Joseph Poffenberger Farmstead - Sharpsburg, MD
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 29.395 W 077° 44.922
18S E 263617 N 4374752
Quick Description: The Poffenberger farmstead was a major player during the Battle of Antietam. Union troops bivouacked there the night before the battle & again the next day to treat the wounded. According to the NPS, the log farmhouse was built circa 1770.
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 2/11/2012 2:42:50 PM
Waymark Code: WMDPQY
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Turtle3863
Views: 0

Long Description:

Approximately 8,600 men of Gen. Joseph Hooker's division (and Hooker himself) spent the night on this farm before the battle of September 17, 1862. During the action to the south, wounded men retired to the farm where they were treated for their battle wounds. There is a parking lot as this is one of the stops on the Auto Tour. I did not venture out to the farm as I was not sure if it was allowed or not. I took my pictures from the edge of the property along Mansfield Avenue. There are many out buildings on the property that are all contributing structures. The property and its history is well-documented and there are a myriad of sites available to learn more about this property's significance.

The night before the battle, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s I Corps camped in and around this house and outbuildings on the northern end of the battlefield. Hooker made his headquarters here and formulated and launched the initial attack at Antietam from this position. The woods in this area, dubbed the North Woods, separated the Poffenberger property from those around it, including the David R. Miller Farm and the adjacent cornfield to the south. At 5:43 a.m. on September 17, Hooker sent his men in their battle lines toward the little white church on the Old Hagerstown Pike, toward the Rebels. Hooker wanted the men of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon’s “black hats,” the men of the Iron Brigade (see "Legendary Combat Units," July 2008 ACG), to move down the Pike and strike into the Southerners. As the lead column on the left set out — the men of Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts — they approached the cornfield ahead of them and, just at first light, met a thunderous fire by Confederate artillery from ahead. As the battle raged, waves of men set off from the Poffenberger Farm and then retreated to it, while shells struck around the premises. Wounded and dead struggled back to the property, turning the area into an aid station and a makeshift morgue. Nurses tended the wounded here, and you will see a monument to Clara Barton, commemorating her service on the Antietam battlefield. However, a description of the cellar in the house Barton wrote about shows she did not work as a nurse here, but at the Samuel Poffenberger House, to the southeast. SOURCE

Significance: The Joseph Poffenberger Farm was originally part of a large estate owned by James Chapline, who rented farm-size parcels to various tenants. The original Poffenberger Barn was most likely constructed by one of the tenants, at an unknown date in the early nineteenth century. The farm was purchased by Joseph Coffman in 1843, who in turn sold it to his son-in-law, Joseph Poffenberger , in 1851. The farm was occupied by the Union Army's 1st Corps on 16 September 1862, in preparation for the Battle of Antietam the following day, with General Joseph Hooker taking shelter in the barn. Following the battle the barn was used as a temporary field hospital. Following the Civil War, Joseph was joined by his nephew Otho in farming the property. In September 1876, according to a Hagerstown newspaper, four outbuildings, including the barn, were destroyed by fire at the Poffenberger Farm. The present barn was presumably rebuilt by Otho Poffenberger on the original barn foundation. In 2000 the Joseph Poffenberger farm was acquired by the National Park Service, as part of Antietam National Battlefield. The barn remains in use as an agricultural building. The barn at the Joseph Poffenberger Farm is a good example of a Pennsylvania bank barn, an agricultural building type introduced to the region by Swiss and German settlers in the mid-eighteenth century. The foundation and lower level exterior walls were built of limestone masonry construction. The lower level features a half-open cantilevered forebay along the south side, and housed feeding and milking stalls for livestock. An earthen ramp leads to the upper level on the north side of the barn. The upper level was built of heavy timber construction, with mortise-and-tenon and pegged joints. The barn is sheathed with vertical oak boards of random width. In plan, the upper level housed a central threshing area flanked by two hay/straw mows, with a granary located in the southeast corner. SOURCE

The Maryland Historical Trust has a complete inventory form about the property. It describes every single possible detail of its architectural, historical and cultural significance. That PDF can be found HERE

From the nomination form:

Antietam National Battlefield was listed on the National Register in 1966 to memorialize the Battle of Antietam. The Joseph Poffenberger Farmhouse contributes to the National Register under Criterion A. The house is classified as contributing structure number JPOFFHOUSE on the nomination form.

Antietam National Battlefield was listed on the National Register in 1966 to memorialize the Battle of Antietam. The Joseph Poffenberger Farmhouse contributes to the National Register under Criterion A.

The Joseph Poffenberger property is located adjacent to the North Woods, south of the Middlekauf farm, and east of Hagerstown Pike. The farm served as the bivouac for the First Corps on September 16, 1862. It also served as the Federal staging area for the first attack in the early morning of September 17, 1862. The buildings are situated on a bluff and face south.

Short Physical Description

The J. Poffenberger Farmhouse is located on the Joseph Poffenberger propety south of the Middlekauf farm, north of Mansfield Avenue, east of the farm lane. It is an L-shaped, 2-story farmhouse. It is 3 bays wide and sits on a stone platform.

Long Physical Description

This L-shaped farmhouse stands 2-stories tall, 3 bays wide, and sits on a stone foundation. The house is clad in wooden German siding. There is a porch on the south elevation with Victorian decorative details. Another porch is on the east elevation, and is nearly full-width and height porch with similar Victorian decorative details.The house has a front gable, standing seam metal roof with asphalt shingles. There are two chimneys, one in the front section of the house on the west side, and one end chimney in the rear addition.

here were two periods of construction, the original building (southernmost section) is made of log and was built between circa 1770 and 1800. The wood framed rear ell addition was constructed in the 1880s period.

My Sources
1. NRHP Nomination Form
2. Civil War Landscapes

Related Website: [Web Link]

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