23_Mary Entler’s Dangerous Mission Gets Sidetracked
Image by Jim Surkamp
Script below – Read with Images Sequenced in the Script – JS
The Song of Mary Entler by Jim Surkamp
civilwarscholars.com/?p=13488 7888 words
The Song of Mary Entler Herrington by Jim Surkamp
The Song of Mary Louise Entler Herrington (1840-1932)
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Carry the Secret Mail:
The Sad Fate of the Great Western:
A Wartime Shepherdstown Each Day:
A Sidetracked Mission:
“Fraternizing” With the Enemy:
Peacetime – Eternal Tide of Memories:
The Eyes of Age:
About the end of the heydays of a great inn; about the innkeeper’s feisty, adventurous – amorous – young daughter during the Civil War who lived to tell about it and see her family’s inn perish
2_The 1850s in Shepherdstown
The 1850s in Shepherdstown: Good Times for Joseph and Mary Entler
3_The Entlers boarded travelers
The Entlers boarded travelers and stabled their teams by the score in their Great Western Inn on Shepherdstown’s German Street.
As Mary Louise Entler Herrington (hereafter “MLH”) told it:
After my father bought it in 1809, he hung a large sign swung across the pavement at the east corner of the house. A heavy post at the curb supported one side and the other side was fastened to the house.
4_In the middle of the sign
In the middle of the sign in large letters that were plainly visible for squares up and down the street was the word, “INN”, and just below that, ‘JOS. ENTLER”.
For many years it was a welcome abode to the weary traveler, for then all traveling was by wagon and carriage from Ohio and Kentucky to Baltimore and Washington, where their produce was sold and groceries and other commodities were taken back. All these white-covered wagons were placed in the large grounds and the weary horses were comfortably bedded down and fed in the large stone stables by good trusty colored men.
The house was a quaint, 52-foot-long weatherboard house with massive stone steps to both front doors and stone trimmings and steps to the front cellars and long massive stone stiles or (carriage stepping stones).
The dining room was 34-feet-long. The ice house was under the dining room and was filled every winter with twenty-five, four-horse wagon loads of ice, which lasted until fall. The ice was from the Potomac River.
5_The large fireplace was in the kitchen
The large fireplace was in the kitchen that also had the cranes and pothooks and hangers.
Seventeen rooms were in the house and many also had large old-fashioned fireplaces and were finished with high-paneled mantelpieces.
In the 1850s children remembered the fancy carriages, with many horses pulling, making the smart, sharp turn from the main streeet to the lane leading to the rear stables.
6_lane leading to the rear stables
All circuses stopped at this inn and pitched their tents in the large lot arranging the cages of wild animals around the circle inside and all other wagons outside the tent.
Joseph Entler moved his family to Wingerd Cottage in 1858 and leased out the Great Western. Then that all ended – and, so did the Great Western.
7_Twenty-one-year-old Mary Louise Entler – in an act of defiance
Twenty-one-year-old Mary Louise Entler – in an act of defiance – and several friends sat in chairs in the big hall of Wingerd Cottage sewing . . and sewing – ripping stars from an American flag mailed to them from New Orleans, that once waved from a ship of Rezin Davis Shepherd’s, as he perhaps thought such a flag might be more trouble to have in New Orleans, as the new war boiled over and Louisiana seceded from the Union in early 1861.
8_Mary Entler Herrington retold her past
Mary Licklider, a niece, recalled how Mary Entler Herrington retold her past before dying in 1932:
A U.S. flag, probably made of wool bunting fabric was given to four or five young girls (young girls at the time), by Mr.
Rezin Shepherd who lived in New Orleans. In the summer he lived at Wild Goose Farm. The flag was one from one of his vessels. It was sent to us by Mr. James Shepherd and was to be converted into a Confederate flag, a work that was dangerous at the time, being in disputed territory. We could work only when our men were in the lines and had to be very cautious then.
