150 Years Ago: Pontoon bridges over the Potomac

Strategic mobility.  That’s what the pontoon bridges provided the Army of the Potomac.  I’ve written at length about the bridges used in June 1863 at Edwards Ferry.   But that is getting ahead a year in sesquicentennial coverage.

The important pontoon bridges in the last week of October 1862 were over the Potomac at Berlin, Maryland and Harpers Ferry, Virginia (it was still Virginia then).   A series of photos of bridges at Berlin (now days it is Brunswick) capture what those bridges looked like.  Most captions provided for these photos indicate they were taken by Alexander Gardner in October-November 1862.  However, I’ve seen a few places where these are cited as part of the July 1863 crossing at the same place in the aftermath of Gettysburg.  I’m apt to accept the former date.

I find this photo remarkable for many reasons.  There’s a lot of “action” implied here, particularly with the wagon train in the foreground.  Look closely at that.

There are three means of transportation in evidence here – wagon, train, and canal.  See the box cars?  Means the B&O was already repaired from any damage done in September.  The “iron horse” brought supplies to the Army of the Potomac. Those railroad tracks, or at least the modern version of them, are still at Brunswick today.

Look closely to the upper left corner… or here’s a better view.

Appears the wagons are being loaded directly from the box cars.

And looking up to the houses behind that, just before the destroyed bridge’s piers, sites Lock 30 on the C&O.

The near side pontoon bridge abutments are obscured by the bank of the canal towpath.

There was a significant slope down from the towpath to the river.  And file this away as we discuss below – the landing for the bridge to the right has a tree next to the river bank and some sort of lift next to it.  There’s a lot of brush between the two bridges.  There’s also another tree on the land-side of the canal, roughly the same height as the other tree.

Looking across the river, there is one of those “ghost” blurs often seen on glass plate, time exposure negatives.

That must be a wagon train finishing its crossing.

Notice the detail on the landing of the far side.  The pontoon bridges reach Virginia on a spit of land sticking out from the shore.

And look to the left of that at the houses on the distant bank.

Follow the bridge piers across.  The last one, actually on the Virginia shore, appears to have walls on the superstructure.  There are two, maybe three, structures where the old bridge ran through.  I can feel the warmth of the fireplace in that house in the lower center, even through 150 years.

An Edwin Forbes drawing depicting the scene on October 27, 1862, looks at first glance to be a pencil version of the Gardner photo.

But, Forbes shows only one pontoon bridge in place.  So, does this validate the time of Gardner’s photo or not?

There there are more photos of Berlin’s pontoon bridges, or I should say bridge, to consider.  One copy at the Library of Congress collection is from a book of illustrations.  The photo was taken looking from Virginia back to Maryland.  While crisp, I’m not fond of that view, as it does not show the working details I love to pick up.  Instead I like this one from nearly the same angle:

This is the messy “business” side that I like to examine.  Movement going on to the left.  Good close up of the pontoon bridge landing.  Likely someone will chime in to say the mounted guy on the right is one of Gardner’s assistants.   The only down side is the resolution is not sufficient to allow picking off details on the far shore.   But this is the “spit” of land seen in the first photo above.  But again, just one pontoon bridge.

And another view from the Virginia shore:

Remember the houses referenced above?  Those structures match right up to the outer wings.  No comfy fire going in the house though.  And there’s the bridge pier with “walls” right at the end of the old bridge abutment.  But again, just one pontoon bridge.  Let’s look closer.

Follow up from the two individuals standing at the old bridge abutment/pier.  Look to the Maryland shore.  There is a tall tree on the river side of the towpath, with brush between there and the single pontoon bridge.  Where the second bridge should be, there are a couple of box shaped items laying on the bank.

Those boxes also appear in the other “Virginia side” photograph, just to the right of the guard on the bridge.

In profile, there are the two trees, one by the river and the other a bit further back.

My explanation?  According to McClellan’s report of operations, a pontoon bridge went across at Berlin on October 25.  The Ninth Corps crossed on October 26 and 27, which is what Forbes depicted.  So perhaps Gardner took one series of photos around that time but from the Virginia shore.  Later, after the engineers placed a second bridge, he went back to the Maryland side and took another photo.  If so, the “Virginia side” photos mentioned above may capture the engineers laying out equipment for that second pontoon bridge.

