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Book focuses on Antietam battle's impact on nearby farmers

August 28, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Keven M. Walker, right, co-author of "A Guide to the Antietam Farmsteads," signs a copy of his book for Adam Smedley, left of Orlean, Va., Sunday afternoon at Antietam National Battlefield's visitors center in Sharpsburg.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — Among the grim stories from the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam was the wounding of William Strickly of the 5th Virginia Infantry.

An artillery explosion ripped through the belly of Strickly’s horse, killing the animal, and tearing Strickly’s left arm off, according to a new book co-written by Keven M. Walker.

Strickly stumbled into the Mary Locher cabin near the visitors center at Antietam National Battlefield and collapsed on the floor, according to Walker’s book, “A Guide to the Antietam Farmsteads.”

Two surgeons found Strickly and tied off his arteries, but Strickly found himself alone again after the area came under Union artillery fire, according to the book.

Another soldier came into the cabin to escape the hail of bullets and found Strickly, who eventually made it to a Confederate hospital and survived, the book said.

Walker’s book focuses on how the battle affected people who made their living on farms around the battlefield.

Those people experienced some of the “most horrific” scenes and “we did it before our own children,” Walker said in a talk about his book at the Antietam National Battlefield visitor center Sunday afternoon.

Walker said it is important to understand what the families endured because people today can learn from that strength to deal with current issues like banking disasters.

The Mary Locher cabin, which has been restored, is one of a number of farms profiled in the book, which sells for $10. Proceeds from the sale of the book go back to the park, said Walker, who is a cultural resources specialist for the park.

At the time of the battle, the Mary Locher cabin was leased by Alfred Poffenberger, Walker said. Seven people lived in the cabin, including a field hand and a slave, he said.

Poffenberger’s family fled from the cabin and probably stayed with some relatives in the Shepherdstown, W.Va., area, Walker said.

Battle veterans in later years remembered the cabin and “bread sitting in the windowsills,” Walker said.

Walker signed copies of his book after his lecture.

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