valor: Massachusetts at the Battle of Shepherdstown
Co-sponsored with the Historic Shepherdstown Museum and The Opera House

This is a great opportunity to learn about the dramatic and often overlooked actions of the 18th & 22nd Massachusetts in the fighting during the Battle of Shepherdstown. Reference: T.A. McGrath (2007) Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign.

Battle of Shepherdstown Clean-up Day

Saturday, April 6 from 9 am – noon at Riverside Park

Meet at the Riverside Park next to Boteler’s Cement Mill at River Road and Trough Road by 9 am. We will form 2 groups to clean up the Cement Mill (Union) and the Osbourn Farm (Confed-erate). At 11 am, competitive trash pickup by each group will converge at the crest of the fighting on Trough Road. Snacks and water will be available at lunch at the Osbourn Farm.

Battle of Shepherdstown Tour

Saturday, April 6 from 1 – 3 pm at the Osbourn Farmhouse lawn

Meet at the Farmhouse lawn at 1901 Trough Road by 12:30. Bring lunch or have light snacks. And be prepared for an epic Battlefield Tour by Professor McGrath. If you’ve ever thought about it, IT IS GO TIME to experience the battle. The Author for several hours, several miles and several hundred feet in elevation. Totally worth it! Dress appropriately.

See you April 5 and 6!
Reserve a spot by contacting the SBPA by text, 304-995-6975; email, [email protected]; mail, P.O. Box 1695, Shepherdstown, WV 25443; @;
Facebook @SBPA or just show up!

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Jefferson County Welcomes 57th and 58th Farms to Farmland Protection Program


For Immediate Release
Date: January 24, 2024

Contact: Elizabeth Wheeler, Director, Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board
email: [email protected]
(304) 724-1414 (office)
(304) 283-3129 Mobile

Jefferson County Welcomes 57th and 58th Farms to the Farmland Protection Program

On January 24, 2024 the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board completed conservation easements on Aspen Pool Farm and Cedar Cottage Farm, adding 303 acres to the county’s protected lands, bringing the total to 6,846 acres on 58 farms. The owners of the two farms voluntarily established the conservation easements on their property that maintain working lands, natural habitat and historic and rural open space in perpetuity.

The owners of the 150-acre Aspen Pool Farm received $486,234 from the Farmland Protection Board and $486,234 from the Department of Interior’s American Battlefield Protection Program for permanently retiring their development rights and donated $335,514 of the conservation value of their land.

Charles F. Printz Jr., owner of Aspen Pool Farm, remarked, “Our family is grateful that the protection of this beautiful farm, a process started by [my father] C. F. Printz, is now complete. Equally important, this is productive farmland – a diminishing county asset. Only the commitment to conserve land for future generations will honor the County’s past and sustain our vigilance for its future.”

Bordered by Trough and Engle Moler Roads in Shepherdstown, the newly protected 1and straddles Trough Road and abuts a protected farm on its eastern border. The majority of the property is open hayland and cropland that is actively farmed.

A portion of the property lies within the Battle of Antietam Study Area. The Battle of Antietam, known as the bloodiest day in American history, took place north and east of Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. A. P. Hill from Harper’s Ferry took the road to reinforce the Confederate right flank, a key moment in the battle.

Aspen Pool Farm is significant for the Battle of Shepherdstown on September 19, 1862, as it was at this location that Confederate troops prepared for battle, and from which they launched the attack which drove back the Federal troops advancing south from the Potomac River. This rearguard battle discouraged Federal pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s defeated army back to Virginia and ended Lee’s Maryland Campaign. The corner of Engle Molers Road and Trough Road is marked by a Civil War Marker (#4), a stone obelisk installed by Confederate Veterans in 1910.

Administered by the National Park Service, the ABPP Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant aids in the permanent protection of hallowed battlefield land. The successful program also administers grant programs in Preservation Planning, Battlefield Interpretation and Battlefield Restoration. 

Located on Childs Road and Kearneysville Pike in Kearneysville, Mrs. Gloria Willis’ 153-acre Cedar Cottage Farm borders the Henshaw Farm in Middleway, which joined the Farmland Protection Program in 2011. Together the properties create a 226-acre block of protected farmland. Ms. Willis remarked, “I am very pleased to finally get my farm protected. Ten years ago, after my husband Gary passed, I starting noticing buildings with vinyl siding being thrown up everywhere with air guns. They are already falling apart. That beautiful land they put the houses on is destroyed, forever. There’s only so much land. They can’t make more, and if you don’t take care of it, it will be gone. My farm will continue producing grain crops as it has for many years. I may be gone tomorrow, but I am grateful to know my farm will stay a farm.” Mrs. Willis received $750,000 from the Farmland Protection Board for permanently retiring the development rights on her farm and donated $490,000 of the conservation value of the property.

