8:30 a.m. July 9, 1864
The John T. Best family was going about its chores of tending cows, hogs, chickens, and fields of wheat, oats, and corn. The Bests were used to working amid soldiers, for Union and Confederate troops had camped here on the South Hermitage farm several times since the Civil War broke out in 1861.
This time, however, Confederate sharpshooters in the barn and artillery on the ridge behind the house hammered Union troops at the bridges spanning the Monocacy River on the farm's southern edge. Union artillery responded and set the barn ablaze. The Bests lost their grain, hay and farm tools - and the battle had just begun.
...a shell from a well directed gun...hit the barn and set it on fire, thus scattering the rebel sharpshooters and relieving the skirmishers of this very galling and nerve-racking rifle fire.
Glenn H. Worthington
(Lower Sidebar): Lee's Lost Order
During the 1862 Maryland Campaign, Robert E. Lee's Order No. 191, which outlined his army's movements, was found wrapped around cigars in a grove of trees at an abandoned Confederate camp on the Best family farm. Ever cautious, Union Gen. George McClellan did not use the information to his full advantage at the Battle of Antietam.