Monterey Pass Royalty?

wallis_simpsonI am sometimes asked the question about Wallis Simpson who was born at Monterey Pass. Simpson seems to the name that many locals go by when referring to Bessie Wallis Warfield. Early in life, she actually dropped her first name and went with her middle name Wallis. After doing a quick internet search, I decided to compile some basic facts about this very educated lady that was later in life known as the Duchess of Windsor. It is because of her third marriage, that many older residents her in Blue Ridge Summit remember this celebrity, although, she had ties to the Fascists Party of Italy and was also accused of ties with the NAZI Party. So who was Wallis Simpson?

Wallis_Simpson_-1936Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1896 in the small cottage house located near the Monterey Inn. Her family were prominent citizens of Baltimore, Maryland and visited the area during the summer months. During her youth, she attended Oldfields School, one of the most expensive schools in Maryland. It was said she was very bright and smart. She became close to the Du Pont family through her friend and school mate, Renée du Pont.

In November of 1916, Wallis married U.S. Navy aviator Earl W. Spencer Jr. Her life of traveling and the Great War took a toll on their marriage. She had grown unhappy. It was during this period she met Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law and the two had an affair. Although, Edda Mussolini, wife of Ciano denied the affair that her husband had, Wallis made her way back to the United States. After being separated for some time, Wallis divorced her husband in December of 1927. After her divorce, Wallis married Ernest Aldrich Simpson in July of 1928.

After being introduced by a friend and mistress, Wallis met Edward, the Prince of Whales. Soon afterward, she became his mistress, which Prince Edward quickly denied. When Prince Edward became King, Wallis had already begun proceedings for a divorce from her second husband which was granted in October of 1936.

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf HitlerBy December of 1936, King Edward announced that he was stepping down as King. He gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis. Several months later in June of 1937, the couple were married. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor took up residence in France. In 1937, the couple met German Dictator Adolf Hitler. Upon the out break of World War Two, and the German Invasion of France, the couple fled from France. The couple eventually wound up in Bahamas, where her husband became the governor.

After World War Two, her reputation in England had fallen and she was heavily criticized for her luxury shopping habits, and tours she and her husband took during the Second World War. They eventually moved back to France where they lived out the rest of their lives. The Duke of Windsor died in 1972. The Duchess herself eventually suffered from dementia. The Duchess of Windsor died on April 24, 1986 at her home at Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France.

The Monterey Inn and the cottage where Wallis was born, no longer stands. Today, two private homes set upon the site where Wallis was born.


The Second Battle of Funkstown, Maryland

During the day of July 9th, at Middletown, General George Meade issued orders for his army to cross the SouthMountain range located along the South Mountain Battlefield and concentrate in the valley. The First, Sixth and Eleventh Corps would march through Turner’s Gap. The Third and Fifth Corps would march through Fox’s Gap. The Second and Twelfth Corps would march through Crampton’s Gap. That evening Meade would establish his headquarters near the Devil’s Backbone, located along the Antietam Creek.

Confederate General JEB Stuart positioned himself east of Funkstown, and was attacked early in the evening by Union General John Buford’s Union Cavalry. General Stuart was pushed back toward Funkstown. This would set the stage for the Second Battle of Funkstown.

As July 10th, 1863 dawned, the air was very humid and hot. A light drizzle would fall upon the rich fields of agricultural produce. Shortly after dawn, General Stuart was alerted of a large Union force working its way toward Funkstown, via the National Road. This Union force was that of General John Buford and his cavalry division. General Buford dismounted his cavalry near Boonsboro. Following behind General Buford was General Judson Kilpatrick’s Cavalry Division and the Union Sixth Corps, under the command of General John Sedgwick.

Funkstown is located east of the Antietam Creek and is where the National Road and the Baltimore Road intersect. To the east of Funkstown, were several farms, open fields and wooded areas, as well as a ridge. Funkstown is also just to the southeast of Hagerstown. For Stuart, he would have to contest this Union force to buy Confederate General Robert E. Lee time to complete his defenses of Hagerstown and Williamsport.