10_Joseph Entler owned and lived at Wingerd Cottage
My father Joseph Entler owned and lived at Wingerd Cottage during the war and there the flag was made. The location off from town and the large wide hall were ideal places for the work, which took many anxious weeks to complete.
11_It was very tedious to rip every seam
It was very tedious to rip every seam of the stripes in such a way as not to ravel the bunting.
12_Every star was ripped from the blue field
Every star was ripped from the blue field, and
13_then to sew all the red together
then to sew all the red together
14_all the white to form the bars red, white, and red
and all the white to form the bars red, white, and red.
15_Of course we had a surplus of stars
Of course we had a surplus of stars as the Confederacy was young.
After many weeks of work, the flag was finished and a beautiful Confederate flag was ready to be sent through the line to Company B. It was hidden away awaiting a safe transfer. (Mary’s brother – Cato Moore Entler – was with Company B of the 2nd Virginia Infantry).
MLH recalled an investigation in the fall of 1861:
16_I heard the tramp of cavalry
I heard the tramp of cavalry and clank of swords and sabers. I looked out the window and saw the cottage was surrounded by “Yankee” cavalry.
Oh, the flag, what was to be done with it? I heard the officer read orders to my father to search his premises thoroughly for contraband goods. My father seemed to be protesting against the search. But that gave me a little time to take the flag from its hiding place in a chest. The house was surrounded. I could not get out to hide it.
I pulled a dress from the wall and put the flag in it and threw the dress carelessly across the back of a chair. Skirts were very wide with deep facings upon them. I put the little flags that we wore on our dresses and letters under the carpet.
17_My door was pushed open
My door was pushed open by Capt. Horner of Col. Coles’ Cavalry and the search began. Every bureau drawer and closet was searched, even the grandfather clock where reposed letters to go through the lines. But they were too deep in the bottom of the old clock to be detected. Everything was handled but the blue-striped dress hovering over its precious treasure. It was too insignificant to attract their notice and they gave up the search, but rather in a bad humor. The flag was safe and sent to Company B. That flag would be readily recognized by its many seams and its homemade marks. Now what became of that flag is a mystery.
Due to confusion created by units carrying different flags after 1st Manassas, the 30th of October 1861 saw Governor Letcher present every Virginia regiment with a bunting flag. Another private group in Charles Town had had a regimental flag made for the 2nd Virginia infantry regiment that the unit reportedly carried into battle at First Manassas/Bull Run, but was smuggled back to the Rutherfords in Charles Town.
CARRY THE SECRET MAIL:
19_We collected all letters and concealed them
We collected all letters and concealed them by carefully sewing them between the ruching and dress. It required neatness and patience to make the work look innocent of anything contraband. We started on our march one bright beautiful morning but the roads being soft and muddy and we being not yet accustomed to marching could not get over much ground as rapidly as Stonewall Jackson’s men. The first night was spent at the home of Mr. Foley where another mail was collected. Another bright morning blessed our errand and when the purple shades of evening were gathering in the west we entered Charles Town as leisurely and passed the Union soldiers as indifferently as though we were out for an evening stroll. What a triumph it would have been for them to have secured that mail; how they would have gloated over every sacred sentence in those letters. My heart thrilled with fear at the thought although apparently so indifferent to their presence.
20_THE SAD FATE OF THE GREAT WESTERN HOTEL
THE SAD FATE OF THE GREAT WESTERN HOTEL:
December 26, 1862: The 12th Pennsylvania cavalry – The Bull Run Racers – crossed over the river ford into town and the (Federal-sympathcizing) refugees all came back from Maryland with a fire in their eyes and revenge for Mort Cookus’ blood (who was shot and killed by Andrew Leopold near Dam No. 4 on November 19th. (The refugees) declared that every Southern man’s house should be burned down. – Gallaher in “The Shepherdstown Register.”
The property was a hotel (in market for rent at the time). It was taken possession of and occupied by a Pennsylvania Cavalry Company. The extensive grounds in which were apple trees and vegetables were trampled and all the fencing destroyed.
