For over three years, Aaron Holley, our cartographer, has been working on an Antietam Battlefield base map. Aaron Holley is a native of West Virginia and a lifetime student of the American Civil War. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and a Master of Science in Forestry from West Virginia University and has experience working on forest conservation projects worldwide. This professional experience has led Aaron to be intimately familiar with the practice of cartography and modern mapping techniques, which when paired with his passion for the American Civil War, results in this outstanding map.
The objective of this initiative is to recreate the 1862 landscape in three dimensions using a computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS), which utilizes modern data collected from such sources as satellites and aircraft combined with historical maps, ground-truthing in the field, and expert input. This results in a map that is true to scale and even usable in a GPS to compare the modern landscape to the 1862 landscape while in the field. For the last year, a committee of “experts”: Jim Rosebrock, Kevin Pawlak, Jim Buchanan, Steve Cowie and Chris Vincent, have reviewed every sector of the map, analyzing fence lines, roads, farmsteads, and the topography for accuracy. This base map is a “living” map that can be updated as new information is obtained, and it serves as the backdrop for Antietam Institute publications, such as Artillery of Antietam and The Antietam Journal.
Now that this initial phase is completed, the Institute is looking to print these base maps not only for members, but for purchase by the public with our vendors. The map will be 24×36 inches and in full color. A draft of the base map was revealed during the Honor Guard event to gather members’ interest and feedback. Based on that, we made some final edits and it was off to the printers!
Figuring in the printing costs, shipping and packaging, we estimate the map will retail for $30. The maps will be available for members to purchase at the fall conference. When members start to see the value of this new and improved battlefield map, and there is an interest for more, the mapping committee will begin looking at recreating the fourteen battlefield maps with the unit positions.
New Designation for a Church Destroyed by Civil War
On Thursday, August 24 members of the Antietam Institute helped hoist a new set of Civil War Trails signs into place where the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church once stood. This is the first Civil War Trails (CWT) site in downtown Sharpsburg officially adding the beautiful community to the multi-state program. The church was damaged beyond repair during the September 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam.
“We are extremely excited to have this first CWT sign installed at the site of the old Lutheran Church,” said Chris Vincent, President of the Antietam Institute. The Institute was the primary advocate for the project, envisioning how to tell this often overlooked story and covering the initial costs. They will also be the sustaining partner for the site enabling the Civil War Trails program and its partners to market the site internationally to visitors from around the world.
This project in Sharpsburg is the latest addition to the CWT program which offers over 1,500 sites across six states. As visitors travel to each site, utilizing the CWT brochures and directional signs to navigate they visit local restaurants, stay at local B&Bs, and enjoy museums, hikes, and other amenities. Daniel Spedden, President of the Hagerstown/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau lauded the project. “As cultural and heritage tourists seek authentic experiences, they not only generate revenue, but also support countless small businesses, create employment opportunities, and preserve the unique history, traditions, and craftsmanship of our region.”
Across Maryland there are over 180 Civil War Trails sites, including over two-dozen stops associated with the 1862 Antietam Campaign. The popularity of the 1862 Antietam Campaign driving trail dovetails nicely with the mission of the Antietam Institute. The Institute is a member centered organization with a mission to educate the public on the critical importance of the Battle of Antietam and the campaign which was a major turning point of the Civil War which directly resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation.
The two organizations are optimistic about the ability to help promote travel to region and in telling new and varied stories. Vincent continued, “This is the first of many signs the Antietam Institute plans to sponsor around Sharpsburg to tell the story beyond the battlefield, of those civilians who experienced the tragedy of the bloodiest single day in American history.”
The new Civil War Trails site is located at 213 East Main Street, Sharpsburg located on top of the hill where the cemetery is now today. Be sure to snap a #signselfie and post it along with #mdinfocus. For more information about visiting or for a free map-guide shipped to your door visit civilwartrails.org. To find out more about the Antietam Institute, their programs, publications, and project visit their website at antietaminstitute.org and follow them @antietaminstitute on social media.
Editorial Note: We do not recommend publishing, printing, or posting a photo which shows the entire sign content. Doing so actually decreases visitation.
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.
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.
We are pleased to announce that the Institute’s member incentive publication for 2023 is From Frederick to Sharpsburg: People, Places, and Events of the Maryland Campaign Before Antietam, by Steven R. Stotelmyer. Steve is a distinguished author of the Maryland Campaign. He is a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, served in the U.S. Navy and holds a master’s degree from Hood College. Steve helped form the Central Maryland Heritage League in 1989 which was successful in preserving part of the South Mountain Battlefield. He is the author of The Bivouacs of the Dead: The Story of Those Who Died at Antietam and South Mountain, and most recently Too Useful To Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship in the Maryland Campaign from South Mountain to Antietam.
Here is a sneak peak at some of the essays in From Frederick to Sharpsburg. The Battle of Antietam stands out as the single bloodiest day’s combat in American history. More people were killed or injured on September 17, 1862, than any other day in our nation’s entire history. With 23,000 casualties it is understandable that this single event tends to take the spotlight in the Maryland Campaign of 1862. However, Robert E. Lee did not begin crossing the Potomac on September 4. 1862, just so he could fight at Sharpsburg 13 days later with his back to that same river. From Frederick to Sharpsburg sheds light on some of the other participants and events long obscured in the shadow cast by America’s bloodiest day.
The seminal event of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 was the Confederate occupation of Frederick, Maryland. Between September 6 and September 11 Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia occupied the town. In the popular histories of the event the people of Maryland are portrayed as turning a cold shoulder towards the Confederates and their cause. Using primary accounts, Stotelmyer provides an exploration of the Confederate reception in Frederick in the early days of the Maryland Campaign and concludes it was not as unfriendly as traditionally portrayed.
