River View Cemetery is one of the earliest burial grounds in Washington County. There are early settlers, soldiers from the French & Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, famous judges, patriots, African-Americans, and everyday folks. Perhaps because it was initially a public cemetery, local residents were nondiscriminatory in who was buried there. At a time when Confederate soldiers were being removed from Antietam National Cemetery, and most towns had a separate cemetery for the "colored" community, River View remained a public cemetery for local folks regardless of their affiliation: Union, Confederate, black, and white - they are all buried there together.
Today, the two oldest sections of River View Cemetery are the property of the Town of Williamsport. The three additions to the original cemetery are the property of the River View Cemetery Association, Inc., which is managed by the Osbourne Funeral Home, Williamsport.
There is a commanding, panoramic view from the crest of River View Cemetery. From there, you can see that great consideration was given to the planning and layout of this town. Perhaps Otho Holland Williams liked the symmetry and almost perfect directional placement of the Baltimore City streets where he lived. As a result, except for Commerce Street, Williamsport's streets align almost perfectly with cardinal points north to south and east to west. 
Except for Commerce Street, Williamsport's original streets line up with the cardinal points north-south-east-west. Because the earth is slowly shifting, the once perfect alignment is now approximately 3° off.
Initially commencing at the town market house, Commerce Street extends southeast at about a 45° angle, fronting the entire length of the graveyard. It is the only street in Williamsport designed around a land feature. This large graveyard is one of the town's most prominent landmarks, yet it was intentionally placed outside the original town's limits. It was essential to, but not part of, the town.
The founders of other local 18th-century towns, such as Funkstown and Sharpsburg, reserved several town lots for graveyards. When Otho Holland Williams created his town, a burial ground already existed on a steeply sloped hillside, the land where his parents had lived, died, and were buried. In 1790, when Williams offered President Washington Williams-Port as a candidate for our nation's capital, his only stipulation was to reserve the one-acre parcel where his parents were buried. This cemetery is testimony to the character and generosity of General Otho Holland Williams. He could have reserved the small private graveyard on the hilltop for only his family; instead, he allotted valuable riverfront real estate, at no charge, as a public burying ground for the citizens of his town. 
In the mid-18th century, the average life expectancy for an adult was 30-40 years, with more than 10% of infants dying within the first year. Old age was a rarity, death commonplace. Colonists lived each day preparing for death and judgment and educated their children to do the same. The graveyard was part of day-to-day life, never out of sight or far from mind. 
Early public burial grounds were located outside the town for several reasons. The first was the sheer necessity of sanitation. Graves were very shallow compared to the modern "six feet under." An early grave often contained several layers of family members. There also was the belief that the body had no significance after death as the soul had departed. Therefore, the grounds need not be sacred. A public graveyard was usually fenced off for grazing small livestock, keeping it tidy naturally in an age before lawnmowers. In rural England, small livestock is still keeping early graveyards clean. 
Before 1831, the dead were buried in burying yards, burying places, boneyards, or graveyards. The term "cemetery," a word from Greek meaning "a sleeping place, was not used until after 1831. Colonial settlers often used grounds that had been Indian burying places. Native American Indians buried their dead facing east to the rising sun. Coincidentally, the River View Cemetery faces east. 
Many wealthy local plantation owners had private graveyards. The Tilghman family, for instance, rests in the small, private cemetery at Rockland Mansion on the Sharpsburg Pike. Similarly, at St. James College, the former estate of General Samuel Ringgold, a private graveyard once preserved the remains of the Ringgold family. Sadly, today, an athletic center stands on the site of the old Ringgold burying grounds. Scattered across the county, hundreds of small burial grounds on rural farms stand as silent witnesses to our past.
The first written evidence of a burial in the Williamsport burying ground was Joseph and Prudence Williams in 1764, the parents of Otho Holland Williams. Whether the site was formerly an Indian burial ground is reasonable but remains a puzzle for archaeologists. After Otho Holland Williams created his town in 1787, he continued the tradition of burying family members in this graveyard and subsequently was buried there himself in 1794. Thirty-five years later, his son, Edward Greene Williams, was buried beside the General. Edward's 1829 obituary notes that he was buried in "the common burial ground at Williamsport." 
There are no records of how plots were assigned in the two oldest, called the original, sections of the cemetery. Colonial graveyards were generally filled in the order of need, not sold in lots to families, although in River View, many prominent families are buried in groupings. The Williams family is buried almost in the center of the original section. Other prominent families buried in there: Weisel, Light, Ardinger, Van Lear, Findley, Woltz, Byron, Towson, and Friend, to name a few. With no surviving written records, only the commemorative headstones of the more affluent tell us who is buried there. Unquestionably, there were hundreds more buried under simple wooden crosses.
No one seemed overly concerned about who owned the graveyard for the first one hundred years of its existence. It was a necessary part of the town, and Williamsport was fortunate to have such a glorious hillside for a boneyard. While folks were not in a hurry to get there, it was comforting to know it was available when needed. When the original graveyard was getting crowded, the General's son, Edward Greene Williams, generously donated an additional two acres. Farmers allowed livestock to forage for a day or two when the weeds overran the hillside, and the maintenance problem was solved.
Not until the mid-19th century did the simple act of burying the dead transform into a business. Large-capacity urban-rural cemeteries were sculpted into park-like settings. Embalming was promoted as a public health measure, and underground vaults were encouraged to prevent graves from collapsing, ruining the manicured appearance of the grounds. Large monuments and elaborately carved tombstones with Victorian embellishments, such as weeping angels and florals, were erected. These final resting places with distinguished names, such as Rose Hill, Green Lawn, Ever Green, and Woodlawn, set a new standard in the business of dying. 

Early image of Rosehill Cemetery, Hagerstown, Maryland

In January of 1864, the General Assembly of Maryland passed an act giving the Williamsport burgess the authority to incorporate the public graveyard into the town limits. Apparently, the town fathers were not thrilled with this legislation, as it was another thirteen years before they acted. The burgess understood the hefty financial burden incorporating a large, century-old graveyard into the town represented. 
The world of cemeteries was rapidly changing. In Hagerstown, the "Hagerstown Cemetery Company" opened the manicured, professionally designed "Rose Hill Cemetery" in 1867. Two years later, the President of the United States, four cabinet members, and eighteen Governors attended the formal opening of the Antietam National Cemetery at Sharpsburg. In 1868, "Decoration Day" became an annual tradition to decorate the graves of soldiers. Gone were the days when a few grazing sheep were sufficient for upkeep.

1934 Image of Antietam National Cemetery

Victorian America had embraced the romance of a peaceful park-like setting for cemeteries. Potomac Hill graveyard, the once rural graveyard of simple headstones, was transformed into a "final resting place" of beautiful statuary and handsome, engraved marble monuments. It was a lovely location for a picnic in an era before public parks. The cemetery's name was even changed from the simple Potomac Hill Graveyard to the more romantic River View Cemetery. It only needed constant attention, maintenance, and a lot of money.
In 1877, Mayor Emanuel Bomberger and the town council yielded to the inevitable and incorporated the Potomac Hill graveyard into the town's boundaries. The immediate issue of funding was addressed by the formation of several volunteer organizations. These groups, driven by a sense of community and shared responsibility, played a crucial role in assisting the town with burials, upkeep, and maintenance, ensuring the cemetery's continued existence. 

The 1876 plat of Williamsport's revised boundaries that included the graveyard

The first independent group to organize to "have a proper place of burial for the people of Williamsport and vicinity" was the Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association in 1887. Followed by the River View Endowment Association and the River View Association, Inc. These philanthropic groups incorporated, allowing them to buy adjacent properties and enlarge the cemetery. The corporation could then sell lots, arrange for burials, and generate income to maintain the entire property. Today, the additions to the cemetery remain the property of the River View Association, Inc.; the Town of Williamsport owns only the two original parcels.
The major problem with each organization was the cost of maintenance. As each addition to the cemetery filled, fewer lots were available to sell, income plummeted, and expenses increased exponentially. The organizations held teas, hosted street carnivals, and sold raffle tickets to raise money. They met monthly at local homes to hear orations of religion and citizenship; they still lost money. 

The name "River View" was not adopted until 1892. Before this, it was known as the Potomac Hill Cemetery

In the 1920s, tannery businessman Mayor William Deveraux Byron II assumed control of the organization, and significant improvements began. With added income from investments in stocks and bonds, cemetery roads were paved, tombstones cleaned and straightened, and retaining walls built and backfilled with dirt to create additional lots. In 1941, Byron died in an airplane crash and is buried in the cemetery he so efficiently improved. 

Burying the Williams Family

Brigadier General Otho Holland Williams, oil on canvas by Charles Willson Peale, courtesy The Society of Cincinnati, Washington, DC

In early 1794, Otho Holland Williams was happily married with four young sons living in a fine home in Baltimore. He made a handsome income as a Port Collector for Baltimore and was considered a man of integrity, wealth, and property. In addition to Williams-Port, Williams owned estates in Frederick and Allegheny County. To manage his numerous estates, he employed servants, overseers, carriage drivers, and man servants. However, Williams was not a healthy man, having returned home from the war plagued with ill effects from his two-year imprisonment at Long Island, NY. 