21_WARTIME SHEPHERDSTOWN EACH DAY
WARTIME SHEPHERDSTOWN EACH DAY:
1863 still finds our town disputed territory and a veritable “deserted village” – old men, women, and children with a very few Union men . . . In time of war when both armies have fallen back, a town presents a most desolate and forlorn appearance-the old people, women and children have no definite plans. They stand about in groups writing and talking of the latest battle or the expected skirmishes. Their homes are places to retire from inclement weather rather than to adorn – the table to satisfy hunger rather than the delightful board where sweet companionship mingled with health-giving food.
No systematic housekeeping, no aim, no object in performing any household duties. All energy was concentrated in doing for the soldiers. “When our boys come home we will do thus and so” was the oft repeated phrase. Sometimes at the dead of night the report of a pistol shot would warn us that the rebels were in town. But when daylight came we saw only the blue coats patrolling the streets, and they would leave as mysteriously as the rebels.
22_THE SIDETRACKED MISSION
THE SIDETRACKED MISSION:
23_Mary Entler’s Dangerous Mission Gets Sidetracked
May – 1863 – Mary Entler’s Dangerous Mission Gets Sidetracked
24_Raider Andrew Leopold
NOTE Raider Andrew Leopold, whose sister, Sally Zittle, was a friend of Mary Entler, had been captured in late April, 1863 near Berryville and taken to a jail, awaiting trail for murder and other crimes.- JS
A beautiful May morning, balmy air waiting the perfume of flowers over the country submerged in war. Sparkling dew drops resting in the bosom of such blossoms like tiny tear drops-weeping for the sad hearts made sad by war. God sends beautiful days in war as well as peace- we must remember that.
A young prepossessing girl introduced herself to me on this May morning as a sister of Andrew Leopold. She told me her brother had been captured by the Yankees and was confined in Fort McHenry, MD, and that the entreaties of her widowed mother had induced her to try to get through the Federal lines to have an interview with (Confederate) General J.E.B. Stuart in regard to having her brother exchanged as a prisoner of war. . . She had been sent to me by a southern woman who knew I had carried letters through to Charles Town and thought I would accompany the young lady to that place, and acquaint her with friends who would assist her through the lines. I hesitated a moment and she said with tears that his mother had a message from Baltimore that if some powerful influence was not brought to bear immediately that her brother would be executed as a guerilla. That decided the matter.
We started off in a one horse carriage for Charles Town. She as a traveler was attired in a brown suit with a cape to match trimmed with quilling around it and a brown straw hat with a veil. I was to spend the day only and was dressed in a blue “Dolly Varden” pattern dress, blue silk bonnet with wide turn over cuffs and concealed in the lining of these cuffs were slips of paper with names of prominent Southern sympathizers who we were to call upon for any assistance. Before starting we concluded it would be better to go under fictitious names – she as Lucy Hamilton, and I as Louise Hamilton, her cousin. And with hearts filled with hope we started off that bright May morning on our errand of mercy.
Charles Town was reached in good time. We stopped where we were directed at Mrs. L’s and urged for safety to stay all night here-Lucy to start next morning southward and I to return home would arouse no suspicion. The next morning was quite as beautiful and arrangements were completed when I found she was getting timid about starting off alone. She entreated me to go just as far as Berryville and then she thought she would feel brave enough to travel alone. It was a big undertaking for two young girls as the country was then all excitement and confusion. I finally agreed to go to Berryville. We knew exactly where to stop and whom to see. All was planned before starting from home. I will never forget how beautiful Berryville looked the morning we drove up to the hotel. It was a village embowered in beautiful green trees, blooming flowers. The bees humming in the nectar-laden flowers produced that lazy, peaceful quiet that is so soothing to tired nerves. We made our arrangements with the proprietor and took a stroll through the pretty, cool looking streets.
