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B & O Rails Used as Projectiles at Battle of Antietam

Rails used as ammunition at battle of Antietam. Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


B & O Rails Used as Projectiles at Battle of Antietam

As Told by Park W. T. Loy, General Chairman of Commemoration

A story about an incident in the Battle of Antietam in which B & O rails played a prominent part is told by Park W. T. Loy, chairman of the General Committee for the commemoration of the battle's seventy-fifth anniversary. Mr. Loy says that his first interest in the Antietam battle was aroused by this story told to him when he was a lad of less than ten years of age, prior to the time that he reached the history grades in public school, when the idea of commemorating a battle's anniversary was about furthest from his thoughts.

Mr. Loy was living in Mechanicstown (now Thurmont), in the northern part of Frederick County, at the time he first heard the story. His narrator was a Union veteran, Jacob Freeze, whose military unit Mr. Loy does not recall, although he believes it to have been one of Maryland volunteers. Mr. Freeze was a country butcher, who, during the fall and winter season, served as "head butcher" among the people of the community. He was an expert in his line, striking in physique, and could tell a fine story, especially about "The War." This fact made him a popular figure around the groaning tables at the butchering dinners, and it was at one of these that Mr. Loy, as a child, heard the following story:

"When the ammunition of the Confederates was running low during Antietam —back in '62—a reserve supply of short sections of iron railroad rails removed from the B & O Railroad (probably brought up from Harper's Ferry by Stonewall Jackson's division of the Army of Northern Virginia) were fed into the hungry mouths of Confederate cannon which belched forth not only death and destruction, but some of the weirdest noises imaginable. Mr. Freeze said that as these irregularly shaped projectiles shot through the air, they produced ear-splitting screeches and screams, everything from a whine to a howl, and that upon landing they ricocheted in zig-zag fashion hundreds of feet from where they hit the ground. Mr. Freeze said he'd never forget that battle as long as he lived, that was the 'orneriest' ammunition he ever did see."

After Mr. Loy came to Washington County and lived so near to the scene of Antietam described to him as a boy, his interest in the battlefield increased and the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce, knowing of this interest, naturally selected him as the chairman of the Antietam Battlefield Committee, from which the idea for a national commemoration of the battle was initiated. Mr. Low was next elected chairman of the Board of Directors of the Washington County Historical Society, which was selected as the local sponsor of the commemoration at a large gathering of local townspeople. He was later named secretary and treasurer of the United State Antietam Celebration Commission, by Presidential appointment. Ever since the beginning of the commemoration planning, Mr. Loy has given tirelessly of his time and effort in the interest of the success of the event, September 4 to 17.


B & O RR Magazine

CSX Transportation

The copyrighted works of CSX are used with permission of CSX Transportation.

Park Loy was a Director of the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce and the Secretary of the National Antietam Commemoration.


Collection Location:
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.

Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc

Washington County (Md.), 1937.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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