Looking at the site today, the river shoreline has shifted.  The “spit” of land is gone.  But it is not hard to pinpoint where Gardner put his camera.  Or where Forbes sat to make his sketch. And knowing those locations, we could say with some accuracy the location of those pontoon bridges…. Bridges that transported the Army of the Potomac from one great battle to the next.


150 Years Ago: The Union cavalry operates as … cavalry!

Writing his final report for operations in Loudoun Valley during the fall of 1862, Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton wrote briefly of the activities undertaken by his Cavalry Division at the close of October:

On the morning of October 26, I crossed the Potomac at Berlin, with the Second Cavalry Brigade and Pennington’s horse battery, and took up a position in front of Purcellville, on the 27th, having occupied Hillborough with two squadrons of the Sixth Cavalry.  After some skirmishing with the rebels, and having driven them out of Purcellville, they were followed up by Colonel Davis, with the Eighth New York Cavalry, as far as Snicker’s Gap, at which point they opened with shell and showed themselves in strong force.

From this time until November 1 the brigade was occupied in scouting the country to Leesburg, Aldie, Middleburg, Philomont, and in gaining information of the enemy’s movements…. (OR, Series I, Volume 19, Part II, Serial 28, page 125)

In short, the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was out doing what cavalry is supposed to do in the advance of an army – finding the enemy.

Pleasonton’s troopers did find the Confederates, but the cavalry commander was not so good at determining where they were going. In several dispatches throughout the closing days of October, Pleasonton made mention of Longstreet “going to Manassas.”  In reality, Longstreet was marching towards Culpeper (the opposite end of our modern day U.S. 29…).

I’d intended to drive through the country-side this weekend and provide “nearly 150 years to the day” photos of several sites between Brunswick (was Berlin) and Purcellville.  But the recent storm prevented me from getting out to the sites at a time when decent photos were obtainable.  So you’ll have to settle for a photo taken “not nearly 150 years to the day”.

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Just after crossing the Potomac, many of Pleasonton’s troopers picketed their horses in this field, which lies between the Berlin Pike (Virginia 287) and the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church just south of Lovettsville.  Nothing momentous happened there.  No great fights or skirmishes.  No inspiring speeches to the troopers, that we know of.  No single event of great significance that we can note.

However, prior to October 27, 1862, the story of Federal cavalry, in the east if not the whole, was one of misuse, mismanagement, and disappointment.  The general consensus was the Confederate mounted arm had bested the Federals at every opportunity (though we know that to be oversimplification).  The Federal cavalrymen were a few weeks removed from the embarrassing Chambersburg Raid.  Yet from time of that stay in Lovettsville until the end of the war, the Federal cavalry would only get better, while their opponent would recede.  Maybe not a “turning point” worthy of a monument or even a marker, but at least worth a pause.

In the first days of November, Pleasonton’s troopers fought sharp actions at Philomont and Unison.  The series of actions seem inconclusive to those looking for clear cut victories.  Arguably General J.E.B. Stuart continued to hold the upper hand, delaying Pleasonton and the men in blue.  But the force that later blocked Lee’s retreat at Appomattox was earning its spurs.

150 Years Ago: A flag of truce to discuss “hard war”

One-hundred and fifty years ago today, on October 29, 1862, Colonel Robert A. Cameron filed a report addressed to General Alvin P. Hovey, commanding at Helena, Arkansas. Cameron had just returned from a mission carrying correspondence between Federal and Confederate commanders.  He left Helena on October 21, reached Little Rock on the 24th to deliver his dispatches, then returned.

Robert A. Cameron, as a Brigadier later in the war

Cameron’s report was officially an acknowledgement of completed tasks.  Additionally, Cameron offered some observations of Confederate dispositions.  And, since it fell under the scope of his mission, Cameron also added a lengthy summary of a discussion with Confederate General Theophilus Holmes, commanding the Trans-Mississippi forces.  The gist of that conversation centered on the conduct of war.  The entire report appears in the Official Records, Series I, Volume 13, Serial 19, pages 768-771.  I’ll only cite a portion of that lengthy report here:

