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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. 

Categories
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.

Categories
Photography Roadside America

OK Used Cars

Old neon sign (neon removed) for OK Used Cars at Gasoline Alley Auto Sales, 661 N Loudoun Street in Winchester, Virginia. Honesty in advertising?

Categories
Historic America

Hoke’s Run/Falling Waters Battlefield in Berkeley County, West Virginia

Scattered markers and signs amidst modern buildings and highways are all that remain to mark the scene of this early Civil War battle.

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The Battle of Hoke’s Run (Falling Waters/Hainesville) was fought on July 2, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson and Confederate forces commanded by Col. Thomas J. Jackson in Berkeley County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical Union victory, though it allowed Confederate forces to concentrate and achieve victory at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21. Hoke’s Run resulted in 114 total casualties.

After the Commonwealth of Virginia formally seceded on May 23, 1861, Union troops moved to secure territory bordering Maryland and Washington, DC. Confederate Col. Thomas J. Jackson’s 4,000-man brigade was ordered to delay the Federal advance toward Martinsburg, then a town in Virginia (today, West Virginia). On July 2, 1861, Union Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson crossed the Potomac River with two brigades totaling approximately 8,000 men.

Jackson, who would go on to earn the nickname “Stonewall” and become one of the Confederacy’s most famous generals, deployed his men and four artillery pieces in Patterson’s path just south of Falling Waters. A brief fight erupted, Col. J. J. Abercrombie’s brigade turned Jackson’s right flank, and Jackson fell back. After two miles, Patterson broke off pursuit and ordered his men to make camp.

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Mysterious America Photography

From Sorrow to Serenity

Monument to Mead Belden (1833-1876) and his first and second wives, Sarah Elizabeth Hubbell (1834-1855) and Amelia Gertrude Woolson (1844-1864) and their family in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. Mead was a Freemason, a clothing merchant, and senior partner of Belden & Van Buskirk. Later, he was involved in construction and helped build canals and reservoirs.

Mead Belden (1833-1876) I

According to legend, either a ghostly bride or bride and groom have been seen descending the stairs to the bottom of the hill. The following eyewitness account appears on a sign for the Oakwood Ghost Trail: “Me & my friends spent the night in Oakwood one night. Over by the stairs graves in the west of the cemetery, I looked to my right and saw the bride and groom. They were beautiful, but they were bloody and they vanished before our eyes.” It’s unclear how this story is related (if at all) to the Belden family.

Categories
Photography Roadside America

Valley Diner (defunct)

Cool ghost neon sign for the Valley Diner outside Toms Brook (south of Strasburg, VA) along U.S. Route 11. According to Diner Hunter, it opened in 1932 and was likely built on-site. This sign has been there since at least the 1960s. dinerhunter.com/2011/11/27/valley-diner-toms-brook-va/

Categories
Mysterious America

Fort Drum Specters Preserve the Past

Locals say ghosts refuse to allow the past to remain buried at this military base in Upstate New York.

Click to expand photos.

I was stationed at Fort Drum for over three years. When I wasn’t freezing my rear-end off during field exercises in the training area, I was researching the area’s history and lore. Like Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, Fort Drum has its share of ghost stories, but because it’s a military base, its haunted sites aren’t readily available to the public. This seclusion lends an air of mystery to these already strange tales.

Fort Drum and its training area sprawls over 14 square miles of Jefferson County, New York, which shares a waterway with Canada. Relations with our neighbor to the north have not always been so friendly, and nearby Sackets Harbor served as a naval shipyard as far back as 1809. The US Army established Fort Pike and the Madison Barracks during the War of 1812 to defend the harbor. Nearly a century later, the Army opened Pine Camp several miles south along the Black River near Watertown, New York.

In 1940 and ’41, Pine Camp rapidly expanded as the Second World War threatened to drag the United States into another international conflict. The expansion displaced 525 families, swallowed five villages, and left over 3,000 buildings abandoned. The estate of James Le Ray, son of Revolutionary War hero Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, was appropriated by the military base. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.