In 1851, Ann Hall, the widow of Benedict William Hall, and the children attempted to sell Eutaw. A buyer was never found and in 1854, Sidney (Hall) Harris petitioned the Baltimore County Court to divided the Eutaw estate amongst her and her siblings and mother. The division of 1854 was finalized in 1856, and resulted in several of the children and one grandchild of Benedict William Hall receiving portions of the family estate.
Sidney and her husband received 33 acres of Eutaw located on the west bank of Herring Run, where they built a stately mansion house they named Ivy Hill. Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge and her husband, Horatio Whitridge, were given 26 acres located between the Harford Turnpike and the Columbia Mill, commonly known as Hall Spring. Along with the property, Elizabeth and Horatio received the Hall Spring Tavern and associated outbuildings as well as the one-acre lot located on the south side of the turnpike containing the natural spring. The Hall Spring Tavern had been leased to George and Mary Ann Fastie in 1851 and continued to rent the property after Elizabeth and Horatio received the property from the Baltimore County Court. Janet (Hall) Turner was provided 30 acres located on the west bank of the Herring Run and south of the Harford Turnpike. The fourth division was given to William Hall Turner, the son of Janet. His 34-acre property was located on the east bank of the Herring Run and extended north from Belair Road. As grandson to Benedict William Hall, William Hall Turner was not originally legally entitled to any of the estate. However, after the death of one of Benedict’s daughters, Mary Calhoun Hall, in 1848, her will provided her interest in the property to her favorite nephew.
The remainder of the property, including the Eutaw Mill and mansion house were allotted by the court to Ann Hall, William Carvel Hall, Lydia Hall, Anna M. (Hall) Blanchard, and M. Louisa Hall. Each of the five were given an equal one-fifth share of the property and improvements.
Originally, the 1854 division of property stipulated that those siblings who received individual parcels of Eutaw would not share interest in the remainder of the estate, including the Eutaw mansion house. Nonetheless, when Lydia Hall (who was unmarried and had no children) passed away on August 15th, 1856, her one-fifth share of the remaining undivided portion of Eutaw, which included the mansion house and mill, passed on to her siblings, including Sidney (Hall) Harris and Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge. With the death of their sister, Lydia, Elizabeth and Sidney once again regained rights to the remainder of the estate along with the other siblings who had not obtained individual parcels of the estate.
On April 9, 1858, Ann Hall died at the age of 62. In the 1854 division, Ann Hall had received a one-fifth interest in the remaining undivided portion of Eutaw as well as in the mansion house where she resided. With her passing, that interest was divided among her four surviving children: M. Louisa Hall who married Alexander C. Robinson in 1857, Sidney (Hall) Harris, Anna M Hall who married Edward Wyatt Blanchard in 1855, and William Carvel Hall. Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge and the heirs of Janet (Hall) Turner where the only two children not to receive a portion of Ann Hall interest as they were the children of Benedict William Hall and his first wife, Mary (Calhoun) Hall, Ann’s sister. Despite the technicality, all the surviving children of Benedict William Hall retained at least some interest in the remaining undivided portion of Eutaw and its house and improvements by the end of 1858, be it through the court division of 1854, the death of Ann Hall, or the death of their unmarried sibling, Lydia Hall. While all the children were entitled to make decisions regarding the use and lease of the Eutaw mansion house, grist mill, tenant houses and its grounds after 1858, it appears all the surviving siblings chose to leave that responsibility to the discretion of the youngest, William Carvel Hall.
William Carvel Hall’s sisters were all married by 1858. Apart from Sidney (Hall) Harris, the sisters resided elsewhere in the city or county with their husbands and families. While Sidney lived on a portion of the former Eutaw estate, she had her own responsibilities associated with the running the household at her new estate and mansion house, Ivy Hill. By 1855, William Carvel Hall had also left his childhood home at Eutaw. The 22-year-old bachelor took up residence at 52 S. Gay Street. Even after the death of his mother in 1858, William continued to reside at his home in Baltimore City. A little over a month after his mother’s death, William started advertising the rental of the Eutaw mansion in the Baltimore Sun.
It appears William was unable to find a tenant for the house, as he continued to advertise a lease of his father’ former mansion on Herring Run regularly from 1858 to 1861.
The only hiatus in search of a tenant for the large mansion house occurred in 1860. According to the 1860 United States Federal Census, William’s sister, Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge decided to take up residence on the estate with her husband, Horatio, and their family. It is unclear why Elizabeth and Horatio chose to leave their home in the city; perhaps the couple simply felt that a respite at Eutaw would be a nice change of pace for the family. According to the 1860 census, the mansion house at Eutaw was home that year to Elizabeth, Horatio and their four children: Olivia, William, Alice and Lydia. Joining the family were four servants: Betsy Manfold, Ellen Hughes, Sarah Ruben, and Nancy Colson. The household also included three farm laborers: George Bailey, Lewis Pinkey, and Alexander Woods. The three farm laborers likely resided in the house or its associated dependencies, and were charged with the cultivation of the adjoining market garden on the property. Also present at Eutaw in 1860 were a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, both enslaved by Horatio Whitridge. Unfortunately, the names of these two individuals were not included in the 1860 Slave Schedule.
