Archive for Baltimore

Family Christmas

I’ve been waiting for months to post about this, but now that Christmas is over, I finally can.

Back in February, I was doing a lot of research about my great-great-great grandfather, George R. Skillman and his career as a baker. During one of my many Google searches during that time, I stumbled on My Country Treasures – an antique shop in Preston, MD that had one of the Skillman Universal Steam Bakery’s display tins. This tin would have been used as a display in a grocery store that carried Skillman Bakery products – most likely crackers.

I had to get this piece and make sure it stayed in the family. I also thought that it would make a great gift for my father, since he shares our ancestor’s name and since he sparked my interest in genealogy and history in the first place.

Finally, the opportunity arose when my friend John invited me to stay at his family’s beach house in Delaware one weekend. I planned to stop in Preston on the way home, and if the tin hadn’t been sold, to split the cost with my brother. Luckily, it was still there and I immediately snatched it up!

Waiting out the months until Christmas was hard, but I’m glad that we did. My dad’s reaction when he figured out what we had given him was worth it.

My dad holding a piece of family history.

My dad holding a piece of family history. Photo by Sharon Skillman.

The side of the tin advertises the “Geo. R. Skillman Universal Steam Bakery”. As far as I can tell, this name was used for his business from 1887 until as late as 1900, so this “new” family heirloom is perhaps 127 years old.

The stories that we’ve been able to find about George are very nice to have. Newspaper articles I’ve discovered give a sense of the reality of our family history, too. But having an actual, tangible object from your ancestor’s past is just beyond words.

I’m so glad that everything came together to keep this history alive for us.

An Accident

While I was looking through online newspaper archives last night, I accidentally stumbled onto an article about, well, an accident.

This story appeared in the Washington Post on February 20, 1953:

Two Anne Arundel County men were burned seriously yesterday when the gas tank of their auto caught fire after a collision on Ritchie Highway, just north of Glen Burnie.

Thomas Skillman, 31, of Harundale and Ernie W. Bermick, 40 of Severn leaped from the car with hair and clothing burning and rolled on the ground to smother the flames. Both were taken to a Baltimore hospital.

The Associated Press reported their car was struck from behind by an auto driven by Eric R. Blomquist, 31, of Takoma Park, who was charged with drunken and reckless driving.

The Thomas Skillman from the story is my grandfather. This accident occurred just a few months before my father was born.

William Murray

Captain William H. Murray

Captain William H. Murray

Near the grave of William Goldsborough, lies a junior officer from the 1st MD battalion who was killed on the eastern slopes of Culp’s Hill on July 3, 1863 – Capt. William H. Murray.

Murray was a well-respected man among the Confederate Marylanders. An original member of the old 1st MD Infantry regiment, he stuck around in Virginia when that unit disbanded – unable either for fear of being caught, or out of a sense of duty to the Confederacy, to return home to Maryland. It was Capt. Murray who got together enough men to form the first company of what was to become a brand new Maryland regiment, but only ended up as the 1st MD battalion (as they couldn’t get together enough men to form a full regiment). His company became Company A in the new battalion, and he was elected Captain of it. This also made him the senior Captain in the battalion, and every account I’ve read talks about what a fine soldier he was – William Goldsborough writes glowingly about him in his book.

At Gettysburg, he is still the commander of Co. A, but on the morning of July 3, he has been elevated to second-in-command after Lt. Col. Herbert’s wounding the night before. When asked to lead his men in a very ill-advised assault up Culp’s Hill, he goes along the line, shaking hands with every man saying “Goodbye, it is not likely that we shall meet again.” Even General Steuart thought the attack was a suicide mission, but Capt. Murray followed his orders and did his duty. He was soon shot down, mortally wounded near the Union breastworks. Before noon that day, the 24-year old Captain would lie dead on the field.

His grave is located in the Confederate Hill section of Loudon Park Cemetery, very prominently marked by a tall obelisk:

Location of William H. Murray's gravesite.

Location of William H. Murray’s gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.

William H. Murray's Monument.

William H. Murray’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail on the front of William H. Murray's Monument.

Detail on the front of William H. Murray’s Monument. Photo by the author.

 

William Goldsborough

Major William W. Goldsborough

Major William W. Goldsborough

Returning to Loudon Park Cemetery, today we look at the grave of the man who took over command of the 1st MD Battalion (which later became the 2nd MD) when Lt. Col. James Herbert was wounded on July 2 at Gettysburg: Maj. William Goldsborough.