Currently, the Board is working to complete conservation easements on five farms totaling 574 acres. Another two farms with a total of 277 acres are in the application process for matching funds.

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization which landowners can use to retire development rights permanently on all or part of their land to protect its natural, agricultural, scenic and historic values. Landowners in turn receive funds for the development value of their land and retain full use and ownership of the land. Because an easement is perpetual, it is transferred with the property when it is sold or inherited, thereby protecting it forever.

Jefferson County’s commitment to farmland protection is reflected in the Jefferson County WV Envision Jefferson 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which states, “One goal of this Plan is to maintain productive farmland soils and the rural character and economy of the County by reducing the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural based uses.”

About the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board was established in 2000 under state law (WV Code §8A-12 et seq.) that allows West Virginia counties to use a portion of the transfer tax on real estate to purchase development rights from landowners who wish to protect their land for agricultural purposes in perpetuity.

The Board partners with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the American Battlefield Protection Program, the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority and other organizations that provide matching funds. “We also accept donations of all or part of easement sales,” said Program Director Elizabeth Wheeler, “Landowners may find a donation can allow a reduction in Federal income tax. The Board welcomes applications at any time but selects properties in November of each year for federal matching funds.”

For more information about the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, contact the Board at: 304/724-1414 or [email protected].

A Farmland Easement Protects 160 Acres of the Shepherdstown Battlefield

More fantastic news!

EXCERPT: Elizabeth Wheeler, director of the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, appeared before commissioners to share that two property owners have sought to preserve portions of their land via farmland easements. The first property, known as the Aspen Pool Farm, is adjacent to property designated as part of the Shepherdstown Battlefield, at the intersection of Trough and Engle Moler roads.

Read the full article from The Journal on January 22, 2024

Shepherdstown Battlefield 2024 Outlook

Dr. Mike Nickerson
Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association
January 2024

From the SBPA team of Directors, Officers and Volunteers, we hope ALL Battlefield Supporters have a wonderful, healthy and happy 2024!

Our efforts in 2023 carried on the momentum of 2022 when a SBPA fundraising effort raised over $89,000 towards the $2,000,000 Osbourn Farm purchase. This demonstrated strong local support for the battlefield. These funds were critical for the American Battlefield Trust to secure the remaining funds from the WV Outdoor Heritage Fund and the National Parks Battlefield Protection Program. However, along with the 2023 successes described below, there was key battlefield ground lost forever to development. We ask all SBPA members to renew their membership so that we may continue our efforts to preserve, improve and publicize the Battlefield.

Major Events in 2023

Most notable was the fantastic news that $500,000 was obtained by the WV Farmland Protection Board and Senators Capito and Manchin, with funds from the National Parks Battlefield Protection Program, for a farmland preservation easement on a Trough Road farm.

The farm was A.P. Hill’s encampment on September 18 – 20, 1862 during the Shepherdstown Battle. The property is a key piece of our preservation efforts. When the current round of multiple property deed transfers and easements are in place, our efforts with our partners will have resulted in the preservation of 914 acres, with 190 acres purchased outright.

The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission has been doing a great job of holding the property deeds for, hopefully, eventual recognition as a new National Battlefield. The Landmarks Commission and the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle secured National Historic Registry status for the Osbourn Farm house, a singular achievement in itself!

The Spring Battlefield cleanup day occurred on April 15, 2023 and was followed by a 3+ hour battlefield tour by Author and Professor Tom McGrath. In the morning, a ‘Union’ cleanup group worked at the Cement Mill and Riverside Park under the direction of SBPA VP Steve Alemar. A ‘Confederate’ group worked on the Osbourn Farm directed by Dr. Nickerson. At 11 am, both groups worked down Trough Road picking up trash – and there was a LOT. We spent the day immersed in the battlefield in so many ways.

