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What I learned at the Spring Symposium 

Our Spring Symposium scholarship recipient was Shepherd University Freshman, Hayden Kreitzer. Here is he’s recap of the Symposium.

            I would consider myself comparatively well versed in American History, but not particularly the Civil War. The conflict was, in most teachings in my school, dully and sometimes inaccurately summarized: The South had the better generals and the North had more people and an industrialized workforce. They fought for a while and then Gettysburg happened, and the Union won with some other non-important events and battles happening in between then and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. That was the incredibly basic interpretation that I had heard for years and because of that, the Civil War never really peaked my interest like the later conflicts that have come to dominate the American History Curriculum. However, being not only a History Student but also Shepherd University History student, I figured it would be important for me to attend the Spring Symposium and learn more (or the actuality) of the Civil War, particularly Lee’s ill-fated Maryland Campaign of 1862.

          

Kevin Pawlak

  I will admit: I thought this event would be boring. While I did display much enthusiasm the previous day at the Shepherdstown Battlefield Walk, I had lost much of that the night before following a fundraiser for Relay for Life. Despite that, I  made a promise to myself that my personal tiredness wouldn’t get in the way of me paying attention to the speakers. I toughened out and figured I would be correct but I wasn’t. Instead, I found myself entrenched in Kevin Pawlak’s speech. Pawlak is a very, very knowledgeable man who gave an enticing view on the days following Antietam. While Pawlak is still a great speaker, I feel the subject matter was also interesting. The climax of a battle is discussed but not usually the aftermath. I also learned of the  plan of Robert E Lee to take Martinsburg and then cross a captured bridgehead into Hagerstown. Antietam may have marked the end of Lee’s campaign but he still had some fight in him. This is contrasted by the thousands of dead and wounded men and the various skirmishes happening all around the battlefield. The front lines were still up and running, and the chance of dying was still very high. Lee’s army was just defeated and the aftermath further proved this. On top of that, command was seemingly nonexistent with troops scattered all around, wandering aimlessly. It got so bad that some of these men were practically forced back into the army. Morale on the Union side wasn’t much better, for as they had won a victory, they had done so at a massive cost.  There’s a reason why Antietam is so infamous.

Dr. James Broomall

            Wartime politics are always interesting but overlooked, and I’m glad that a man like Dr Broomall would be able to make the topic interesting. It seems crazy to some that Lincoln, arguably one of the most revered Presidents, was actually quite disliked and contended even in the North. From the perspective of many Northern citizens, the war was going south (no pun inteneded). The Democratic Party in 1862 was gaining a foothold in many offices in the North much to the dismay of Lincoln. Lincoln, meanwhile, became less and less favorably viewed by the press. These opinions would be further validated when Southern-sympathizing newspapers were being shut down. In short, 1862 looked to be a disastrous year for Lincoln and if things were continuing the way they had, he probably would’ve lost re-election. Like the rest of the talks, Antietam is the main vocal point. This victory would provide support for Lincoln and help in the later elections, although many would remain skeptical of Lincoln. In fact, his first 18 months of presidency were described as a “warming up” period by some scholars, which explains Lincoln’s early ineptness. He was an unknown who had won with less than 40 percent of the popular vote and he was in charge of a nation that was seemingly destroying itself. He was already unpopular and was becoming so as the war progressed. Antietam would be a remedy, but it wouldn’t be a cure. It wouldn’t be until later in the war that Lincoln would become the almost mythical figure we see him today.

Jess Rowley

            The struggle for Freedom and Emancipation for many African Americans during the war was often overlooked. I feel that Rowley does a great job at explaining the reasoning behind the emancipation and how it directly came from Antietam. Onto the actual conflict itself,  Lincoln’s perspective was from a goal of preserving the Union. This would make sense, given how the majority of the North weren’t exactly ardent abolitionists. Why would they be? They figured that if slavery was abolished, the enslaved African Americans would just go up North and compete for jobs. For as much of a blight as slavery may have been in the eyes of some Northerners, it was not the chief issue amongst the general populations, and Lincoln would have to set aside his personal narrative just to maintain order in the Union. Lincoln was already losing popularity in the Northern states, so it would be political suicide for Lincoln to begin emancipation. Instead, he would need a great victory that would not only justify the war, but also Lincoln’s own personal ambition. A victory that would not only change the course of the war, but also the course of history. Lincoln wouldn’t have to wait long, as this victory would eventually come in Antietam. The justification given at Antietam shifted focus from an individual attack on slavery to an attack on the Institution as a whole, as stated by Rowley. It was through this attack that Lincoln would be known for and so revered in the eyes of future generations.

Dr. Tom Clemens

            Logistics have always been an important albeit overlooked part of war. The logistics and the statistics make everything possible for an army, from the troops to the horses. For as seemingly boring as they are, they can be quite interesting in certain contexts like this lecture. Given by Dr Tom Clemens, the talk provided a greater insight into the sheer size and complexity of the Union Army. The movement of supplies behind the front lines and the civilian war effort can not be underestimated. In Clemens’s speech, he lists numerous examples of ingenuity on the behalf of the Union Army. For example, the shipment and the usage of the railroads to move supplies from DC to Harrisburg and then from Harrisburg to Maryland in the course of a day seemed nigh impossible. Despite that, the Union Army managed to do so. On top of that, McClellan had a fighting force of an estimated 72,199 people (brought to you by Hartwig ironically) in comparison to the 37,600 Confederates, also estimated by Hartwig. What I also found interesting was the fact that many first person testimonies weren’t accurate to the actual size of the armies. When both armies would march through the small villages, many of the villagers would over or underestimate the actual size of the armies. When you have never seen more than a thousand people gathered, they are not going to have any way to gauge the actual size of the army. This helped McClellan oddly enough, who seemingly had a habit of overestimating the size of the opposing forces (on top of general indecisiveness). So, the Union had already won the logistics game and had a clear advantage over the Confederates, although you would’ve never had guessed that by the carnage displayed following the battle.

D. Scott Hartwig

Suffice to say, war is hell. Ironically quoted by Sherman, this can still nonetheless apply to the Army of Northern Virginia following Antietam. Downtrodden, depressed, and broke. This talk given by Scott Hartwig encapsulates the misery of Lee’s army.  Even before the battle, Lee had to reduce the number of troops who would engage in Antietam because many of them simply didn’t have boots to make the march. Lee was already at a size disadvantage despite McClellan’s false estimates, and the plan to scavenge food wasn’t as well thought out as previously believed. So, you ended up with a hungry and under-clothed army. Too ragged for battle, but ragged enough for Antietam. I also noted how the Confederates were portrayed differently than how many would imagine them. It seems to be the common view that many of the Confederates were hesitant to invade the Union. Besides, this was a war about protecting the motherland from invasion, no? Instead, the Confederates are almost gleeful that they are heading North and expected the local population of Maryland to welcome them. They would soon find out what the campaign was really about. Of course, the rest is history and Lee is unable to progress past Antietam due to a wide array of reasons. He fails, puts into motion a plan to take Hagerstown which is halted by the Union advance previously discussed. In short, it was a failure of large proportions and this failure served as a cooling period for Lee and his now demoralized troops. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite done and Lee would later find himself in Pennsylvania where like in Maryland, he would be repelled.