In 1860, William Carvel Hall remained at his residence at 52 S. Gay Street. During his years at his residence in what was the 9th Ward, William was employed as a local insurance agent for the several companies including the Marine and Inland Insurance Company and the Fire and Life Insurance Company, along with his partner William Krebs. During his time in Baltimore, William Carvel Hall also served in several civic and fraternal organizations including the Maryland branch of the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary organization dedicated to preserving the ideals and fellowship of officers of the Continental Army. As the grandson of Col. Josias Carvel Hall, William inherited his membership in the society following the death of his father in 1843. He was also involved in several other organizations, including the Mercantile Library Association, were he served as corresponding secretary, and the Baltimore Gymnasium, as one of the organization’s directors.
By 1859, William Carvel Hall had become increasingly involved in national and local politics. In 1854, the American Party, or “Know-Nothings,” gained control of the Baltimore municipal government, electing Samuel Hinks mayor and gaining a majority on the city council. During the subsequent elections of 1856, the Know-Nothings had the advantage of incumbency, and thoroughly exploited the resources of the city government to remain in power. They used familiar party-building tools, giving patronage jobs to loyal and active followers and bestowing public works projects on political friends (Towers 1998). They also employed the dangerous strategy of using police and party-affiliated clubs to intimidate rival Democrats. As a means to manipulate city elections, the incumbent Know Nothings exploited voting procedures to ensure positive outcome for their candidates. As the party in power, the Know-Nothing mayor and city council had the authority to determine the location of polling places. Also, prior to 1860, each ward in the city had but one polling place. As a result, the polling place for each ward was located far from the populations of residents who supported the rival candidate, and were typically placed near the headquarters of supportive political clubs. Another means of ensuring the election of the incumbent Know Nothing candidates was through simple voter intimidation.
On election day, voters had two options when casting a ballot. Those who wished to write in a candidate could do so on a “scratch ticket”. However, due to high illiteracy rates, those tickets were difficult for most voters. As an alternative, parties typically encouraged voters to cast a straight ticket with the party slate printed on it. The straight tickets were preprinted by party activists and distributed to voters at polling places. The straight tickets also had distinct colors or marking which made identifying the voter’s allegiance fairly simple. Given the color ballots, party activists could identify if voters for the opposing party were approaching a polling place, and would attempt to turn the voters away through intimidation, and occasionally violence.
In the 1856 elections, voters from six of the city’s twenty wards protested that access to voting windows had been blocked by Know-Nothings. Violence broke out in several wards. Thirty armed men from the predominantly Democratic Eighth Ward marched on the Sixth Ward polls and mounted a swivel cannon to fend off opponents (Towers 1998). A group of Know-Nothings confronted the Democrats and a battle ensued that lasted from the early afternoon until nightfall. In the Fourth Ward, Democrats tried to force their way past Know-Nothings who were blocking access to the polls. As a result, a running gun battle developed. Violence also ensued at the Twelfth Ward as well as wards sixteen through twenty. It would be expected that the Baltimore police force would be on site to dissuade any such violence and to ensure that the polling places would remain open, but accounts from the period indicate that many in the police aided the Know-Nothings in carrying out the election day violence but more often, the police simply turned a blind eye as the Know-Nothings attacked opposing voters. By the end of the day, ten lay dead, and estimates of the wounded ranged from 50 to 250 (Towers 1998). The violence resulted in the continued domination of the Know-Nothings in the election of Thomas Swann as mayor and a majority in the city council.
As a result of the election day violence of 1856 and equally violent elections of 1857 and 1859, a new political movement formed in Baltimore of which William Carvel Hall was an active participant. The Reform Association was a nonpartisan organization composed of Southern Democrats and dissolutioned Know-Nothings who sought to reform the Baltimore political system and to topple the dominance of the Know-Nothings in city politics. Merchants and professionals, like William Carvel Hall, comprised roughly four-fifths of the officeholders in the Reform Association. Membership of the Reform Association was organized by ward, which held annual meeting, although the platform was determined by the citywide central committee. According to the several accounts in the Baltimore Sun, William Carvel Hall served as the secretary for the organization’s Ninth Ward (Figure: Reform Association 9th ward article).
The rise of the Reform Association in Baltimore was also, in part, tied to the perceived notions that the Know-Nothings’ northern roots and strong ties to working class wage earners meant that the political party was strongly connected to the northern abolitionist movement. The notion that an abolitionist political party controlled Baltimore alarmed proslavery rural democrats and created a natural alliance between the members of the Reform Association in the city and the slaveholding Democrats in the rural counties of the state. The alliance between Baltimore reformers and proslavery Democrats had success during the 1859 election in which Democrats won a majority in the state’s General Assembly.
After the 1859 elections, the Reform Association asked the Maryland General Assembly’s new Democratic majority to clean up what one delegate called a “God-forsaken and God-accursed city” (Towers 2004). Their lobbying resulted in the passage of the Baltimore Bills, a series of laws that gave the State of Maryland control over the Baltimore City police, militia volunteers, and juries. The laws also increased the number of polling places within each ward from one to four, which served to reduce the crowds during election days and made it more difficult for party affiliated clubs to suppress opposition voters. City fraud and intimidation at the Baltimore polls, the Maryland legislature also unseated the city’s representatives and dismissed a criminal court judge, Henry Stump, who habitually acquitted Know-Nothing defendants (Towers 2004). The Baltimore Bills also mandated that the state militia would be given authority to suppress civil disorder in Baltimore if local representatives were unable to keep the peace. While the laws presented in the Baltimore Bills provided much needed electoral and civic reform to the city, their passage also illustrated the ideological connection between Baltimore’s Reform Association and the proslavery Democrats state’s rural counties. Rural Democrats tacked an amendment to the Baltimore Bills barring “Black Republicans” from serving on the police force. The term “Black Republicans” was coined in the mid-nineteenth century by supporters of slavery in the Southern United States, to refer to members of the new Republican Party who were supporters of black equality and of Abraham Lincoln’s platform. The stipulation banning such members and the straight partisan vote on the Baltimore Bills in the Maryland General Assembly showed how class and corruption issues of urban Reformers had become alloyed to the party and sectional concerns of rural legislators (Towers 2004). Although not explicit, it seems the Reform Association’s intense opposition to the Know-Nothing domination in Baltimore City was as much a condemnation of the violent and unethical means by which they sought to remain in power as it was the notion that their continued dominance in the city government meant the south’s largest city would soon become a bastion of abolitionism.