The cleanup crew had lunch on the Osbourn Farm house lawn thanks to member Rosemary Nickerson bringing subs and chips. Tom McGrath took over and little did we know a multi-mile hike was planned for the afternoon! It was so, so great. Folks were strung out for miles on the return hike. Thanks again Tom!

The SBPA sponsored a Battlefield Awards Picnic for members and our partners with a tent, catered food, and music on the Osbourn Farm in August to celebrate the Farm’s preservation. The occasion was marked by an award to Battlefield Supporters and the SBPA from the Two Rivers Giving Circle, a local philanthropic organization. We had a capacity crowd of 65 who shared a wonderful afternoon of great company, speeches, Osbourn Farm tours, snacks, music and the beautiful view of four states.

An October visit by Tanya Gossett, the Acting Superintendent of Harpers Ferry National Park was especially informative as she and Dr. Nickerson discussed scenarios about the future of the battlefield. The SBPA presented an exhibit of books, maps and artifacts; and Dr. Nickerson led a tour of the Osbourn Farm, Cement Mill and the Riverside Park. She is very supportive of our preservation efforts and our advocacy to establish a new National Battlefield affiliated with Antietam, Harpers Ferry, or both.

Local Partnerships Strengthened

Throughout 2023, we established, strengthened and renewed ties to other local organizations. This year was notable in that we established several new partnerships to promote education about the battle. In February, Dr. Nickerson met with the Shepherdstown Public Library’s Director, Ms. Hali Taylor, to provide books, maps and pamphlets for a display in the Library’s Local History Room. Thanks Hali! A similar display has been set up at the Shepherdstown Middle School through the efforts of SBPA member and History Department faculty, Ms. Stephanie Unger. Great job Stephanie!

The SBPA provided a mounted battle map to the Shepherdstown Police Department to display and the employees were quite interested in the battlefield. We hope to provide a tour of the battlefield to Department staff in the near future.

Dr. Nickerson worked with the Historic Shepherdstown Museum to update and edit exhibited material about the battlefield in the museum. Thanks for input from SBPA Directors Dr. Tom Clemens and Terry Lindsay. The museum display is key to representing accurately what we know about the battle and why our preservations efforts are so important.

Equally important is providing access to preserved acres for Jefferson County residents and others. The SBPA hosted members of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society to the Osbourn Farm and Riverside Park, who assessed the potential for bird watching tours and nature hikes. The birdwatchers provided a detailed list of birds they observed during their hikes. Hopefully the PVAS will lead bird watching tours for the public in the Battlefield in the future!

The SBPA continues to work very closely with the Historic Landmarks Commission, WV Farmland Protection Board, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, both Jefferson County Visitors Centers, the Jefferson County Museum and the George Tyler Moore Center of Shepherd University.

Volunteer Enthusiasm

Volunteers contributed to the maintenance of the Riverside Park, Cement Mill and the Osbourn Farm. On the Osbourn Farm, this included removal of a metal shipping container behind the workshop, clearing brush and vines around the farm building, and removal of vines and invasive trees along the Farm driveway. The Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission has been diligently addressing electric and plumbing work inside the farm house, and exterior issues such as gutter repair and maintenance of the landscaping. Great job SBPA volunteers and member Martin Burke.

After 160 years exposed to the weather and unprotected, member Jerry Moore and Dr. Nickerson installed plexiglass over the initials and dates carved into the boards of the Osbourn Farm Corn Crib. This includes the ‘J Osbourn 1861’ carved signature. Great job protecting this key history on the Farm JT!

Member Steve O’Donnell and Dr. Nickerson installed 2 owl and 2 kestrel nesting boxes on the Osbourn Farm as part of the Birds in the Battlefield Program. In the Riverside Park, we already have 2 owl, 2 wood duck and 3 bluebird boxes installed. Steve made the nesting boxes with input from Kristen Alexander, President of the PVAS. Thanks Steve and Kristen. Mike and Steve also screwed shut the perennially open barn doors on the second floor of the Osbourn Farm. This was a major safety concern as there is no barrier to prevent someone from falling out of the barn.

In September, Dr. Nickerson presented ‘The Battlefield Past and Present’ in a one-hour talk to about 40 members of the Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL) group at their annual luncheon. Lively questions and discussion followed. The talk was accompanied by a Battlefield exhibit. Remarkably, a participant was able to identify a battlefield artifact as a saddle tree from a standard issue Union calvary saddle – the McClellen saddle. So, we have yet another fantastic find from the battlefield.