In short, I would say these talks were highly knowledgeable and expertly articulated. I will admit that I did feel out of place given my younger age, but I found the people there to be welcoming. I enjoyed the talks and all of the speakers. I would like to thank all of them, and I was also like to think those who attended the Symposium. Overall, I am just highly grateful for the chance to be invited to such a wonderful event. The talks were a resounding success, unlike the Confederate war effort.

Our youngest member, David Hsueh a college student in California
with Hayden Kreitzer.

Hayden Kreitzer is a Public History and Historic Preservation student at Shepherd University. He has a strong interest in History and would love to work within his degree and looks forward to doing an internship during his time at Shepherd. Hayden hales from Charleston, WV where he graduated Charleston Catholic High School.

Hayden stands on the porch of the farmhouse where Robert E. Lee got his horse, Traveler in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
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Education Programs

The “Commanders of Antietam” Speaker Series in the Pry Barn

Institute historian are back at the Pry House this summer for our “Commanders of Antietam” speaker series. Come to the Pry House to hear the contributors of the Commanders of Antietam discuss in detail some of the commanders that fought in the 1862 Maryland Campaign. The series is sponsored by the Antietam Institute and hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. The presentation begins in the Pry Barn at 2:00 PM and is a pay-what-you-please event. There is a $3.00 suggested donation to tour the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.

The Pry House is open from 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays, from June 1 through October 26. The Pry House Field Hospital Museum is located at 18906 Shepherdstown Pike, Keedysville, MD 21756.

2024 Schedule

JUNE 1 – Gary Rohrer- MG William B. Franklin
Gary is a native and lifelong resident of Washington County. After serving in the Navy during the Vietnam era, Gary earned a BSCE from the University of Maryland and later earned an MBA from Frostburg State University. He became a Registered Professional Engineer and enjoyed a 35-year career in Public Works engineering. His passion for the 1862 Maryland Campaign was sparked by his Boy Scout years camping and hiking the fields of Antietam, South Mountain and Harpers Ferry during the Civil War Centennial and countless visits to Gettysburg. Gary’s thirst for Civil War history grew upon retirement as he became an Antietam volunteer and an NPS Certified Antietam, South Mountain, and Harper’s Ferry Battlefield guide. Gary has toured numerous Civil War battlefields and sites throughout the U.S. and also made extensive tours of both WWI and WWII battlefields across Europe. He is married and resides near Boonsboro, MD.

JUNE 15 – Laura Marfut – Col. John R. Brooke
Laura Marfut retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army with 32 years of service, including 12 years on the Pentagon Joint Staff and two tours in Afghanistan. She graduated from the U.S. Army War College with a master’s degree in Strategic Studies, and also holds master’s degrees in both International Relations and Education. After retirement, she developed the curriculum and taught the Homeland Security program at South Hagerstown High in Washington County, Maryland. Laura was certified as an Antietam National Battlefield Guide in 2019, fulfilling a long-term bucket list goal. She added Harpers Ferry and South Mountain credentials the following year. Laura served as President of the Mason-Dixon Council, Boy Scouts of America. She volunteers with Hospice of Washington County and as an Antietam Battlefield Ambassador. Laura and her husband, Ed, live in Hagerstown, Maryland.

JUNE 29 – Jim Buchanan – MG John Sedgwick
A fourth generation Washingtonian, Jim grew up spending many hours playing with friends on the earthworks of Fort [Benjamin “Grimes”] Davis in his Southeast D.C. neighborhood. He graduated from the city’s public schools, and earned a BA and an MA in history at the University of Maryland, College Park. With a teacher’s certificate, he returned to the D.C. schools to teach social studies. He eventually signed on for 11 years as an associate editor on a Supreme Court history project. That led him to a national organization where he developed law-related education curriculum for high school teachers. Then in 1992, he joined the Federal Judicial Center where he worked until retirement in 2017. Currently, he is a volunteer and certified guide at Antietam National Battlefield

JULY 13 – Tom McMillian -Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead and Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
Tom McMillan has spent a lifetime in sports media and communications – including 25 years as VP of Communications of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL – but his heartfelt passion is history. The author of four books on American history, he has served on the board of trustees of Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center, the board of directors of the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, the marketing committee of the Gettysburg Foundation, and as a docent at the Thomas Espy GAR Post in Carnegie, PA.. Tom and his wife, Colleen, are also volunteer ambassadors at Antietam. A former newspaper sports writer and radio talk-show host who has covered the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup Finals and the NCAA Final Four, he earned a journalism degree from Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

JULY 27 – Michael Hill – Brig. Gen. Thomas Meagher
Michael Hill, a native of Atlanta who grew up on the battlefield of Peachtree Creek, came to Baltimore for college at Johns Hopkins and pretty much never left, spending 35 years as a journalist at the Baltimore Sun and another ten working for the international aid organization, Catholic Relief Services. He did live one year in Fredericksburg VA for his first job out of college, residing on a 19th century estate overlooking the Rappahannock with Confederate entrenchments in the nearby woods. And there were four years in South Africa as a foreign correspondent for The Sun. In Maryland, Michael discovered he preferred the serene atmosphere of Antietam to the honky-tonk sprawl of Gettysburg and visited many times over the years. He got serious about studying the battle after a tour with Jim Buchanan made some sense out of it and became a licensed guide in 2021.

AUG 10 – Sharon Murray – Colonel B. F. Davis
As a native Idahoan, Sharon Murray moved east in 2010 to volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield. She has multiple degrees in mining engineering and history from the University of Idaho. Sharon has published a number of articles on Idaho mining history and won awards for photographs from the International California Mining Journal and the American Battlefield Trust. She is has been a guide at Antietam since 2014 and is the author of “An Ornament to his Country: The Life and Military Career of Benjamin Franklin Davis”.

AUG 24 – Joe Stahl – Col. Harrison S. Fairchild
In retirement, Joseph Stahl became a volunteer and NPS Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam and Harpers Ferry. He grew up in St. Louis where he received BS and MS degrees from Missouri University of Science and Technology and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Joe has coauthored three books and more than two dozen articles.

SEPT 7 – Jim Rosebrock – Col. Stephen D. Lee
James Rosebrock is a retired Army officer and Department of Justice employee, with 45 years of leadership experience in the logistics, security and emergency management fields. Jim graduated from Niagara University in 1976 with a degree in Russian History. Jim served with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces where he was awarded a master’s degree in National Resource Strategy. Jim was an instructor for Combined Arms and Services Staff School when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is a National Park Service certified battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield and served as Chief Guide from 2011 – 2018. He has two Civil War related blogs and is the author of the Artillery of Antietam.