Examining the layout of his cavalry, General Stuart quickly realized that he needed reinforcements. Colonel Vincent Witcher and his 34th Virginia Cavalry Battalion were dismounted across the National Road, and were supported by Captain Roger Chew’s Battery. Positioned along the Baltimore Road was artillery support from Manley’s Battery A of North Carolina Artillery, which arrived after the fighting had begun. As the rest of Stuart’s force deployed, he would eventually have General Grumble Jones and General Fitzhugh Lee on the left, and Colonel Milton Furguson, Colonel John Chambliss, and General Beverly Robertson’s brigades of cavalry on the right, forming a crescent shaped defense. General Jones held the extreme left, occupying the open areas along Beaver Creek Road. Needing additional support to plug in the gaps, Stuart sent word for infantry support.   

Upon arriving near Funkstown, General John Buford deployed his division near Stover’s Woods. General Wesley Merritt’s Brigade was deployed on the right with Devin’s and Gamble’s brigades in reserve. Buford’s artillery deployed Lieutenants Calef’s and Graham’s Batteries behind Merritt on the National Road. At around eight in the morning, the Battle of Funkstown began as Merritt’s troopers moved out and the Union batteries opened. Merritt’s dismounted troopers moved forward along the high ravine with Gamble’s troops to his left, along the National Road. Devin’s troopers were moving to the left of the National Road and east of the Antietam Creek.

The fighting in the fields south and east of Funkstown were very hot as the morning wore on.  Troopers of Fitz Lee’s brigade skirmished with Merritt’s brigade and soon the Union artillery forced them back. Chew’s Battery limbered and redeployed closer to Funkstown. At one point during the battle, General Buford felt a tug on his uniform coat. As he inspected his garment, he saw several holes in it made from Confederate bullets.

Earlier in the morning, General Stuart had sent a courier seeking infantry support and by one o’clock in the afternoon the courier had found General George T. Anderson and his Georgia brigade. Colonel William White was commanding the brigade, and was under orders to guard the stone arch bridge that spanned the Antietam Creek. He also had a regiment on detach duty, his own 7th Georgia Infantry, and told the courier that he was under orders by General Law. Colonel White and the courier rode across the bridge to find Stuart. After a brief discussion, Colonel White rode back to bring up the Georgia Brigade. Moving behind White’s Georgians was Paul Semmes’ Brigade, under the command of Colonel Goode Bryan. General Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade was moved to the stone bridge, where the Georgia Brigade was in position and held in reserve.

Under heavy artillery fire, General Fitzhugh Lee ordered Colonel White to bring his men up and deploy. White’s Georgia boys found the landscape difficult. Obstructions such as stonewalls, wooden fences, and farm buildings had but stalled his advancing line. To make matters worse, they were receiving heavy fire from the dismounted cavalry troopers and their artillery. Colonel Bryan deployed to the left of White.

Buford’s men had fought all morning, and by the mid afternoon were running low on ammunition. Needing reinforcements, General Buford rode to find General Albion Howe’s Second Division of Sedgwick’s Corps. General Howe told Buford he was under orders not to engage in an all out battle with the enemy. General Howe began communications with General Sedgewick, and finally obtained permission to send out reinforcements to Buford. General Howe ordered Colonel Lewis Grant and his Vermont Brigade to take up position where Buford’s men were located.

P1010073At a little past three in the afternoon, the Vermont Brigade arrived, and began to deploy skirmishers. The 5th and 6th Vermont Infantry were ordered to a wooded crest that was occupied by portions of Buford’s troopers. Seeing the Confederate infantry moving toward the crest, the Vermonters managed to beat the Confederates from taking the ground. Soon the 5th Vermont, holding the left closest to the National Road, and the 6thVermont, holding the right close to the Baltimore Pike, extended their skirmish line almost two miles.

Due to the skirmish line stretching so far with so few men, a gap soon opened on the left flank of the 5th Vermont Infantry, near the Antietam Creek. Two companies of the 2nd Vermont Infantry were ordered to fill the gap, while the rest of their regiment was held in reserve. The 3rd and 4th Vermont Infantry regiments were ordered to support the 3rd New York Battery under Captain William Harn.

Soon the Confederate artillery began shelling the Union line. Thinking that an infantry attack would soon follow, Colonel Grant ordered the 3rd Vermont Infantry forward, to the right of the 6th Vermont, becoming the extreme right of Vermont’s skirmish line. The 4th Vermont Infantry was ordered to be positioned between the left of the 6th Vermont Infantry and the right of the 5th Vermont Infantry. Eight companies of the 2nd Vermont Infantry were held in support of the 3rd New York Battery.