Born in Frederick county, he worked for a time as a printer in Baltimore before heading south to join up with the Confederacy when the war started. His brother Charles made the opposite decision, serving with the 5th MD as an Assistant Surgeon. They would meet a few times during the war, but not at Gettysburg.

At Gettysburg, Maj. Goldsborough was second-in-command of the 2nd MD during the attack on Culp’s Hill. When Lt. Col. Herbert went down with his serious wounds, Maj. Goldsborough took over and led the unit in the fighting on July 3 until he too was wounded – shot through his left lung. When the Confederates were pushed back, Maj. Goldsborough became a prisoner, as well.

After recovering from his wound, he was held in the prisons at Ft. McHenry and Ft. Delaware. In late 1864, he was transferred to Morris Island where he became one of the Immortal 600. He would remain in Union prisons for the rest of the war.

After the war, he wrote a book about the wartime service of the Maryland Line. As you might imagine, the 2nd MD at Gettysburg gets some coverage there.

His grave is located in the Confederate Hill section, just about in the middle along the southwest border of the section:

Location of William W. Goldsborough's gravesite.

Location of William W. Goldsborough’s gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.

William W. Goldsborough's Original headstone. The effects of time have worn hard.

William W. Goldsborough’s Original headstone. The effects of time have worn hard. Photo by the author.

A newer, much more legible stone is in-place, though; as it is for most of the graves on Confederate Hill.

A newer, much more legible stone is in-place, though; as it is for most of the graves on Confederate Hill. Photo by the author.

James Rigby

Captain James H. Rigby

Captain James H. Rigby

Continuing in Loudon Park National Cemetery, we come to the grave of our first Civil War artillerist: Capt. James H. Rigby.

Capt. Rigby commanded Battery A of the 1st MD Light Artillery. At Gettysburg, Rigby’s battery was part of the Fourth Volunteer Brigade in the Artillery Reserve, and his six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles were posted on Powers’ Hill, firing in support of the Union operations on nearby Culp’s Hill on July 2 and 3.

This was not exactly a front-line posting, and the unit’s casualty figures reflect that. The battery brought 106 men to Gettysburg, and did not report any losses in the action.

Over the last few years, Powers’ Hill has been cleared to return the ground to the look it had in 1863, and some new property has been acquired in that area by the park, but I still don’t think most visitors are aware of the monuments up there. The hill is not included on the auto tour route – not even as a drive-by – so for now, the contributions of these men will go largely unknown by the general public.

Capt. Rigby’s grave is located in the southern part of the cemetery, under a large, old tree. It’s easily recognizable from a distance:

Location of James H. Rigby's gravesite.

Location of James H. Rigby’s gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.

James H. Rigby's Monument.

James H. Rigby’s Monument. Photo by the author.

The Front of James H. Rigby's Monument.

The Front of James H. Rigby’s Monument. Photo by the author.

The Rear of James H. Rigby's Monument.

The Rear of James H. Rigby’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Joseph Sudsburg

Colonel Joseph M. Sudsburg

Colonel Joseph M. Sudsburg

I want to make sure that I’m clear on this: we’re leaving Loudon Park Cemetery temporarily and going next door to Loudon Park National Cemetery to find another veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg – and a Union man this time: Col. Joseph M. Sudsburg.

A Bavarian by birth, Col. Sudsburg had emigrated to America after taking part in the failed revolution in Poland in 1846. He ended up settling in Baltimore, and his previous military experience (even though he was on the losing side) led to a Colonel’s commission and the command of the 3rd MD Infantry when the Civil War broke out. His leadership of the unit also helped to attract many other European immigrants to service in the 3rd MD.

At Gettysburg, he was still in command of the 3rd MD, attached to McDougall’s brigade of the 12th Corps. The unit participated in the combat at Culp’s Hill on the morning of July 3, but spent most of that day in a reserve position. Their casualty figures tell the story pretty well: of the 290 men present for duty, they lost only 8 – and only 1 of those was a fatality.

Col. Sudsburg’s monument is located in the Officer’s section, near the eastern fence in Loudon Park National Cemetery:

Location of Joseph M. Sudsburg's gravesite.

Location of Joseph M. Sudsburg’s gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.

Joseph M. Sudsburg's Headstone.

Joseph M. Sudsburg’s Headstone. Photo by the author.

In the next installment, we’ll see the grave of a Union artillerist who was present at Gettysburg.

James Herbert

Colonel James R. Herbert

Colonel James R. Herbert

Another of the Confederate burials in Loudon Park Cemetery with a connection to Gettysburg is Col. James R. Herbert, the commander of the 1st MD Battalion (later renumbered to the 2nd MD).