SEPT 21 – Harry Smeltzer – Col Albert L. Magilton
Harry Smeltzer is the host of Bull Runnings (bullrunnings.wordpress.com), a website dedicated to the digitization of primary resources and original content related to the First Battle of Bull Run. He lives just outside Pittsburgh, and was born and raised in Southwestern PA. He has earned degrees at The Pennsylvania State University and the Katz School of the University of Pittsburgh. He’s also been published in print media including in the journal Civil War History, The Civil War Monitor, Civil War Times, and America’s Civil War. He is a Digital History Advisor for The Civil War Monitor. He sits on the board of directors of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation and is a past vice-president. He has presented programs on Bull Run related topics to organizations in eight states and the District of Columbia and organizes and leads tours of the battlefield of First Bull Run. Groups with which he’s worked include Civil War round tables, libraries, historical societies, universities, and the United States Marine Corps. He’s been hosting Bull Runnings since November 2006.

OCT 5 – Marty Pritchett – Col. James A. Walker
Martin Pritchett was born in Southern Kansas. Martin is a member of the Oklahoma Shawnee tribe. He grew up in a military family that took him from the Midwest to Europe. A veteran of 23 years in the United States Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office specializing in coastal search and rescue, environmental protection response, and maritime port safety. After seven years as an Antietam Battlefield Ambassador, Martin became a Certified Antietam Battlefield Guide.

OCT 19 – Jim Smith – Brig. Gen. Max Weber
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.

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Programs

2023 Fall Conference

We had an outstanding group of educators and historians leading the program for our third annual Fall Conference. This year’s theme was Prelude to Antietam: Forcing the South Mountain Gaps – looking at events of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 leading up to the battle of Antietam.

Friday afternoon we kicked off with three featured speakers.

After these three outstanding programs we had a short reception where members could mingle and chat with the speakers and get their books signed.

Members chatting with Dr. Emilie Amt, Dr. Brad Gottfried, and Dr. Alex Rossino.

Following dinner, members were able to attend three breakout sessions.

Saturday was an all-day South Mountain battlefield excursion starting out at Turner’s Gap with Steve Stotelmyer and Steve Robertson for an overview of the events leading up to the morning of September 14, 1862.

Next, we moved down to Fox’s Gap, where Steve Stotelmyer covered the all-day fighting that took place around the Wise farm and along the ridge roads.

After Fox’s Gap, the bus took us back around Turner’s Gap to the Frostown Gap where Steve Robertson discussed the advance of Gen. Hooker’s Union First Corps across a mile-long front. The bus had some difficultly tackling the steep mountain roads, but it gave us a better appreciation of the treacherous terrain of South Mountain.

After a long morning we pulled into the Gapland State Park at Crampton’s Gap for a break and some lunch provided by Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd in Keedysville.

After lunch, Steve Robertson started back up to cover the fighting at Crampton’s Gap. After a brief overview, we walked over to the War Correspondent’s monument and down the new interpretive trail.

After a long day on the mountain, dinner was ready and wanting for us at Shepherd’s Springs when we returned. Following dinner, Institute President, Chris Vincent presented the “State of the Institute” for the members. Vice President, Jim Rosebrock had the honor to introduce our keynote speaker, Scott Hartwig. As always, Scott’s talk was outstanding discussing “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Maryland Campaign”.

Sunday morning we met at in the barn at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum for a program by Dr. Tom Clemens. Tom discussed the whereabouts of McClellan and his true headquarters. Chris thanked Rachel Moses for not only being part of the conference, but for hosting the Institute for our summer lectures at the Pry Barn. Before heading out for the last excursion, members had a chance to tour the Pry House with Rachel.

Once members concluded the tour, we zipped up to the Newcomer House for the last two excursions lead by Kevin Pawlak and Jim Rosebrock. Members also had a chance to look through the Newcomer House and some of their new displays. Kevin discussed the Union reconnaissance efforts across the Middle Bridge, while Jim pointed out the artillery actions in that area on Sept. 16.

We had another very successful fall conference. Thanks to all the speakers and excursion leaders for sharing their knowledge and interesting presentations. Thanks to all the board members and volunteers that helped throughout the weekend. Finally, a special shout out to Brad Gottfried and the Programs Committee for all the hard work putting together another outstanding program. We look forward to seeing everyone in the spring and future events.

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Programs

My Experience at the Fall Conference

  Once again, we were fortunate to have a sponsored student attend our Fall Conference, October 27-29. This year, Roy McCord a freshman at Shepherd University was selected and we asked him to tell us about his experience of the weekend.

     

Roy McCord with Jack Richer

This weekend was the best one that I have had in a while. Before I even start this summary of the event I would like to thank both Mr. and Mrs. Richer, along with Dr. Broomall for the opportunity I was given.

Throughout my personal studies and excursions to Civil War Battlefields, I have yet to have the same experience that the Institute had to offer. Everyone I talked to greeted me warmly and with respect, although I am a young man, I was treated as an equal by all of my fellow Historians. Within my area a Civil War battlefield is only about fifthteen minutes away, and I have been to every one of them. Yet, I had not had the chance to go to South Mountain until the offer was given to me by the Institute and its generous members. It was there and in my opinion only with the guides of the Institute that I was able to understand the battleground in such great detail among the surrounding confusing terrain.

We started our weekend Friday night with simple but well detailed presentations. One in relation to the overall battle itself, those blasted missing Special Orders 191, and the roles of the Cavalry during the Maryland Campaign. Now I found the discussion on the missing orders to be the most interesting. As we truly don’t know who exactly lost them, yet the speaker Dr. Alex Rossino, whose very own research was displayed personally for everyone in that room. It was him who was the most energetic and really brought you in on a closer level, my own regret was not having the chance to speak to him one-on-one.

After the presentations we took a short break for dinner, and I had the chance to meet and eat with both Mr. and Mrs. Richer. The meal was amazing with some form of grilled chicken meal, which I wasn’t too particularly fond of, so instead I dug-into the bread instead. Which may table, including Mr. and Mrs. Richer who found it most hilarious when I returned with my ten bread rolls. In that moment the smiles on everyone’s faces, the joyous conversations, I could not have had it any better!

After dinner we had several break-out sessions. I attended the legend of Wise’s Well, a great and interesting presentation given by Mr. Steve Stotelmyer. After watching the whole thing I can truly say with everything that goes on, it must feel amazing when you are also added into the mix; being now connected to the legend of the well via your family; congratulations Mr. Stotelmyer.

It was after that great speech that the day was done, and we were left to our own devices. Many, including new friends I had made, went to their homes and or hotel rooms away from the Retreat Center. (Shepherd Springs Retreat Center in Sharpsburg Maryland) I on the other hand had been given a room at the retreat center, which I graciously accepted. The bed was comfortable and I quickly fell asleep, greatly satisfied for the day.

