Sharpsburg county's first town

September 22, 2005|by HEATHER C. SMATHERS

While Sharpsburg is most often associated with the Civil War Battle of Antietam, some local historians try not to forget the town's colonial beginnings.

Like many towns in Washington County, Sharpsburg can trace its roots to the 1760s. But unlike other towns, Sharpsburg has the distinction of being the first established town in the county, townspeople said in 2004.

Joseph Chapline Sr. was a prominent colonial settler who acquired land in Western Maryland, Toole said. He established a town on one of his tobacco fields near the spring that ran through the property.

Chapline laid out his town in 1763 and dedicated it on July 9, 1763, naming it Sharpes Burgh, after his friend, colonial governor Horatio Sharpe.


The first lots were sold in 1764, making it the first town in Washington County.

Sharpes Burgh was laid out in 183 lots.

When Joseph Chapline Sr. died in 1769, he willed the town to his son, Joseph Chapline Jr.

Sharpsburg enjoyed strong economic times in the early 1800s, as the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in the 1830s brought many jobs for townspeople.

On Sept. 15, 1862, the forces of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and those of Union Gen. George B. McClellan assembled near Sharpsburg in preparation for a battle. The troops of Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson consolidated with Lee's troops for a total of 40,000 Confederate soldiers, a brochure from Antietam Battlefield National Historical Park shows.

The battle began at daybreak on Sept. 17. Heavy fighting ensued, and at the end of the one-day battle, 23,110 men from both sides were killed or wounded. The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War.

After the Battle of Antietam, the townspeople rebuilt the town.

The Herald-Mail Articles