Supported by rural Democrats, state government, and local police and courts, the Baltimore Reform Association approached the fall 1860 city elections with optimism (Towers 2004). In September of 1860, the Reform Association put forward George William Brown as their candidate for mayor as well as candidates for seats on the city council for each ward in the City of Baltimore. In William Carvel Hall’s Ninth Ward, the candidate was Thomas J. Brown, while in the Eleventh Ward, William’s brother-in-law, E. Wyatt Blanchard (Anna Maria Hall’s husband), was put forward as the Reform candidate. As Frank Towers (2004) described:
“The Reformers campaigned as the advocates of honest, nonpartisan government against the forces of violence and corruption. The 1860 Reformers echoed the antipartisan ideals that contributed to the realignment of the Jacksonian parties, but instead of seeking to reconcile party differences, as earlier nonpartisans had done, the City Reform Association argued that Baltimore would be ‘redeemed’ on by eradicating all traces of the American Party.”
The mayoral and city council elections in Baltimore were held on October 10, 1860. The following day, the Baltimore Sun reported the Reform candidate, George William Brown, as the winner in the mayoral contest with 17,779 votes to the 9,675 received by the American Party candidate, Samuel Hindes. During the election, George William Brown presented himself as an anti-party administrator who reluctantly came forward to serve the public good. E. Wyatt Blanchard, and the other Reform candidates also swept the city council elections with the American Party opposition not having succeeded in a single ward. The Baltimore Sun also praised the election as peaceable event with none of the violence and spectacle which had become commonplace during Baltimore City elections of years past. The newspaper further went on to call the Reformer domination of the 1860 election as a “revolution” and a “redemption” of Baltimore City’s honor. As optimistic a picture the Baltimore Sun presented, the reality of the Reformer’s victory was not quiet the nonpartisan revolution the people anticipated. Instead of purifying government with new men, veteran Whig and Democrats elected into office reinstated their old leaders into civic offices, serving to only drive out Know-Nothings who had, in their view, disrupted established government routines and agitated divisive social questions (Towers 2004). The paramount social question on the minds of many who cast their vote for the Reform ticket was undoubtedly that of slavery and abolition.
William Carvel Hall remained deeply involved in local and state politics following the municipal elections of 1860. By playing a part in the reform of the Baltimore political system, William was likely emboldened to find that he, together with his fellow citizens, could sway the political tides of his city. However, the results United States election of 1860 and the election of Abraham Lincoln as president likely created a new focus for William’s political activism. William Carvel Hall’s candidate for Baltimore mayor, George William Brown, was part of the Reform Association Ticket, but his party affiliation was of the Constitutional Union Party. Like the Reform Association in Baltimore, the Constitutional Union Party was formed by remnants of the Know-Nothings and Whig Parties who were unwilling to join either the Republicans or the Democrats. The party members and nominees hoped to stave off Southern secession by wholly avoiding the slavery issue. The party platform consisted of the resolution to recognize no political principle other than the Constitution of the United States and the enforcement of its laws. They hoped by not taking a firm stand against or for slavery and its expansion, the issue could be pushed aside. The Constitutional Union Party Convention was held in Baltimore on May 9, 1860. They met at the Eastside District Courthouse and nominated John Bell from Tennessee as their candidate for president and Edward Everett of Massachusetts for vice-president. While it is not possible to know for whom William Carvel Hall voted for in the 1860 presidential election, his strong association with the Reform Association and Mayor George William Brown, it is likely Abraham Lincoln was not his preferred candidate.
Newspaper accounts in which William Carvel Hall is identified show that as typical member of the Constitutional Union Party in the time preceding and immediately following the start of the Civil War he was against secession, but in favor of the preservation of slavery. While the question of secession was being hotly debated in the various state legislatures throughout the South, numerous citizens in Baltimore called for a town meeting to discuss the effort to restore the constitutional union of the United States. In a notice that appeared in the January 31, 1861 issue of the Baltimore Sun, numerous prominent residents of Baltimore called on their fellow citizens to attend a convention of the people of Maryland to ascertain the position of the state in the existing crisis. Among the citizens mentioned in the article were William Carvel Hall and his brothers-in-law, Horatio L. Whitridge (husband of Elizabeth Hall) and Dr. Alexander C. Robinson (husband of Margaret Louisa Hall). The town hall was held on February 1, 1861, by which time South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had already seceded from the union.
