About Me

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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two young adult children who I love very much. I currently volunteer at Antietam and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. Since 2013 I have been conducting in depth research on the regular artillery companies of the Union Army and their leaders. I hope to turn this into a book on this subject in the future. My perspective comes from a 28-year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Announcement of Antietam Battlefield Guides Written Examination

The Antietam Battlefield Guides (ABG) will be offering the written examination at 9AM on Saturday November 4, 2017 at the Sharpsburg Area Rescue Service, 110½ West Chapline Street, Sharpsburg, Maryland.

There is a $50 administrative charge associated with taking this examination.  

A prerequisite for becoming a guide is active participation in the Battlefield’s Volunteers in the Parks (VIP) program. Individuals must sign up to be volunteers at Antietam National Battlefield and be active park volunteers during the testing, mentoring and final evaluation processes and thereafter. You DO NOT need to be a volunteer to take the written test. However, to take the final evaluation with a park ranger and senior guide, you must have accumulated 100 volunteer hours at the battlefield. Antietam Ranger Olivia Black is the volunteer coordinator and can be reached at this email address: Olivia_black@nps.gov.

Test Description: This examination evaluates your knowledge of the Maryland Campaign. The test consists of over 200 questions.  They include true false, multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions.  There are no essays. However, throughout the examination there are several short answer questions requiring you to BRIEFLY discuss a certain aspect of the campaign. You are not evaluated on writing style here. Simply communicate the information in short sentences, bullets or in an outline form that gets your point across. You should be able to answer these questions in the space provided in this test booklet. You will have four hours to complete the examination.

You will be tested on your knowledge of the following topics:

·           ·      The Civil War in general
·           ·      The Maryland Campaign and battles at Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam and Shepherdstown including:

o   Orders of battle down to division level including unit locations and movement on the field.
o   Backgrounds of the principal commanders, division and higher
o   Regiments of the more famous brigades, (Irish, Black Hat, Texas) and their commanders
o   Military objectives of both sides
o   Maryland Campaign timeline

·         ·      The Emancipation Proclamation
·         ·      History of Antietam National Battlefield and its memorials, monuments and landmarks, artillery positions, mortuary cannons, avenues, auto tour stops, and hospital locations
·         ·      Basic knowledge of Civil War weaponry (musket and artillery) and medical practice
·         ·      Knowledge of the town of Sharpsburg and the farms and families who lived on the battlefiel
      ·      The military aspects of terrain as they apply to the battlefield.

The test is organized in three parts. Part One addresses the Maryland Campaign in general. Part Two covers the Battle of Antietam specifically. Part Three covers other required knowledge including the aftermath of the battle, park history, civilians, military aspects of terrain and other information categories not included in the first two parts. There may be photographs of monuments that you will have to identify, photos of officers of both sides, a map section where you will be asked to identify geographic features, buildings, locations of divisions and select artillery positions.

To be accepted as a guide candidate, you must score 90% on the written test.  If you score between 85% and 90%, you will be eligible to retest no earlier than 60 days after you take the initial test. You will have one opportunity to retest and must score 90% or higher. Candidates who score below 85% on the initial test are not eligible to retest and must wait for the written exam to be offered again. You may take the retest at no additional charge.  See our list of recommended readings to prepare for the test at here.

When you pass, you will be assigned a guide-mentor and are then ready to proceed to the next step in the process. If you are not a volunteer at Antietam, you must sign up at this point. You are now considered and designated as a guide-candidate.

If you are ready to begin the process, please email Chief Guide Jim Rosebrock (pointsalines@yahoo.com) to receive a test application and a copy of the guide agreement.   The agreement outlines your obligations and responsibilities as a battlefield guide after you have completed all examinations and training. 

Complete the application paying particular attention to the areas where you address your current background and interests in the Civil War and the Maryland Campaign and why you want to become an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Also be sure to include two references. Submit your application no later than October 6, 2017. You may email your application to Chief Guide Jim Rosebrock (pointsalines@yahoo.com) or drop it off at the Museum Bookstore at Antietam National Battlefield.  Instructions for paying the guide test application will be provided directly to those who submit an application.  We look forward to hearing from you.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Creation of the Artillery Reserve in the Army of the Potomac

This begins a series of posts (hopefully) that trace the history of the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac.  This article covers the initial organization of this command until its arrival on the Peninsula in April 1862.