A sea journey to Barbados in 1793 temporarily relieved William's ailments; however, his condition continued to deteriorate. In July 1794, he embarked on a journey to the mineral springs at Sweet Spring, Virginia (now West Virginia). Opened in 1792 by General William Lewis, Sweet Springs is almost 300 miles southwest of Baltimore. The trip would have been planned and included an entourage of servants, horses, wagons of luggage, and carriages. 

Sweet Springs Hotel, Otho Holland Williams destination in 1794. He never arrived. 

Historic Sweet Springs Hotel was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1830. Lodging & baths since 1760. Today is is available for special events, festivals and tours. 

Sadly, William's health was much worse than believed, and he died at Woodstock, Virginia, roughly 130 miles south of Baltimore, less than halfway to his destination. The fact that his body was not returned to Baltimore but delivered to the burial grounds in Williamsport, some 70 miles northwest of Woodstock, would indicate his servants received instructions, possibly from Williams himself in his final hours, about his burial wishes. In the July summer heat, on crude 18th-century roads, the burden of delivering William's decaying corpse by carriage fell to his servants, a journey of a week to ten days.
Presumably, the General was buried near his parents, and his grave was topped with a marble sarcophagus and monument. The original was replaced in 1871 by the Williamsport Mediary Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons after it showed signs of decay. It is the only member of the immediate Williams family identified. However, evidence suggests there are considerably more Williams buried nearby without tombstones. 
As Otho Holland Williams organized his new town, his beloved sister, Mercy Williams Stull, died in Hagerstown in April of 1787. The newspaper reported she was buried in the public graveyard at Williams-Port near her parents and presumably with her first husband, George Ross. In December of 1788, William's younger sister, Cynthia, the wife of James Chapline of Sharpsburg, died and was buried in Williamsport "beside his other sister." The General's other sisters, Sarah Theresa Williams Davis and husband Amos Davis, and Priscilla Williams Israel and husband Joseph Israel, all lived in or near Williams-Port and are likely buried there. In 1829, when Edward Greene Williams of Springfield Farm died, the newspapers noted that he was buried beside his father. It is also possible that the other sons of the General, William Elie Williams, owner of a large estate at Ceresville in Frederick County, Henry Lee William of Baltimore, and Otho H. Williams (Jr.), are buried at River View as there is no record of their burial elsewhere. None of the General's siblings or his son's graves are marked. 

Elie Williams (1750-1822) was the first Clerk of the Court for Washington County, Maryland. He died in Washington, DC, shortly after being elected to the Maryland Assembly. There is no record of where he or his wife are buried. However, given his close association with his brother and the Town of Williamsport, he is undoubtedly buried in River View Cemetery.  

Throughout his life, Otho Holland Williams was very close to his younger brother, Elie Williams (1750-1822). They corresponded frequently, and Elie rightfully should be considered a co-founder of Williams-Port. Among his other accomplishments, Elie Williams was the first Clerk of the Court for Washington County from 1776 until 1800, the President of the commission to lay out the National Road, a surveyor for the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and just a months before his death at age 72 he was elected to the Maryland Assembly to represent Washington County. Notice of Elie's death was reported in newspapers across the state, yet there is no record of where he or his wife are buried. He died in Washington, DC, and almost assuredly, was returned to Washington County to be buried near his brother on Potomac Hill. 

There also is no record of the final resting place of Otho Holland William's wife, Mary Smith Williams (1764-1795), who died one year after her husband. Mary Smith was the daughter of a wealthy businessman and Congressman William Smith (1728-1814). Members of the Smith family are buried in an elegant marble sarcophagus in the Westminster Hall and Burying Grounds in Baltimore City. However, Mary is not noted as buried there. Again, it is reasonable she was transported to Williamsport and is buried near her husband. 

The Smith Sarcophus is at the Westminster Hall Burying Grounds in Baltimore City. Although it was the family crypt, Mary Smith Williams, the General's wife, was not buried there.

Public Graveyard

For sixteen years following the death of Otho Holland Williams and his wife, the management of his properties in Baltimore, Cumberland, Frederick, and Williamsport, and the rearing of his four young sons, was given to his executors, his father-in-law William Smith of Baltimore and brother Elie Williams.  
In 1810, when two of the four young Williams sons reached their majority, the courts divided the General's estate. His real estate was valued at $166,000, the equivalent of approximately $3.6 million in today's currency. His second son, Edward Greene Williams (1789-1829), inherited several lots in downtown Baltimore valued at $3,000, the lands surrounding Williamsport known as The Garden of Eden containing the Springfield Farm plantation valued at $21,000, and the annuity income from the leased Williamsport lots and the ferry valued at $17,040. 

Late 1800s photo of Springfield Farm at Williamsport

Edward Greene "Ned" Williams moved from Baltimore onto Springfield Farm soon after receiving his inheritance. In 1821, he married Ann Gilmor, a wealthy young lady from Baltimore. Ned Williams is credited with significant improvements to the Springfield Farm plantation, including two large additions to the main structure, the stone still house and stone spring house. The couple had several children, but only a daughter survived, Mary Smith Williams. Ned died at Springfield Farm at age 39 in February 1829 and is buried near his father. His obituary notes he was buried in "the common burial ground at Williamsport." 

Mary Smith Williams (White) was the only surviving daughter of Edward Greene "Ned" Williams and Anne Gilmor. This image is courtesy of her GG Great-Granddaughter, who owns the original oil painting and lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

After Ned's death, Ann Gilmor Williams and her young daughter Mary returned to live in Baltimore. Ned's will directed that his widow and daughter share his estate, with Mary eventually inheriting everything. Unfortunately, what should have been a simple inheritance transition was complicated dramatically by the imprecise wording of Ned's will. 
Ned's wife, Ann Gilmor Williams, remarried John Donnell nine years after her return to Baltimore. In 1839, she died three days after giving birth to a daughter, also named Ann. Shortly after his wife's death, John Donnell sued his step-daughter Mary Smith Williams for half of her father's estate. Donnell contended that his infant daughter was now entitled to half of her deceased mother's estate. 
To satisfy the lawsuit, the Maryland Chancery Court ordered all of Edward Greene Williams' real estate in Williamsport and Baltimore to be surveyed and evaluated. The court surveyed over one hundred individual parcels in Williamsport, leaving an invaluable record of ownership, leases, and property values in 1841. The plat prepared for Lot #40, a six-acre parcel bordering the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, omits the public graveyard. Therefore, in 1841, the courts and the Williams family considered the graveyard, now increased to two acres, as public domain, not owned by the Williams family or the town - simply public domain.
Eventually, the Chancery Court ruled in favor of John Donnell and divided the estate evenly between the two half-sisters. As legal guardian of infant Ann Donnell, John Donnell received most of the Baltimore lots. Mary Smith Williams received two of the Baltimore lots and all of the property in Williamsport owned by her father, including the Garden of Eden and Springfield Farm. The estate was valued at $91,284.39, equivalent to about $3.1 million today. 
Mary Smith Williams and her husband, J. Campbell White, were raised in the comfortable wealth their parents and grandparents accumulated. Like so many children of privilege, they had no occupation, living on the income and annuities provided by their inheritance. Mary and her husband had a fine home in downtown Baltimore, another home estate in Westchester, New York, and considered Springfield Farm a lovely setting to spend summers in the country. In July 1850, the Federal census shows the couple and several young children at Springfield Farm, although their fifteen children were born and baptized in Baltimore or New York. During the Civil War, the Whites spent most of their time at their estate in Westchester, New York, well north from the dangers and ravages of war. In 1864, Mary sold Springfield Farm to the Humrichhouse family of Baltimore but retained ownership of the town lots, the ferry, and the last of her properties along the C&O Canal. 
Williamsport and The Civil War
Williamsport was no exception to the American Civil War's profound influence on cemeteries and burials. The battered states were tasked with burying an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the bloodiest military conflict in American history. Thousands of soldiers had been quickly buried on, or near, the battlefields where they fell. Washington County was littered with graves like so many other counties that were the site of major battles. An estimated 700 soldiers were buried in trenches following the battle on the Roulette farm at Sharpsburg.
The legislature of Maryland created the Antietam National Cemetery in 1864, and the remains of the Union dead were interred and buried there, a process that took almost five years. Not until 1869 did the Governor of Maryland deal with the Confederate dead. Governor Oden Bowie directed the trustees of the Antietam Cemetery to record the burial locations and, if possible, the identities of Confederates buried throughout Washington County. 
The resulting publication is known today as the "Bowie List" and records over 3,239 Confederate soldiers buried throughout Washington and Frederick County; 2,481 were listed as unidentified. In Williamsport, two Confederate soldiers graves were marked with a stone near Embrey's warehouse on the river bank, five were buried in the Catholic church graveyard, fourteen soldiers were hastily buried in a vacant town lot opposite the Presbyterian Church, and at the public cemetery (River View), of the fifty-three Confederate soldiers buried there, only ten were identified. The few recorded death dates indicate that most Confederates buried in Williamsport died from wounds received at Gettysburg. In later years, the remains of many of these soldiers were re-interred at the Washington Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown or Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.
In January 1864, the General Assembly of Maryland passed two acts pertaining to Williamsport. The first was the consolidation of the original 1823 Act of Incorporation and all supplemental acts. The second act gave the burgess and commissioners the authority to incorporate the public graveyard into the Williamsport town limits. Just as the original 1786 boundaries of Williamsport were approved by the Maryland Assembly, so did the annexation of the cemetery. 
"We the subscribers being the Burgess and Commissioners of said Town of Williamsport, have in pursuance of the aforesaid Act of 1864 Chapter 80 extended the limits of said Town, so as to include in said Corporation the Public Grave Yard in said Town. " 
Maryland Acts of the General Assembly Volume 384, Page 637
Regardless, that the Maryland Assembly authorized Williamsport to annex the century-old graveyard into the town limits in 1864, the burgess were acutely aware of the problems and financial burden this annexation would create. Thirteen years and nine mayors later, the cemetery was finally annexed under Mayor Emanuel Bomberger. On May 21, 1877, a revised plat and deed were recorded in the Maryland land records. 
This deed noted several significant changes that had occurred in the town in the previous fifty years. With the arrival of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, eighteen town lots on the Potomac River at the mouth of the Conococheague were transferred to the canal company, thereby creating Cushwa Basin. Subsequently, the road from the Potomac River ferry into the town was redirected to Salisbury Street by a cut through the hillside and the construction of a bridge over the canal. Four town lots were noted as church lots, and for the first time, the metes and bounds of the appropriately 2.83-acre public graveyard were surveyed and included in the town's corporate limits.
White's Addition

