JCCW – C & O Canal President Alfred Spates

17 08 2009

Testimony of Alfred Spates

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 224-225

WASHINGTON, February 24, 1862.

ALFRED SPATES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler :

Question. You are president of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you along upon the line of the canal during the past summer?

Answer. Yes, sir; from May last up to the present time.

Question. Were you there, or in that vicinity, at the time General Patterson crossed the Potomac and went to Martinsburg?

Answer. I was in that vicinity.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the force of the enemy under Johnston at or about that time?

Answer. I have no personal knowledge. I have knowledge from information obtained from those constantly coming from the river—from the section at which this army was then stationed. I have that kind of knowledge.

Question. Please state it.

Answer. From the best information I could obtain—from those said to be familiar with the amount of force there—I should say it was between 8,000 and 10,000 men.

Question. Were you generally acquainted in that vicinity?

Answer. Yes, sir; intimately.

Question. Were you in frequent communication with persons on the Virginia side of the river?

Answer. I frequently saw men from the other side of the river. We were doing some work on the canal about that time, and for a part of our force the work was on the Virginia side, and within five or six miles of Williamsport, Patterson being then at Martinsburg.

Question. The general impression, in that vicinity, was that Johnston’s army was between 8,000 and 10,000 men?

Answer. Yes, sir. I never heard any man put it higher than 10,000 men.



6 responses

16 12 2009
Dan Benson

my great grandfather were canal men, lockkeepers and boatman. I found this site because I am hopefully going to be renovating Stoney Castle which was the home of Elijah Viers White. my grgr grandfather owned the farm next to “Lige”‘s family. Although I am not related to the family my gr gr Thomas Beall Benson’s third wife was a Viers and as he grew up on the farm next door Susan Veirs ,Benson ,Pyles was no doubt Liges cousin at least. Great site Thank RSVP Dan Benson of Md. Celebrating 360 years of Benson’s in Maryland


11 01 2010
Dan Benson

I was surprised to find my post here.I often fish for info on the wawa as my leesburg friend calls it. I am starting work on the home place of Elijah V. White in Poolesville. It is now owned by a relative of Alfred Spates the pres of the canal company. The current owner is the son of Alfred Spates nephew or cousin to the president of the company. My family as I said lived in the next farm. I have often tried to find records on Andrew Jackson Benson ,my grgrgreatgrandfathers cousin who I think left Poolesville to join Va. Cavalry. Dan Benson ps. my email address was written wrong here so if you would like to contact me please try again


7 11 2012
Dan Pinnell

Dan, I’m trying to locate the current owners of Stoney Castle, birthplace of Elijah White. I am a member of a living history/Cavalry Battalion that portrays the 35th Va. Cavalry of E.V. White. I would like to secure permission to visit Stoney Castle if you know the owners. Thanks!


19 11 2014
James Poole

Stoney Castle is owned by Alfred Spates’ son Eric. His Great Great Great uncle was the superintendent of the Monocacy Section of the canal during the War. My Great Great Great Grandfather Wm. S. Elgin was Superintendent of the Harper’s Ferry Section in the 1850’s


19 11 2014
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks James!


7 02 2015
Glenn Wallace

Are we able to pinpoint the farm mentioned above that was owned by Susan Veirs (Benson) Pyles? I’m trying to find the name of her first husband who left her the property. She married Richard Pyles in 1847 and he moved into her home.


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