Monday, 28 July 2014 09:06

Discussion #5 — A Dunkard's Honor

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This blog entry stems from, and is in part courtesy of Dennis D. Roth, a co-worker in German Baptist Brethren research and documentation of Washington state.  During one of his online research trips he located the newspaper article in the left-hand column below and posted it to the Rootsweb's Brethren Mailing List on July 28, 2014.  Seeing the value in this wonderful find, I decided to make the spelling corrections, locate a proper source, and, make comments as an adjunct to it.  Enjoy!!!

On to other matters of a more important and immediate nature.  Maintaining this site and the others on the domain, namely the German Baptist Brethren Almanacs, Annuals & Yearbooks site, the German Baptist Brethren Ministers & Congregations site, the Ashland University & Brethren Church Archives site, plus several other non-Brethren sites is costly.  And of course that includes this site, the German Baptist Brethren Books web site.  Additionally, our last professional level large format scanner has died thus it needs to be replaced.  IF you can help financially your three administrators would appreciate any assistance and it would be deeply appreciated.

A Dunkard's Honor

Photograph of Gen. E. P. Alexander (1835-1910) [Click for larger image]Brig. Gen. E. P. Alexander in uniform.  Taken ca. 1862-64
Courtesy: Wikipedia.Com.

A War Incident Which Testifies to the Honesty of the Sect.

General E. P. Alexander in the Century.

Near Hagerstown I had an experience with an old dunkard which gave me a high and lasting respect for the people of that faith.  My scouts had had a horse transaction with this old gentleman, and he came to see me about it.  He made no complaint, but said it was his only horse, and as the scouts had told him we had some hoof-sore horses we should have to leave behind, he came to ask if I would trade him one of those for his horse, as without one his crop would be lost.

I recognized the old man at once as a born gentleman in his delicately speaking of the transaction as a trade.  So I assented to his taking a foot-sore horse, and offered him beside payment in Confederate money.  This he respectfully but firmly declined.  Considering how the recent battle had gone, I waived argument but tried another suggestion.  I told him that we were in Maryland as the guests of the United States; that after our departure the Government would pay all bills that we left behind, and that I would give him an order on the United States for the value of his horse, and have it approved by General Longstreet.  To my surprise he declined this also.  I supposed then that he was simply ignorant of the bonanza in a claim against the Government, and I explained that; and, telling him that money was no object as under the circumstances, I offered to include the value of his whole farm.  He again said he wanted nothing but the foot-sore horse.  Still anxious that the war should not grind this poor old fellow in his poverty, I suggested that he take two or three foot-sore horses which we would have to leave anyhow when we marched.  Then he said, “Well, sir, I am a dunkard, and the rule of our church is an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, and a horse for a horse, and I can’t break the rule.”

Photograph of Mumma Meetinghouse of Manor Congregation [Click for larger image]Mumma Meetinghouse of Manor Congregation taken before battle of Sept. 17, 1862.  Notice that there is no damage to the building and the two negroes to the right.  The photographer was James Gardner (1829-     ), a native of Scotland. Courtesy: Library of Congress.

I replied that the Lord, who made all horses, knew that a good horse was worth a dozen old battery scrubs; and after some time prevailed on him to take two by calling one of them a gift. But that night about midnight we were awakened by by approaching hoofs, and turned out expecting to receive some order. It was my old dunkard leading one of his foot-sores. “Well, sir,” he said, “you made it look all right to me to-day when you were talking; but after I went to bed to-night I got to thinking it all over, and I don't think I can explain it to the church, and I would rather not try.” With that he tied old foot sore to a fence, ad [sic] rode off abruptly. Even at this late day it is a relief to my conscience to tender to his sect this recognition of their integrity and honesty in lieu of the extra horse I vainly endeavored to throw into the trade.

Madison Times, Tallulah, Madison Parish, Louisiana,
Vol. IV, No. 3, p. 4, Feb. 19, 1887.

Cutout Map of Battle of Antietam (1865) [Click for larger image]Battle of Antietam map showing location of Samuel Mumma's land and the Mumma Meetinghouse of the Manor Congregation as of 1865.  The cutout is from a much larger map.  Courtesy: David Rumsey Map Collection.

Photograph of Gen. E. P. Alexander (1835-1910) [Click for larger image]Brig. Gen. E. P. Alexander.  Taken ca. 1901
The Century was a newspaper published in New York, New York from Dec. 1858 to May 1861.  Beginning with Volume 3, No. 9 (June 1, 1861) the title was changed from The Century to The Century Army and Navy Chronicle, and Economist's Journal.  The final publication date is not known, according to the Library of Congress.  But, it is obvious from the first part of the item wherein General Edward Porter Alexander's name is mentioned that this is the correct newspaper and that it was still in print in 1887.