… General Holmes said that he desired me to say to you that it was his desire to conduct this war upon honorable principles and upon the rules of warfare among civilized nations–yes, upon Christian principles; that he was filled with horror at the state of woe, desolation, and destruction brought to him by his people, which he was sorry to say he was forced to believe. For instance, a Mr. Moore, living near Helena, reported to his provost-marshal-general that a party of Federal soldiers had entered his house, and finding a feeble daughter and enceinte wife, did threaten and intimidate them and snap caps upon their revolvers, causing Mrs. Moore to produce an abortion and thereby endanger her life. I replied that the general commanding had no knowledge of such an occurrence, and that if it had happened and if the parties could be found they would be brought to punishment. He went on to say that a deserter had come to him and he asked him why he had taken place it would have been known among us, and I had never known of it, and that a man who would desert would tell a falsehood. He, the general, said he did not place implicit confidence in what a deserter might say; “but,” said the general, “it is true that in the route of General Curtis’ army houses were ransacked, women’s and children’s apparel taken without provocation, and all kinds of damage done to the property of citizens.” I replied that I had not seen it, but that I was led to believe that it might in some instances be true to a certain extent, but that I was satisfied it was not with the consent of commanding officers, but contrary to their positive orders, and that I had learned from the people of Arkansas that in some instances the Texans in his army had stolen the people’s meat and chickens, and that I was sorry to say there were some bad in both armies, whom in some instances it appeared almost impossible to control. General Holmes said that he knew General Curtis in his youth, and had expected him to pursue a fair and honorable warfare; that he, for his part, was determined to resist organized forces with organized forces as long as it could be done, but that they would fight until exterminated unless their independence was acknowledged. While they fought with organized forces he expected scrupulously to observe the rules of warfare, and had repressed the patriotic ardor of his people in the neighborhood of Helena for guerrilla warfare; “but,” said the general, “should we be beaten, and our army under Lee in Virginia and Bragg in Kentucky be crushed, we would rise as individuals and each man take upon himself the task of expelling the invaders.” I replied that I did not think his people felt as desperate as he did. “Yes,” said the general, “we hate you with a cordial hatred. You may conquer us and parcel out our lands among your soldiers, but you must remember that one incident of history, to wit, that of all the Russians who settled in Poland not one died a natural death.” I replied I could not, and knew our people did not, reciprocate the hatred he expressed. The general then entertained me with his former love for our flag and his present hatred at the sight of it, but fell into a pleasant vein in regard to his old acquaintances in the Federal Army whom he knew….

Some additional context here.  The deaf (and according to some contemporaries, nearly senile) Holmes was among those “reassigned” after General Robert E. Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia following the Seven Days.  He arrived in Arkansas in late summer.  Cameron also was a transfer from the east.  Having served in the 19th Indiana during the opening campaigns in western Virginia, Cameron asked for a new assignment that winter.  He became colonel of the 34th Indiana Infantry in June 1862.

Neither man had been a party to the “hard war” exhibited across Missouri.  Many of the incidents he mentioned in the discussion had occurred before their arrival. Holmes, in particular, was no doubt working from second- or third-hand information.   While Holmes cited somewhat ghastly incidents of rape and forced miscarriages, Cameron responded with deprivations inflicted upon the state’s citizens by the Confederates themselves.  No doubt each side could have continued that discussion, citing examples at length, for days.  Of course, that would have gotten nowhere.

The threat of guerrilla warfare underscores Holmes’ unfamiliarity with the theater in which he commanded.  Perhaps he was thinking of Virginia, or his native North Carolina.  But it would be hard to find a county of Missouri or Arkansas, north of the Arkansas River, which had not witnessed guerrilla warfare by that time in the war.  John Pope’s “hard war” transplanted from Missouri to Virginia now came back home through the words of old Theophilus.  Still this must be one of the earliest references to “a cordial hatred” of the Yankees… whatever a cordial hatred is.

Take the conversation for what you will.  To me it is an example of the narrow balance of morality that occurs in war, and how “proper” men attempt to deal with it.

Allow me to close by looking at a strictly military aspect of Cameron’s report.  Near the end he mentions that the Confederates, have a 24-pounder for reconnoitering “à la Schenck  at Vienna.”  Cameron was referring to Confederate forces on the Memphis-Little Rock railroad line.  Frequent readers are no doubt familiar with the railroad fight in Vienna, Virginia.  Seems the Richmond rebels were sharing their railroad gun ideas with those in other theaters.

Closing note on “stone mortars”: Mortars and “scatter” projectiles

Earlier I wrote about the stone mortars and their somewhat limited operational niche.  The main purpose of these cannons was to break up enemy troop concentrations that stood behind protective fortifications.  Such situations occurred when a besieger had breached a fortified wall.  The besieger would then have troops massed to exploit the breach.  Likewise the defender would mass troops to seal the breach.  The tactical requirement, in such situations, was a weapon to drop projectiles on top of the enemy – vertical fires instead of the horizontal trajectories seen with guns.

