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Maryland Campaign Medal of Honor Series: Jacob Orth, 28th Pennsylvania Infantry

By Gordon Dammann

Business commenced quite early for the 28th Pa Inf at Antietam.  It was 6 o’clock in the morning when we charged and drove the rebels back across the fields to an apple orchard where we encountered a very hard task.  No less that three rebel regts and a battery were our opponents.  To secure a victory over them meant hard fighting. It fell to my lot to encounter the color sgt. of the 7th South Carolina regt. A hand to hand fight ensued.  The final result of our short but sharp conflict was that the Carolinian was minus his flag and I had secured the trophy.  I also had a shot wound through my shoulder.  Six other strands of colors were taken by our Regt in this charge.

Jacob Orth
Jacob G. Orth

This description, though brief, is sufficiently clear to indicate a hard, stubborn, and desperate struggle between two men intent on the possession of the same object (flag) and of the consequences to themselves.

Cpl. Jacob Orth was part of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry, which in turn was part of the 12th Corps under command of Brig. Gen. Joseph Mansfield (who was mortally wounded early in the morning of September 17).  General George Sears Greene commanded the division which included Tyndale’s brigade: 28th Pennsylvania, 7th Ohio, 66th Ohio, and 5th Ohio.  From 9:30 to 10 am they charged toward the woods surrounding the Dunker Church.  Defending the rebel position was the 7th South Carolina part of Kershaw’s command.  In the vicinity of the Dunker Church is where Cpl. Orth engaged in the hand to hand combat and captured the flag of the 7th South Carolina.  The Union regiments held their position for an hour but were pushed back to the East Woods.  Cpl. Orth was wounded in the shoulder and was probably taken to the Line Farm where he was treated.

After Antietam, Jacob George Orth was promoted to sergeant on December 8, 1862.  He was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863 and was discharged on July 6, 1864 after 3 years of service.  He returned to West Philadelphia and died on September 11, 1907.  He is buried in West Laurel Cemetery in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Antietam Battlefield Guides Introduce New “Road to Antietam” Tour

In early 2021, the Antietam Battlefield Guides launched a new tour option with the “Road to Antietam.” This new 6-hour tour option has many advantages that allows visitors another alternative to experiencing the 1862 Maryland Campaign in whole or in part. It features conflicts that caused the armies to meet at Sharpsburg and by what routes they traveled.

Visitors often experience the standard 3-hour tour or the 4-hour extended tour of Antietam only to learn afterwards that there is an 8-hour Campaign tour that covers the Battle of South Mountain, the 1862 siege at Harpers Ferry, and the Battle of Antietam all in a single day. Others are aware of the 8-hour tour but either do not have the time to devote to the tour or feel it would be too physically demanding to do in a single day.

With the Road to Antietam tour, visitors that have already experienced the Antietam tours can return on another visit to experience a 6-hour tour devoted to the Battle of South Mountain (visiting all three mountain passes or gaps) and the 1862 siege at Harpers Ferry. Another option that the new tour offers for those wishing to devote more time in the area is the opportunity to accomplish a tour of the campaign over two days by combining the Road to Antietam tour one day followed by either the 3-hour standard (basic) tour or the 4-hour extended tour of the Battle of Antietam on the following day. This latter combination also allows the visitor to experience the campaign in greater depth and detail. Another advantage with the aforementioned combination tours is that the pace is not as rigorous as the 8-hour campaign tour which often allows limited time for food and refreshment. For purposes of continuity, this two-day combination would be with the same guide. The visitor also has the option to work with their guide (in advance) to adapt this tour to address the movements and or locations of a specific unit such as that of an ancestor. Otherwise, the tour will proceed as described, below.

As with all ABG tours, the new tour originates and concludes at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitors Center. During the tour, visitors will experience all three battlefield sites of South Mountain (Turner’s, Fox’s and Crampton’s Gaps) as well as the siege at Harpers Ferry that preceded America’s bloodiest day. Upon departing Harpers Ferry, the return route to Antietam will be generally by way of the Confederate march to Sharpsburg with a wayside visit to the Shepherdstown Ford (Boteler’s Ford, Blackford’s crossing) where Confederate troops crossed the Potomac River to and from Sharpsburg. The ford is also in the vicinity of the Shepherdstown Battlefield. The tour route passes through historic Shepherdstown, WV (VA in 1862) which was described as “one vast Confederate hospital” following the battles.

After crossing the river back into Maryland and approaching Sharpsburg, the tour passes the former site of General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters on the Shepherdstown Pike before arriving back at the Antietam Battlefield Visitors Center.

Tour rates*:
1 – 10 people: $215.00
11 – 29 people: $335.00
30+ people: $395.00

  • Note – Due to the terrain, tour routes may vary depending upon the number and size of vehicles (such as buses) and detours.

Maryland Campaign Medal of Honor Series: Samuel Johnson, 9th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry

By Matt Borders

Samuel Johnson – 9th Pennsylvania Reserves (38th Pennsylvania Infantry)
Born: January 28, 1845
Mustered in: July 27, 1861
Assigned to: Company G, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves
WIA: September 17, 1862
Transferred to: Veteran Reserve Corps – 6/4/1863 as a 2nd Lieutenant

Samuel Johnson of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, was the oldest of eight children, only 16 when he enlisted in 1861. He had attempted to enlist in April of that year but was turned away due to his age. Following the Union disaster at Bull Run that July however, recruiters were far less picky, and Samuel was sent to Pittsburgh to muster into Company G, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, later known as the 38th Pennsylvania Infantry.[1]

The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves had been ordered to Washington, DC on July 22, 1861 and arrived there four days later. Samuel Johnson mustered into Federal service on July 27, 1861, with the regiment completing its muster the following day. The regiment spent time in camp training in Washington, DC, as well as Tennallytown (Tenleytown). The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves also helped build Fort Gaines and picketed Great Falls, MD where they skirmished with Confederate troops on the opposite shore. On September 21, the regiment turned in its Harpers Ferry muskets and received new Springfield Rifles prior to being reviewed by Major General McClellan, Governor Andrew Curtin and the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron. Soon afterward the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, commanded by Brigadier General George McCall. [2] 

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