Even with twelve hours of sleep, I still am not a morning person. I woke up late and went out in the lobby and greeted those I knew from the day before. I am not a breakfast person, but for anyone who is, the assorted muffins and pastries looked really good; but I did not partake. It was soon after that we boarded a charter bus, making our short journey towards the mountain battlefield seen in the distance. I had a seatmate, I can only remember his first name, Wayne. When it was quiet on the bus and no one was speaking over the intercom, we had a great time talking to each other. It goes to show that the pleasant actions the institute shows is still prevalent even down to the single member level. I tip my hat to all of those I spoke to who were kind, and if I’m right that is everyone!

The battlefields themself were confusing to traverse, the rough terrain made it very easy to get lost, even I did at times; trying to figure out where we were or who was in command of the troops in the area. My favorite was probably Fox’s Gap, the presentation given by Mr. Stotelmyer was very engaging. His imagery and portrayal of the Confederate positions, what they were up against, and even describing the charge Billy Yank and the Seventeen Michigan across the field we stood in was like. Fire from all sides, hell and damnation, all for Reno to fall at the end of it all; very moving.

Crampton’s Gap was great as well, we hiked along the very same path that the Union forces had to ascend in order to push Johnny Reb’ from their positions. Being in those fortifications, the drop was straight down, being there yourself, seeing what the men had to climb is one of the most wonderful moments just to be struck by pure awe.

After the day of excursions was over, and the sun began to set, we returned back to the Retreat Center for dinner. This time I did not eat the bread, instead it was a mountain of rice. Another day, another wonderful experience. I ended that night not by going right to bed, but instead helping the men move boxes into a car. I lent a hand and was happy to, and I would like to think I was appreciated for helping; the smiles on the guys faces at least told me that.

After the work was done the car pulled away. I sat down with a few gentlemen and we talked, we discussed several topics throughout the night as the moon rose higher and higher. We continued to talk, I had my fair bit of the stage, and I felt happy that I was listened to and engaged with fairly and not treated as less due to my young age. It wasn’t until the suggestion from the very kind Mr. Brian Downey, that I went inside and off to my room. Without his word I would have been out there with those gentlemen all night, and would have talked until the sun came up.

On the third and final day, although we put in for good weather, it started out as a rainy one. We drove independently or carpooled to the Pry House. It was not McCellan’s headquarters but rather Hooker’s, given in great detail by Dr. Tom Clemens. After the Pry House tour, we went down further to the Newcomer House, closer to the Antietam Battlefield. Luckily by this point the rain had stopped, but the ground was still wet.

Given another great presentation by Mr. Kevin Pawlak, and a hike up the rolling hills on the outskirts of Antietam. The sight from the Union Artillery position of Tidball’s guns was a sight to behold. The artillery commanders discussion delivered by Jim Rosebrock was very nice, I having worked with Civil War Artillery Pieces before enjoyed the discussion. Even with wet feet and being cold, I could not help but feel the warmth from the Institute and its members.

Kindness, engaging conversations, and the overall friendliness of the members is what the Antietam Institute offers, it is a must for anyone interested in Civil War History and discussion groups. This was one of the greatest weekends I have ever had, and I will happily join the next excursion if I will be available! A big thanks to everyone, especially the President of the Institute Chris Vincent and Dr. Broomall for selecting me to come on this adventure, and I couldn’t end with saying thank you again to both Mr. and Mrs Richer. I couldn’t have gone on this trip without your kindness, for that I am grateful.

-Roy McCord, Shepherd University.

Roy McCord

Roy McCord, a freshman at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown WV, is studying to become a History Teacher. A recent Civil War Reenactor, who participated with the BreadBasket Mess on the 160th Anniversary of Gettysburg doing artillery demonstrations at Lee’s Headquarters, has a fascination with the Civil War and the Antebellum Period. He was the President of the Musselman High School History Honors Society, member of Rho Kappa, and is now the President of the Living History Club at Shepherd University. After his studies Roy hopes to become a Highschool History Teacher, or work in the park service at Civil War Battlefields. His favorite battlefields include, 3rd Winchester, 1st Kernstown and 2nd Kernstown, and of course Gettysburg.

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Education Programs

2023 Sharpsburg Days – Lecture Series

The Antietam Institute is sponsoring four lectures as part of the 2023 Sharpsburg Days on Saturday, October 7. Sharpsburg Days is a one-day event to commemorate the history and culture of Sharpsburg, Maryland which was founded in 1763. The four lectures will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church starting at 10am, until 3pm. Four local historians will discuss some of the unknown stories of Sharpsburg’s unique history. Institute publications will be available for purchase during the program. For more information about Sharpsburg Days go to the Sharpsburgh Museum of History.

Keith Snyder

10:00am – Keith Snyder: “The Marines Land in Sharpsburg
The largest event ever to take place in Sharpsburg, after the Battle of Antietam, was in 1924 when the Marine Expeditionary Force marched to Antietam for a twelve-day training encampment. They brought aircraft, tanks, balloons, machine guns plus their band and baseball team. Over 100,000 people visited the event. See numerous historic photos of this dramatic, yet somewhat unknown event in the history of the park.

Keith Snyder has worked for the National Park Service since 1985 at four National Parks. He is currently serving as the Chief of Resource Education and Visitor Services at Antietam National Battlefield. He is a graduate of Shepherd University and received his master’s degree from the U. S. Army War College. He retired from the United States Air Force and Air National Guard in 2016 after 40 years of service.

11:00am – Tim Snyder: “Drums Along the Towpath: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal during the Maryland Campaign of 1862

This presentation will look at how the Maryland Campaign of 1862 impacted the C&O Canal, beginning with the Confederate invasion of Maryland through the oft-overlooked service that the canal provided in resupplying McClellan’s army following the battle. It will also review the canal company’s efforts to recover from damages that the armies inflicted during the campaign.

Tim Snyder has an M.A. degree in history from Shippensburg (PA) University and is the author of the book, Trembling in the Balance: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal during the Civil War, which was published in 2011 by Blue Mustang Press, as well as other articles published in historical journals, magazines and newsletters. Tim also recently completed a study of Stonewall Jackson’s raids on Dam No. 5, Dam No. 4, Bath, Hancock and Romney. He lives in Hagerstown, MD.

1:00 pm – Tim Ware: “Maryland in the French and Indian War

In 1754, in the dense woodlands of Eastern North America, yet another colonial war ignited over the disputed Ohio Valley in present day western Pennsylvanian. Unknown at the time, the small frontier skirmish will grow into a global war for empire.  Due to its location, the British colony of Maryland was open to frontier raids by Native American tribes aligned with France. Starting in 1755, and continuing for the next 3 years, Washington County, then part of Frederick County, was among the hardest hit areas in Colonial Maryland. Its inhabitants will suffer heavily and be among the first to fight back. Joseph Chapline, founder of Sharpsburg, will command a company of militia patrolling the frontier and colonial Governor Horatio Sharpe will choose the area as the site for Fort Frederick, the backbone of Maryland’s defense.