Barbara Fritchie was a real person living in Frederick during the Maryland Campaign. She was made famous by a poem published in 1863 by John Greenleaf Whittier. Because she passed away shortly after the Maryland Campaign, Barbara never knew any of the fame generated by Whittier’s pen. As the story goes the 96-year-old Barbara defiantly waved an American flag in the face of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. In truth however, A Quaker poet who likely never saw the city or old lady, and a Confederate general who never saw either, poet or lady, made as fine an advertising project as any city could desire.
Sugar Loaf Mountain, located near the southern border of Montgomery and Frederick Counties, absolutely dominates the surrounding Maryland countryside. During the Maryland Campaign, from September 6 through September 11, Confederate Signalmen occupied the mountain top. On September 9 Robert E. Lee issued the orders dividing his army for the Harpers Ferry operation under the belief that his enemy was still concentrated at Rockville, 25 miles southeast of Frederick. Obviously, Lee believed he had ample time for the Harpers Ferry operation. A simple observation from Sugar Loaf should have shown otherwise. From Frederick to Sharpsburg explores the conditions and circumstances surrounding this apparent intelligence failure on the part of the Confederates atop Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Major General Jesse Lee Reno was a promising 39-year-old Union career officer who perished before his time on the slopes of South Mountain at day’s end on September 14, 1862. Although most histories of the Maryland Campaign treat General Reno’s death as an isolated event, his absence at Antietam three days later may have cost General McClellan the decisive victory he so earnestly sought to achieve. Nonetheless, the nature of Reno’s death is not without its share of controversy. Almost from the time of his death, there has been speculation and controversy as to whose bullet, Union, or Confederate brought an end to the promising military career of Jesse Lee Reno. Stotelmyer not only explores the circumstances and the various claims surrounding Reno’s death, but also the apparent dysfunction in the Ninth Corps high command which resulted from the premature loss of this capable commander.
They were thrown into a well instead of receiving a proper burial on September 15, 1862. They were dead Confederate soldiers, and as the legend goes, they were thrown into an abandoned well by a crafty old codger named Daniel Wise who had contracted with none other than Major General Ambrose Burnside to bury the rebels for a dollar a body. The story of Wise’s Well has become cemented as fact in the history of the Maryland Campaign, and unfortunately, much of it is myth. While it is true that the well became a mass grave for 58 dead Confederate soldiers, Daniel Wise never had the opportunity to correct the historical record as to how they were placed in such an unusual sepulcher. The civilians of South Mountain were affected by that battle just as much, if not more so, as their fellow citizens at Sharpsburg. From Frederick to Sharpsburg explores the facts behind this long-accepted legend and not only clears the name of Daniel Wise, but sheds light on the real human drama at Fox’s Gap after the Battle of South Mountain.
There is an overlooked aspect of Confederate operations in Maryland during September of 1862 that often remains unmentioned in popular history. General Robert E. Lee, one of the most iconic figures of the Civil War, suffered a debilitating physical injury just prior to his entry into Maryland. If Lee’s injuries are mentioned at all in the popular histories of the campaign, they are usually given short shrift. One of the results of this perfunctory treatment is that the popular image of the bold audacious Confederate general remains largely intact, while the actual picture of an aging disabled invalid, unable to take care of himself, mostly remains overlooked. Using primary sources Stotelmyer explores the circumstances of Lee’s injuries and how his condition may have affected decisions and controversial actions during the campaign.
Several appendices describe forgotten combat and casualties from Sugar Loaf to Patrick Street to Hagan’s Gap to Quebec School House. From Frederick to Sharpsburg: People, Places, and Events of the Maryland Campaign Before Antietam, will make a welcomed addition to the library of any student of Antietam, the Maryland Campaign, or the Civil War.
The Antietam Institute Board of Directors approved its 2022 operating budget in February, including decisions for philanthropic donations. These donations will support the goals and objectives of the organization as found in our by-laws. The recipients for 2022 are:
The Burkittsville Preservation Association – The Antietam Institute presented a one-time $2,500 donation on February 26 toward restoration of the Willard Shafer farmhouse and barn. The Shafer House was the headquarters for Major General William B. Franklin, commander of the Union Sixth Corps on September 14, 1862 during the battle of Crampton’s Gap. Once restored, the circa 1830 farmhouse will house a museum dedicated to the Burkittsville area’s history during the Civil War. A video about the project produced by the Institute can be seen here.
Town of Sharpsburg Interpretive Plaza – The Institute has committed to a $2,000 annual contribution for three consecutive years for the development of an interpretive plaza in the green space at the corner of Main and Church Streets. Initiated by the Town of Sharpsburg, this project will tell the story of Sharpsburg and the people who have lived there, even prior to the founding of the town in 1763.
Civil War Trails– the Institute has approved funding for a one-time $2,600 payment for development of a Civil War Trails – Antietam Campaign marker in a to-be-determined location. Adding to the existing 33 markers associated with the Antietam Campaign, the new interpretive site in or around Sharpsburg would enable visitors to learn something unique to the town or the battlefield.
Also, our goal of creating a scholarship has become a reality. In collaboration with Shepherd University Foundation and the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War (GTMC), we are excited to announce that the first annual Institute scholarship will be awarded this fall. The recipient will be recognized at our Fall Conference in October. Additionally, our internship program will continue into its second year. This year’s GTMC intern will assist our Digital Archive team in adding more digital copies of historical and contemporary material to our Historical Research Center.
Your dues allow the Institute to financially support bona fide historical efforts in education, preservation and research. Keep an eye out for future announcements!