With the onset of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, at which time Maryland’s allegiance, either to the Union or the Confederacy, remained unknown. It is impossible to know William Carvel Hall’s personal feelings on the question of secession on that day of April, but some inferences can be drawn from existing documentation. Until February of 1861, he was a member of a political party that favored maintaining the Union while also preserving the Southern right to own slaves, a right he and his family had so recently exercised. It was also known that many local businessmen, like William Carvel Hall, opposed secession but were supporters of armed neutrality, and did not support a violent conflict with their Southern neighbors (Towers 2004). William Carvel Hall also had financial ties to the North, which would be severed if Maryland seceded from the Union. For several years, William was part of the partnership of Krebs and Hall, whose business included the sale of insurance policies from a New York firm. William Carvel Hall continued to advertise his services with the firm through the summer of 1861. His extended family also held ties with the north, either familial or business-related.
Until April, William seemed determined to support Maryland’s decision to remain in the Union. However, it seems the events of April 19, 1861 and those that followed served to convince the 28-year-old insurance broker to change his allegiance. On that day, the 6th Massachusetts Militia arrived in Baltimore on route to Washington, D.C. Because of a Baltimore ordinance preventing the construction of a steam rail line through the city, there was no direct connection between the President Street Station and the Camden Street Station, ten blocks to the west. Rail cars that transferred between the two stations had to be pulled by horses along Pratt Street. As the militia regiment transferred between stations, a mob of anti-war supporters and Southern sympathizers attacked the train cars and blocked the route. The four companies of Union soldiers resorted to disembarking the train cars and marched in formation through the city. As the 6th Massachusetts proceeded to the Camden Station, members of the mob attacked the rear company and several soldiers responded by firing into the mob, setting off a brawl between the soldiers, the mob, and the Baltimore City police. The Pratt Street Riot resulted in the death of four soldiers and twelve civilians, along with numerous others wounded. The identity of all the rioters involved in the events of April 19th are unknown, but of the 159 men arrested, the majority were “gentlemen of property and standing” (Towers 2004). It is uncertain whether William Carvel Hall was among those who engaged in the riot, but he certainly fit the general demographic of the mob, and his residence was relatively close to the events on Pratt Street. As one trader wrote, “the merchants and all the best citizens armed themselves to prevent more troops from passing through the city” (Pratt 1861).
In Baltimore Mayor George William Brown’s assessment, it was the Pratt Street Riot that pushed the two sides (Southern sympathizers and Union loyalists) over the edge into full-scale war, as passions on both sides were aroused which could not be controlled. Following the riot, Mayor Brown and Maryland governor Thomas Holliday Hicks asked President Lincoln not to send additional soldiers through Maryland. It was a request the President initially declined. Governor Hicks, perhaps anticipating the President’s response, authorized Mayor Brown to dispatch the Maryland State Militia north of the city to disable the railroad bridges into Baltimore. The militia was led by Col. Isaac R. Trimble, family friend of William Carvel Hall. Trimble was also the man who had accompanied William’s father, Benedict William Hall, to South Carolina in 1843, and who had brought Hall’s body back to the family after his death in a train accident. Within hours of receiving the orders, Trimble and the militia were successful in disabling the bridges leading to the city from the north.
In the wake of the riots and the burning of Baltimore’s railroad bridges, Governor Hicks called as special session of the General Assembly to consider the situation vote on Maryland’s position in the war. The legislature met from April 24 to April 29 in Frederick, Maryland and voted 53 to 13 against secession. Although the General Assembly chose to preserve Maryland’s position in the Union, it also voted at that time not to reopen Baltimore’s rail links to the north and requested that President Lincoln order the removal of the growing number of federal troops in Maryland.
Rather than submit to the General Assembly’s request to remove federal soldiers from within the borders of Maryland, President Lincoln chose an alternative tactic. On May 13, 1861, Brigadier General Benjamin Franklin Butler sent Union soldiers into Baltimore and declared martial law. After the occupation, President Lincoln ordered the arrest of Mayor Brown, the chief of police, and the Baltimore City Council, including William Carvel Hall’s brother-in-law, E. Wyatt Blanchard, imprisoned at Fort McHenry and held without charges. It was likely this event that turned William Carvel Hall solidly to the Confederate cause.
Since March of 1861, the Confederate government had been recruiting troops in Baltimore (Tower 2004). Following the Union occupation of Baltimore, Isaac Trimble remained at his home in the city for a short time before traveling to Virginia on May 25th where he accepted a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Volunteers. On August 9, 1861, Trimble was appointed brigadier general in the Confederate army with a command attached to the Army of the Potomac (the predecessor of the Army of Northern Virginia). It is unclear when William Carvel Hall left Baltimore to join the Confederate army, but in a Baltimore Sun article dated August 14, 1861, indicated William Carvel Hall had received a lieutenant’s commission in the First Maryland Regiment of the Confederate army (Figure: Baltimore Sun August 14, 1861).
On March 31, 1862, William Carvel Hall was promoted to Captain and assistant adjunct-general to Brigadier General Isaac Trimble. As a member of Gen. Trimble’s general staff, Capt. Hall’s duties included the publishing and transmitting of orders and instructions as well as carrying out other administrative duties for the regiment. In addition, Capt. Hall was also responsible for establishing camps, mustering and inspecting the soldiers, and forming parades and lines of battle.