The public cemetery at Williamsport has expanded over the years. In 1790, Otho Holland Williams noted the graveyard where his parents were buried as one acre. In 1841, the graveyard was surveyed at two acres, confirming that Edward Greene Williams had donated additional acreage to the original. In 1877, the cemetery was surveyed at 2.83 acres. In 1904, 84-year-old Mary Smith William White was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun newspaper and noted that "the ground for the cemetery he [OHW] gave to the town and two additional acres were bestowed by one of his descendants in consideration of that the graves of the Williams family being always tended and cared for." Today, River View Cemetery covers more than 6.5 acres.
In mid-1867, Mary Smith Williams White sold her remaining properties at Williamsport. Her husband, J. Campbell White, who had been her estate's principal supervisor and record keeper, had died earlier that year. Mary sold the ferry to Robert Lemen and the other lots along the canal to several town merchants.  
Following the sale of their properties, a new figure emerged in the Williamsport landscape-Victor Cushwa, a key player in the town's development. In a strategic move, he began acquiring all the properties along the canal, one by one, from Canal Street up to the basin. At the time, he was partnered in the canal warehouse of Cushwa & Embry, a business he would later assume all interest. His methodical approach paid off, and by 1886, he had become the sole owner of the entire length of the riverfront and hillside except the graveyard. This vast parcel of land was officially recorded in the Washington County Land Records as White's Addition to Williamsport, marking a new chapter in the area's history and a significant change in property ownership
Victor Cushwa's business interests in Williamsport were varied and successful. He first partnered with Charles Embrey & Son in the operations of Cushwa Basin Coal company, later adding brick manufacturing. His goal in assembling the property of White Addition to Williamsport is not clear. In 1888, he sold a large portion of the property adjacent to the old cemetery to the Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association, followed by a second sale in 1902. Cushwa may have had aspirations of selling parcels along the steep slope fronting the canal; however, the devastating flood of 1889 destroyed any hope of potential sales. 

These images show the riverfront property owned by Victor Cushwa in 1889 when a massive flood devastated the region. Cushwa had plotted the riverfront property into parcels that he intended to sell. After the flood, nothing sold.

Battery Hill

Today, along the uppermost ridge at the cemetery's northern boundary, three original Civil War cannons stand on brick plinths facing west as if ready to fire across the river. We call it "Doubleday Hill" because in 1861, artillery officer Major Abner Doubleday positioned the cannons there. The quarter acre on which the cannons stand is not part of River View Cemetery, and even today, no one is quite sure who owns that quarter acre of land. 
Captain Doubleday was second in command at Fort Sumter. On April 12, 1861, he ordered the first Union cannon shots to defend the fort, which was under Confederate attack. Following the action at Fort Sumter, Harper's Weekly tabloid hosted a front-page illustration of "The Heros of Fort Sumter," making Doubleday and his fellow officers national celebrities. 
The myth continues that Major Doubleday fired the first shots of the Civil War from Williamsport. This erroneous statement is based on postcards published by local businessman George W. Hurd in the early 20th century.  The postcard pictured below claims the shots were fired from Williamsport in 1862.
In June of 1861, under the command of Major General Robert Patterson, Doubleday was ordered to Hagerstown to await a battery of heavy guns and howitzers arriving by railroad from Governor's Island, New York. Doubleday's camp at Hagerstown near the Franklin Rail Line was overrun with curious locals eager to glimpse the hero of Fort Sumter, the recently promoted Major Abner Doubleday. The siege guns arrived in Hagerstown on June 19, 1861, to huge crowds and fanfare. The next day, the guns were transported to Williamsport and placed in the cemetery on the hill overlooking the Potomac River. Positioning the cannons on the high ridge overlooking the Potomac River was a more manageable task than it first appeared. At the time, a road ran the entire length of the cemetery along the upper ridge, ending where the cannons stand today.  

 "Doubleday's Crossing" by David Gilmor Blythe (1815-1865). One of the best period images of the terrain as viewed from the top of the cemetery ridge. This lovely oil on canvas was donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY when Doubleday was still believed to be the father of baseball. 

Doubleday and his battery were assigned to guard the river crossing while the rest of Patterson's army marched toward Martinsburg, Virginia (now WV). Confederate forces soon barraged Patterson's troops under the command of General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson and Lieutenant Colonel James Ewell Brown (J.E.B) Stuart. Doubleday provided cannon fire cover for Union soldiers as they retreated into Maryland. After the skirmish, Doubleday's battery was ordered away, and he took his cannons with him. As battles go, it was a minor conflict. 
In the final decade of the 19th century, Congress passed some of the first historic preservation legislation designating four major battlefields as National Military Parks. Every town that saw action during the war sought to honor its veterans and memorialize battle sites. Under the direction of Civil War veteran Williamsport Mayor George W. Thompson, the town chose to memorialize "Battery Hill." The 1897 newspaper accounts of the action at Williamsport dramatically transform it from a minor skirmish to Doubleday's salvation of the Union from the lawless Confederates - "Gen. Doubleday planted a battery on the hill commanding the entire sweep of the river." 
At the Independence Day celebration in 1897, an estimated seven to ten thousand people enjoyed the celebration, parade, and official dedication of Doubleday's Battery Hill. A mock battle was fought in the river bottom meadow, complete with a twelve-pound cannon on loan from the G.A.R Post of Chambersburg, Pa. This reenactment may be one of the few times in history when reenactors fought in original Civil War uniforms. The hill was dedicated, and politicians glorified General Doubleday in lengthy speeches: 
A few weeks after this [Fort Sumter], this same man was standing on this hill and pointing his guns at the Confederates assembled on the opposite heights, as the representative of his government, no longer on the defensive, no longer contending for the right to hold its own fort under the protection of its own flag, but asserting the right to suppress by force of arms all resistance to its sovereign authority.                     
 Herald and Torch Light, July 8, 1897
In the ceremony, Williamsport Commissioner M. Emmett Cullen presented the grounds to the Reno Post G.A.R. of Hagerstown for perpetual keeping. One newspaper reported the Town of Williamsport owned the land. In contrast, the Hagerstown Herald and Torch Light reported that the Williamsport Memorial and Cemetery Association had donated the land where the cannons had stood. Legally, that small parcel of land was owned by Victor Cushwa, not having been part of the annexation of the graveyard. Commissioner M. Emmett Cullen was Victor Cushwa's son-in-law, who Cushwa had taken into his firm shortly after Cullen's marriage to his daughter. Therefore, Cullen's "presentation" of the grounds to the G.A.R. would have been sanctioned by Victor Cushwa. 
Now that Williamsport had an official Civil War site, they wanted cannons. In a special session of the Williamsport Council on August 16, 1899, the town formally accepted three cannons from Sharpsburg for display on Battery Hill. These three Antietam Battlefield cannons formerly stood in Sharpsburg town square and did not come with gun carriages. 
One year later, the Mayor reported the cannons were still lying on the dirt, and the town needed to appropriate or raise funds to create supports for the cannons. A short while later, the guns were finally mounted on brick plinths, and a dedication ceremony was held on July 4th, 1901.
In early 1902, Charles W. Adams, superintendent of Antietam Battlefield, petitioned the burgess and commissioners of Williamsport to cede Battery Hill to the federal government and become part of the Antietam Battlefield National Battlefield. No action was taken.
In the following years, the veterans of the Reno Post G.A.R of Hagerstown maintained Battery Hill and part of the cemetery. In October of 1936, the last surviving member of the post, veteran Thomas C. Rowe, Company B, 115th Infantry Maryland Volunteers, died in Hagerstown. He is buried in River View Cemetery. 
With no veterans to maintain the grounds, Williamsport applied to the National Park Service in April of 1939 to reconstruct the gun pits and remount the rusting cannons. The plan called for the construction of a log gunpowder magazine, grading of the deteriorated earthworks, and a fence to restore the area to its 1861 appearance. The $13,000 project was to be funded by the Infrastructure Works Progress Administration (WPA) created by President Roosevelt. In September of 1939, the Park Service disapproved the Doubleday Hill restoration project, citing: "grading and sodding on a historical site not previously explored archaeologically under the supervision of a trained archaeologist may destroy historical evidence which can never be replaced." They explained they could not supply the technicians or archaeologists at this time. 
That same year, Williamsport requested federal funding to erect a monument to honor General Abner Doubleday. Former Hagerstown resident and noted Civil War historian Reverend George Gelbach, a professor of history at Cambridge, MD., was very vocal in his opposition to the plan. He argued that while the action at Williamsport deserved to be remembered, to place a monument honoring Doubleday was "one of the most inane propositions of all time." He furthered that General Doubleday's services were insignificant, and the first shots of the war were not exchanged at Williamsport. He noted that Washington County had about 55 other equally important skirmishes and "monuments might be raised here, with equal claims, to at least 40 generals." 