Soon the Confederate infantry began to move forward against the Union line. The Confederate infantry had to move across open fields, and the stone walls proved to be deadly for them, forcing them to stop, climb over, and then reform their lines. A member of the 59thGeorgia recalled his position “Was on high ground, with not so much as a twig to protect it from the murderous fire in the front and the heavy converging fire from the right.”

The Vermonters did not yield one inch of ground and forced the Confederate infantry back after a fierce contest. The Confederate infantry reformed their battle line and began to move forward. One regiment was sent across the Antietam Creek to threaten the Union left flank.

Seeing this, Colonel Grant ordered the remaining companies of the 2nd Vermont Infantry forward, extending the Vermonter’s skirmish line even further. The Confederate advance was repulsed. The fighting was so intense at Funkstown that at one point the Vermonters had gone through their ammunition and more had to be brought up by stretchers to re-supply them.

After the battle, many of the Vermonters wrote letters telling about their ordeal. One Union soldier wrote “Mr. Johhny Rebs thought he was going to crush our thin picket line but the whistling minnies from our accurate rifles came most too thick and close for their courage to stand. With a few more Vermonters we could have annihilated the whole crew.” Colonel Grant stated “As the center of the enemies lines went back in confusion, some of our men jumped upon a fence, and, tauntingly calling them cowards, told them to come back, that there was nothing there but militia.” Taunting the Confederates would prove deadly as nine Federal soldiers fell dead, and 59 fell wounded.

Funkstown was also one of the only battles, since the closing of the Battle of Gettysburg, where infantry fought against infantry. The Vermonters had won the day, however the fighting that took place during the day bought the Confederate army more time. Many soldiers of the Sixth Corps saw the Vermonters fight, and saw first hand their display of gallantry.

The town of Funkstown lost the most. Much of the rich agriculture and produce was destroyed by the battle. The town itself became a vast hospital, and several homes were hit by the destructive Union artillery. The Union casualties for the Battle of Funkstown were as follows:  Buford’s Division lost 99 troopers in the fight; the Vermonters lost 97 men. The Confederates had lost about 183 men, with more than half of that number from Stuart’s cavalry.

As night fell the Vermonters began to dig in.  Private Cutler recalled “We dug holes out with our bayonets and piled dirt up in front of us to cover ourselves, for we expected as soon as daylight came they would commence to pop away at us but they did not so we got up and walked around in sight of them and their batteries.” 

United States War Department.  War of the Rebellion, A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Volume 128.  WashingtonD.C. 1880-1901.
North and South Vol. 2, No. 6, August 1999. 
Brown, Kent Masterson. Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign. Retreat from Gettysburg. University of North Carolina Press, 2005.
Moore, Robert H., II. The Chew’s Ashby Shoemaker’s Lynchburg, and the Newton Artillery. H.E. Howard, Lynchburg, Va.1995.
Schildt, John W.  Roads from Gettysburg.  Burd Street Press, 1979
Wittenberg, Eric J., Petruzzi, J. David., Nugent, Mike. One Continuous Fight, The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July4-14, 1863. Savas Beatie, New York and California, 2008
Zeller, Paul G. The Second Vermont Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1861-1865, McFarland and Company, North Carolina, 2009.

"Tell it not to Gath": A Brief Biography of George Alfred Townsend

Located in the Maryland hills, nestled on the ridge of South Mountain lays the remains of the Gapland estate. The estate was built by a writer simply known as “Gath.” George Alfred Townsend was his given name, and he added the H to his initials for his pen name due to the biblical passage of II Samuel, 1:20 where it read “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askalon.” Today, many people are unaware of George Alfred Townsend. Those who do take the time to learn about him either like his personality or despise of the man. Some of his works have been compared to Walt Whitman, and to several journalists of today.

George Alfred Townsend was born on January 30th, 1841 in Georgetown, Delaware. As a child, he spent a great deal of his time in Pennsylvania, Maryland, as well as in Delaware attending various schools wherever his father, Reverend Stephen was assigned to. His parents were highly religious and strict. This was a no nonsense type of family. The first theatrical play he attended was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” After a gunshot in the theater rang out, he quickly hurried out, thinking that this was a sign from above that he shouldn’t be attending such things as theatrical performances. This was a reflection of his very strict upbringing.

Some of the schools that George attended were Newark Academy, which is now the University of Delaware. In February of 1860, George graduated from Central High School with a Bachelor in Arts degree. As a child, George was interested in writing, and had a love for nature, as well as an interest in art. At the age of 16, he published a small magazine.