Tim Ware grew up outside Martinsburg, West Virginia, in a region filled with history spanning from the colonial period to the American Civil War and beyond. His passion for history pushed him to pursue an undergraduate degree in history from Shepherd University and a graduate degree in American history from American Public University. He has worked at several state and national parks in the tri-state region and currently works for Berkeley County Schools as a history teacher. He is the author of Maryland in the French and Indian War published by The History Press in February 2023.

2:00 pm – John Schildt: “Drums along the Antietam”.

This talk will discuss how the community around the Antietam Creek is steeped with history, not just from the bloody battle of September 1862, but for centuries before and after the Civil War. Drums Along the Antietam details the long and diverse history of Antietam from the pre-colonial days of the Catawba and Delaware Indian peoples, through the wars and settlement by Europeans in the 18th century, to the continued strength and relevance of the place after the Civil War. Few areas of the United States have seen as much history as the Valley of the Antietam.

Reverend John Schildt graduated from Shepherd College, Wesley Theological Seminary and has studied at Western Maryland College, Gettysburg Seminary and West Virginia University. John’s first book, September Echoes, published in 1960, was the first on Antietam since Francis Palfrey in 1887. This led to an appointment to the Maryland Centennial Committee. He wrote the account of the battle for the Official Centennial Program and was the guest speaker for the 125h anniversary. John has been a lecturer and guide for several Civil War organizations, Round Tables, and many other groups. John led his first tour of Antietam in 1958. Since then, 2,000 additional tours have followed. John has written over thirty-five books relating the various aspects of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and local history. This list includes Drums along the Antietam, Roads to Antietam, Four Days in October, Islands of Mercy, and Roads to Gettysburg. He and his wife and daughter live in Sharpsburg.

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Education Programs

Antietam History on Tap @ Thick-N-Thin Brewery Co.

Join the Antietam Institute for Antietam History on Tap at Thick-N-Thin Brewing Co. in Hagerstown! During the month of January, Institute members Matthew Borders, Gary Rohrer, Laura Marfut, Joseph Stahl, and Dr. Tom Clemens will share surprising insight about the Maryland Campaign and the Civil War. From spies to local lore, from South Mountain to Sharpsburg, these speakers will discuss aspects of the past that they find most compelling and significant. Join them at Thick-N-Thin Brewing Co. in Hagerstown each Tuesday night at 6pm for some good beer and Antietam History on Tap.

Jan. 3 – Matthew Borders The Spy Game in Civil War Maryland

Matt’s presentation will be on the important and influential use of spies in Maryland during the Civil War by both Union and Confederate forces. The presentation focuses primarily on central Maryland as it was the highway of three separate Confederate invasions and looks at some of the major personalities both in and out of uniform that were operating throughout the region. The Spy Game in Maryland during the Civil War was a microcosm of the war itself with people of all backgrounds becoming involved in this risky venture. Neighbor distrusted neighbor, and everyone was suspect. Come hear how these first steps in military intelligence gathering led to a professionalization of the practice as the war continued and why many of the nation’s players in intelligence today trace their origins to the Civil War.

A graduate of Michigan State and Eastern Michigan University, Matthew Borders holds a BA in United States History with a focus in the American Civil War and a MS in Historic Preservation. Following graduation, he taught at Kalamazoo Valley Community College before accepting a position with the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. He worked as the historian for the ABPP for six years, during which time he became a certified battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Site.

Currently, Matthew is a Park Ranger at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland, and president of the Frederick County Civil War Round Table. He, along with fellow guide, Joe Stahl, have published the Faces of Union Soldiers series, including their most recent work, Faces of Union Soldiers at Fredericksburg.

Jan. 10. – Gary Rohrer The Union VI Corps at Antietam

Many Civil War historians have conjectured on what might have been at Antietam had Major General William B. Franklin’s command decisions differed in the Battle of South Mountain. The central focus on this presentation pertained to the impact of the battle with the arrival of the VI Corps on the morning of September 17th as it gave critical support to the Federal position and bolstered its right.

Gary Rohrer was born and raised in Washington County, MD where his family has lived for more than 225 years. His interest in the Civil War and passion for the 1862 Maryland Campaign go back more than 60 years to his days as a Boy Scout camping on the battlefields of Antietam and South Mountain. Gary also attended Antietam’s Centennial events as a young Boy Scout passing out brochures for the last re-enactment held on the battlefield. Gary’s professional career spanned 34 years as a registered professional engineer with the last 20 years of his career in the role of Washington County’s first Public Works Director. Upon his retirement, he became a National Park Certified Antietam and South Mountain Battlefield Guide. In 2013, he became one of the first Battlefield Guides certified by the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park for the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Gary has visited many of our country’s Civil War battlefields to further enhance his understanding of the Civil War. He has led hundreds of tours with clients ranging from the very young to the very seasoned students of the battle including retired officers of flag rank, college professors and special interest groups.

He is a Antietam Battlefield Guide, a member of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) and on the Board of Directors for the newly formed Antietam Institute. He resides near Boonsboro, MD with his family and is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Jan. 17 – Laura Marfut Prelude to the Battle of Antietam — A Skirmish and a Sleepless Night 

Summary of talk: The stage was set for battle on the eve of the bloodiest single day in American history as ~10,000 Union troops crossed the Antietam Creek to probe for Robert E. Lee’s Confederate position. A clash was inevitable, as a brigade of well-armed Pennsylvanians led the way toward Lee’s left flank and his Confederate artillery belching out a warning. Laura will talk about how both armies got to this point, the importance of the resulting skirmish on September 16, 1862, and personal stories of those who fought there.

Laura Marfut is a retired U.S. Army colonel with master’s degrees in International Relations and Education, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. She is a certified Antietam Battlefield guide and also gives battlefield tours of South Mountain and Harpers Ferry. Laura lives in Hagerstown with her husband, Ed.

Jan. 24 – Joseph Stahl Union Soldiers in the First Corps

Battlefield Guide Joe Stahl will introduce you to a number of Union Soldiers who were members of the 1st Corps on September 17, 1862. This will be done through images (CDVs) of each soldier. His service record will be reviewed and in addition he’ll include maps showing where these soldiers were on the battlefield. Joe will also point out things that can be learned from the images themselves.

Joseph W. Stahl grew up in St. Louis and received BS, MS, and MBA degrees from Missouri University of Science and Technology and Washington University. After retiring from the Institute for Defense Analyses, he became a volunteer and NPS Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam and Harpers Ferry. Joe has authored more than two dozen articles and is co-author of several books, including: Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War, Faces of Union Soldiers at Antietam, Faces of Union Soldiers at South Mountain and Harpers Ferry and the Faces of Union Soldiers at Fredericksburg.

Jan. 31 – Dr. Tom Clemens McClellan’s Headquarters- where it really was.