General Abner Doubleday

It was not a coincidence that Williamsport chose to honor Abner Doubleday in 1939. On June 12, 1939, Cooperstown, New York, was set to host the first induction ceremony of baseball greats Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner into the newly opened Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1907, the Spalding Commission erroneously concluded that on June 12, 1839, Abner Doubleday laid out the first baseball diamond at Cooperstown and, therefore, he should be known as the "father of baseball." That notion was still promoted thirty years later when a Cooperstown philanthropist financially supported the construction of the Baseball Hall of Fame, completed in 1936. Newspapers across the country carried the story of Cooperstown's upcoming celebration, Doubleday's action at Williamsport, and the campaign to erect a monument in his honor on Battery Hill.

Hall of Fame weekend at Cooperstown New York, 1939

Later evidence has proved that in 1839, Abner Doubleday was enrolled at West Point, not at Cooperstown. Additionally, Doubleday never claimed to have any influence over the sport, supported by the fact that many personal letters and documents were among his possessions at the time of his death, none of which mention the game. Fortunately for Williamsport, the monument was not built, and the notion that Doubleday invented baseball has been laid to rest. 

Charles Ardinger is in his ferry boat across from Williamsport. The photo shows the fenced cemetery in the background. This photo is prior to the 1907 construction of the Washington Berkeley Bridge, which removed most of the hillside on the left side of the cut.

The River View Memorial Association

Some notes in the Williamsport History Museum suggest the first organized group to tend the cemetery was the River View Memorial Association, organized and chartered in 1874, however, no documents support this claim. Furthermore, as late as 1890, it was known as the Potomac Hill Cemetery, not River View Cemetery.
Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association, Inc.

The Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association was incorporated on October 3, 1887, to "have a proper place of burial for the people of Williamsport and vicinity." The corporation noted "its existence to be forty years from the date of this certificate." However, there were no provisions for the corporation's dissolution in 1927 (forty years later) or the distribution of corporate assets. 
In November 1888, the Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association directors obtained a $150 mortgage from Victor Cushwa, Edward Steffey, and James Findley to enlarge the cemetery. A few days later, Victor Cushwa, Edward Steffey, and James Findley sold to the Association 32,600 square feet of land contiguous to the graveyard for $600. 
The recorded plat of 1888 shows a generous circular "carriage way" positioned along the top of the hill. To date, no surviving photographs of the period to confirm if this ornamental drive was ever built.
Between 1890 and 1892, the cemetery name was changed from the Potomac Hill graveyard to River View Cemetery. The Williamsport Memorial and Cemetery Association held numerous fund-raising events yearly to maintain the cemetery. Newspaper articles of the period usually referred to the organization as the Ladies Williamsport Memorial and Cemetery Association when reporting activities. At the fair in December of 1896, the Association raffled a "quilt containing the names of over two hundred persons who are buried in River View, chiefly Union soldiers who were killed." They noted the quilt took over thirteen years to complete. The ladies raised $40 for their efforts. While it is highly doubtful that 100 Civil War soldiers are buried in River View, this made a great fund-raising event in post-Civil War America. Maggie McKelvy won the memorial quilt. 
In 1902, the Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association purchased a second parcel of land from Victor Cushwa to enlarge the cemetery. In July 1911, Benjamin and Jeanette Lefever sold to the association canal lots #13 and #14, originally part of White's Addition to Williamsport. The two lots were divided into cemetery plots, stipulating that when lots were sold,  the association was to pay the Lefever family an additional $15 per lot. 
It is important to note that the small portion of land known as Battery Hill was not included in the cemetery's annexation. Therefore, it might be concluded that the descendants of Victor Cushwa still own this property.
River View Cemetery Endowment Association, Inc.

On January 9, 1915, several Williamsport citizens met in the home of Mrs. Agnes Berry Crawford and formed the River View Cemetery Endowment Association, Inc. The group aimed to maintain an endowment fund of $10,000 to invest and derive additional income. In September 1915, the Williamsport Cemetery and Memorial Association, Inc. officially merged into the River View Endowment Association, Inc. Once again, the founding documents for the new organization should have noted the disposition of assets should the corporation dissolve. The Williamsport History Museum houses numerous volumes of minutes and other records of this association. Below are some of the more interesting events taken from those documents:
March 1918—Mr Cushwa spoke of the hillside lying between the cemetery and the canal belonging to the firms of Cushwa & Sons and Steffey & Findley. He said it would make a practical addition to the cemetery and that his firm would donate it to the Association if Steffey & Findley agreed. 
May 1926 - new officers were elected. A. N. Crawford President, W. D. Byron first-vice President, C. B. Bell, second-vice President.
October 1927 - the association under W. D. Byron, improvements committee report:
The work of straightening the tombstones and monuments was completed. More than 400 carts of dirt were hauled, thereby making 22 additional lots - tore down, removed, and rebuilt tool house and made it 6 feet longer. The paint was donated by friends of the Association, and the building was given two coats. Seventy fee of 6" drainage tile donated by Mr. J W. Lefever was laid and joints cemented. Three inches of stone macadam with asphalt was applied on the road in old parts of the cemetery. Built 75 feet of concrete retaining wall with 12 inches of foundation and concrete cap. Dug out four large locust trees and sawed them up for posts. Dug out and removed four other large trees where they interfered with needed improvements. Leveled the greater part of the colored portion and filled sunken graves all over the cemetery. Cleaned and painted iron gates. Total cost $627.20
a. for the 6 full lots and 2 half lots above new retaining wall $85 each for whole lots and $45 each for half lots. 
b. for all those lots unsold in the eastern part of the cemetery near Emerson vault, $75 each
c. All other lots unsold in the cemetery $60 each
d. plain grave $10.50
e. Bench & slab grave $17.50
f. Walled & slab $38
g. Concrete vault $12.00
March 1930 - William Stake, a prominent town banker, died and bequeathed $10,000 to the Association. The money was placed in the endowment account. 
February 1932 - Mr. William King presented a plat of the cemetery showing the original cemetery and additions made from different terms with an index of the lot holders. 
June 1941 - following the death of W. D. Byron, new officers were elected.
July 1944 - There was an informal discussion of the present situation, reduction of income from investments, difficulty in getting able workmen, etc. Those present felt the townspeople might need to realize the board's problems and invited some representative citizens to attend the next meeting. 
September 1944 - Three visitors attend the meeting: Mayor R. G. Hawkens, Mrs. Naomi Downs, and Mr. Norris Downs.
November 1944 - Mayor Hawkens reported to the Association that all town council members favored giving financial aid if it could be done legally. Their attorney advised the council that they would not be allowed to donate any sum directly but could pay part of the expenses, as a large part of the old cemetery was town property. Note: The town of Williamsport hesitated to invest town funds in land not owned by the town. The additions to the cemetery were the legal property of the River View Cemetery Endowment Association, Inc. 
March 1945—In a special council meeting, the council appropriated half the cost of a caretaker, to be at most $13.75 per week, considered a justified expenditure in maintaining the part of the cemetery owned by the town. 
October 1947 - The price of labor combined with the low return from investments and low income resulted in severe financial difficulties for the association. By July 1950, the account balance was $160.01, and the Association began to borrow from the auxiliary account. 
November 1960 - The Potomac Post #202 American Legion erected a flag pole in the cemetery to display the American flag on May 30th and November 11th, so long as it does not interfere with the cemetery. The legion agreed to remove the flag and pole if it was no longer needed.

The western edge of the cemetery has fencing circa 1900. The power plant at Williamsport would be built in about 1920.

River View Cemetery Association, Inc.