We met Union soldiers and plenty of them but we did not feel any fear of our plans failing. In the evening we called upon the family next to the hotel and had music until late that night. Next morning while arranging to separate we were visited by a Yankee officer saying he wished to know here were were going, and that we must take the oath. At first we refused to take the oath but when we consented to take it he would not let us, but placed us under arrest. What a frustrating of all our plans. How my heart ached for that poor girl. How she had built her hopes on securing the release of her brother on this venture.
Under arrest by the Federals, Gen. Milroy flabbergasted:
25_head-quarters of General Milroy
Winchester reached, we were taken to the head-quarters of General Milroy where we found women, young and old, proud and defiant, now arguing their claims and proclaiming their grievances. One delicate, forlorn-looking widow relating to the General how his men, the Yankees, had taken her cows, her only means of support for her children. He turned from her quickly to my friend and me – if there had been the least disposition on my part to be humble – his exclamation put that feeling to flight and aroused a very rebellious state of mind. “What in the devil are you doing here? If it were not for the women running around the country we would not have so much trouble.” My companion started up with surprise. “General, we did not want to come here. We did not start for this place. Your officers brought us here.” He ran fingers through his mass of snow white hair already standing straight up like the quills of a porcupine and our of the audience chamber he strode without another word. He presented a fine physique, tall, well-proportioned, erect in carriage, a wealth of snow-white hair which suggested from its stand-up appearance that his fingers had a fashion of roaming there when troubles were to be, and plans and problems of great magnitude to be wrought out.
26_FRATERNIZING WITH THE ENEMY
FRATERNIZING WITH THE ENEMY:
June – 1863:
We were soon before the Provost Marshall at Martinsburg awaiting his orders. Next morning we were taken to General Kelly at Harper’s Ferry to await further orders. We were assigned to the best boarding house in the town adjoining the General’s headquarters where a great many of the officers boarded. We had a guard to watch our movements and prevent our escape if we thought of anything of the kind. We were allowed to walk around the town accompanied by the guard and sometimes were invited by officers, to whom we were introduced, to attend concerts and places of amusements but the guard invariably followed behind to the disgust of our gallants. Lucy and I ignored the guard altogether. We did not care how tired he became running over the old hills of Harper’s Ferry after us and many were the taunts and comments we overheard about “secesh” (Confederate-sympathcizing) prisoners.
“Miranda!” and the voice startled us – for it came from under the ground – a cottage, vine-clad and embowered in trees and bushes right under our feet on the slope of a hill. (The voice then said: “Here comes the two ‘secesh’ prisoners again trailing that poor tired guard after them as unusual. He looks like he is ready to drop. Much I would follow behind them over these hills.” She lived there under the hill with her beautiful daughter. She had lots and lots of beautiful flowers but not one would she give us after we humbled ourselves to ask for one because we were rebels.
At Harper’s Ferry with your five mountains, your bright Potomac, your smiling languid Shenandoah, your historic Jefferson’s Rock and romantic stone steps leading to the temple of God – St. Peter’s Church. In the yard of this church, high above the streets and houses of Harper’s Ferry, the Fifth New York Regiment Band discoursed sweet music every Sunday evening of the six weeks Lucy and I were prisoners. The sweet strains of the “Mocking Bird” as only Henry Frunkenfield could render them, echoed from Loudoun Heights across the great Shenandoah over the beautiful rock-ribbed Potomac of Maryland Heights, back again the mountain breezes wafted them though the streets and windows as if a hundred mocking birds were trilling their soul-felt song.
As a piece of fun, we were dressed in fantastic costumes, slipped down a stairway, of which the General had no knowledge to the kitchen, to dance for the cook and her black “Topsy”. The guard was told that we were about to make our escape. He hunted the house over for his prisoners and when he found us he did not recognize us for some time, our disguise was so complete. Two guards questioned us until they were finally convinced that we were not attempting an escape.
