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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.
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.


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.


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