While the Pry House is well ingrained in local lore, the true location of his headquarters was not difficult to find, and upon reflection, makes much more sense. Dr. Thomas Clemens will focus on his search for the real headquarters of the army, and the evidence which disproves the Pry location and proves the actual location.

Dr. Tom Clemens earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history from Salisbury University, and his Doctorate in History Education from George Mason University, studying under Dr. Joseph L. Harsh. He spent most of his career at Hagerstown Community College, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2012. He has authored many magazine articles and book reviews, and appeared in several documentary movies and television shows, including the introductory film shown in the Visitor’s Center at Antietam National Battlefield. He edited and annotated General Ezra A. Carman’s narrative of the Maryland Campaign of September 1862. Monographs written by him also appear in several books. He is a founding member and current president of Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc., a non-profit preservation organization. He is also an Antietam Battlefield Guide, and 30+ year volunteer there.

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Programs

2022 Fall Conference

Institute Members at the 2022 Fall Conference

Over the whole weekend with the Antietam Institute, I was amazed not only by the hauntingly beautiful landscape, but by the amount of knowledge these people had. The selected leaders for the weekend all held so much information that they were more than willing to share with everyone in attendance. As a history major and (hopefully) future NPS park ranger, I can only dream about knowing as much as these historians. I have been employed by Eastern National, starting in 2019 and breaking for COVID, and have had the honor of working alongside many of these people through our battlefield tour program or in general working in the visitor center. Seeing our guides directly working with their chosen interests was absolutely amazing and I know will help me in the future with scheduling special interest tours. I don’t believe I can pick out one single moment that blew me away more than the other. But I can confidently say that the weekend as a whole will stick with me for the rest of my life.

FRIDAY PROGRAM

Tour guide Gary Rohrer took us through Major General William B. Franklin and his contributions on South Mountain throughout the Battle of Antietam; especially at Lee’s left flank. Author Chris Bryan went in depth into why Cedar Mountain was detrimental to the Union XII Corps and how it impacted their performance at Antietam. Sarah Kay Bierle took us down the mysterious path of John Pelham’s life as well as his artillery troops. I can safely say that every person in attendance learned something from each wonderful program.

The night brought unique breakout sessions about topics that fully intrigued me to learn more. I went with Ranger Brian’s program on the Elliot burial map of Antietam, discovered in a NY library two years ago. I’ve been a long term fan of studying the Gettysburg one so to learn from an expert was amazing. Hearing about his efforts to research all aspects of the map was inspiring to say the least.

Brian Baracz

SATURDAY PROGRAM

The next two days were filled with hikes around the battlefield with tour guides and Rangers alike. Despite the rough terrain of Nicodemus Heights, I was amazed at the chance to explore this ground.

With every hike, I encountered a new part of the battlefield I had never stepped foot on. Seeing the field this way was beyond comprehensive and I will use what I learned whenever I am able to.

Guest Speaker, Dr. Tom Clemens concluded a long day on the field discussing where Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s HQ was really located.

SUNDAY PROGRAM

Going into the weekend, I was expecting to learn a handful of things and call it a day. What actually transpired was way beyond my wildest dreams. I am thankful for the chance to attend a weekend full of learning at a place I hold close to my heart. I hope to use everything I learned at some point in my career; either at the bookstore or in the future. Huge kudos go to
Chris Vincent for arranging this event as well as the other executive members of the Antietam Institute that helped coordinate this for members and non-members alike. I am looking forward to other events hosted by the Institute and look forward to meeting new people along the way.

Jill Black, Shepherd University (Read more about Jill)

Jillian Black is a senior Civil War History major at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV.  Jillian was selected to be our 2022 Fall Conference Scholarship Student.
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Philanthropy Programs

Shepherd University Student selected to attend Fall Conference

Jillian Black

A huge thanks goes out to Institute members Jack and Kathy Richer, who are not able to attend this year’s Fall Conference but donated funds to pay for a deserving Shepherd University student to attend. The Institute worked with the university’s George Tyler Moore Center to select one of their outstanding students, Jillian Black.

Jillian Black is a senior Civil War History major at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. As a lifelong Civil War reenactor with the 142nd PVI Co. F, Jill has garnered a deep interest in all things Civil War related. She has been employed through Eastern National in the Antietam Park Store since 2019 and has recently started working in Monocacy’s Park Store as well. Her dream is to be a Park Ranger in Alaska for a handful of years before returning east to be at a Civil War battlefield. Outside of history, Jill is an avid musician. She plays the oboe and English horn with the Shepherd University Wind Ensemble and is a sister of Sigma Alpha Iota, a professional music fraternity for women. She has held the positions of Treasurer, President, and Vice President Membership. Her favorite battlefields include Petersburg, Cedar Creek, and of course, Antietam.

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Programs

Brigades of Antietam speaker series

Brigades of Antietam

Come to the Pry House to hear the contributors of the Brigades of Antietam discuss in detail some of the brigades that fought in the 1862 Maryland Campaign. This event is sponsored by the Antietam Institute and hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. The presentation begins in the Pry Barn at 2:00 PM and is a pay-what-you-please event. There is a $3.00 suggested donation to tour the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.

The Pry House is open from 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays, from June 4 through October 29.

The Pry House Field Hospital Museum is located at 18906 Shepherdstown Pike, Keedysville, MD 21756.

2022 Schedule:

June 4 — Jim Rosebrock discusses Buchanan’s Brigade

June 18 — Gary Rohrer discusses Law’s Brigade

July 2 — Kevin Pawlak discusses Hartsuff’s Brigade

July 16 — Tom Clemens discusses Phelp’s Brigade

August 6 — Joe Stahl discusses Christian’s Brigade

August 20 — Laura Marfut discusses Caldwell’s Brigade

September 3 — Jim Buchanan discusses Gorman’s Brigade

September 17 — Marty Pritchett discusses Gordon’s Brigade

October 1 — Jim Smith discusses Fairchild’s Brigade

October 15 — Matt Borders discusses Ransom’s Brigade

For more information, please contact Rachel Moses at Rachel.Moses@civilwarmed.org

Pry House and Barn
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Programs

The 2021 Fall Conference

The weekend of October 15th was an incredible weekend for anyone who was a member of the Antietam Institute and attended their inaugural 2021 Fall conference at the Shepherd’s Spring Retreat Center in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

President Chris Vincent and company pulled off an exceptional round of speakers and complemented it with an invigorating few days of tours at Antietam National Battlefield, encapsulating some of the forgotten moments of the battle. The speakers who provided rich interpretations of the bloodiest day in American history ranged from park rangers of the National Park Service, in keynote speaker Dennis Frye, Dan Vermilya and Bob Gottschalk, to licensed battlefield guides at Antietam, including Dr. Rogers Fred, Jim Buchanan, Laura Marfut, Kevin Pawlak, Jim Rosebrock, Dr. Tom Clemens and Bill Sagle. Words cannot describe the knowledge that these particular individuals have on the battle and the time and effort that they put into the conference. Their love and passion for Antietam National Battlefield and what occurred on September 17th, 1862, was transparent and put on display for those who attended the first Antietam Institute Fall conference.