Lost to Development

Unfortunately, 18 acres of land in the Battlefield core was lost in 2023. A new housing development is already well underway there, near the intersection of Trough and River Roads. A new road (Potomac Ridge Road) was cut into the beautiful hillside off Trough Road to provide access to multiple homes on the ridge above the river. The location is now forever altered – adding urgency to the work of the SBPA. The development occupies the bluffs above the Potomac River that were the site of intense fighting between Union Divisions including the 1, 2, 6, 10 and 11 U.S. and Confederate Gregg and Thomas’ Brigades.

An additional 3-acre property on Trough Road directly across from the Osbourn Farm driveway was lost as well. The lot was sold in the Spring of 2023 and has been cleared, levelled, and a well drilled. So all is ready for a new house. Notably, there are several current requests for zoning variances on Trough Road properties that may also impact the battlefield. One request is a permit for a retirement home business on Deer Trail Lane in the Far View Farm development. The request is for up to 16 individuals to reside in several buildings planned for the property. This may have consequences for Trough Road vehicle traffic, and the property’s septic field drains directly into the Trough. A second request for a 15-acre property on Trough Road bordering the Osbourn Farm plans to establish a commercial dog kennel with outdoor dog runs. This may impact the currently peaceful soundscape of the neighboring Osbourn Farm.

It is clear that our critical work is far from done as development pressures mount throughout the battlefield. We continue to see the impact of an increasing numbers of visitors to the Cement Mill, in part through the SBPA’s highly successful outreach efforts listed below. PLEASE CONSIDER RENEWING YOUR SBPA MEMBERSHIP IN 2024 TO INSURE WE CONTINUE TO PRESERVE AND IMPROVE THE BATTLEFIELD. Details are on the SBPA website “Become a Member” page, and Facebook page, or contact Mike Nickerson (304-995-6975).

On a final note, we can be immensely proud of our battlefield preservation efforts as they have resulted in the selection of the Shepherdstown Battlefield for the filming of a new Civil War movie. Filming is planned for March 2024 and requests for Civil War re-enactors to participate in the film have already been posted. I think we can all look forward to seeing the battlefield filled with Civil War soldiers during the filming of the movie, and eventually the final product that will hopefully include the Shepherdstown Battlefield! More info to follow…

2023 Battlefield Tours and Exhibits

February 24 – Tour of the Osbourn Farm for Mick Feeser and Steve Alemar led by Mike Nickerson.

March 18 – Battlefield tour for the Virginia Forum led by Kevin Pawlak, SBPA Director.

March 28 – Battlefield tour for a school group led by Kevin Pawlak.

May 19-21 – Battlefield exhibit at Evolve with members’ battle artifacts, with the Historic Shepherdstown Museum and the Jefferson County Museum.

May 27-28 – Battlefield exhibit at Evolve with members’ battle artifacts, with the Historic Shepherdstown Museum and the Jefferson County Museum.

June 17 – Battlefield tour for the Antietam Institute led by Dr. Tom Clemens, SBPA Director and President, Save Historic Antietam Foundation.

June 24 – Battlefield exhibit at the Shepherdstown Streetfest. SBPA members the Feesers, Alemars, Sara Smith, Jim Surkamp, Moores, and Nickersons.

July 15 – Member Tour (JT Moore) arranged by Mike Nickerson of the Osbourn House by Myers/Folk/Lowe Family members, descendants of Mountain View Farm (aka Osbourn Farm) owners. George Folk of Swan Pond purchased the Osbourn Farm in 1883 as a wedding present for their daughter, who married Daniel Myers. The Myers family owned the Farm from 1883 to 1967, a remarkable tenure. They were the primary caretakers of the battlefield for 90 years and were singularly responsible for maintaining the battlefield as we now see it. Thank you!

August 19 – Battlefield exhibit at Tomato Jam, a local music and agriculture festival, with SBPA Director Pam Underhill.

August 26 – SBPA Awards Picnic on the Osbourn Farm to celebrate preservation of the Farm. The picnic featured a battlefield exhibit with artifacts, maps, and merchandise; and member-led (JT Moore) tours of the Osbourn Farm buildings. 65 attendees.

September 16-17 – Battlefield exhibit at the Historic Shepherdstown Museum to recognize the Battle’s 161st Anniversary with battlefield supporter Jim Surkamp.

September 22 – Battlefield talk and exhibit to S.A.I.L. by Mike Nickerson.

