Winter at Camp Worman

A few days ago we looked at the earliest encampments of the 1st PHB Infantry at the location of the old Hessian Barracks in Frederick. In October 1861 these infantrymen left “Camp Frederick” and headed north out of town to spend the winter at a location that came to be known as Camp Worman.

Anyone travelling northeast out of Frederick towards Walkersville or Libertytown will no doubt recognize the name. There’s a large, upscale housing development tucked along the Monocacy River named Worman’s Mill, located just up the road from Worman’s Mill Road. These modern places take their name from a large stone grist mill that once stood near the Monocacy, just east of the intersection of today’s Rt. 355 and Routzahn Way. As a child I remember the ruins of the mill standing along the roadside, but vandalism, neglect, and development have erased the last vestiges from the landscape. The mill was built sometime in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until 1822 that it came into the ownership of Moses Worman. Throughout the 19th century the Wormans continued to farm and mill along the banks of the Monocacy until war came to their doorstep in the winter of 1861.

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Issac Bond’s Map clearly shows the location of the “Old Mill” operated by the Wormans, as well as the various Worman homes in the area. “M. Worman” refers to the home of Moses Worman (Maryland State Archives)

Moses Worman, the owner of the mill, died in October 1861, the very same week that the troops of the 1st PHB Infantry were ordered out of Camp Frederick. Many of the men of the Home Brigade took up residence on the Worman farm, earning the property the name of “Camp Worman.” Frederick diarist Jacob Englebrecht noted on December 4th that “the 1st Regt Potomack Home Brigade under Col. Wm P. Maulsby passed the Shop door Just now, on their way to Wormans field to encamp there”(1). Soon other regiments joined those of the Potomac Home Brigade at Camp Worman. On December 12th Englebrecht recalled General Banks holding a review at “Wormans Field on the Monocacy” featuring the “3d Wisconsin Regt 29th Pennsylvania- 9th New York & 27 Indianna – our first Regt of Potomack Home Brigade were present as Spectators but not reviewed”(2).

Another one of Engelbrecht’s diary entries gives several clues as to the exact location of the Home Brigade’s encampment. On December 22 he visited a camp of Michiganders “beyond Wormans- on the Creagerstown Road in Worman’s Woods- opposite the Harmony Grove school-house- the Maryland Regt Col. Maulsby is on the left hand Side opposite the “Michiganders”(3). First off we have a mention of the “Creagerstown Road” – a road that is clearly marked on that 1858 Issac Bond Map that I always come back to. Let’s take a look (and admire my awesome MS Paint skills).

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The Creagerstown Road. Issac Bond Map, 1858 (Library of Congress)

I’ve (crudely) highlighted the path of the Creagerstown Road, which ran roughly north-south along the Monocacy from Worman’s Mill to Creagerstown. To follow the route today you would begin at the old Worman Mill site at the intersection of Routzahn Way, then head north, across Rt 26, and up Wormans Mill Road (past the Wegmans). From here the road followed the path of modern US Rt 15 (although Wormans Mill Rd no longer connects to 15) for a little over three miles before turning northeastward along what is now Old Frederick Road. Old Frederick Road runs through the historic village of Utica (home to one of Frederick County’s three remaining covered bridges), then meanders through miles of northern Frederick County farmland before reaching Creagerstown.

The second clue in the entry is the reference to the Harmony Grove School House. Harmony Grove refers to a small 19th century village that grew up near Moses Worman’s Mill. In the decades before the Civil War a number of homes and a church were built along the Creagerstown Road just north of the mill. In 1844 Moses Worman sold a parcel of land for the construction of a log school house. The village continued to grow after the Civil War, spurred on by the construction of the Frederick and Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1870s and by the building of several large residences by the Houck and Worman families. By the 1910s, however, the village began to fade. The school closed in 1910, followed by the closure of the post office in 1919. The final nail in the Harmony Grove coffin came in the 1970s, when many of the town’s structures were destroyed to make way for the widening of Rt 15. What little is left of the village today is under intense pressure from residential and commercial development.

The schoolhouse mentioned by Englebrecht in 1861 (and shown on the 1858 Bond map as “P. Sch.) is no longer standing, as it was replaced by a newer building on the same site in 1876. This 1876 school house does still exist, though! It is currently a private residence, but it can clearly be seen on the west side of Wormans Mill Road. Let’s return to my awesome Paint skills…

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This shot makes it even clearer how much Harmony Grove has been threatened by development (Google Maps)

In Englebrecht’s entry he says the Michiganders are in the woods opposite the schoolhouse, putting them in the vicinity of or just north of modern Shearwater Lane. Maulsby’s regiment of the Home Brigade was on the “left hand Side opposite the Michiganders.” Unfortunately, this likely means that any vestige of the 1st PHB Infantry camp was likely wiped out by construction along Rt. 15 or modern Thomas Johnson Drive.