When George McClellan arrived in Washington in July 1861 and assumed command of the forces that eventually became the Army of the Potomac, he decided to retain William Barry as his Chief of Artillery. Barry had served in that capacity under Irwin McDowell.  Barry’s credentials were impeccable despite his flawed orders that resulted in the destruction of Ricketts Light Company I, First Artillery and Charles Griffins Battery D, Fifth Artillery at Bull Run.   He graduated from West Point in 1838, a year ahead of Henry Hunt.  Both served together in the 2nd Artillery.   Barry had the distinction of serving in the very first light artillery company of the U.S. Army, Samuel Ringgolds Battery C, 3rd US Army.  He went to Mexico but became sick and returned to the United States without seeing any action.  Barry commanded Light Company A, 2nd Artillery after Hunt left it and like Hunt was on the panel that revised the Army’s artillery tactics. Barry’s role would be as the administrative head of the artillery in the Army of the Potomac.  And in that role he gave good service.  Barry’s guiding principals for the administration of the artillery in the Army of the Potomac are well known and I wont go into them here.  Needless to say, they outlived him and by the end of the war had spread to all of the Union armies in the field. 

Henry Hunt was appointed to command the Artillery Reserve.  This was the number two artillery job in the Army of the Potomac.  Unlike Barry whose job was administrative, Henry Hunt actually held a tactical command of artillery units’ lead by artillery officers.  In European armies, this would have been called an artillery division and it would have rated a general officers star.  The Reserve had its own staff, a subordinate command structure of brigades, and an ammunition train.

The mission of the artillery reserve was to augment the fires of the batteries assigned to the infantry divisions. Its guns could be quickly deployed to a threatened sector or could be used to mass fires for a planned attack.  The Reserve also had a logistics mission.  It stocked additional supplies of ammunition that could be distributed to batteries throughout the Army.  Finally it was intended that batteries assigned to the infantry divisions worn down in combat could be refitted in the Reserve.  Assignment to the Reserve was considered an honor. 

Officers of the Horse Artillery Brigade at Fair Oaks Va. 1862
At first the Reserve only contained regular army artillery units.   It was initially organized in two artillery brigades with 8 regular artillery companies.  The first brigade consisted of Horse Artillery and was commanded by William Hays, Hunt’s old friend and wartime colleague. Hay’s was born in Richmond Virginia the son of a prominent lawyer.  He graduated from West Point in 1840, one year behind Hunt.  He served with Hunt in James Duncan’s Light Company A, 2nd Artillery in Mexico.  He fought in all the major actions, was wounded and twice brevetted for gallantry. Like George Thomas, John Gibbon, and John Buford who were also from southern states, Hays had to declare his loyalty to the Union.  Hunt’s second brigade was field artillery.  George Getty commanded this brigade.  Getty was born in Washington DC the son of a Treasury Department auditor. He was a West Point classmate of Hays. Getty was from the 4th Artillery and like Hays and Hunt served with great distinction in Mexico.  Getty spent the 1850s fighting the Seminoles in Florida and on the western frontier.

Hunt’s principal staff officer was Lieutenant Edward Warner.  Warner graduated from West Point in 1857. He was a classmate of Porter Alexander the noted Confederate artillerist at Gettysburg.  The young Pennsylvanian was commissioned in the 3rd Artillery. When the war began, Warner was serving on the West Coast when the war began.  In October 1861 McClellan ordered much of the 3rd Artillery in California to come to the Army of the Potomac, Warner as Regimental Quartermaster was largely responsible for the successful transportation of the regiment from California to Panama and then from there to New York.  Hunt was impressed with the young Pennsylvanian’s abilities and made him his assistant adjutant general. 

Thru the fall of 1861 and into the next spring, Hunt worked hard outfitting and drilling his batteries. Together with his leadership team and a number of young talented battery commanders Hunt built up the Artillery Reserve into a formidable combat force.  His family situation was secure.  Mary and their son Conway living not far away in Washington and his two older children lived in New York with their aunt.  Unburdened of family worries Hunt continued to refine his own thoughts on artillery organization and tactics. 

Later on a battalion of heavier artillery was added to the Reserve.  It was mustered into the Army as the 1st New York Artillery Battalion. Four companies were organized.  Three were issued 20-pound Parrott guns and one had 32-pound howitzers.  The battalion was organized around a group of German artillerists who served in the army of the Grand Duchy of Baden.  Their first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Andreas Breckel.  In 1849, Breckel led the artillery in Franz Sigel’s forces during the unsuccessful insurrection against the Prussians.

In March 1862, the Army of the Potomac began the great movement of to the Peninsula.  Hunt’s Artillery Reserve fell under the command of Fitz-John Porter, the officer who had been instrumental in extricating Union artillery from Texas just a year earlier.  Initially his light artillery saw little action though the officers and men assisted in constructing the siege lines around Williamsburg.