October 27 – Battlefield exhibit and tour for the Acting Superintendent of Harpers Ferry NP, Tanya Gossett by Mike Nickerson.

November 27 – Battlefield tour for Sharon Capriotti guest, Mr. Ned Yates, by Mike Nickerson.

December 2 – Battlefield exhibit at the George Tyler Moore Center, Shepherd University after the Christmas parade. An engraved buckle from the Battlefield that was shown in the SBPA display was identified by Civil War re-enactors from Virginia as a shoe buckle likely from a Pennsylvania Dutch Union soldier.

If you’ve read this far, then expect in early 2024 a new SBPA-created ‘Self-guided driving tour of the Shepherdstown Battlefield.’ We are eagerly anticipating the release of a new, updated battlefield map with tour stops at key battle sites. This should greatly enhance the visitor experience to the Battlefield.

Another Shepherdstown Battlefield Item is Identified 

Thanks to Ian and Travis from the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area, we now have a solid ID on the fabulous item pictured that was found in the battlefield.  It has been displayed for several years as part of our collection with little notice.  Travis homed in on it immediately!  It is part of a shoe buckle from a Union Soldier, likely from Pennsylvania and likely German.  If you zoom in, you can see the amazing intricate pattern stamped into the bronze.  

This buckle nearly identically matched in shape the buckle worn by Travis in his Union Soldier re-enactment garb.  Thanks for your knowledge and input guys.  The SBPA looks forward to hosting a VA Piedmont Heritage group in 2024!

Hey Mike,

It was wonderful meeting you on Saturday! I would love the opportunity to have a more in-depth battlefield tour.

The buckle is an incredible find, I am glad we could be of some help.

Thank you again,

Ian MacDougall
Public Programs Coordinator
Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area

Jim Broomall, Director, George Tyler Moore Center brought us together for their holiday celebration!  Thanks Jim for the gift that keeps giving!

Mike Nickerson

President, SBPA

“Thank You” Notes

Thank you to SBPA Board member Terry Lindsay for a donation of 3 books about the Battle of the Monocacy.  The books were used by the NPS during Lindsay’s work on the design and installation of informative panels about the battle in the Monocacy Battlefield.

The battle was initiated by Jubal Early when his force passed thru Shepherdstown and crossed the Potomac at Packhorse Ford.  His goal was to attack Washington, D.C., culminating in the Battle of the Monocacy on July 9, 1864.

The books will add to the SBPA’s growing library of books directly relevant to Shepherdstown, the Packhorse Ford, and the Battle of Shepherdstown.  The books are available for reading by contacting Mike Nickerson.

Thank you to SBPA Corporate Sponsor, Neil Super of Two River Turnings, a longtime supporter of the Battlefield.  Neil donated a ‘Shepherdstown Battlefield’ engraved pen made from a naturally downed walnut tree burl from the core of the Battlefield.

This invaluable pen will be donated by the SBPA to a Battlefield donor as a Holiday gift.

Current Activities Update


On Sunday, December 3, Battlefield Board Member Kevin Pawlak is conducting a group tour of the battlefield to include the Osbourn Farm and the Cement Mill.  Great job getting the word out Kevin!

On Saturday, December 2 from 11 am to 3 pm, the SBPA will have a display table in the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War during their Holiday Celebration.  We will have maps, battle details, artifacts, books, merchandise and more.  Please stop by and say hello. 


On Wednesday, November 29, SBPA President Dr. Mike Nickerson attended the Historic Shepherdstown Speaker Series lecture about historic aspects of Shepherdstown Building architecture.  The talk was given in the Byrd Auditorium on the Shepherd University campus and was co-sponsored by the Historic Landmarks Commission and the Shepherdstown Museum, both battlefield supporters.  The discussion about historic preservation of buildings was pertinent to preservation of Osbourn Farm buildings among other relevant issues.

On Tuesday, November 28, Mike Nickerson led another tour of guests from Long Island on a portion of the Maryland Campaign of 1862.  We started in Bolivar at Stonewall Jackson’s Artillery battery and continued into Harpers Ferry, where the strategic importance of Maryland and Loudon Heights was noted.  We went to Antietam where we toured the newly renovated Visitors Center and the battlefield.  BTW, great job in the film Dr. Tom Clemens!  Lastly, we stopped at the C&O canal, Ferry Hill, the Cement Mill and the Osbourn Farm.  It was a great day experiencing the 1862 Maryland Campaign with some enthusiastic and appreciative guests.