Now that we’ve established the location of Camp Worman, let’s take a closer look at the conditions there over the winter of 1861-1862. As the men settled into winter quarters they went about the routine of military life. Inclement weather through November and December made regimental drill nearly impossible, so much of the time was spent trying to keep warm and dry. The men of the 1st PHB Infantry used up so much firewood that a local landowner complained to Lt. Col. Dennis that “their wont [sic] be a stick left me for winter” (4). The idleness of the enlisted men was of great concern to Regimental Chaplain William Ferguson, who saw it as a path towards sin and corruption. Ferguson worked with the Young Men’s Bible Society of Frederick County to “place in the hands of every member of the Regt. a copy of the New Testament Scriptures”(5). The Chaplain, who spent much of the winter quartered in the Worman house, also established Bible classes, a library, and disseminated tracts covering moral and physical hygiene (6).

One of Chaplain Ferguson’s many duties that winter was to attend to the sick at the Camp’s hospital. As in many Civil War encampments the lack of combat in no way meant the lack of casualties as diseases swept through the camp. As the men prepared for their first Christmas away from home a number of them succumbed to diseases. Abraham Hendrickson died Christmas Eve of “typhoid fever supervening on measles.” The son of a weaver from nearby Johnsville, Md, Abraham claimed to be 21 when he enlisted, but census and burial records show that he was actually only 16 at the time. It’s also interesting that he (and many of his family) are buried at the Beaver Dam Church of the Brethren. Commonly referred to as Dunkards, the Brethren are a pacifist sect, and young Abraham would have been defying the church to enlist (7). The day after Abraham’s death another young soldier lost his life at Camp Worman. William T. Slack was also only 16, despite what his enlistment papers stated. Born in Baltimore, William enlisted in Company I of the regiment on September 2nd. At approximately 8 PM on Christmas Day he died after suffering from “congestion of the brain and lungs” (8).

As 1861 rolled into 1862 deaths from disease at Camp Worman continued to mount and the local newspapers enumerated the dead. On January 15 Corporal Charles Morrison, a farmer’s son from Knoxville, Maryland, died (9). The following week Enos Main, a laborer from Frederick County, died of typhoid fever. His mother came to claim his meager belongings and he was buried among his family at Rocky Springs, west of town (10). Chaplain Ferguson recounted to his commander that “of the brave lads who were snatched from us by the ruthless hand of death, I attended all heir burials save a few who were taken away to their friends, and one who was buried near our Camp without my knowledge”(11).

Reports of the lamentable conditions at Camp Worman prompted Captain William Faithful of Company C to post the following article in newspapers across the state of Maryland.

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Cumberland Civilian and Telegraph 13 February 1862

Captain Faithful’s article claimed that the health of the Regiment was improving, and listed the nineteen men known to have died at Camp Worman that winter. While these losses would pale in comparison to other military camps at other points in the war, the men of the 1st PHB Infantry were no doubt relieved when they were ordered out of winter camp in late February.

No reminders of Camp Worman survive today, where Wormans field has given way to shopping centers, condos, and a modern highway. If you ever pass along Rt 15 on your way between Frederick and Gettysburg though, take a moment to remember the men who spent a rainy, miserable winter there before being sent off to war. For some it would be the only taste of military service they would get.

Footnotes

Diary of Jacob Engelbrecht as quoted in Gary, Kieth Answering the Call. Heritage Books. 2011. p 164.

Ibid p 164

Ibid p 165

4 Jeremiah Cramer to Lt. Col. Dennis. 24 November 1861. Ibid. pp 143-144

5 William Ferguson to Col. Maulsby. 31 December 1861. Ibid. pp 147-148

6 William Ferguson to Col. Maulsby. 31 March 1862. Ibid. pp 149-150

NARA M384. Compiled military service records State of Maryland. Roll:0190

NARA M384. Compiled military service records State of Maryland. Roll:0196

9 NARA M384. Compiled military service records State of Maryland. Roll:0193

10 “At Camp Worman” Valley Register 31 January 1862; NARA M384. Compiled military service records State of Maryland. Roll:0192

11 William Ferguson to Col. Maulsby. 31 March 1862. as quoted in Gary, Kieth Answering the Call. Heritage Books. 2011. pp 149-150

3 thoughts on “Winter at Camp Worman

  1. Kudos on a fantastic post. You are heads and shoulders above other CW bloggers that I follow. Your research and attention to detail are off the chart. Loved the newspaper article listing causes of death in the regiment. The No. 1 cause, as expected, was pneumonia following a bout with measles — “typhoid pneumonia supervening on measles.” Three, however, are head-scratchers. All are still with us today but are quite rare and easily treated. In the 19th century, however, they were almost always fatal. “Intersuseption of the bowels” (now known as Intussusception) was not just constipation. It was/is caused when the intestine fails to “telescope” properly. Today it’s easily eradicated by surgery. “Congestion of the brain” was/is caused by too much blood in the capillaries of the brain , which can raise intracranial pressure and result in swelling of the brain. It’s usually treated today with blood thinners. Untreated, however, it can lead to death. “Abscess of the spine” was/is caused by an infection of the spinal cord and is easily treated today with antibiotics. Here’s a link to a site, which explains and defines most of the causes of death in the 19th century. It’s quite good. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~memigrat/diseases.html

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    • Thanks for the kind words, Bob! I appreciate that there are folks out there enjoying this stuff. I also appreciate the link. 19th century medicine is definitely not my forte, so it’s great to have a glossary like this close at hand.

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  2. Pingback: Dispatch from the Field: Cemetery Visits in Northern Frederick County (Pt. 1) | A River Divided

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