The River View Cemetery Association, Inc. was incorporated on April 28, 1977, and remains in good standing today with the State of Maryland. Article nine of the incorporation papers notes the Distribution of Assets upon Dissolution: "All the business, property, and assets of the corporation shall go and be distributed to such nonprofit charitable corporation, municipal corporation, or corporations, as may be selected by the Board of Directors..."
The Association's minutes report that on October 7, 1985, the Association presented the town with an agreement to maintain the cemetery. Reportedly, the council authorized Mayor Seymour to sign and execute the agreement subject to attorney review. One month later, association members Don Ardinger and Charles Pete Jessop attended the town council meeting on November 4, 1985, requesting ownership and assets of the cemetery association be transferred to Williamsport. There is no evidence the transfer occurred. 
The Williamsport History Museum documents a development on May 1, 1986, when all the River View Cemetery Association, Inc. directors resigned. Despite this, Edward L. Shank (deceased) of Conococheague Street is still listed as the director of the corporation. The Osbourne Funeral Home in Williamsport continues to file annual reports for the corporation, indicating its ongoing existence. 
Therefore, only the two oldest sections of the graveyard, annexed in 1877, are the only portion of the cemetery owned by the Town of Williamsport. The additions to the graveyard remain the property of the River View Cemetery Association, Inc.
Rotary Club of Williamsport

In January of 1986, the directors of the Williamsport Rotary Club presented a plan to assume operations of the cemetery and offered to provide, without compensation, their services. There is abundant correspondence in the Williamsport History Museum of the Rotary Club discussing responsibilities, expenses, and obligations in maintaining the cemetery; however, at some point, the plan was abandoned.
Vandals at River View

Time has not been kind to this historical, over 250-year-old graveyard. Natural erosion by the elements, hasty burials that covered over adjoining plaques, and vandals. Here are a few of the more infamous incidents:

 A Tavern Gang about 1890 representative of what the Whooly-Gooly Gang would have looked like. 

Whooly-Gooly Gang 
January 11, 1898

As the good citizens of Williamsport prepared to retire on the cold, moonlit night of Tuesday, January 11, 1898, several rowdy young men hurried down Potomac Street to Barry's Saloon, their favorite Williamsport watering hole. The tavern was an early wood frame building on the corner of Potomac Street at Vermont Street that some called "an eyesore to respectable persons." 
The proprietor of Barry's Saloon was 22-year-old Thomas "Tom" Barry, the son of Irish immigrants. For several years, gathering at Barry's Saloon was a nightly ritual for the approximately ten young men who called themselves the "Whooly-Gooly Gang." The gang usually limited their evenings to playing pool and drinking whiskey in the back room of the tavern they called the "grand jury room." Most nights, they could stumble home; if not, they passed out on the floor. 
These young men were not unknown in the community; most were sons of prominent businessmen in the town. Young and arrogant, the men's escapades soon escalated from simple mischief to more severe crimes—breaking into homes, damaging property, racing horses and carriages through town, injuring townspeople, and public drunkenness.
In April 1897, Charles Harrison, a black citizen of Williamsport, died in Barry's Saloon from what Tom Barry later testified was "an excessive amount of liquor consumed on a wager." Other witnesses testified that Harrison had only three drinks and suggested that the rye served to Harrison was tainted. There was insufficient evidence to convict Barry of wrongdoing. Townsfolk became alarmed when the gang stole several sticks of dynamite that they threatened to use on anyone who testified against them.
Eight months earlier, it was thought the gang would break up when the supposed leader of the gang Jack Lemen, son of a town merchant, was sentenced to twenty years in jail for the attempted rape, assault, and slicing the throat of 18-year-old Elizabeth "Lizzie" Taylor, daughter of William E. Taylor owner of Taylor's Hotel. Lizzie survived the attack but spent months recovering. Lemen blamed his actions on the excessive use of intoxicants, stating the whole affair was blank to him being "crazed by whiskey."
On the evening of January 11, 1898, the gang committed their final crime that united the citizens of Williamsport in seeing the gang brought to justice. Tom Barry, Harry Loy, Samuel Newcomer, Ott Sharer, and John Harsh, all fairly well pickled with drink, stumbled out of the saloon and up to the town cemetery. Harsh (who later turned state's evidence) and Newcomer kept watch while Barry, Loy, and Sharer crawled over the iron fence into the cemetery. That night, the gang overturned, vandalized, or destroyed 94 tombstones and monuments. Returning from the cemetery and not quite finished with the evening's revelry, the gang later broke into the Lutheran Church and smashed the church organ before calling it a night. The desecration of the cemetery was the final atrocity for the townspeople of Williamsport, who had stoically endured the gang's actions for several years. 
The citizens of Williamsport demanded retribution for the destruction at the cemetery. It was evident extraordinary means would be necessary to bring the gang to justice. Sheriff Seibert and State's Attorney Wagaman sought help from outside the county and hired Jerry Allen, a detective with the International Detective Agency of Baltimore. Under the alias of Jimmy Murphy, Allen arrived in Williamsport on January 24, 1898, with a prearranged job at the W. D. Byron tannery. Allen quickly made himself known as a hard-drinking, fun-loving, popular fellow and was soon a regular at Barry's Saloon. Within the week, Allen had collected sufficient evidence to justify warrants for the arrest of the five gang members. As warrants were being prepared, clan member John Harsh decided to become a witness for the state.
The trial was held on March 1, 1898 in Hagerstown, with 35 witnesses for the prosecution and 18 for the defense. After the testimony, the jury deliberated for only thirty minutes before finding Thomas Barry, Harry Loy, Samuel Newcomer, and Ott Sharer guilty of malicious mischief and desecrating the River View Cemetery. They were sentenced to twelve years in the penitentiary.
After serving only three years of his sentence, Samuel Newcomer became ill with consumption, and his family petitioned the Governor for release. He was pardoned in 1901. One year later, in August of 1902, the fervor and outrage having subsided in the town, the Governor pardoned Barry, Sharer, and Loy.
Samuel Newcomer returned to Williamsport, where he died in 1906 at age 29. He is buried in River View Cemetery. Harry Loy moved to Pittsburgh briefly, later returning to Williamsport, where he died in 1907 at age 34. He also is buried in River View Cemetery. Thomas Barry moved to Washington, DC, to be with his mother, who moved there after the trial. He later moved to Charleston, WV, where he was killed in a railroad accident in 1911. His body was returned to Washington County, and he is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery with other family members. Ott Sharer was never heard from again.
Vandals Wreck Havoc In Williamsport Cemetery April 1955

When vandals struck the cemetery in April of 1955, "It looked like a cyclone had hit" reported town officer Jacob Mills, "shattered crocks and flowers placed upon the graves on Easter Sunday have been scattered all over the place."

Vandals Desecrate River View Cemetery October 1960

Vandals pulled up and damaged an undisclosed number of tombstones. They broke the cross off one headstone, then used it as a hammer to damage other stones. Councilman Charles Miller, Williamsport's Commissioner of Police advised that any youth not accompanied by an adult caught in the cemetery would be arrested.
Vandals At Williamsport Cemetery July 1970

Sunday night July 19 thirty-two tombstones were knocked over or broken. Restoration was scheduled. The area most damaged was the "old Section"

