2024 Fall Conference

September 27 – 29, 2024

The Antietam Institute is proud to announce our fourth annual Fall Conference. This year’s theme is “Struck with the Right Hand of Mars”: The Final Attack at Antietam, focusing on the events of the final hours of the Battle of September 17, 1862, 162 years after they happened .

Friday afternoon and evening feature four exciting speakers, with an informal reception and dinner together; Saturday includes all-day Antietam battlefield excursions, lunch at the Antietam Creek Vineyard, and an evening keynote address by Dr James J Broomall; and the conference concludes on Sunday after an additional field excursion that morning.

Two dinners and a lunch are included in the full conference registration fee and all participants receive a detailed information booklet with maps and other illustrative materials.

This year the indoor events of the conference on Friday and Saturday will be held in the Storer Ballroom in the Student Center on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV, with Saturday and Sunday’s outdoor excursions on and near Antietam National Battlefield Park.

Battlefield excursions involve considerable walking over irregular, hilly terrain.

Antietam Institute merchandise will be available for sale on Friday from 12:30 to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.

Registration opened on April 13 and will close on August 27, 2024 or earlier, if sold out.

This is a members-only event, advance registration is required, and space is limited. There is room for only 70 participants on each of the Saturday and Sunday battlefield walks, with space for 125 attendees at the Friday talks and Saturday evening dinner/keynote address.

The complete Conference fee is $295 and partial-conference options are available.

Conference Schedule

Friday September 27

12:30 – 1:30 pm Check-in at the Storer Ballroom in the Student Center, Shepherd University [map]

1:30 Welcome and Introductions

1:302:30 “The 8th and 16th Connecticut at Antietam” – John Banks

Hear the stories of individual soldiers who fought on the southern end of the battlefield, including Henry Adams of the 16th Connecticut. Suffering from two bullet wounds to his right leg, the 22-year-old private lay incapacitated in no-man’s land for more than 40 hours before comrades rescued him September 19, 1862. Decades later, he wrote about his experience: “Why did I not die?”

2:30-3:30 “Desperation Along the Harpers Ferry Road: D.R. Jones Defends Against the Final Attack” – Lucas Cade

When the Union IX Corps Divisions of Orlando Willcox and Isaac Rodman stepped off just after 3:00 p.m. on September 17th, David R. Jones’ Confederate Division was all that stood between Lee’s battered army and possible annihilation. A force less than one-half the size of the Union attackers, Jones’ men faced long odds on the rolling hills south of Sharpsburg. Jones and his men are often an afterthought due to A.P. Hill’s later arrival that turned the tide of the battle to the Confederates. We’ll examine just who these men were, their fighting condition, and how they contributed to the eventual Union repulse.

3:304:30 “A.P. or Artillery? – Stopping the Ninth Corps at Antietam” – James Rosebrock

The consensus by most is that it was A.P. Hill’s Light Division smashing into the vulnerable left flank of Rodman’s division which stopped the Ninth Corps in its tracks late on the afternoon of September 17. Perhaps it is time to consider the role of the massed Confederate batteries gathered by Robert E. Lee and his artillery lieutenants on the Harpers Ferry Road in stopping Burnside’s final attack.  Jim Rosebrock, author of Artillery of Antietam will look at the question A.P. or Artillery? – Stopping the Ninth Corps at Antietam.

4:305:30 Informal Reception/Authors book sale

5:306:30 Dinner

6:308:00 “The universal testimony is that they fought desperately and bravely…although terribly cut up, there was no flinching.” – The Story of the Battle, Memory, Acquisition, and Preservation on the Lower End of Antietam Battlefield – Brian Baracz

After fighting and eventually carrying one of the most famous landmarks of the American Civil War, the Lower Bridge, the U.S. Ninth Corps made the final attack of the day. This program will provide a sweeping overview of the fight and then move into the story of how initial small successes by veterans led to the NPS acquiring over 125 acres of important battlefield land in 2003. 