Capt. Hall first saw combat in Gen. Trimble’s brigade as part of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s spring 1862 Valley Campaign in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. After the Confederate victory at Port Republic on June 9, 1862, Union forces withdrew from the Shenandoah Valley, thus concluding the nearly four-month campaign. After their victory, Jackson’s army was ordered to Richmond, Virginia to assist Gen. Robert E. Lee’s counterattack of Maj. Gen. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and drive the Union army away from the city. On June 18, 1862, Capt. Hall began his march with Jackson’s army toward the Virginia Peninsula. On June 25th, the Seven Days Battles began.
After successfully driving Maj. Gen. McClellan’s Union Army back down the Peninsula, Capt. Hall and the rest of Brig. Gen. Trimble’s brigade marched with Generals Lee and Jackson and the Army of Northern Virginia towards Washington, D.C. where they engaged in the nearly two-month Northern Virginia Campaign. It was during this campaign, at the Battle of Second Manassas, that Brig. Gen. Trimble was wounded in the leg. Although he avoided amputation, his rehabilitation proceeded slowly. During his recovery, Brig. Gen. Raleigh Colston commanded Trimble’s brigade. Capt. William Carvel Hall continued as assistant adjunct-general under Colston and from April 30 to May 6, 1863, performed admirably during the Battle of Chancellorsville. According to Brig. Gen. Colson’s report of the battle to A.S. Pendleton, assistant adjunct-general to Stonewall Jackson:
“Captain W. Carvel Hall, assistant adjunct-general, was not only conspicuous for his gallantry, but discharged the arduous duties of his position, both during and after the battle, with a zeal and ability worthy of all praise…” (Moore 1873).
Following the Battle of Chancellorsville, and perhaps because of his actions during the battle, William Carvel Hall was promoted to the rank of Major. Major Hall remained assistant adjunct-general to Isaac R. Trimble, who was promoted to major general several months earlier in January of 1863. A recurrence of illness following the Battle of Chancellorsville forced Trimble to turn his division command and was assigned to light duty as commander of the Valley District in the Shenandoah Valley on May 28, 1863. Major William Carvel Hall joined Trimble’s staff in the Valley District and on June 3, 1863, Trimble and Hall authored a vigorous plea to their fellow Marylanders to join them in their fight against the Union army. Their address to their fellow Marylanders appeared in the June 13, 1863 edition of the Baltimore Sun.
Clearly dissatisfied with his administrative position, Maj. Gen. Trimble was desperate for a military command. In June of 1863, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac River en route to Pennsylvania, and Trimble saw an opportunity. Trimble, along with William Carvel Hall and the rest of his staff, rode north and caught up with Lt. Gen. Ewell on his way to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Trimble joined Ewell’s staff as a supernumerary, or a senior officer without a command. On July 1, 1863, William Carvel Hall and the rest of Ewell’s Second Corps reached Gettysburg in the early afternoon where they engaged the Union XI Corps of the Army of the Potomac north of town and drove them to a defensive position south of Gettysburg on Cemetery Hill. On the second day of the Battle, Maj. Hall joined Ewell’s Second Corps in their assault on the Union position at Cemetery Hill but was repelled by the superior Union defenses.
On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. Trimble was finally given a command of a division under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill’s Third Corps. Maj. William Carvel Hall joined his commander who was charged to command the left section of Pickett’s Charge. The assault was disastrous for the Confederates with 1,123 Confederates killed on the battlefield, 4,019 wounded and 3,750 captured. Among Maj. Gen. Trimble’s brigades 155 men were killed and 650 wounded. Eighty soldiers under Trimble’s command were also captured including Maj. William Carvel Hall.
Following his capture in Gettysburg, William Carvel Hall returned home to Baltimore as a prisoner. His capture and subsequent imprisonment was reported in the Baltimore Sun on July 11, 1863 (Figure: July 11, 1863 newspaper account).
William was brought to Fort McHenry for processing on July 9, 1863. Three days later, he was transferred to Fort Delaware, a Union fortress constructed in 1859 along the shore of the Delaware River. Originally constructed to protect the ports of Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was converted into a Confederate prisoner of war camp in 1862. William did not remain at Fort Delaware long. On July 18, 1863, he was transferred to Ohio and imprisoned at Johnson’s Island along with thousands of other Confederate officers, including Maj. Gen. Isaac Trimble.
William Carvel Hall remained a POW at Johnson’s Island until the spring of 1864. In April of that year, William was one of several officers scheduled to be exchanged for several Union POWs held by the Confederate army. While on route to be exchanged at Fort Monroe, Virginia, William was permitted a short respite at the home of his sister’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth Blanchard. While there, he was able to visit with his sister, Anna Maria Hall, her husband, E. Wyatt Blanchard, and his other siblings. An account of the visit was recorded in a letter written by E. Wyatt Blanchard’s sister, Elizabeth Philpot Blanchard, to her husband, Alexander Randall:
“I found them all in a great state of excitement having had Carvyl [William Carvel Hall] to spend the day and night with them, on his way to be exchanged. He had just left in the Norfolk boat, accompanied by his guard, a Capt. Cozzens, who had been exceedingly kind and considerate, allowing him to remain at Mother’s this time, to see his family, though of course he felt obligated to say there with him. Some of the family who came to see Carvyl thought they could not possibly be introduced to a ‘Federal officer’, but Wyatt insisted so much that he must receive the utmost politeness, in return for his kindness to Carvyl, that they condescended”. (Randall 1864).