As a Lt. Col. at Gettysburg, Herbert led his unit – part of Brig. Gen. George Hume “Maryland” Steuart’s brigade – in the assault on the Union right at Culp’s Hill. From the night of July 2 to the morning of July 3, Herbert’s men were almost constantly fighting – at one point even going up against other men from Maryland who had sided with the Union.

It was a tough fight. The 1st MD Battalion lost 189 of the 400 men present (47.3%) – the highest losses by number and percentage for a Maryland unit at Gettysburg. Among the wounded was Lt. Col. Herbert himself. Hit three times in the confused crossfire, he fell just after the sun went down on the evening of July 2.

Herbert survived his wounds and the war and went on to become the commander of the Maryland National Guard in the post-war years. He also served as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner until his death in 1884.

His gravesite is located across the street from Confederate Hill, and is marked by a large, distinctive monument with crossed flags on the front:

Location of James R. Herbert's Gravesite.

Location of James R. Herbert’s Gravesite. Map by Apple Maps.

James R. Herbert's Monument.

James R. Herbert’s Monument. Photo by the author.

In the next post, we’ll see the gravesite of the man who took over command of the 1st MD Battalion after Lt. Col. Herbert’s wounding at Gettysburg.

The Baltimore Riot

The Baltimore Riot. Engraving from Wikipedia.

The Baltimore Riot. Engraving from Wikipedia.

Today marks the 153rd anniversary of the Baltimore Riot. The 6th Massachusetts Infantry, trying to make its way through town to Camden Station, on the way to Washington D.C., ended up firing into an angry mob in the streets of Baltimore.

The 14 people left dead that day comprised the first blood shed in the Civil War.

I posted about this event in more detail a few months ago as part of a series of posts about local Civil War history.

Harry Gilmor

Colonel Harry Gilmor

Colonel Harry Gilmor.

The first Civil War burial that I discovered at Loudon Park was Confederate Col. Harry Gilmor. He was present at the Battle of Gettysburg as a Major in command of the 1st MD Cavalry Battalion (CSA) – part of Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade – though they did not participate in the action at the East Cavalry field.

After Gettysburg, he continued his service in the cavalry, serving most notably under Lt. General Jubal Early during his campaign through Maryland which culminated in the Battle of Monocacy in July of 1864. I actually found out about his burial in Loudon Park from the book I read about that campaign recently. He didn’t fight to the end of the war though; he was captured by Union troops in February of 1865 while on a raid in West Virginia.

After the war, he wrote a book about his experiences, and went on to serve as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner for 5 years.

Col. Gilmor is buried in the Confederate Hill section of Loudon Park. A very prominent headstone marks his gravesite:

Location of Confederate Hill

Location of Confederate Hill. Map by Apple Maps.

Harry Gilmor's Monument

Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail on the front of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail on the front of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the left side of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail of the left side of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the rear of Harry Gilmor's Monument.

Detail of the rear of Harry Gilmor’s Monument. Photo by the author.

Detail of the right Harry Gilmor's Monument, marking his wife's burial.

Detail of the right side of Harry Gilmor’s Monument, marking his wife’s burial. Photo by the author.

As you may guess (with a whole section named “Confederate Hill”) there are certainly a few more prominent leaders with Gettysburg connections buried at Loudon Park. In the next installment, we’ll show the grave of one of the infantry commanders from that battle.

The Conspirators

Earlier today, I posted about the burials in Loudon Park Cemetery with connections to the Lincoln Assassination, but these are not the only graves in Baltimore that have a connection to that tragic event in our nation’s history.

There were ten people involved in the conspiracy to kill Lincoln and other government officials in April of 1865. Fully half of these (bolded) are buried in Baltimore cemeteries:

  • John Wilkes Booth (Greenmount)
  • Lewis Powell
  • David E. Herold
  • Michael O’Laughlen (Greenmount)
  • Mary E. Surratt
  • John Surratt (New Cathedral)
  • Edman Spangler
  • Samuel Arnold (Greenmount)
  • George A. Atzerodt (Old Saint Paul’s)
  • Dr. Samuel A. Mudd

Eventually, I’m going to get around to covering each of these on the blog – maybe around the anniversary of the trial – I just wanted to make a note about those local Baltimore connections while the topic is fresh.

Also, if you haven’t seen it – The Conspirator is a recent movie that does a pretty good job of telling the story of the trial. It’s not available to stream at this point, but Netflix has it as a DVD (and so does Amazon).