Historic America

Funkstown Battlefield in Washington County, Maryland

This small town could have witnessed a sequel to the Battle of Gettysburg, but the exhausted combatants had no stomach for another bloodbath.

The Battle of Funkstown was fought on July 10, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. John Buford and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in and around Funkstown, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle, which followed the Army of Northern Virginia’s retreat from Gettysburg, was a minor Confederate victory and resulted in approximately 381 total casualties.

After three bloody days of fighting around Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee retreated southwest toward the Potomac River and Virginia. The main army settled into defensive works around Williamsport, Maryland, while a rearguard was stationed in Hagerstown and nearby Funkstown. Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was tasked with keeping the Union army at bay while Confederate forces found passage across the swollen river.

By July 10, the Union Army of the Potomac was located just west of Boonsboro, with Hagerstown and Funkstown on its right flank. The army could not advance with Confederate cavalry threatening its flank, so Brig. Gen. John Buford’s cavalry division rode north along the Old National Pike to attack J.E.B. Stuart’s crescent-shaped defensive line around Funkstown north of Antietam Creek. Buford hoped to drive them off, but Stuart’s troopers put up a spirited defense. 

Mysterious America

The Lafayette Avenue Ghost

The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.

In the winter of 1907-1908, a black-shrouded ghost startled residents of Mattoon’s west side. It began in December 1907 (formerly a time of year when ghost stories were popular) when residents noticed a diminutive figure dressed head-to-toe in a woman’s dress or gown, face covered with a hood, appear on the south side of Lafayette Avenue near 23rd Street around 7:00 p.m.

At least three times a week for several weeks, the figure walked west to 24th Street and back before vanishing as mysteriously as it appeared. Then, as now, this was a sparsely-populated neighborhood north of the Peoria, Decatur, & Evansville Railroad.

In the Journal Gazette, one man described being followed by the ghost, which emerged from the shadows behind a tree late at night. “I walked about fifty feet past Twenty-third street on the south of side of Lafayette avenue, when the ghost, or whatever it is, stepped out from the shadow of a tree and followed close after me as far as Twenty-fourth street, where it turned around and went back again,” he said. Others who were followed claimed the ghost never came within 20 feet.

Historic America Photography

Convenience Lost

The old Market Basket convenience store, 7005 Blue Mountain Road outside Thurmont, Maryland. Now abandoned.

Historic America

Yellow Tavern Battlefield in Henrico County, Virginia

Development has nearly erased this key Civil War battle, in which the South’s most famous cavalry commander was mortally wounded.

The Battle of Yellow Tavern was fought on May 11, 1864 between Union cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan and Confederate cavalry commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart in Henrico County, Virginia during the American Civil War. This nominal Union victory, part of Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, was notable mainly for the mortal wounding and death of J.E.B. Stuart, which deprived Robert E. Lee of his finest cavalry commander.

On May 9, 1864, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan rode south with 10,000 Union cavalry and 30 horse artillery to confront his Confederate counterpart, who had a reputation for invincibility. Stuart and his Confederates, however, could only muster around 4,500 troopers to confront him. Sheridan raided a supply depot at Beaver Dam Station on May 10 and continued south toward the Confederate capital of Richmond. On the morning of May 11, Stuart’s exhausted troopers arrived at the intersection of Telegraph and Mountain roads near an abandoned inn called Yellow Tavern.

Mysterious America

America’s Haunted Houses

These storied homes are valued for their architecture or their role in historical events, but many visitors and residents report that something otherworldly lingers…

Lizzie Borden House

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts was the scene of a gruesome unsolved double murder, perhaps among the most infamous in the U.S. Thirty-two-year-old Lizzy Borden became the chief suspect, but she was acquitted at trial. Today it’s open for tours and overnight stays.

The Franklin Castle

Built between 1881-1883, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true? Only a few people have been allowed inside its wrought iron gates to know for sure.

Photography Roadside America

Alexandria Ghost Sign

Old brick ad for Walter Roberts Inc Hay Grain, Flour, and Feed Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Today on the side of Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant, 106 S. Union Street.

Historic America

Williamsport Battlefield in Washington County, Maryland

Visit the place where the Civil War could have ended two years early, when a desperate defense saved General Lee’s army from disaster.

The Battle of Williamsport was fought on July 6, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gens. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and John Buford and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gens. John D. Imboden and Fitzhugh Lee outside Williamsport, Maryland during the American Civil War. This minor Confederate victory followed the Army of Northern Virginia’s retreat from Gettysburg and resulted in approximately 350 total casualties.

After three bloody days of fighting at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee retreated southwest toward the Potomac River and Virginia. As the main army staggered toward Williamsport, Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden was tasked with managing its wagon train of thousands of wounded soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg. He placed artillery on strategic high ground around Williamsport while hundreds of wagons waited to cross the flooded Potomac River.