Following his exchange at Fort Monroe, Maj. William Carvel Hall was assigned to the Adjunct and Inspector-General’s office in Richmond, Virginia. In August of 1864, Maj. Hall accompanied Col. Daniel Thomas Chandler on an inspection tour of the Confederate prisons, including Andersonville. The conditions Chandler and Hall observed at Andersonville in August of 1864 were horrifying. Built to house approximately 10,000 Federal POWs, by August of 1864 the prison was home to over 31,000. Lack of food and poor sanitary conditions at Andersonville ultimately lead to the death of nearly 13,000 Union soldiers.
The truth about the appalling conditions at Andersonville were not unknown to the Confederate government. In Col. Chandler’s August 5, 1864 report of Andersonville, he wrote:
“…my duty requires me respectfully to recommend a change in the office in command of the post, Brig. Gen. J.H. Winder, and the substitution in his place of some one who unties both energy and good judgement with some feelings of humanity and consideration for the welfare and comfort of the vast number of unfortunates placed under his control; some one who, at least, does not advocate deliberately and in cold blood the propriety of leaving them in their present condition until their number has been sufficiently reduced by death to make the present arrangements suffice for their accommodation; who will not consider it a matter of self-laudation, boasting that he has never been inside the stockade — a place the horrors of which it is difficult to describe and which is a disgrace to civilization — the condition of which he might, by the exercise of a little energy and judgment, even with the limited means at his command, have considerably improved.” (LOC 1867)
In reaction to Col. Chandler’s report, Capt. Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville, wrote the government alleging the August 5th report was an exaggeration and explicitly relayed a conversation he had where Maj. William Carvel Hall compared the conditions at Andersonville with those he experienced as a POW at Johnson’s Island. Wirz’s allegations were directly contradicted by Maj. Hall in a subsequent letter he wrote to the Confederate Assistant Adjunct and Inspector General on November 22, 1864:
“Colonel: I am Surprised to see that Captain Wirz, commanding prison at Andersonville, GA., in his report of 27th of September makes me responsible for the following: ‘Major Hall remarked that it, the prison at Andersonville, was about on a par with the Federal prison at Johnson’s Island.’ I did not express any such opinion, nor did I ever use any language, which the utmost ingenuity could pervert into such a misrepresentation of my conviction.
The report of inspection of the post and prison at Andersonville, forwarded by Colonel Chandler, assistant adjunct and inspector general, 5th of August ultimo, was made by him from notes taken by both of us on the spot. He consulted with me while preparing it, and as you will perceive, the fair copy is in my handwriting. I fully concur in it.” (LOC 1867).
In May of 1865, Capt. Henry Wirz was arrested by a contingent of the 4th U.S. Cavalry. A military tribunal into Capt. Wirz’s actions at Andersonville took place between August 23 and October 18, 1865. During the trial, the Confederate reports and correspondence by Col. Chandler and Maj. Hall were submitted as evidence. In addition, Col. Chandler was called to testify during the tribunal in which he recounted reports made to him by Maj. Hall about conversations the Major had with Brig. Gen. J.H. Winder in which the General admitted he thought it would be better to let one-half [Federal POWs] die so they could take care of the remainder (LOC 1867). It was due in large part to these accounts and evidence, as well as the testimony of numerous other Confederate and Federal eyewitnesses and former Federal POWs at Andersonville, that the military commission found Capt. Wirz guilty of conspiracy and 11 counts of acts of personal cruelty. He was hanged on November 10, 1865 at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. According to accounts from the execution, Capt. Wirz’s neck did not break from the fall and the crowd of 120 soldiers and 200 spectators watched as the former commandant of Andersonville writhed and slowly suffocated.
The surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 signaled the beginning of the end of the American Civil War. Although the end of the war was not formally declared until August 20, 1866, Lee’s surrender to Grant signaled that the south had lost the war they began nearly four years earlier. Over the next two months, additional Confederate commanders surrendered their armies to Union forces with the last surrender occurring on June 2, 1865 with General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi signing the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist.
Although the exact date of his return to Baltimore is not known, it appears William Carvel Hall arrived back to the city sometime following the fall of Richmond to Union forces on April 2, 1865. In the years William Carvel Hall was away serving in the Confederate Army, management of the estate and house at Eutaw became the responsibility of Ana Maria Hall and her husband and city council member, E. Wyatt Blanchard. During the war years, E. Wyatt Blanchard continued advertise the rental of the house and other properties at Eutaw.
When William Carvel Hall returned to Baltimore, it appears he initially took up residence at his childhood home, the Eutaw mansion house. The large former home of his mother and father was likely not the ideal residence for a bachelor, but family home was unoccupied and available to the returning soldier. In addition, returning home to Eutaw after four years away at war may have been a sentimental choice as well. As it turns out, the homecoming was short lived for the former soldier.
William Carvel Hall was home for only a short time when he, his sisters, and their families held a celebration at Eutaw. A christening party was planned at the Eutaw mansion for the afternoon of October 25, 1865. During the Wednesday afternoon celebration, a fire accidentally broke out in the house. An account of the tragic accident appeared in the Baltimore Sun the following Friday (Figure: Baltimore Sun 1865).
A similar account also appeared in the November 4, 1865 edition of the Baltimore Daily Commercial Advertiser (Figure Baltimore Daily Commercial Advertiser 1865).
In both accounts, the fire was reported as being accidental and resulted in the house being entirely consumed by the flames. Neither article indicates that the destruction of the Eutaw mansion house resulted in any casualties, and both newspapers indicated that most of the household’s furniture was saved by those who attended the christening. By the end of the day, the Eutaw mansion house burned to the ground, and the newspapers estimated that the loss amounted to $8,000. The house was underinsured with a policy amounting to just $3,500, even though William Carvel Hall had been a partner in a property insurance firm only four years earlier.