When the original item was printed is not known and it would seem, perhaps, that it was printed sometime shortly after the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.  Such is not the case however.  In the closing paragraph Gen. Alexander states that “Even at this late date” indicating that the newspaper, under it's second title, was still in existence in 1887 as mentioned.  It was, and still is, common for newspapers of a local nature to pick up news items from more nationally known newspapers.

This Civil War battle, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, is well known among Brethren researchers as having taken place near the Brethren congregation known more colloquially as the Mumma Meetinghouse of the Manor Congregation of which member families were the Mummas, the Millers, the Neikirks (Newkirks), the Eckers, and the Sherricks.  There were others who made up this core of believers, but now is neither the time nor the place.  The National Park Service maintains the site today as a historical museum.

General Edward Porter Alexander wrote a book detailing portions of the Civil War which, by all accounts, is well worth the reading for a historian of that era.  A poorly digitized rendition can be viewed online with the pertinent pages being 255, 257 and 258.  The title is Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative.  New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906, and while Gen. Alexander does not mention the visit by the elderly church member in the work, there is enough information contained within the newspaper article and his memoir to definitively state that it was near this site that the event occurred.

Photograph of Mumma Meetinghouse of Manor Congregation [Click for larger image]Mumma Meetinghouse of Manor Congregation taken after battle of Sept. 17, 1862. Notice that there is damage to building. The bodies in the foreground and the artillery carriage are Confederate artillerymen, and, possibly troops of Gen. E. P. Alexander.  The photographer was Alexander Gardner (1821-1882 ), a native of Scotland and brother of James Gardner. Courtesy: Library of Congress.

Now as to some deductions on whom the Honest Dunker may have been.  If one carefully examines the map below it will be noticed that the church according to the maps, lay at the juncture of the Sharpsburg Pike and today's Smoketown Road.  Notice that Smoketown Road originally ran due southwest to the Sharpsburg Pike, which it no longer does.  Additionally, today the church is located at the juncture of Dunker Church Road and Smoketown Road seemingly indicating that either the present edifice is in the wrong location or that it is incorrect in the Civil War era maps.  There are three maps of the battle with each showing the Dunker's Chapel at the more southwesterly location; one in 1869 and two in 1895 — each a military atlas created by the United States War Department.

Why this oddity?  Because what is today called the Dunker Church Road is the original Sharpsburg Pike of Civil War times.  The church did not move, the road did!  And, if one looks at a Google Earth satellite view of the region the original roadbed of the Sharpsburg Pike can be viewed just to the south of the battlefield site buildings.  The modern Sharpsburg Pike veers to the northwest while the original road bed continues north through a field, becoming Dunker Church Road.

Nonetheless, there is enough to suggest that Samuel Mumma (1801-1876) was the visitor whom Gen. E. P. Alexander speaks of.  On the 1895 map below the church's location is denoted by using a red colored overlay.  In the map to the left the barracks of John Bell Hooker (1831-1879) is indicated as being, roughly, 500 yards from the church.  According to an article in Sept. 24, 1862 The Herald of Freedom and Torch Light (Hagerstown, Md.: Thomas E. Mittag & John R. Sneary), the Battle of Antietam, or at least portions of it, took place “in the wooded hills of Mumma's and Miller's farms.”  Another account relates that “The early morning of the 17th of September was saluted by a roar of cannon over the fields around S. Mumma's house.”  These are references to Samuel Mumma, a long time time member of the German Baptist Brethren church.  And, as can be seen in the several maps and the photograph above, a troop of Confederate artillerymen were stationed on the church's grounds located on Mumma's farm.

So…, and with no proof positive being available the case can be made that the Honest Dunker was Samuel Mumma.  The troops of Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander were bivouacked on Samuel Mumma's farm near the church being the most salient fact.  It would be of interest to discover if the church was on Brother Mumma's land as is suspected.

Map of Battle of Antietam [Click for larger image]Battle of Antietam map showing location of Samuel Mumma's land and the Mumma Meetinghouse of the Manor Congregation as of 1895.  The cutout is from a much larger map.  Courtesy: David Rumsey Map Collection.
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A. Wayne Webb

A long time historian of the German Baptist Brethren church, and its more modern derivative bodies, Mr. Webb has moved on to become a recognized authority in digitally archiving manuscripts, both published works as well as singular documents.  He served as the Editor of Brethren Roots, 2002 to 2008, as published by The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists.  To that end he has created and maintains a series of Internet web sites devoted to his passion, German Baptist Brethren history.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Ned Donoghue Saturday, 02 August 2014 07:08 posted by Ned Donoghue

    Beautifully presented, as always.

    Thank you for the kind compliment Ned.  This extends as well to your recent visit and the support you graciously offered to support my activities.  Good luck with your book and hopefully I was of assistance.



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