Sabbath days and week days were all the same at Harper’s Ferry during the war. The soldiers and citizens would promenade the streets. The crowds would send forth their martial airs, dignified and soul-stirring also their merry dance tunes. But this one Sabbath day seemed so different from all others that we had spent at that place. The day was declining and from the description of an Italian sunset, I think the sunset of this evening far surpassed any such Italian scene. The golden rays touched the tree tops and they looked like burnished gold. The strains of music came from the high rocks where St. Peter’s Church rests peacefully. Darts and streaks of gold tips of trees on the mountain tops – the birds twitter and call to their mates in low tones. There is a hush as if all nature were bowed in silent prayer as the twilight settles over the valley. The beauty of this Sabbath will never fade from my memory. It was my last one there as a prisoner. The stillness was soon changed to wild confusion and excitement.
Mary Entler Jumps Sides:
I took the oath of allegiance to the United States in June, 1863 in Baltimore, Maryland to Col. Fish who was in command there at the time. I have passed from Gen’l Lockwood commander at H. Ferry 1863 also from Gen’l Stevenson.
late August, 1864 – afterwards Company H., 116 Ohio Infantry, Capt. Peters and Col. Washburns Regiment occupied it, and every partition in the front bedrooms were destroyed. Every mantel piece (they were colonial) all but two were burned. The floor in the garrett of the back building was also destroyed. Enough of new window sash and door frames for a house was stored too. cistern and well floors destroyed and cistern filled with bee hives and rubbish. A fine dressed stable with 25 partitioned off, with board partitions-upper story divided off for grain and sleeping quarters for oster. All was torn out and this weakened the roof so that when a snow came it collapsed. A brick carriage house met the same fate. My father Joseph Entler was an old man at the time, and was never after that financially able to put back what was destroyed by the United States soldiers.
27_PEACETIME – ETERNAL TIDE OF MEMORIES
PEACETIME – ETERNAL TIDE OF MEMORIES:
MLH married on February 15, 1865 in Frederick, Maryland Walter L. Herrington, a ticket-agent on the B&O Railroad at Harper’s Ferry.
They lived in her parents’ home of Wingerd Cottage, her parents having been forcibly retired from inn-keeping. Mary’s husband worked as a photographer then, that same year, died an untimely death.
1910: MLH had a dry goods and milliners shop on the south side of German Street.
1914: Mary Herrington paid in trust to George Beltzhoover the remaining western half of the lot of the once Great Western Hotel for 0, a sum to be paid to Nellie M. Entler. – December 5, 1914, Deed Book 111, p. 505. – Jefferson County Clerk.
Mary Herrington was seventy-nine years old, living in Shepherdstown with her seventy-two-year-old-sister, Julia M. Miller, and brother, sixty-nine-year-old Lewis Little.
On June 20th MLH sold the dual-lot Great Western Inn to relative Harry T. Licklider on the condition that she could still live in the inn her natural life with her brother, “the said Home to consist of four rooms of the first floor and five rooms, including a summer kitchen and garden.” Two years later Licklider felt in arrears with the Swift Corporation and was sued and forced to sell the Great Western lands to pay off the debts. So the inn was gone from the family but MLH could literally live there, literally, on borrowed time.
Only the walls of the stables remain today in ruins, covered with Virginia Creeper to screen the ugly scars of the Civil War.
28_Mary L. Herrington was listed as eighty-nine years old
Mary L. Herrington was listed as eighty-nine years old but with her brother, Lewis Little, now listed as head of their house of the south side of German Street between King and Princess Streets near the center of the block, assessed at about ,000. Mary A. Licklider & Mary Herrington 1930 Census with her interviewer Mary A. Licklider living next door at the home of Edward Licklider, Mary’s father.
Mary Louise Herrington died March 27, 1932, having given much of these recollections to Mary A. Licklider, a descendant of Mary’s brother, Cato Moore Entler. Her marker is in Elmwood Cemetery. That summer, the new owner of the Great Western began massive alterations and reductions.