Saturday September 28

8:309:00 am Registration at the Burnside Bridge tour stop (overflow parking area), Antietam National Battlefield

9:00 am-12:00 noon and 1:00-4:00 pm Battlefield Excursions

We will split into two groups and each group will do one of the two excursion programs in the morning and the other in the afternoon, with a lunch break between.

“To the Spires of Sharpsburg: The Fight for the Harpers Ferry Road Ridge” – Kevin Pawlak

Follow the attack of Isaac Rodman’s Ninth Corps division on the left of the Army of the Potomac. Rodman’s brigades fought through difficult terrain to nearly grasp victory and deal the Army of Northern Virginia a crippling defeat. Luck and the tenacity of the common Confederate soldier saved Lee’s right, and Rodman’s attack tumbled backward under the counterattack of A.P. Hill’s Light Division. This hike will cover the fighting on the extreme southern end of the Antietam battlefield during the remaining daylight hours of September 17, 1862.

“A Clear Front and Signs of Confusion at Sharpsburg: Orlando Willcox’s Division and the Final Attack at Antietam” – Jim Smith

“A.P. Hill came up” is a common synopsis of the Final Attack at Antietam. Why was Hill’s arrival so critical? Our tour will trace the advance of Orlando Willcox’s two Ninth Corps brigades in reaching the heights of Sharpsburg on the right end of the Final Attack. For all of their success, Willcox’s men wondered if they could have accomplished more after battering part of the Confederate line into retreat. We will consider the advance from the Burnside Bridge and the fight for the town while visiting overlooked parcels of hallowed ground on the battlefield.  

12:001:00 pm Lunch at the Antietam Creek Vineyard

5:306:30 Dinner at Shepherd University’s Storer Ballroom

6:30 State of the Institute. Chris Vincent

7:00 Keynote Address

“Always Ready”: The Charge of the 9th New York in History and Memory – Dr. James Broomall

The tattered silk flag of the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry, also known as Hawkins’ Zouaves, is emblazoned with the motto, “Toujours Pret,” or “Always Ready.” These words rung true on September 17, 1862. After crossing Snavely’s Ford in the late afternoon, the Zouaves joined the IX Corps’ assault on Confederates positioned along the Harpers Ferry Road and the heights beyond Sharpsburg. At the height of the attack, Captain Adolphe Libaire seized the colors and urged the Zouaves onward. “Up, damn you, and forward!” he yelled. Despite sustaining frightful causalities, the 9th New York, along with the other regiments of Fairchild’s Brigade, broke through the Rebel lines. 

The Zouaves’ assault soon became legend. Edwin Forbes immortalized the charge in a popular and often-reproduced sketch, while Libaire was later awarded the medal of honor. Yet, many survivors questioned why their breakthrough had not brought greater success on the field. Many years later, one speaker noted that the tragic event had brought “unspeakable slaughter” with “no perceptible result.” The surprising contradiction between memory and realty forms the basis of this presentation, which will grapple both with the history of the 9th New York’s charge and how it came to be remembered.

Sunday September 29

9:00 am Meet at the Antietam Creek Vineyard

9:00 am1:00 pm Battlefield excursion

“Snavely’s Ford and the Confederate Artillery on the Harpers Ferry Road” – James Rosebrock

We will visit Snavely’s and Myers’ Fords, rarely visited locations on private property, and view the crossing of Brigadier General Isaac P. Rodman’s division around 1:00 p.m. on September 17.  We will walk along the banks of the Antietam there and up to the higher ground overlooking the ford where Colonel Thomas Munford’s cavalry, a company of South Carolinians from Jenkins brigade and the 50th Georgia offered scattered resistance. 

Our excursion will conclude with stops at two Confederate artillery positions. The first, of Captain John Richardson’s battery, recently acquired by SHAF on the high ground west of the Harpers Ferry Road, offers amazing views of the southern end of the battlefield and Red Hill to the east. Our last stop is at the Antietam Creek Vineyard where we will take a short walk to an artillery position, also on private property, occupied by the famous Confederate artillerist Captain Willie Pegram, that overlooks the extreme right flank of the Ninth Corps line.

