This is the 11th of a series of posts on the aftermath of Antietam – this one again from the pen of George F. Noyes. This member of Doubleday’s staff writes in this excerpt about his adventure on Sunday, October 19 of 1862 of going to two church service in the Sharpsburg area. I am going to guess the names and locations of the congregations of which he speaks…

Today I resolved to go to church, if such a thing were possible. All the little meeting-houses in the adjacent villages were occupied as Hospitals, but I had heard of an Episcopal chapel some seven miles away, and thither I now proceeded. It was a lovely autumn day, soothing but not melancholy, and a pleasant hour’s ride up the Hagerstown turnpike brought me to the pretty stone chapel just in the mood for a quiet hour within. I was at once courteously welcomed to a seat; the congregation, composed mainly of young ladies, came in; the choir gave us some music; but the minister was not, so that after waiting half an hour I retired.

< I could be entirely wrong, but I am going to guess that he is speaking of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church which is, as he describes, about seven miles north of Sharpsburg. It is very close to the intersection of Lappans Road and Route 65 (the Hagerstown Turnpike). It was known at the time as Jones’ Crossroads. On this very road, Jackson’s command moved from Frederick toward Harpers Ferry – likely passing this church on September 11th of 1862. There are Civil War Trails markers at this location, particularly talking about the retreat from Gettysburg and the presence of the Yankees at this location to the east of Lee’s defensive line outside Williamsport. >

Determined not to be foiled, I now rode off to a Dunker meeting-house, whose locality had been described to me. And a romantic ride that was, through narrow country lanes, beneath the arches of forest aisles, and among some of the finest orchards and thriftiest farms I ever saw. This Dunker settlement would be considered remarkably inviting everywhere; but to a man tired of camps and sick of war, it was positively enchanting. Houses chiefly of stone, large and well-appointed barns and outhouses, fields of the finest corn I ever saw, orchards heavy with fruit … what else could a quiet man desire?

Through this paradise I reached at last the plain brick meeting-house, now surrounded with comfortable family carriages, tied my horse with the rest, and entered the large square room full of worshipers. At a long table extending across the head of the room sat the elders of the community, the males dressed in a semi-Quaker garb, the females wearing plain dresses and pretty white caps by no means injurious to their personal appearance. The body of the house was filled with benches, whereon sat the men on one side and the women on the other. The services consisted of extemporaneous addresses by such of the brethren as were moved to speak, of short prayers, and hymns plaintive and peculiar sung by the whole congregation. To me it was an impressive service, full of earnest religious spirit. At its close the fraternal kiss was exchanged among the brethren, and it was announced that a sort of love-feast would be soon in order. This religious fraternity, which is found in various parts of Pennsylvania especially, is bound together as a sort of community, though each member owns his own farm and enjoys the fruits of his own labor. It is of German parentage, and seems to combine the characteristics of the Methodist and the Quaker. The members own no slaves, and are very strong for the Union, though opposed to war; they greeted me with great cordiality after the service, and I rode back to camp quite satisfied with my morning’s experience.

< Again, I could be wrong, but I am going to speculate that it was at the Manor Church that Noyes made this visit. This would be somewhat near the Episcopal church described above (and a bit between Sharpsburg and the distance to the first church), and it would involve just about the very window of time for horseback travel as he describes. It was to this congregation of friends of faith that the Mumma family fled the Antietam Battlefield – only to return home to find everything in ashes. >

An excellent article (by the Church of the Brethren – COB) on the Dunker Church at Sharpsburg, the Manor Church, and the Brethren beliefs and traditions may be found HERE.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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