The night before his graduation, George received some news that would change his life. He was told to contact the Philadelphia Inquire. He began working there as a news editor, and then became an editorial writer. Shortly afterwards in early 1861, George became a city editor for the Philadelphia Press. There he wrote about current events, poems, and then became a traveling correspondent. During this period he wrote a play called “The Bohemians.”

Upon graduating, he developed a love for travel. Using the book entitled “Fields of the Revolutionary Battlefields,” he visited many of the battlefields of the Revolutionary War. After his visit, he would write about his personal experiences there.

During the outbreak of the American Civil War, George worked for the New York Herald as a reporter in Philadelphia. Shortly afterwards, he took on a new position as a war correspondent and his first Civil War article was about the death of Lieutenant Greble during the Battle of Big Bethel. However, during the first year of the Civil War, George found himself writing more about local events in Philadelphia as they related to the war.

By April of 1862, George was a war correspondent. He got his break when General George McClellan rode through Philadelphia on his way to Washington. George became a war correspondent with the army where he wrote a piece on the Battle of Cedar Mountain. George was forced to suspend his career when he came down with Chickahominy Fever. By the end of the year, George was recuperating and decided to travel to Europe.

While in Europe, George wrote several pieces about the Seven Days’ Battles for the New York Herald, and wrote a book that was never published. The articles he wrote were good, but they were often outdated due to the time it took to get that information across the Atlantic Ocean. While in London he traveled the circuit, lecturing about some of his experiences. He studied European literature and developed a fascination for it. Although he enjoyed Europe, he grew dissatisfied with European journalism, and by 1864, he returned to America.

Still a war correspondent, he would see the Civil War end with Grant as overall commander. While still covering the war, he experimented with his writing, but found that America had no market for literary works. George’s first touch of fame came during the closing of the Civil War, when he wrote about the battle of Five Forks. This was the article that launched his career and helped him to achieve fame. Some of his best works came from his reports while covering the events following the assignation of President Abraham Lincoln.

Townsend also covered the news stories about the Lowrie Band in North Carolina while working for the New York World. Henry B. Lowrie was the leader of the North Carolina gang who was viewed as the “Robin Hood” of his day. He fought for the civil rights of the Lumbee and Tuscarora people. Lowrie was described by Townsend as “one of those remarkable executive spirits that arises now and then in a raw community without advantages other than those given by nature.” In one of his articles Townsend enraged a gang member to the point that he threatened to kill the journalist who wrote the article.

On December 21st, 1865, George Townsend married Miss Bessie Evans Rhodes of Philadelphia. Heading into the New Year, things were going well for George. During the year he managed to have his book entitled “Campaigns of a Non-Combatant” published.

In 1866, Townsend and his wife left America to travel to Paris where he covered the Austro-Prussian War. In October of that same year in Paris, his first child was born. He visited one of the Prussian camps where more than a 100,000 soldiers encamped, and felt that a war with France was inevitable, a feeling that came true in 1870 with the Franco-Prussian War. By 1867, George would see the end of the Austro-Prussian War while still in Paris.

George Townsend and his family moved to Washington DC shortly after returning to America. George wanted to study government. As a young writer, George became a major success, being employed by just about every major newspaper in the U.S. This career spanned for almost forty years. In 1868, in the Chicago Tribune, George Alfred Townsend used the penname GATH. This would have an influence once he began building his estate later on.

George was a successful man. He had several books published including “Katy of the Catoctin” and “Tales of the Chesapeake.” You can still buy many of his books today. Life was good for George. He spent most of his money in his early years on books, travel, and experiences. In his honor he even had a cigar named after him, and then race horses, and post offices, to the point where GATH became a sort of trademark.

Even though he was a writer, he often turned down jobs, hoping to leave journalism in the past and begin exploring more along the literary style as a means to earn his living. He was also a successful lecturer among the high society Washington bureaucrats. While living in Washington, he found that his writing schedule was very harsh. He was always busy, and shortly after his 40th birthday, he found he needed a place where he could go and get away from the stress of his work. George found that place in late 1884.

On October 17th, 1884, George was taking a buggy ride with a friend and happened upon the Crampton’s Gap Battlefield. He fell in love with the area due to the surroundings of nature, and knew this was where he wanted to have his retreat from Washington. On December 18th, he owned one hundred acres of land and named this estate Gapland. By late December of 1884 and early 1885, he built the first building, naming it Askalon.

