Friday, June 3, 2011
The Piper farm
What was your great great grandfather doing on September 15, 1862? I would guess that my great great grandfather was raising a stein of ale after a long day in front of the ovens of a bakery in Germany. Barbara knows what her great great grandfather was doing. Henry Piper was witnessing the troops of General Robert E. Lee commandeer his farm northeast of Sharpsburg, Md. Generals James Longstreet and D. H. Hill chose Henry’s farmhouse to be their headquarters during the battle of Antietam. The Piper daughters served dinner, and offered wine to the generals, but Longstreet declined, fearing the drink might be poisoned. Only later, when Hill was unharmed did Longstreet imbibe.
As staff officers and orderlies swarmed the farm property, Piper knew that a battle was imminent. He took his family, and found refuge on another Piper farm not far away. It was the farm on which Henry played as a kid. The rumbling of canons and supplies gently shook the ground as the Pipers fled on the evening of September 16. The hideous noises of canons and hand to hand combat were heard even from the Piper’s temporary quarters all day on the 17th, as the battle of Antietam snuffed out the young lives of 22,000 boys and men.
Tragically, when the day ended, stunned survivors, nursing the ghastly wounds they or their friends had sustained, strategists calculated the battle was a “draw”. Once again we learn that nobody actually wins a war.
Henry Piper and his family waited to hear news of the property and the safe opportunity to return to the farm. On the 19th they returned to see crowds of soldiers moving out of their property and down the road for further deployment. Only then did they see the house still standing, and though few edibles remained, and their furniture was strewn about and stained with the blood of men seeking cover from the heat of battle.
This is just some of the fascinating information we are gathering about Barbara's family, and their place in history.