All very well if you are breaching a Vauban fort every other day of the week.  But such occurred exactly zero times in the American Civil War.  But such did not mean a similar, if not essentially the same, requirement was absent.  Indeed, by 1864 as battle lines in Virginia and Northern Georgia took shape, massed infantry formations under the protection of trench lines -preparing for attacks or counter-attacks – became common targets.  In that tactical world, vertical trajectories became an increasingly desirable practice for artillery fire.

Conventional shells fired from mortars could provide just such vertical trajectories.  And as students of the Overland Campaign will point out, the Ceohorn made its appearance there.  But considering the rudimentary fuse technology of the time (recall the cutting of paper fuses to time of flight estimates), standard shell fire from mortars were short of perfect.  There was no direct solution during the Civil War.  Decades later fuse technology advanced to resolve this.  But for the Civil War, the “sure” anti-personnel projectile was still a “scatter” type.

I would point out the use of “scatter” projectiles from conventional mortars was known well before the Civil War.  Muller wrote of such tests in his Treatise of Artillery.  In his 1861 Artillerist’s Manual, John Gibbon noted that defenders should load Coehorn mortars with grape-shot to form the last ditch defensive lines in fortifications.  But I would point out that Gibbon envisioned their use against an enemy reaching the parapet of the fortification, not against an enemy behind cover.  Still the suggested implementation alludes back to the intended use of the stone mortars by defenders in the Vauban context.

The Federals experimented mortar case-shot projectiles late in the war.  Case shot for both 10- and 13-inch mortars were issued in limited numbers.  A 10-inch case shot was filled with twenty-seven iron balls, the same used in 12-pdr cannister rounds, and provided with a 2.5 pound bursting charge.  The 10-inch versions were used with good effect during the Battle of the Crater, and are credited with silencing Confederate artillery for a short period of that engagement.  However gunners complained about premature explosions experienced with the mortar case-shot.

As mentioned above, ultimately this tactical requirement was solved by the use of case-shot, under the name “shrapnel”, with more advanced fuses that ensured air bursting and a shell design that ensured the sub-projectiles exited on a more predictable course. I cannot resist using this animated gif to illustrate the World War I-era projectile system:

I’d go into the success and ultimate failure of that projectile type, but this is a Civil War blog.  I’ll have to save that for another venue…. right XBrad?

150 years ago: A foraging expedition… Today a monument to black soldiers

From the Kansas City Star:

Black soldiers’ 1862 valor finally recognized at Missouri site

BUTLER, Mo. — Earlier this week, the golden prairie-grass pasture here 70 miles south of Kansas City was quiet except for whistling wind and the distant growl of a tractor.

On Saturday, though, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources expects 200 people to gather on this spot about a mile up a gravel-covered Bates County road off Missouri 52 at 11 a.m. A band will play patriotic music, dignitaries will speak and a flag will rise as the state dedicates this farmland as a historic site.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled on a stone monument at the edge of this field, which in the past year has been transformed into a state park.

Here — on the Old Toothman farm — the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry set up headquarters 150 years ago, calling it Fort Africa.

Just a few miles to the south, these black men wearing Union blue fought in the Battle of Island Mound. They were the first former slaves and freed men to defeat Confederate forces in the Civil War.

The Butler ceremony will be part of a two-day event that begins today in Kansas City at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, 3700 Blue Parkway. The free reception starts at 6 p.m. with historians discussing the battle’s significance.

On Oct. 27, 1862, a group of black soldiers had set out on a foraging expedition from Fort Africa. As they crossed over a low hill called Island Mound, the Union men encountered Confederate forces and engaged in a fierce and bloody clash.

It would later be said that those black soldiers “fought like tigers.” Eight members of the unit were killed, including one white officer and one Cherokee. The six black soldiers and the Native American were buried in the field. Eleven other men were wounded.

Rebel losses are unknown, but some historians speculate that as many as 40 were killed….

(Full article)

The article goes on to mention efforts to make Island Mound into a state historical site.

This is another of the hallmarks of sesquicentennialism – more attention to the service of the African-Americans who served the Union cause.  Was a similar memorial possible fifty years ago?  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.  What I will champion are more such memorials this time around.

Another welcome change from fifty years ago is the attention paid to the less glamorous, smaller engagements such as Island Mound.  Maybe it wasn’t a “Gettysburg” but men fought and died there.