14 Headstones Damaged by Vandals July 2021

According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, 14 headstones were damaged by vandals sometime Friday night or Saturday morning in the historic River View Cemetery in Williamsport.
Black in Blue - African-American soldiers in River View
In 2020, two local brothers, Richard F. and Jack M. Ebersole of Williamsport, realized something other historians had overlooked—The River View Cemetery was the final resting place of numerous African-Americans who served in the Civil War.  River View Cemetery is believed to be second only to Arlington National Cemetery for burials of U.S.C.T (United States Colored Troops). Jack and Richard devoted months of research to the background of these soldiers. The following section is their work. Thank you.
According to a story published in the 27 May 1895 edition of the Baltimore Sun, both the Reno Post and the Lyon Post of the GAR, came to River View Cemetery to decorate the graves of twenty-two Union soldiers buried there. Among those dead, neglected, and long forgotten were eleven veterans of the United States Colored Troops who served their country honorably during the American Civil War. 
The term "colored" was the official term used by the federal government to describe African-American soldiers of the era. Memorial Day services were held with the Lyon Post of the G.A.R. regularly participating through the beginning of the 20th century. Graves were decorated, songs sung, prayers offered, bands played, and speeches delivered to the thousands who attended. When General George McClelland came to Hagerstown to give a speech at Antietam National Cemetery in 1885, he was given a carriage ride to Williamsport, with Doubleday Hill and Riverview Cemetery being of interest to him.
Approximately 246 Washington County African-American men are known to have served in the Civil War. According to the Baltimore Sun, in addition to Antietam National Cemetery, Union soldiers were buried in Rohresville, Leitersburg, Long Meadow, Smithsburg, Funkstown, Clear Spring, Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville, and the Catholic Cemetery in Williamsport. The remains of many, if not most, lie in unknown places. 
On May 22, 1863, the Bureau of Colored Troops was established to coordinate and organize regiments across the country under the War Department General Order No. 143. Eventually, over 185,000 African-­Americans fought in the Civil War, most of whom were referred to as the United States Colored Infantry (USCI) or United States Colored Troops (USCT). Among those locally serving were Lloyd Brooks, John Clark, John Clemens, Joseph Green, Charles Hilton, Edward Jenkins, Daniel Johnson, William Johnson, James Peters, James R. Thompson, and William Edward Young. Their graves lie amongst Williamsport's leading citizens: General Otho Holland Williams, Byrons and Van Lears, and others less important, except to their families.
Many other African-American men from Williamsport served their country honorably, fighting to secure their freedom. The following biographies are for those from Williamsport buried in River View Cemetery. Unfortunately, the burial locations of many others are unknown.
John Alfred Clark
John Alfred Clark was born in Williamsport, Maryland, around 1844 and enlisted in the USCT on August 25, 1863, in Baltimore for a term of 3 years and was mustered out 4 May 1866. Clark's service record indicates he was a free man and had been before 19 April 1861. A year after enlisting, he was detached to service as a Division Provost Guard. Provost Guards were military police during the Civil War , and he would have been responsible for maintaining order in camp or in a town, gathering up stragglers, or guarding supplies. After duty as provost guard, he was made an orderly at regimental headquarters. Like many soldiers, he had trouble keeping track of his gear and owed the army for items such as a missing canteen (64 cts.) and a wrench (23 cts.). In addition, at the time of his discharge, he was in debt of $6.00 to the local sutler W.E. Cooper, who would later be dismissed for price gouging. He was 19 years old, stood 5'6" tall, and listed his occupation as laborer. On August 8, 1889, an application was filed for a pension on behalf of Pvt. Clark's mother. Those records are no longer extant as the National Archives purged the application records for those never granted a pension. He also served in the 4th Infantry Regiment with James Peters and Edward Jenkins. Both Peters and Jenkins served in Company K. 
James Peters Company K 4th USCT 
James Peters was another Williamsport native, born there about 1837; He was the son of Rev. Caesar Peters, a noted local minister at the African Methodist Church. Rev. Peters had been the slave of Mr. Van Lear who manumitted him. At his death, Mr. Van Lear's funeral service was performed by Rev. Peters. James' service record and census report give his occupation as "boatman." Likely, he was employed on the C & 0 Canal at the Cushwa Basin. James enlisted on 21 September 1863 for a 3-year term and was discharged with a disability as a Corporal on 26 May 1865. Beginning in November 1863, he was reported sick in his quarters, followed by a lengthy stay in the hospital at Fort Monroe, and then discharged with a left inguinal hernia. The hernia incurred from "being thrown over parapets at the explosion of the fort at Yorktown, VA." His pension records claim injuries incurred while in the service, "injury caused by overextension and hard labor while moving heavy artillery." He also reports "a gunshot wound through the breast causing hemorrhage and infection of the lungs." After the war, he reported his occupation as a waiter and moved about to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. 
Edward Jenkins Company K 4th USCT
Pvt. Edward Jenkins, also spelled Jinkins, was a mulatto born in Washington County about 1840. He was born a slave at Rockland, the home of Frisby Tilghman, one of the largest slaveholders in Washington County. Edward's birth at Rockland is attested to in the pension records by Aurelia Lewis, another of  Tilghman's slaves. As a boy at Rockland, Edward injured his right thumb, several people attest to this occurring as the result of playing with fire and gunpowder. Jenkins was later sold to Henry C. Welty 
which was confirmed by Welty's daughter, Magdalena Emmert. He lived from the age of 7-9 with that 
family until the war broke out. Jenkins enlisted on 1 September 1863 and served for 1 year, 3 months, and 21 days. At the time of his enlistment, he was about 23 years old and 5'5" 3/4" inches tall and listed his occupation as a farmer. The 4th was first sent to Ft. Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, and Pvt. Jenkins was soon hospitalized there. He was placed on duty as a cook when discharged from the hospital. 
Throughout his service, Pvt. Jenkins spent most of his time in the hospital or sick in quarters. Though he was discharged in May of 1865, he stayed in the hospital at Ft. Monroe until February of 1866. His service record indicates he suffered a fracture of the right femur before enlistment, which shortened his leg by one inch. That, along with rheumatism of the leg, resulted in his discharge for disability. He returned to Washington County and was appointed janitor by the Washington County commissioners. Mr. Jenkins was also active in the community, serving as chaplain to the Lyon Post G.A.R. in 1892, Vice­-President of Harrison, Reid, and Wellington Colored Republican Club, and delegate to the county and 
state Republican conventions in the 1880's and 90's. Because of Lincoln and the association of the 
Republican Party with abolition and reconstruction most African-Americans who could vote, voted Republican until the New Deal. 
Lloyd Brooks Company 8 4th USCT
Cpl. Brooks was born on 15 August 1844 and died on 4 June 1906. He married Elizabeth Gates on 13 May 1869, from whom he was separated about a year and six months later. He married his second wife, Joanna, on 19 July 1877. Lloyd had been a slave in Downsville, his master either Simon or Benjamin Long. 
The History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers lists his rank as corporal, but the 1890 census of veterans ranks him as sergeant. At the time of his enlistment the service record states his occupation as "sailor." For a man living in Williamsport with an occupation of sailor it's likely he was working on the C&O Canal. After the war, Lloyd continued to live in the Williamsport area; the 1880 census has his occupation as laborer and the 1900 as coachman. Records from the Freedmen's Bank show that Lloyd had an account valued at $30, that he was born in Washington County and resided in Downsville, he was 5'6" tall with a dark complexion.
James Robert Thompson Company B 4th USCT 
The 19 April 1919 Daily Mail obituary reads, "James R. Thompson, colored, Civil War Veteran, died at the home of his niece, Mrs. Benjamin Burnet, Williamsport, of general debility, aged 74 years. Funeral on 
Sunday afternoon, services in the colored M.E. Church by Rev. Sten net. Internment in River View 
There is no marker to commemorate Sgt. Thompson. Sgt. Thompson was likely the child of slaves as his parents were born in Virginia, but he was a free man. His service record indicates he was free before April 19, 1861, the beginning of the Civil War. Before March 1865, when Congress awarded all black soldiers equal back pay retroactive to enlistment, the date determined a black soldier's pay. Thompson was 19 when he enlisted on 25 August 1863 for a 3-year term of service with Col Birney in Baltimore. He was given the rank of private at enlistment, was promoted to corporal on 21 September 1864, and to sergeant on 1 August 1865. During the Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, Thompson was wounded and is reported absent on the muster roll for September and October. During that time, he was at Balfour Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, and didn't report back for duty until 2 December 1864. In March and April, he was detached from Co. B and assigned to the Divisional Pioneers. The Pioneers were assigned to do engineering and construction tasks. The 4th did duty in North Carolina until 4 May 1866, when they were mustered out. Thompson returned to Williamsport, and the 1870 census reports his occupation as "boatman." That same year, he married Annie Brooks in Williamsport and lived there until his death in 1919.
The 4th United States Colored Troop was comprised of free men, recently freed slaves, and a few slaves who were induced to leave their masters. Clark, Peters, Jenkins, and Brooks were all free men, four of about forty recruits from Washington County. President Lincoln authorized the creation of black units in Maryland in June of 1863. The War Department then authorized Colonel William Birney of the 2nd USCT to raise a regiment of free blacks. Approximately 1,002 men were enlisted and assembled at Camp Birney in Baltimore. Colonel Birney had difficulty raising sufficient men from Baltimore only. Many blacks were reluctant to enlist because they knew they would be discriminated against. White soldier's pay was $13 dollars a month, while African-Americans were to be paid only $10, of which $3 dollars was withheld for a clothing allowance. Initially, black troops were ineligible for the bounty payment; later, the Maryland General Assembly authorized a payment of $100. Since insufficient men were enlisted in Baltimore, Colonel Birney sent recruiters to the counties. Col. J.P. Creager, a Birney subordinate recruited in Western Maryland. Protests from slave owners resulted in Col. Creager being arrested by the Frederick County Sheriff for his recruitment practices. 