Neither William Carvel Hall nor any of his siblings rebuilt on the site of their former childhood home. After the devastating fire that destroyed Eutaw, William Carvel Hall moved into the City of Baltimore to reside with his sister, Margaret, and her husband, Alexander C. Robinson. In the week following the Eutaw fire, William Carvel Hall also began a new business venture. On November 1, 1865, he placed a notice in the Baltimore Sun announcing a partnership with James E. Myers and J. Hanson Thomas Jr. The company, formed under the name Hall, Myers & Thomas, was a general wholesale firm. Over the years, the firm advertised the sale of all sort of products, from produce and Carolina Rice to fifty horse-power engines and boilers.
On February 2, 1867, William Carvel Hall married Agnes Wirt Robinson, the daughter of his brother-in-law, Alexander C. Robinson, and stepdaughter to his sister, Margaret Louisa Hall. For the previous year and a half, William had resided with Agnes and the rest of the Robinson family after the destruction of Eutaw, and it appears a romantic relationship formed between the two because of their close proximity. In 1869, the couple had their first child, William Carvel Hall, Jr. By 1870, William and Agnes Hall moved to Catonsville, along with the rest of the Robinson family. The two families resided in a home located adjacent to the Mount DeSales Academy, at the present-day intersection of Harlem Lane and Old Frederick Road.
According to the 1870 Census, Alexander Robinson was a physician, with real estate valued at approximately $150,000, and $25,000 in personal estate. William Carvel Hall is enumerated as a commercial merchant with personal estate valued at $10,000 with no real estate. The Robinson and Hall household also included numerous household staff, including five domestic servants, a coachman and a hostler. The following year, William Carvel Hall and Agnes (Robinson) Hall welcomed the birth of their second child, Rosa Wirt Hall. Rosa was born on February 19, 1871, baptized four and a half months later on July 1st, and died on July 5, 1871. Nearly a month and a half after the death of her daughter, Agnes Wirt Hall also passed away. Her funeral notice, posted in the Baltimore Sun, indicated that her funeral would be held at the Westminster Church in Baltimore on Friday, August 25, 1871. Nearly three months after Agnes’ death, her father, Alexander C. Robinson, also passed away at the age of 63. Alexander C. Robinson was interred at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. After the death of Alexander C. Robinson, both Margaret (Hall) Robinson and William Carvel Hall remained at the Catonsville home and continued to raise their respective children.
In 1872, William Carvel Hall became involved in a new enterprise associated with his family’s former property at Eutaw and Hall Spring. In February of that year, several of William Carvel Hall’s brothers-in-law joined with John Work Garrett and Johns Hopkins to form the Baltimore and Hall’s Springs Passenger Railway Company. In addition to Hopkins and Garrett, the commissioners of the railway included Horatio Whitridge, E. Wyatt Blanchard, and J. Morrison Harris. Although he was not one of the original commissioners, William Carvel Hall was a stockholder in the company and later served as one if its directors. On October 14, 1872, the railway opened. The route began at City Hall in Baltimore and extended up Harford Avenue [Harford Road] past Darley Park, the estates of Johns Hopkins (Clifton) and John Work Garrett (Montebello) and terminating at the Hall Spring Hotel. The Baltimore and Hall’s Springs Passenger Railway Company (later called the Hall’s Springs Railway) would operate until 1885 when the shareholders sold the company to the City Passenger Railway.
In the late 1870s, William contracted a prolonged illness. By that time, he had relocated once again with his sister, this time to a new home located on Charles Avenue near Townsend Ave (present-day Lafayette Ave). On April 14, 1879, William Carvel Hall died at the home of his sister. Both the account of his illness and subsequent funeral was detailed in the Baltimore Sun.
William Carvel Hall was entombed in his family vault at Westminster Burying Ground on April 16, 1879. According to the Baltimore Sun, his funeral was attended by several prominent Baltimore residents including D.C. Trimble, Otho H. Williams, Capt. McHenry Howard and Baltimore City Mayor Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe. William was survived by his only son, William Carvel Hall, Jr., who was only nine at the time of his father’s death. It is uncertain where the nine-year-old William Carvel Hall was placed after the death of his father, but it seems likely he remained with his aunt, Margaret Louisa (Hall) Robinson, with whom he lived since his birth.
Shortly after William Carvel Hall’s death, the disposition of the Eutaw estate was finally settled in the Baltimore County Court. The case, which began in 1851, centered around how best to divide Eutaw among the surviving heirs of Benedict William Hall. In 1854, the Baltimore County Court determined that portions of the estate would be given to Sidney (Hall) Harris, Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge, Janet (Hall) Turner, and William Hall Turner who received interest in the estate through the will of his aunt, Mary Calhoun Hall. The remaining heirs to the estate where each provided an equal one-fifth share of the remaining undivided portions of Eutaw. Those individuals included William Carvel Hall, Lydia Hall, Anna M. (Hall) Blanchard and M. Louisa (Hall) Robinson as well as their mother, Ann Hall. The 1854 division also included a 30-acre tract of Eutaw located on the west bank of the Herring Run, north of the Harford Turnpike Road. This tract was sold by the family to the Water Board of Baltimore City. That tract would eventually become part of present-day Lake Montebello. The 1854 division of the estate was filed in the Baltimore County Court on November 23, 1857.