With his passion for nature and art, he began constructing several buildings. By the time it was finished, there were over nine buildings in total, including the Gapland Hall, library & den, the lodge, barn, and out buildings for his children and guests. One of the buildings was a toll house that he built to keep up improvements of the public road, an idea unpopular with local residents. Aside from the buildings, there were over ten structures on the property, two of those structures still stand today. They are Gath’s empty tomb and the War Correspondent’s Arch.

The estate was built during a period known as the “Resort era”. Many estates were built along the ridge of South Mountain from Gapland to Blue Ridge Summit. Although there is no connection to the time period of Gapland, these communities witnessed inner city bureaucrats traveling to these places for the cooler weather in the summertime.

Upon visiting the battlefield of Antietam in 1895, George noticed that there were monuments being constructed, itinerary markers, and battle lines being memorialized. He felt that the non-combatant would be a forgotten. So Gath took on the project, and in my opinion, erected one of the most unusual monuments that have ever been constructed. This is the War Correspondent’s Arch.

In Decmeber of 1895, plans were being drawn for the monument. During the initial drawing stage he incorporated something that he had seen at Hagerstown on his way to Gapland. These features were a horseshoe arch on a railroad station, and watch tower at the fire house. Gath contacted several war correspondents, and after their blessing, he began to raise the money needed to construct the monument. He had created flyers and sent them to every newspaper agency that he had worked for. Donations soon came in including donations from his friends Thomas Edison, JP Morgan, and George Pullman. Soon Gath had $5,000.00 to build his monument. John Smithmeyer volunteered his architectural experiences, and construction of the monument began.

Completed in 1896, at fifty feet tall and forty feet wide, this monument has many architectural themes that were incorporated into the drawing stage. Looking at the monument today, you can see how Gath also incorporated his love for art and nature. In her book “George Alfred Townsend,” Ruthanna Hindes describes the monument best:

“Above a Moorish arch sixteen feet high, built of Hummelstown purple stone are super-imposed three Roman arches. These are flanked on one side with a square crenellated tower, producing a bizarre and picturesque effect. Niches in different places shelter the carving of two horses’ heads, and symbolic terra cotta statuettes of Mercury, Electricity and Poetry. Tables under the horses’ heads bear the suggestive words “Speed” and “Heed”; the heads are over the Roman arches. The three Roman arches are made of limestone from Creek Battlefield, Virginia, and each is nine feet high and six feet wide. These arches represent Description, Depiction and Photography.”

“The aforementioned tower contains a statue of Pan with the traditional pipes, and he is either half drawing or sheathing a Roman sword. Over a small turret on the opposite side of the tower is a gold vane of a pen bending a sword. At various places on the monument are quotations appropriate to the art of war correspondence. These are from a great variety of sources beginning with Old Testament verses. Perhaps the most striking feature of all are the tablets inscribed with the names of 157 correspondents and war artists who saw and described in narrative and picture almost all the events of the four years of the war.”

The unusual arched monument was dedicated by Maryland Governor Lloyd Lowndes on October 17, 1896. This was the beginning of the downfall for George Alfred Townsend. In 1903, his wife Bessie, passed away, and instead of being buried in the tomb on the Gapland Estate property, she was buried in Philadelphia.

In 1904, George turned over the arch to the National Park Service, to be maintained as a National Monument. Soon afterwards, George’s age caught up with him and it seemed as if he spent more time in Washington rather than traveling to Gapland. While visiting one of his children, Gath became sick and soon passed away. After Gath’s death on April 15, 1914, he was buried next to his wife, and his daughter sold the Gathland estate. The empty tomb at Gathland simply states “Goodnight Gath,” a reminder to him where life’s journey will take you in the end.

Today less than one-third of the Gapland estate still stands, and is part of the Maryland Park Service simply called Gathland State Park. Gapland Hall is only a fraction of what once stood and serves as a museum dedicated to the man. You have a small portion of the lodge that still stands as well as ruins of the barn. The lodge also serves as a Civil War museum dedicated to the Battle of South Mountain with special exhibits on the Battle of Crampton’s Gap. Two of the other houses still stand, but are private residental homes. One of those houses was the tollgate and is located at the intersection of Townsend and Gapland Roads. Today the monument fall’s under the care of Antietam National Battlefield and stands as a reminder to those who risked their lives to bring the civilian population the news from the battlefields of the American Civil War.