After training in Baltimore, the 4th was sent to Fort Monroe and Yorktown. The unit saw action during the Richmond-Petersburg campaign, fighting the 2nd Battle of Petersburg, the Battle of the Crater, Dutch's Gap, Chaffin's Farm, and Fair Oaks. 
Charles H. Hilton Company F 43rd USCT 
Pvt. Hilton enlisted in the 43rd USCT, Company F which was organized in Philadelphia at Camp William  Penn and consisted mostly of Pennsylvania recruits. Hilton was a farmer from Washington County aged 24 when he enlisted in April of 1864, serving until discharged in Brownsville, Texas 20 October 1865  where he had been on duty as a cook. While in service, Hilton suffered a wound to the right foot. The  pension records say that Pvt. Hilton "alleges" that he received a gunshot to the foot in July of 1864 at  Petersburg and was treated by the regimental surgeon. The examiner of his pension claim found a slight scar and a superficial wound." After the war, he returned to Williamsport; he and Sophie Brown were married by David Long of Fairplay on 21 May 1867. Together, they had 12 children, 5 of whom died in childhood. Charles and Sophie lived in Williamsport for the remainder of their lives, neighbors of Rose  Smith and friends of the Redmond family. Pvt. Hilton died on 19 November 1894, the year Sophie applied for a widow's pension. The undertaker attested to his death, writing, "I placed him in a coffin and buried him at the burial grounds at Williamsport, MD." 
The 43rd Regiment was organized at Camp William Penn and stationed in Annapolis. They fought from the Rapidan to the James River, Va., May-June, 1864. Guard trains of the Army of the Potomac through the Wilderness and to Petersburg. Before Petersburg June 15-19. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Poplar Grove Church September 29-30 and October 1. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. On the Bermuda Hundred front and before Richmond until March 1865. Moved to Hatcher's Run March 27-28. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Hatcher's Run March 29-31. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Duty at Petersburg and City Point until May 30. Moved to Texas May 30-June 10. Duty on the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros, Mexico, until October. Mustered out October 20, 1865, and discharged at Philadelphia, Pa., November 30, 1865. Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 48 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 188 Enlisted men by disease. Total 239. 
John Clemens Company A/Southard's Company U.S. Colored Infantry Pennsylvania Company I 43rd Regiment USCT
Pvt. Clemens was born around 1839 in Williamsport, Maryland, and joined Southard's Company when it was formed at Camp William Penn on July 28, 1864. Southard's Company was disbanded on 14 November 1864. These were 3 or 4-month enlistments, and the remaining men were transferred to existing U.S.C.T regiments. Clemens then joined Company I of the 43rd USCT. The service record indicates he was frequently absent from duty. On 1 July 1863, he deserted and was apprehended on 31 July. Hardships, forced marches, heat, thirst, disease, delayed pay, and family considerations caused many Civil War soldiers to desert, an estimated 200,000. He was returned to the ranks and appointed drummer. In addition to being away without leave, he seems to have had trouble keeping his equipment. He was charged$12.97 for general equipage and $20.10 for ordnance, the musket cost. He was mustered out in October of 1865 in Brownsville, Texas. Clemens, whose name may also appear as Clemans or Clemings, returned to Williamsport after the war and was active in Republican politics, chosen as a delegate to the county nominating convention in 1885. He lived there with his wife, Louisa, dying in 1925 in Steelton, Pa. Pvt. Clemens's name appears on plaque E-157 of the African-American Civil War Memorial. 
William Johnson 38th USCT
William Johnson of the 38th USCT is listed in the Washington County Maryland Cemetery Records as interred in River View Cemetery. Other than this notation, nothing is known of Johnson's service now. The 38th Regiment was composed mostly of men from St. Mary's County, Maryland, and men from Virginia who had been freed by the Union army. The 38th was organized on 23 January 1864 and mustered out on 25 January 1867. This unit also saw action in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond and Petersburg. Along with the 43rd, they were sent to Texas to do duty along the Rio Grande and Brownsville. The 38th was composed of men from St. Mary's County, Maryland {both free Black tenant farmers and men who had escaped slavery) in combination with many Virginia men who had been liberated from slavery by the Union army. These two contingents constituted the 38th United States Colored Troops regiment, which was organized in Virginia on January 23, 1864, and then subsequently served first at Norfolk and Portsmouth in the Department of Virginia and then in North Carolina until June 1864, after which it was involved in operations against Petersburg and Richmond for the remainder of the war. The regiment participated in engagements at Chaffin's Farm on September 29-September 30, Deep Bottom on October 1, and Fair Oaks on October 27-October 28, 1864. The 38th was moved to Texas between May 24 and June 6, 1865, where it would stay for the rest of its service. The unit saw duty at various points along the Rio Grande in the southern portion of the state, including Brownsville and Brazos Santiago, as well as at Indianola and Galveston on the Gulf Coast. After three years of existence, the 38th was mustered out on January 25, 1867. The regiment lost a total of 237 men during its service: one officer and 42 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, and two officers and 192 enlisted men died of disease. 
Daniel Johnson Company A 7th USCT 
Though the name on this marker is unreadable, it is a soldier who served in the 7th USCT, and the Washington County Maryland Cemetery Records Vol. 1 gives the name of the only soldier from the 7th to be buried in River View as Daniel Johnson. The 7th Regiment was organized in Baltimore from 26 September to 12 November 1863 and served duty at Camp Stanton in Benedict, Maryland, before being ordered to Portsmouth, Virginia. There was Daniel Johnson in the 7th as well as Daniel Johnson in other regiments, but they have no connection to Williamsport. Daniel Johnson of the 7th was a farmer from Talbot County, Maryland. The pension records for Daniel Johnson, known to have lived in Williamsport, were in Co. G of the 6th USCT. The service record for Pvt. Johnson lists his age at the time of enlistment as 35, a farmer born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He enlisted on 14 July 1863 in New Brighton, Pennsylvania and was mustered out while in the hospital at White Hall, Pennsylvania 24 May 1865. After the war Dan married Mary Sanders in Washington County 16 April 1867. After Mary's death, Daniel married Julia Butler, the widow of Henry Butler and a lifelong resident of Williamsport. They were married by the Rev. Cesar Peters of Williamsport on 5 March 1874. Until their marriage, Daniel lived next door on Lot 68, belonging to John A. Rickard. Daniel died on 5 May 1889 from cardiac paralysis and was buried on the 8th by James Krebs, the undertaker. Mr. Krebs from Williamsport says he buried him "here in our cemetery." Riverview was the only cemetery in Williamsport at the time. As a member of the 7th, Johnson would have seen duty at Jacksonville, Fla., till June 1864. Cedar Creek April 2. Expedition to Camp Milton May 31-June 3. Skirmishes on James Island July 5 and 7.Burden's Causeway, Johns Island, July 9.Moved to Bermuda Hundred, Va., August 6-siege operations against 
Petersburg and Richmond August 1864 to April 1865.Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, 
September 28-30.Darbytown Road October 13.Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28.Near Richmond 
October 28 in trenches before Richmond till March 27, 1865, Appomattox Campaign March 27-April 
9. Hatcher's Run March 29-31.Fall of Petersburg April 2.Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Moved to Petersburg April 11, and duty there till May 24. Moved to Indianola, Texas, and May 24-June 23. Duty on the Rio Grande and at various points in the Dept. of Texas till October 1866. Moved to Baltimore, Md., October 14-November 4. Mustered out October 13, 1866, and discharged at Baltimore, Md., November 15, 1866. Regiment lost during service, 1 Officer and 84 Enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded, and 1 Officer and 307 Enlisted men by disease. Total 393. 
Joseph Green Company D 6th USCT
The story of Joseph Green was difficult to discern. NPS records have Joseph Green's in the 1st, 2nd, 6th· 10th, 31st, 45th, 51st, 113th, 117th, and 121st. However, other records indicate that Joseph Green served in the 4th USCT. This may have just been a clerical error, as there were two Joseph Greens who served in the USCT, one from Williamsport and one who lived in Williamsport after the war. As a result, both are included in this paper. Pvt. Green of the 6th regiment was born a slave on 7 November 1844, in Warren County, Virginia, owned by Daniel Powers. He lived on the Powers Farm until the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. General Phillip Sheridan had been laying waste to the Shenandoah Valley, and with the victory at Cedar Creek over Jubal Early, he ended Confederate threats to Washington. The Power's farm may have been destroyed by Sheridan, or at least the chaos created by the battle enabled Green to run away a few days later. He went straight to Baltimore and enlisted on the 22nd. Pvt. Green served with the 6th until the end of the war, was discharged at Wilmington, North Carolina, and then disbanded in Philadelphia. In his 1892 pension deposition, he says that he came to Williamsport, Maryland, directly from Philadelphia and has lived there ever since. According to the 1939 application for his headstone requested by Mrs. Laura S. Redmond of Williamsport, he served in the 6th USCT Company D, enlisting 22 October 1864 and discharged 20 September 1865. In a sworn deposition, a sometimes neighbor, Wilson Grimes, says he worked with Green in a lime kiln in the late 1870, boated with him for three or four seasons, and at the time of the deposition in 1894 was working as a corn husker. In the 1910 census, the last before his death on 26 April 1916, he was living on Salisbury Street with his daughter, son, and granddaughter. The 6th USCT participated in the expedition against Richmond, skirmish near Williamsburg, expedition - Yorktown to New Kent Court House, City Point, Petersburg (June 9th 1864)Butler's operations against Petersburg and Richmond the Petersburg (assault June 15th 1864)Petersburg (June 16th, 18th, 1864)Dutch Gap, Chaffin's Farm {Fort Harrison) Fort Fisher (December 1864) Fort Fisher (January, 186S) Sugar Loaf Battery, North Carolina, occupation of Wilmington, North Carolina, and the skirmish Phillips Cross Roads, North Carolina Killed or mortally wounded officers ... 8 Killed or mortally wounded men ... 79 Died of disease officers ... 5 Died of disease men ... 132 Wounded and missing officers and men ... 168 