Over the next two decades, the family shared interest in the remaining undivided acres of Eutaw. Several members of the family who were provided interest by the 1854 division had died and their respective equity in Benedict William Hall’s Eutaw was passed down to their heirs. With the death of Ann Hall in 1858, her interest was divided among her four surviving children: M. Louisa (Hall) Robinson, Sidney (Hall) Harris, Anna M (Hall) Blanchard, and William Carvel Hall. Two years earlier, Lydia Hall died without heir and her interest in the property was passed to her siblings Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge and Sidney (Hall) Harris.
In 1878, the surviving members of the Hall family petitioned the Baltimore County Court to divide the remaining undivided acreage of Eutaw. After an additional survey of the former Eutaw Estate, the court chose to grant the family’s request and divided the remaining acreage into eight tracts, then granted those parcels to the remaining heirs. Division No. 1 consisted of 12 acres located north of Belair Road, on the east bank of the Herring Run. This parcel was provided to Horatio W. Turner and John F. Carrere. Horatio W. Turner was the son of Janet (Hall) Turner, and John F. Carrere was her grandson. Both received part interest in Eutaw following Janet’s death in 1857. Division No. 2 was allotted to M. Louisa (Hall) Robinson and consisted of 32 acres located on the western edge of Eutaw, along present-day Parkside Drive. By 1878 Anna M. (Hall) Blanchard had passed away and her interest in Eutaw was passed on to her two children: John Gowan Blanchard and Sidney Hall Blanchard. Because of the 1878 petition, the two siblings received Division No. 3 which consisted of 25 acres located on the east bank of the Herring Run and was bound to the north by the Harford Turnpike and to the east by present-day Parkside Drive.
William Carvel Hall received Division No. 4, which consisted of 27 acres and was located on the east bank of the Herring Run and bordered by present-day Parkside Drive. Division No. 4 was that portion of Eutaw that included the former Eutaw Grist Mill and the ruins of the Eutaw mansion house, as well as the remains of several additional outbuilding associated with the manor property such as the carriage house, stable and the former slave quarter. No mention of any such improvements appear in the court documents, suggesting all the structures were gone or uninhabitable by the time the final division of Eutaw was underway in 1878.
Division No. 5 consisted of three acres located on the east side of present-day Parkside Drive, opposite William Carvel Hall’s Division No. 4. It was devised to Horatio W. Turner and John F. Carrere in addition to the 12-acre Division No. 1. As part of the 1854 Division, Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge received the property containing the Hall Spring Hotel as well as the spring lot, located opposite the hotel along the Harford Turnpike Road. In 1878, Elizabeth received Division No. 6, an additional one-acre lot located adjacent to her two other Hall Spring properties. The final Eutaw parcel given to a member of the Hall family in 1878 was Division No. 7. The six-acre parcel was given to Sidney (Hall) Harris and was located on the west bank of the Herring Run, adjacent to the parcel she received during the 1854 division and where she and her husband built their home, Ivy Hill.
The last remaining Eutaw parcel consisted of four acres located near Hall Spring and bound by the Harford Turnpike to the north and present-day Parkside Drive to the east. The court determined that inclusion of the parcel would provide an unequitable division for the heirs. As a result, the court recommended the tract be sold and income divided among the heirs.
Although the court had begun dividing the remaining acreage of Eutaw in 1878, it was approved on May 9, 1879, nearly a month after the death of William Carvel Hall. As such, the son of Benedict William Hall never owned an outright share of his father’s former estate. However, as a result of the 1878 division, his son, William Carvel Hall, Jr. did receive his father’s portion of the estate. With the exception of the families of Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge and Sidney (Hall) Harris, most of the heirs who received portions of Eutaw minimally improved their holdings in the years that followed the May 9, 1879 decision. Elizabeth (Hall) Whitridge continued to lease the Hall Spring Hotel, and in the late nineteenth century, her family leased the property to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who operated an orphanage out of the hotel. In time, the Whitridges and the Blanchards constructed several dwellings near Hall Spring, which they leased to tenants working at the nearby cotton mill or other businesses along Harford Road. The community soon developed and came to be known as Hall Spring. Sidney (Hall) Harris and her husband, J. Morrison Harris, constructed Ivy Hill on the west bank of Herring Run sometime after 1856. Over the decades, the couple expanded their country estate east of present-day Chesterfield Ave to include an enlargement of the mansion and the construction of numerous garages, a guest house and tenant buildings.
During the remainder of the nineteenth century, the rest of William Smith and Benedict William Hall’s Eutaw was either leased as agricultural land to tenants or left fallow, as was the case for the site of the former Eutaw mansion house. By 1908, the City of Baltimore began to purchase the majority of Eutaw from members of the extended Hall family in order to convert the property into a city park. Ivy Hill and the Hall Springs Hotel were torn down, as were many of the ruined buildings associated with the former Eutaw estate. Today the only vestiges of the former Smith and Hall family estate that remain are the Hall Spring, the former Eutaw Methodist Church, and the former mill race and farm roads that extend through the now wooded landscape – faint traces of the lives of the many individuals who lived at Eutaw over the last three centuries, and played some part in shaping the Baltimore in which we live today.
Library of Congress (LOC)
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1879 Equity Case of the Estate of Benedict William Hall. Baltimore County Judicial Record WMI 65 folio 265. Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
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