Hunt was always extremely careful to preserve his precious artillery horses.  You couldn't’ just hitch up any old nag to an artillery limber and expect the horse to work as a part of the team.  Therefore it was critical to take good care of the horses and not overload them.  Every good artilleryman took care of his horses first before he attended to his own needs.  Hunt absolutely forbid cannoneers from riding on the limbers, or piling up their knapsacks on them.  Worn out horses would do the artillery little good if they were suddenly needed to maneuver quickly in battle.  Despite frequent edicts to this effect, Hunt discovered that cannoneers of his German artillery units were riding on the limbers and caissons as the horses were trying to negotiate very treacherous roads.  Hunt immediately ordered the relief of Colonel Brickel and his replacement by Major Albert Arndt.  When the bewildered German asked why he had been relieved, Hunt replied by letter:                         

“In reply to your note … desiring to know the cause of your arrest, I have to state that it was for the neglect of my repeated instructions in nearly all of your Batteries in the night march of the 6th [of May]. During nearly all the night the cannoneers were mounted notwithstanding the badness of the roads overloading the [horses], and defeating the movement of the Reserve.” [1]

Colonel Brickel resigned his commission one week later.  Henry Hunt didn’t mess around!

In a future post, we will cover the actions of the Artillery Reserve in the battles on the Peninsula.

[1] National Archives Record Group 393 Part 1, Entry 4011 Issuances Received by the Chief of Artillery page 72

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Not Stewart's Way

USS Brandywine
Like the number one graduate in Robert E. Lee’s Class of 1829, the man who beat George McClellan for top honors in the immortal West Point Class of 1846 is also relatively unknown. Unlike Charles Mason (USMA 1829) who sat out the Civil War as a Copperhead, Charles S. Stewart made important contributions to Union victory as a military engineer. 

Charles Seaforth Stewart was born at sea, April 11, 1823, on board the American ship Thames, in N. Lat. 8 degrees, 30 minutes, W. Long. 134 degrees of the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands.  His parents Reverend Charles Samuel Stewart, and Harriet Bradford Tiffany were sailing there among the first party of American missionaries to that island kingdom. His infancy was spent on the Island of Maui.  His mother's illness compelled their return to the United States while he was still a small child. She died when he was 7 years old.  Charles’ boyhood was passed mostly at Cooperstown, New York. He underwent a five year program of  classical education at the prestigious Edgehill School at Princeton, New Jersey.  In October 1839 at the age of 17, he joined his father, now a Navy chaplain aboard the USS Brandywine, a 44-gun frigate as clerk to Captain William C. Bolton USN.  The ship embarked on a three-year cruise of the Mediterranean as part of a squadron commanded by Commodore Isaac Hull.  In the spring of 1841 the ships were ordered out of the Mediterranean as relations with Great Britain deteriorated over the Caroline incident.  Despite fears of a confrontation, the ships passed by Gibraltar uneventfully on their way back New York where they arrived on May 12 1841.[1]

Though he came from a naval heritage, Charles was very desirous to obtain an appointment to West Point. His father proudly described his son’s qualifications for a Military Academy appointment in a letter to Secretary of War John C. Spencer. 

 “His personal qualifications are good.  He is well formed, has a sound constitution, and is in full health. He has been carefully educated, and after having been five years at a distinguished classical school at Princeton left it with testimonials and [illegible] of the highest merit for talent, attainments and good morals.  In addition to the Latin and Greek languages, he speaks and writes the French with great facility, and is not unacquainted, either in reading or speaking with the Spanish and Italian.  He draws with great correctness and taste and for two and a half years has had opportunities for observation by travel in several of the principal kingdoms of Europe and in all respects is probably better prepared to do credit to himself and honor to such an institution, as West Point than one in a hundred of all who have entered it. The severity of the course of study exacted from the cadets is well known to him, not so far from being a discouragement is an incentive to his desire and his solicitude for an appointment.”[2]

No less a person than New Jersey Senator Samuel Southard advanced the young man’s application.  Southard was a former navy officer acquainted with Charles’ father.  He capably served as Secretary of the Navy in the administrations of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. At the time of Stewart’s application, Southard was President pro tempore of the Senate and acting Vice President of the United States after the death of William Henry Harrison and the elevation of Vice President John Tyler to the presidency. 

Charles was appointed a cadet at the U. S. Military Academy, from New Jersey, and entered on September 1, 1842 at the age of 19 years and 4 months. A highly educated and well-travelled young man, he would indeed be a formidable rival for an equally well prepared 15 year old from Philadelphia.  George McClellan despite his young age had completed two years at the University of Pennsylvania and like Stewart was well versed in languages, the classics, and mathematics. 