1:00 Wrap-up session at the Antietam Creek Vineyards pavillion

Keynote Speaker

James J. Broomall is an associate professor of History at Shepherd University. He serves as director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. Before coming to Shepherd, Broomall most recently served as an assistant professor of History at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2011 working under Professor William A. Link whose family, coincidentally, is from the Shepherdstown area. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro awarded his master’s degree in history and museum studies in 2006, and he earned his B.A. from the University of Delaware in 2001.

With an abiding passion for the Civil War-era, Professor Broomall has worked in diverse environments ranging from academic institutions to local museums, and developed courses, conferences, and programs of interpretation focusing on the experiences of civilians, soldiers, and slaves during the mid-Nineteenth Century. Broomall’s scholarship is dedicated to the Civil War-era. He most recently published Private Confederacies: The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers as part of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America series. Further, along with William A. Link, Broomall published an edited collection Rethinking American Emancipation: Legacies of Slavery and the Quest for Black Freedom (2016, Cambridge University Press). He has articles in Civil War History, Civil War Times, The Journal of the Civil War Era, and the edited volume, Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South in addition to historiographical essays, book reviews, and online essays. Broomall has also recently completed for the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians a study of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal during the American Civil War, which is being used for interpretative programs, online materials, and a brochure.

He currently resides in Shepherdstown with his wife Tish and their children Simon, Henry, and Addy.

Presenters

John Banks is the author of three books on the Civil War: A Civil War Road Trip Of A Lifetime, Connecticut Yankees at Antietam and Hidden History of Connecticut Union Soldiers. His work has been featured in notable publications, such as The New York Times, Civil War Times, Civil War Monitor, Civil War News, America’s Civil War, and Military Images. Banks, who attended Mount Lebanon (Pa.) High School, graduated from West Virginia University with a B.A. in journalism. A longtime journalist with The Dallas Morning News and ESPN, he is secretary-treasurer of The Center for Civil War Photography and a board member of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation and Battle of Nashville Trust.

Brian Baracz is a ranger at Antietam National Battlefield with over 20 years of experience at the park.  Over the years, he has written many articles, on a wide range of topics regarding the Maryland Campaign.  Brian received his degree in history from UMBC.  He grew up in Cleveland, OH and now lives in Frederick, MD.

Lucas Cade A native of Marietta, Georgia, Lucas developed an early interest in the Civil War. He received a BS in Secondary Education/History from Troy State University and a MS in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi. He moved to Washington County, Maryland and has enjoyed a 35-year career in business development within the electric utility industry. Lucas has been a long-time advocate of battlefield preservation and has been active in the American Battlefield Trust and its predecessors for more than two decades. A certified guide at Antietam National Battlefield, Lucas lives in Winchester, Virginia with his wife, Julie.

Kevin Pawlak is a Historic Site Manager for the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division. He is on the board of Directors for the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. Kevin Pawlak is an Antietam Battlefield Guide and editor of The Antietam Journal. He is the author of seven books on the Civil War including, Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital and the co-author of To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign.  

Jim Rosebrock served 28 years in the US Army, including combat operations with the 82nd Airborne in Grenada, retiring at the rank of Lt. Colonel. He holds a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Jim recently retired from the Department of Justice. He was the Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides from 2011 to 2018. He manages two blogs, Antietam Voices, and South from the North Woods. Jim is currently the Vice President of the Antietam Institute and the author of The Artillery of Antietam.

Jim Smith A native of Miami, Florida, Jim began volunteering at Antietam in 2017 and became a certified battlefield guide in 2018. Jim wrote several chapters for Brigades of Antietam and is a regular contributor to the Antietam Journal. He has an MA in history from the University of Georgia and undergraduate and law degrees from Duke University. A corporate lawyer for more than 25 years in the Washington, DC area, he has been with Hilton since 2011. Jim and his family live in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Accomodations

The following establishments are convenient to the battlefield:

Inn at Antietam (Sharpsburg)

Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg)

The Bavarian Inn (Shepherdstown)

Thomas Shepherd Inn (Shepherdstown)