Big mortars firing small projectiles: Stone Mortars

There’s one other type of mortar which was around during the Civil War. I’ve saved the stone mortars for the end since their employment and service was more trivial than practical. Like the other mortars, the evolution of stone mortars goes back to before the Revolution. Writing in the 1768, John Muller offered this description of stone mortar (or should I say “ftone mortar”) use:

There is another kind of mortar which serves to fling stones into an enemy’s works, when near at hand; such as from the town into the trenches in the covert way, or upon the glacis, and from these trenches into the town, or ravelins…. (Treatise of Artillery, page 91).

Muller offered this drawing of the mortar:

Stone mortars fired scattered projectiles for anti-personnel effect. The form of the mortar’s interior thus differed to better allow use of such projectiles. Turning again to Muller:

The form of the bore at the bottom being different from that in other mortars, is likewise adapted here to the bodies to be thrown out if it; baskets are made to fit the bottom of the bore, which, when filled, are let into the mortar by means of two handles, in order to load it quicker. The stones generally made use of upon this occasion are pebbles the bigness of a man’s fist, and as round as can be found. But as we said before, hand-grenades or small shells made for that purpose, of about two or two and a half inches diameter, will answer the purpose much better than stones.

The stone mortar used smaller charges than other mortars. The French 15-inch stone mortar of Muller’s time used a 3 pound charge, compared to 9 pounds for a contemporary 13-inch land service mortar. This low loading allowed the stone mortar to have 2/3rds the thickness of metal seen on other mortars. These were not weapons for long range firing, but rather to disrupt, maim, and kill enemy soldiers working within the confined spaces during the closing phases of siege operations – either to clear the breech of enemy defenders, or as a last ditch defense by the defenders to drive off the attackers in the breech.

The Army inherited stone mortars after the Revolution, either captured from the British or passed on from the French. A mortar matching Muller’s description is today on display at Yorktown.

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French Stone Mortar

The mortar was made in 1756 by the Berenger foundry at Douay, France, as one can easily read from the markings. It’s extreme contours are due to the small chamber and very wide bore.

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Bore of French Stone Mortar

Unless you have an excessively large ego, one can easily “get into” the stone mortar to view the chamber. Notice the thinness of the barrel.

There is some novelty to the stone mortar. But let’s be realistic. These are “one trick” weapons of little use outside siege operations. And even then only good for certain phases of the siege. As I’ve said with respect to other early American mortars, the quantity of serviceable European weapons in the armories meant (I think… but haven’t seen it written in as much words) the Army didn’t ask for any new stone mortars for some time. The Ordnance Board of 1818 recommended an established pattern of 15-inch stone mortar. But the Army ordered none.

The stone mortar came back around during the Ordnance Board meetings of 1838. The following year, the Army ordered one 16-inch caliber example from N.P. Ames Manufacturing. Another came from Ames in 1857. Although only two weapons in that pattern existed, the Ordnance Manuals of the period listed the type as standard. That pattern appears on the plate below, second from left.

The Ordnance Manual of 1850 indicated the 16-inch Stone Mortar had a 20 inch deep bore. The chamber was 6.75 inches long, narrowing from 5.3 inches to 3 inches in diameter. Overall length was 31.55 inches. The stone mortar weighed 1,500 pounds.

Eight-inch diameter trunnions matched that of contemporary 10-inch siege mortars. However the stone mortar required a different bed due to its unique operational needs. After loading the mortar with a basket filled with stones, the crew elevated the mortar to 60°. A more “uniform” option was to use solid shot, ranging from 6-pdr down to grapeshot size. A charge of just 1-½ pounds of powder was sufficient to loft the basket’s contents into the air. From there gravity would do the work, bringing the stones to a lethal velocity with the fall. Range was 150 to 250 yards. The stones or shot scattered over an area 50 yards by 90 yards.

The basket could also hold fifteen 6-pdr shells. The 1853 Instructions for Heavy Artillery suggested fifteen second fuses for the shells. For this projectile, with the mortar at 33° elevation and only a pound of powder, the payload landed about 150 yards down range. The shells scattered in a diameter of 20 to 30 yards. The low elevation and light powder charge were required to ensure the shells did not bury into the ground on impact, and instead burst on the surface. The manuals also indicated grenades could be fired in the same manner. But the instructions offered this warning:

As the shells are liable to burst on leaving the bore, the piece is fired by a slow match applied to a train of quick match, giving the men time to place themselves under cover.