Day I

Dan Vermilya
  • Dan Vermilya, Eisenhower National Historic Site
  • The presentation was titled, Teetering on Disaster: The Condition of the Army of the Potomac and its Leadership During the Maryland Campaign. Almost immediately, Dan Vermilya denounced the popular narrative of the ineffectiveness of the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland Campaign, and instead, very convincingly, went on the offensive that in fact, the Army of the Potomac was demoralized following the Peninsula and Second Manassas Campaigns and forced McClellan to have to completely rebuild his once Gibraltar of an army to even a fraction of what it once was six months prior. The core that McClellan uses to build the Army of Potomac back for the Maryland Campaign is comprised of remnants of Pope’s army that was defeated at Second Manassas, as well as what was used during the defeat on the Peninsula. The fighting force that he assembled would stand and fight together for the first time in September of 1862, and that was a strong point in Dan’s argument. How can an army overcome an opponent’s momentum if there is no unified cohesion? The new Army of the Potomac consisted of the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and the Twelfth Corps. The army faced straggling to an extent that had never been seen yet in the war, the condition of the men was poor at best, they were being led by new and green commanders, and finally, there was the question of leadership. The popular narrative that the Army of the Potomac was this uniformed killing machine is absolutely false and Dan stated his case very articulately, that it was in fact, the Confederates who had the upper hand in terms of leadership and momentum. His final point was that through all of these odds, McClellan, who receives nothing but harsh criticism, warranted or not, devised an immaculate plan on the days of September 16th and 17th, 1862, facing immense challenges against the red-hot Confederates and accomplished his mission of driving them across the Potomac and out of Maryland.
Dr, Rogers Fred
Dr. Rogers Fred
  • Dr. Rogers Fred, Antietam Battlefield Guide
  • Dr. Rogers Fred complimented Vermilya’s talk, describing the other side of the battlefield for September 17th, 1862. His presentation was entitled, The Army of Northern Virginia During the Maryland Campaign: Command + Decisions. Fred, a lifelong Virginian, made it abundantly clear that the aim for the Confederates was to make the Union use their resources and affect their political situation. It was paramount that if the Southern cause could damage the Lincoln administration and threaten the safety of the inhabitants of the North, that the political strength of the Confederacy would feed off of that and become the dominant nation in North America. In addition, on the Maryland Campaign the Confederates wanted to destroy the conduits of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, collect Northern food and supplies, and militarily, they wanted to employ a turning movement. This differs from a lot of popular history that Lee wanted to invade the North. Dr. Fred argued that this was not an invasion, but rather a turning movement. Unlike the relationships within the Army of the Potomac and with President Lincoln, there was a high level of trust in the Army of Northern Virginia, which resulted in more cohesion that carried down to the brigade level. They were collectively, a more experienced fighting group. Dr. Fred pointed out that 61% of infantry regiments had fought in major battles up to this point, which was the complete opposite to what we had been told by Mr. Vermilya just moments prior about the Army of the Potomac soldiers. This perspective really created an interesting dimension, looking at an incredibly tumultuous time for the Union army that had no momentum and was relying on fresh green troops to repel a veteran army and all of the cohesion to push McClellan all the way to DC. As Dr. Fred continued though, this is not what transpired. He quoted the famous E.P Alexander, saying that the condition of the army was ragged, the matter of shoes, clothing and food was worse at this time than anytime even after the battle of Antietam. The commissary lacked supplies and had inadequate methods of transportation, there was a lack of quality ordinance, lack of wagons, and because of the Union blockade of Southern ports, Confederate uniforms couldn’t be replaced with incoming wool, leather acnd shoes that they had been hoping for. As he concluded his presentation, he gave out some numbers that really helped the attendees gain a clearer picture of the loss of life at Antietam. The Army of Northern Virginia entered the campaign with a regimental average size of 360 men and left the battle with an average of 116, which is 32% of what they entered with. Another interesting statistic that Dr. Fred presented was that 30-50% of the brigade commanders were lost; so just like the Peninsula Campaign, there was just as much disorganization and lack of ability to coordinate around the field. With all of this in hand, morale remained high, and although the Army of Northern Virginia was pushed back into Virginia, Dr. Fred refuted popular narratives that perhaps their spirits were broken and argued that they were running on as much of the high on September 18th as they were coming off of Second Manassas. His biggest take-away was that the result would have been a lot different had the straggling been less and had they not sustained as many losses with the fraction of the army that they engaged.
Laura Marfut
  • Laura Marfut, Antietam Battlefield Guide/Antietam Institute Board Member
  • Laura Marfut is on the board for the Antietam Institute, and more importantly is a retired U.S Army colonel of 32-years. Her presentation was on the second in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, General James Longstreet. Laura did an exquisite job of highlighting Longstreet’s military career up to September of 1862, which included graduating 54th out of 56 at West Point, brevetted twice in the Mexican-American War and then finally resigning his commission in the U.S Army in 1861 to become an officer in the Confederate Army. He gained attention at the First Battle of Manassas in July of 1861 and then further distinguished himself at the Battle of Williamsburg ten months later during the Peninsula Campaign, before his first setback in the Civil War at the Battle of Seven Pines a few weeks later. What was so admirable about Laura’s presentation was that she didn’t exclusively focus on Longstreet’s military career, but rather his attempts of salvaging his reputation following the Civil War, which aligned with the theme of the Conference: “New Perspectives on Antietam. Longstreet was largely blamed by Lost Cause participants for supporting Republicans during Reconstruction, as well as suffrage for African Americans. These last two points cannot be undervalued in today’s society and Laura was very articulate in making these points distinctive. Furthermore, she made it known that Longstreet was incredibly respected during the wartime effort and used the example of the relationship between he and Robert E. Lee. Her argument was that Longstreet was seen as reliable and due to his performance at Antietam, he gained the nickname as Lee’s “warhorse”. Lastly, Longstreet in return admired Lee so much that he even named his son after him, which debunks any notion of a tumultuous relationship between the two following the Battle of Gettysburg.
Jim Buchanan
  • Jim Buchanan, Antietam Battlefield Guide/Antietam Institute Board Member
  • Jim Buchanan finished off the first day of speakers by speaking about one of my favorite generals of the entire Civil War, General Edwin Sumner. Jim, like Laura, highlighted Sumner’s life and military career up to September 1862. One of the points that he touched on was that he was not a graduate of West Point, but rather Milton Academy in Massachusetts. He joined the U.S Army as a lieutenant in 1819, rose to become a captain of the First Dragoons in 1833 and then the commandant of the U.S Cavalry School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1838. When he fought in the Mexican-American War, he received two brevets at Cerro Gordo, as well. One of the best points that Jim made during his presentation was noting the closeness of the relationship between Sumner and Abraham Lincoln due to their similar views on enslavement and the fact that Lincoln respected Sumner as a military officer. This relationship between the two would inevitably cause a rift between Sumner and McClellan, as the rivalry between McClellan and Lincoln is well documented and culminates with the 1864 Presidential election. Jim made a point that because of his age Sumner had a hard time getting along with other commanders within the Army of the Potomac, specifically those within McClellan’s “posse”; it also didn’t help that he didn’t attend West Point and was not a member of the heralded Aztec Club. Something that I really appreciate Jim pointing out as Sumner’s legacy was that he had the power to inspire those around him, he was loyal to those around him and demanded respect, he was a “by the book” type of officer and oozed personal integrity. In summary, Jim proved that, unlike McClellan, Sumner was an ultra-aggressive commander, which was shown by the conduct of his men.