On Monday, November 27, SBPA President Dr. Mike Nickerson gave an ‘inside the battlefield’ tour to a guest from Georgia, hosted by battlefield supporter Sharon Capriotti.  We toured about 12 of the sites that will be highlighted in the upcoming SBPA pamphlet that is a self-guided tour of the battlefield.  He was a real enthusiast for our battle and greatly enjoyed the outing.  Good to meet you Ned!

SBPA at the George Tyler Moore Civil War Center for an Historic Christmas event

The SBPA will have our display table at the George Tyler Moore Civil War Center, located at 136 W. German Street in Shepherdstown, on Saturday, December 2 from 11 am – 3 pm.  We will be inside so should be comfortable.  We have maps, books, posters, battlefield artifacts, a musket and much more!

Stop in after the town Christmas parade (10 am start) and say hello, or if you’d like to take a 30 or 60 minute shift, let Mike Nickerson know what time.

See the George Tyler Moore Civil War Center Facebook page for details about their activities.  It should be a very enjoyable holiday afternoon in town. 

Thanks to Director Dr. Jim Broomall for the invitation.

Kestrel Boxes for the Osborn Farm

Once again battlefield supporter Steve has come thru with 2 Kestrel nesting boxes for the Osbourn Farm.  These were installed this week with SBPA President Nickerson. Way to go Steve! Thank you!

That makes 7 nesting boxes for the Riverside Park and now 4 for the Osbourn Farm as part of the Birds in the Battlefield Project.  

New Letter Discovered from a Union Soldier Describing the Battle of Shepherdstown

This letter, describing the Battles of Antietam and Shepherdstown, was written by Charles M. Freeman of Syke’s Division. Camp on Potomac, 22 September 1862.

It is currently being auctioned. For details and contents of the letter provided click on this link.

Dr Mike Nickerson, President of SBPA writes: SO Interesting! I just mapped out Freeman’s unit’s movements and the US 2nd Infantry crossed the Ford and went left, then up the grade onto the Ryder Farm where they were countered by Thomas’ Brigade from AP Hill’s Division.  This is near the sinkhole on Vance Road off Trough where a blown Confederate cannon was reportedly thrown (a 161 year old legend that is likely true!).

We can go stand where Freeman was! We don’t have much from units on the downstream side of Trough so quite valuable to us! 

Tom McGrath writes: Wow!  This is fantastic!  Makes you wonder what else is still out there yet to be found.

The 2nd has an interesting story in the battle.  After Lovell’s Brigade of Regulars marched up Trough Road and reached “the plateau” (where Trough Road takes that sharp right angle), skirmishers were sent forward near the edge of the woodlot to the front.  Once an enemy presence was suspected, Lovell was ordered to return to the ford.  With the majority of the brigade still in marching column on Trough Rd he makes a crucial decision here.  He writes, “To march down the road in column of fours would have subjected my command to great loss, if fired on.”  

Instead, he deploys his units forward in column by battalion “with intervals of 60 or 70 paces.”  The 2nd U.S. had been combined with the 10th U.S. and their battalion occupied the far left.  Once the enemy was seen in force Lovell writes “the battalion were faced about, and retired slowly and in most excellent order until reaching the open ground on the hill near the river.”

The 2nd U.S. “were then thrown into the woods on our left, by the orders of the general.” Soon federal batteries began shelling the woods and the 2nd was withdrawn to the crest of bank.  It is interesting to note that in this letter Freeman says, “Of course we had to ‘git up and git’ which we did very nice as our artillery from the Maryland side covered our retreat firing over our heads.”

Freeman then writes “As it was we lost twenty or thirty who were shot in the water and went floating among us down the stream.”  This helps underscore the intensity of the moment that Daniel Burke would earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“SIR: I respectfully call to the notice of the officer commanding the gallant conduct of First Sergt. Daniel W. Burke, Company B, Second Infantry, on the 20th instant. When our troops were falling back across the Potomac, on hearing that a piece of artillery had been left unspiked, he volunteered to go back and do it, and, on getting permission, did go back and assist in spiking said gun in the face of the enemy’s sharpshooters.

Hoping that the case will be noticed as it deserves, I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. F. DRUM, First Lieutenant Second Infantry, Commanding Company B.”