Pvt. Green of the 4th was born in Williamsport. According to the Clerk of the Court of Washington County, Joseph Green was born on October 7, 1843, to Margaret Collins, a free woman of color. The 1850 census lists a six-year-old Joseph Green living in Williamsport with the Hanson Jones family. Further evidence of his Williamsport birth is contained in affidavits sworn in the pension record. 
James Gates swore they grew up together in Williamsport, and his wife Annie says they met in 1862. Green's service record lists his occupation as a boatman. During his service, he was treated in the hospital for a bayonet wound and a hernia, which was caused by a comrade throwing a watermelon rind and hitting him in the testicles. Sadly, he was also treated for venereal disease multiple times as well. Both he and his wife, Annie from Clear Spring, whom he had married on 25 July 1867, suffered serious health issues resulting from his contracted syphilis and gonorrhea. He likely worked on the canal before and after his war service. Joseph died on 1 April 1883 in Cumberland from tubercular consumption. 
Pvt. William Edward Young Company I 29th USCT 
Though the 29th was organized at Quincy, Illinois, on 24 April 1864, Companies G through K were not from Illinois. Pvt. Young enlisted in Baltimore at about age 19 as a substitute for Horace Walters. Congress had passed the Enrollment Act, also known as the Civil War Military Draft Act, which required enrollment of every male citizen and immigrant who had filed for citizenship. Each Congressional district was also given a quota. However, citizens could opt out through commutation, which meant paying the $300 fee or hiring a substitute. 
The commutation fee was good for only one year, so it would have to be paid with each enrollment year. Hiring a substitute was common practice, future president Grover Cleveland hired a substitute, and George Templeton Strong paid "a Dutch boy" $1,100 to be his substitute. An African-American substitute could usually be hired for less. Horace Walters, a Montgomery County farmer, paid William Young an unknown sum, though men usually demanded several hundred dollars, to be his substitute. 
The regiment was ordered to Annapolis on the 2nd of May and then to Alexandria. Pvt. Young mustered in on 20 December 1864, and by this time, the regiment was on duty at the Bermuda Hundred front and then to Richmond. The 29th was present at Appomattox for the surrender and was then sent to Texas, serving in the Rio Grande Valley until the regiment was mustered out on 6 November 1866. Young was in the hospital at Point of Rocks, Virginia, for an extended period of time. This was not unusual; of the almost 40,000 African Americans who died in the Civil War, almost 30,000 died from disease. Pvt. Young was fortunate to survive his sickness. Young's service record gives his place of birth as Virginia, so it is possible he was a slave who had run away from his plantation after Sheridan's campaign through the Shenandoah Valley. William Young is listed in the 1880 census as a resident of Williamsport and working as a farm laborer. He is also on the 1890 Veteran's Schedule and the 1910 census. By 1910, he was living at 33 Conococheague Street with his wife Priscilla and working at Byron Tannery. According to Find-A-Grave, he was born on 10 August 1846, died on 3 March 1918, and is buried in River View Cemetery. 
The following short biographies of USCT soldiers who were either born in Williamsport or lived there after the Civil War. 
Alexander Baker, Pvt. Co E, 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry 
Baker, 24, was born in 1840 in Williamsport, Maryland. He enlisted in Boston on February 6, 1864, and became the company bugler. Prior to his enlistment, he worked as a waiter. 
Reuben Barber, Pvt. Co K, 4th USCT
Barber enlisted on September 1, 1863, and stayed in the army until 1866. He had been promoted to corporal but was reduced in rank in 1866. According to his service record, Barber was 19, born in Williamsport, and worked as a hostler (someone hired, usually by a hotel, to handle the horses from guest's carriages). During his time in the army, he served as a company cook. According to documents in his pension file, he was born a slave in Winchester, Virginia, owned by Mrs. Hopkins. At age 12, he was sold to Dr. Henry Sellers of Washington County until age 23. At some point he must have been manumitted as the documents indicate he worked in a livery stable and was not a slave. 
William Blake, Pvt. Co K, 4th USCT 
Blake, who was born in Williamsport, Md. Was 18 when he enlisted in 1863 and was killed in action at 
Petersburg, Virginia, on June 15, 1864. Pvt. Blake listed his occupation as a farmer at the time of his 
Lloyd Brooks, Pvt.-Corp. Co B, 4th USCT 
Brooks had been a slave, and his owner, Simon Long, filed a claim with the Slave Compensation Board. He was promoted to corporal and possibly sergeant. 
Nathaniel Brooks, Pvt. Co B 4th USCT 
Pvt. Brooks was born in Cumberland but lived in Williamsport for much of his life. Enlisting August 1863, he served until discharged for disability. He was wounded on 29 September 1864 and had his left arm 
amputated. According to documents in his pension record, "claimant's left arm was amputated about 2 inches above the wrist joint, leaving a normal stump. Rated thirty dollars." Brooks also received as 
serious injury to his right hip from a fall off a pier while boarding a transport steamer at Yorktown.
Martin L. Brown, Rank, Pvt. Co D, 4th USCT 
Information on Pvt. Brown is very limited. He is listed on the 1890 Veteran's Schedule, and he lived in Williamsport. 
Giles Butler, Pvt. Co c, 24th USCT
Pvt. Butler from Williamsport enlisted January 25, 1865 in Pittsburgh, Pa. At some point during his 
service he was cited for "pretending insanity." 
John Alfred Clark, Pvt. Co B, 4th USCT 
From Williamsport, Clark enlisted 28 August 1863 and served as both Provost Guard and orderly at 
Regimental Headquarters. 
John Clemens, Pvt. Southard's Co. Co I, 43rd USCT
Born in Williamsport, he joined in Pennsylvania. On 1 July 1864 he deserted, was apprehended on the 31st and made a drummer in August. 
Jennigham Diggs, Pvt.-Sgt. co 1 38th USCT
Sgt. Diggs enlisted 15 February 1865. 
Henry W. Dorsey, Pvt. co D, 4th USCT
A mason by occupation, born near Williamsport, he enlisted on 28 August 1863. Dorsey was wounded on 29 September 1864 and did not rejoin his regiment until 24 February 1865. He was a Private and also played in the Regimental Band. 
Jacob Edwards, Pvt. Co E, 38th USCT 
Private Edwards was a 25-year-old married man who was born in Williamsport, MD. When he enrolled, he was a waiter living in Westminster, MD. Edwards enrolled in January 1865 and died of pneumonia on February 18, 1865, while at Camp Casey. 
John William Gates, Pvt.-Sgt. co D 4th USCT
Enlisted August 28, 1863, the 24 year old laborer from Williamsport was promoted to corporal and then to sergeant before the end of his term. 
Joseph Green, Pvt.-Corp. Co D, 4th USCT 
Joseph Green was a 19-year-old boatman on the canal in Williamsport. His service record says, "he is sick with gonorrhea, dangerous character, and promoted to corporal." 
Joseph Green, Pvt. Co D, 6th USCT 
Pvt. Green was born a slave in Virginia and ran away to join the army. After the war, he settled in 
Williamsport and is buried in River View Cemetery. For a time, Joseph Green in Prince George's County received a pension rightfully entitled to Joseph Green from Williamsport. This case was eventually 
resolved by the Bureau of Pensions. 
William H. Jones, Pvt. Co K, 4th USCT 
An 18-year-old farmer from Williamsport, Md., Jones enlisted along with several other men from the 
area on August 28, 1863. He died in a hospital in Yorktown, VA, on December 1, 1863, after having "served honestly and faithfully with his regiment in Virginia." 
Charles Wesley Lake, Pvt. Co D, 4th USCT 
from Williamsport, a farmer, enlisted at 19 on 28 August 1863 and served until 4 May 
1866. He was a private and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after the war according to the 1890 
Veterans Schedule. 
Charles Wesley Marshall (Marshel, Marshal), Pvt. Co D, 4th USCT 
Many men from the area enlisted into the 4th Regiment in August 1863. Marshall, 19, whose occupation was listed as a boatman, likely on the C&O Canal in Williamsport, was among them. Marshall was wounded June 18, 1864, and sent to the Balfore General Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, and discharged for disability May 3, 1865. 
Elijah Mills, Pvt. Co B, 4th USCT 
From Williamsport, Elijah was 16 years old when he enlisted in August 1863. He died on 22 February 1864 from disease at the Regimental Hospital near Yorktown, Va. 
James Peters, Corp. Co K, 4th USCT 
a Williamsport native enlisted on 21 September 1863 for 3 years. He suffered a hernia from being "thrown over parapets at the explosion of the fort at Yorktown. He also reported "a gunshot 
wound through the breast causing hemorrhage and infection of the lungs." He was discharged for 
disability as a Corporal 26 May 1865. 
William P Scott, Pvt. Co F, 24th USCT
he was born in Williamsport and was 21 years old when he enlisted in Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania. Prior to his enlistment, he had worked as a laborer. 
Charles P. Taylor, Pvt.-Sgt. Co D, 4th USCT 
was a 25-year-old laborer in Williamsport when he enlisted on 28 August 1863. He was 
promoted through the ranks to sergeant. In his request for a furlough, it was stated, "he was an excellent soldier and worthy in every way of the indulgence." 
John Henry Thomas, Pvt. Co K, 4tt1 USCI
Thomas was born in Williamsport, enlisted August 28, 1863, served as a company cook and was wounded near Petersburg on 15 June 1864. 
James Robert Thompson, Pvt.-Corp. Co B, 4th USCT 
a 19-year-old enlistee {26 August 1863) from Williamsport. He was promoted to corporal and later sergeant. He received a wound at an unidentified battle and was, for a time, on detached service with the Division Pioneers. 
Partial listing of Noted, Interesting, Political, and Military graves
This is by no means a complete listing of people buried in River View Cemetery; it is just a few of the more interesting, military, and downright famous ones 

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