Regardless of payload, the crew first loaded the powder charge. Over the chamber sat a wood plank with holes (to allow the flash of powder to ignite the shell fuses when used). The basket, filled with the required projectiles, sat on top of the plank.

All this sounds nice. But again, tactically these mortars had but a handful of situations to which they were applicable. Otherwise other weapons of the day filled the needs handily. One of the two 16-inch stone mortars survives today at West Point. So it was around during the Civil War. But there is no record of its operational use. The Ordnance Manual published in 1862 did not mention the stone mortar. The Confederates retained instructions for the use of stone mortars in the manuals they published during the war. I’ve seen one Confederate operational reference to a “stone mortar” used to cover the rear approaches of a fortification. This was likely an older type of European origin, impressed where nothing else better was available.

However limited the “niche” of the stone mortar, that tactical requirement still held. Instead of using these specialist weapons, the army opted for similar scatter projectiles fired from the conventional mortars in field service.

Efforts to save a witness to war: Bloomfield, Missouri

Earlier this week, John Hennessy noted the Decline of Clover Hill in Culpeper County, Virginia.  Sadly that historic home is in disrepair.  Dating to the 1770s, a lot of history passed by that house, including notable Civil War events, over 235 (give or take) years.

With that fresh in my mind, when my father (who provided the photos seen in this entry) related the story about a house in Bloomfield, Missouri, I noticed some similarities… and differences.

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The Miller House, Bloomfield, Missouri

The Dexter Daily Statesman ran an article in September detailing the plight, and preservation effort, of this house:

Restoration bids to be taken on Miller House

The process of renovating the house built by Henry Miller on Old Cape Road in Bloomfield started in 2009 and should be ready to put out for bids sometime in late September according to Sue Tippen, head of the Stoddard County Development Foundation. The Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization has secured a $200,000 grant for renovating the exterior of the historic home through the National Scenic Byway Program administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The grant requires a $52,000 match which can come in the form of in-kind matching labor, research and property.

Dr. Sheila Perry wrote the grant for the Development Foundation which is under the Industrial Development Authority of Stoddard County. Tippen said the project is part of an overall plan developed to capitalize on the historic structures and history of Bloomfield. The old courthouse, the Christian Church and other historic buildings are hoped to be part of the scenic byway in Bloomfield that could help attract tourists to the area, Tippen said….. (Full story.)

The article goes on to discuss the background of the house.  Like Clover Hill, the exact date of construction is unknown – perhaps as early as 1843, but certainly by 1850.  Yes, a full three-quarter century after the Culpeper county dwelling, but we are talking about a locality on the other side of the Mississippi River, mind you.

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Damaged Exterior of Miller House

As to Civil War activity around the house:

The house played a major role in the Civil War as it sat on Crowley’s Ridge with a good view of the surrounding area, said Tippen. The Millers, whose sympathy was with the South, lived there throughout the war. Amazingly, the house was never burned by Union forces or the bushwhackers. There are theories on why the house was preserved, but no verifiable records. One theory is that the house served as a military hospital and thus was spared by Union forces and the bushwhackers. Another unsubstantiated story is that the house had ammunition stored under a under-the-roof storage area during the war.

I’ve discussed Crowley’s Ridge some time back in relation to the Battle of Chalk Bluff.  Although no big “named” armies passed down the ridge, the route served as an avenue for those on patrol or raiding into the no-mans-land that was Southeast Missouri for much of the war.  As mentioned earlier, there’s a new marker for the “hanging tree” incident that occurred in town. I would also point out there’s more to the Bloomfield area than just the bushwacker activity.  The “Stars and Stripes” newspaper was first published there.

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Miller House and grounds

I do hope the foundation is able to secure the matching funds and proceed with restoration efforts.  I also hope further research will clear up the questions about the wartime activity in the house.

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Miller House, Bloomfield, Missouri

But of course that is where the similarities between these two houses end.  Clover Hill’s past is well documented.  We have photographs that illustrate it’s story.  There’s more than enough information for someone with a desire to restore and preserve.

And of course the other difference I would note.  The folks in Stoddard County, Missouri are recognizing the history in their area and looking to preserve part of it.  They are “fighting the good fight.”

In Culpeper County?  The Brandy Station Foundation is silent about Clover Hill.  The board acts as if they don’t know where the house is located, much less understand its significance.  There is no effort from that quarter.