Day II

Kevin Pawlak and Jim Rosebrock
  • Kevin Pawlak, Historic Site Manager at the Ben Lomond Site and Bristoe Station Battlefield in Prince William County, Virginia, Antietam Battlefield Guide and Antietam Institute Board Member
  • Jim Rosebrock, Former Chief of the Antietam Battlefield Guides, Antietam Institute Board Member
  • Kevin Pawlak and Jim Rosebrock started day two of the Antietam Institute Fall Conference by taking us out to the battlefield to learn about the events regarding the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac at the Middle Bridge on September 17th, 1862. The two gentlemen tackled the misconception that the Corps, led by General Fitz John Porter, was inactive during the bloodiest day in American history. Instead, they showed the attendees the challenges that these soldiers faced, being incredibly spread out, fragmented across the field. Lastly, they also spoke of McClellan’s game plan and how it was executed better than expected, which is why Lee’s forces were driven back to Virginia. Jim’s commentary on how McClellan repeatedly shifted his men to attack Lee’s left flank really stood out, and helped us appreciate the importance of McClellan’s tactics at Antietam.
Tom Clemens and Steve Stotelmyer
  • Dr. Tom Clemens, Founder and president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Inc, retired professor at Hagerstown Community College and Antietam Battlefield Guide, Antietam Institute Board Member
  • Steve Stotelmyer, U.S Navy veteran, co-founder of the Central Maryland Heritage League, Antietam Battlefield Guide
  • Through rain and wind, we battled on to the famed Burnside’s Bridge and Final Attack, where the attendees were split into two groups for a more intimate experience. Dr. Tom Clemens led the Burnside Bridge crew and showed us the often overlooked viewpoint of the Confederates on the bluffs above the Bridge. He told us of seldom heard experiences of the Georgians and how they were able to hold off the entire IX Corps for as long as they did – until Union troops led by General Rodman found another crossing point over the Antietam Creek and overwhelmed Toombs’ men. Following the Burnside Bridge tour, we then were escorted to the site of the Union Final Attack, led by Mr. Steve Stotelmyer who gave us a close perspective of the 23rd Ohio Infantry: the regiment of future U.S presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley. One story in particular that I personally had never heard before was one on McKinley, who was said to have been giving out rations to his fellow comrades while under fire. McKinley’s actions caught the attention of his superior, Rutherford B. Hayes; creating a strong relationship between the two. I was immediately reminded of the spot in Winchester, Virginia near my home where a plaque is dedicated to those two men becoming Masons together immediately after the Civil War while Winchester was still occupied by the United States Army. Steve continued to show us the route by which Burnside’s men marched after taking the Bridge before being halted by Confederate General A.P Hill’s Light Division that had just arrived at the field from Harper’s Ferry after paroling the 13,000 men who had just surrendered a few days prior. This was an incredible experience for me and for the rest of the attendees who had never visited this location.
Dennis Frye
  • Dennis Frye, Former Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
  • In his keynote presentation, Dennis Frye made a compelling argument that the Battle of Antietam was a distinct Union victory, for the sole reason that McClellan and company drove the Army of Northern Virginia out of Maryland and eliminated the threat of further invasion into the North. While spreading this popular message that was a common narrative throughout the weekend, Dennis stated his reasonings as to why he felt that General McClellan was dealt a bad hand following the end of the Peninsula Campaign and Seven Days Battles. He felt that the blame of failure was warranted on both McClellan and Washington. Inevitably the reason why both sides couldn’t create a holistic relationship was that McClellan did not react well to the Emancipation Proclamation and wanted to use the Army of the Potomac as a vehicle to preserve the Union, rather as one to establish freedom for the enslaved. Where Dennis drove his presentation home was claiming that many supporters of McClellan had wished he used the Army of the Potomac to initiate an insurrection on Washington and overthrow the central authority to assume the executive powers. While the audience audibly gasped, Dennis used primary sources to support his argument and declared that one of the general orders that he wrote immediately following the rumors of him following through with this possible insurrection saved America by dismissing any possibility of him invading his own country for his own selfish reasons. This was an exciting presentation by the always colorful and animated Dennis Frye.

Day III

Bill Sagle and Bob Gottschalk
  • Bill Sagle, Antietam Battlefield Guide (ret)
  • Bob Gottschalk, Former Seasonal Park Ranger at Antietam NBP, Gettysburg NMP, Harpers Ferry NHP, Valley Forge NHP and Richmond NBP
  • Bill Sagle and Bob Gottschalk closed out the fabulous weekend on an incredibly windy Sunday morning talking about the earlier stages of the battle, Bill covered the Union perspective, while Bob did so on the Confederate front. We visited popular sites such as the West Woods and the Cornfield and learned about intimate experiences from both sides, particularly from Hookers’ Corps and his opponent in Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Some could say that the Institute saved the best for last by visiting these two specific sites, which could be disputed by the other immaculate spots on the battlefield that we visited previously, but one thing is for certain and that is that Bill and Bob put the cherry on top with some of the stories that they told. Both perspectives were similar in the way that they relayed the casualties due to the ferocity of the two armies. As someone who hasn’t visited the Cornfield since I was a child, this was certainly a treat for me and the end to a perfect weekend.
  • Conclusion
  • This weekend was the result of a lot of hard work and dedication over the course of the last year putting this together. In all of my years studying the Civil War and attending conferences such as this, I don’t think I have ever been surrounded by such kind and passionate individuals as with the Institute. A group with one goal: which is to preserve and spread the history of the 1862 Maryland Campaign. I want to give a very gracious thanks to Chris Vincent, Brad Gottfried, Jim Rosebrock, Laura Marfut, Jim Buchanan, Mac Bryan, Kevin Pawlak, Gary Rohrer and everyone else who is involved in the Antietam Institute for allowing me to be a part of something so special like this. This internship is a dream come true for me, and all of the individuals who thought of me as a good fit for this position have truly given me a place to feel welcome, and for that I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you for a heck of a first Fall Conference and let’s get ready for the Spring Symposium in 2022!
Christian Webb