McClellan’s avowed goal was to be number one but he met his match in the New Yorker.  Writing to his mother he wrote: “Toiling up hill is not what it is cracked up to be!  I do not get marked as well for as good (or a better) recitation, as the man above me… if I were already above him, I could distance him, I think.” [3]

Here is a comparison of Stewart and McClellan’s academic rankings at West Point:[4]

Fourth Year 1843
Stewart ranked 1st overall; 1st in Mathematics;  1st in French;  5 demerits (9th).
McClellan ranked 3rd overall; 3rd in Mathematics; 5th in French; 51 demerits (137th).[5]

Third Year 1844
Stewart ranked 1st overall; 2nd in Mathematics; 2nd in French; 7th in Drawing; 1st in English; 2 demerits (8th).
McClellan ranked 3rd overall; 1st in Mathematics; 6th in French; 20th in Drawing; 6th in English; 25 demerits (52nd).

Second Year 1845
Stewart ranked 1st overall; 1st in Philosophy; 1st in Chemistry; 6th in Drawing; 0 demerits (3rd).
McClellan ranked 4th overall; 2nd in Philosophy; 2nd in Chemistry; 12th in Drawing; 60 demerits (102nd).

First Year 1846                                                               
Stewart ranked 1st overall; 1st in Engineering; 1st in Ethics; 1st in Artillery; 1st in Infantry tactics; 3rd in Mineralogy and Geology; 0 demerits (5th).
McClellan ranked 2nd overall; 2nd in Engineering; 2nd in Ethics; 2nd in Artillery; 3rd in Infantry tactics; 1st in Mineralogy and Geology; 20 demerits (62nd).

Stewart appears to have been a mature, quiet, studious, and unassuming young man.  As indicated in his father’s letter to the Secretary of War, he welcomed the challenge and discipline of the Military Academy.  In four years of study, he ranked number one every year and accumulated just seven demerits.  McClellan was outgoing and friendly and very well liked at West Point.  Though a top performer, he was approachable and helpful to his classmates.  He “earned” 156 demerits, not a large number over four years but a more active pattern perhaps indicative of his teenage years.  It was in McClellan, not Stewart that classmates and instructors alike saw the greatest potential.  Classmate William Gardner speaking of McClellan said “we expected him to make a great record in the army, and if opportunity presented, we predicted real military fame from  him.”[6]  Erasmus Keyes, one of McClellan’s future corps commanders was an instructor at the Academy at the time both men passed through.  Of McClellan, Keyes wrote, “A pleasanter pupil was never called to the blackboard.”

Stewart graduated on July 1, 1846, at the head of his class, numbering fifty-nine members, the largest class that had up to that time been graduated from the Academy. In addition to McClellan, its members included such notables as John Foster, Jesse Reno, Darius Couch, Thomas Jackson, Albert Magilton, Truman Seymour, Richard Rush, Samuel Sturgis, George Stoneman, Dabney Maury, David R. Jones, George Gordon, Cadmus Wilcox, and George Pickett.

Though fiercely competitive McClellan and Stewart were most assuredly friends.  They maintained a correspondence over the years, some of which is included in the Charles Stewart family papers at the Houghton Library at Harvard University.

Upon graduation, McClellan and many of his classmates were immediately ordered to Mexico.  Stewart was not among them, instead being assigned as Assistant Engineer in the construction of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut. His lack of Mexican War service probably worked to his disadvantage.  He narrowly escaped death on November 27 1846 when the Sound Steamer Atlantic on which he was a passenger broke up in a severe coastal storm.  Perhaps owing to his long experience aboard ships, Charles was one of the few survivors who succeeded in getting ashore.

Stewart returned to West Point in 1849 as Assistant Professor of Engineering. He was reunited there with McClellan now a Mexican War hero who commanded the Engineer Company.   The two young officers, no longer academic rivals renewed their acquaintance and no doubt worked closely together.   McClellan left for other duties in 1851. Stewart remained at West Point until 1854 when he took up work as superintending engineer in the construction of Forts Warren, Independence, and Winthrop, in Boston Harbor.

On April 15, 1857, Charles Stewart married Cecilia Sophia DeLouville Tardy, granddaughter of Alexis Evstaphieve, Russian Consul General at New York.  Three children, two boys and a girl were born of this marriage.[7]  Stewart continued to perform engineering duties around Boston until 1861.  With the start of the Civil War, he was dispatched to the Tidewater area of Virginia.  He constructed the defenses of Hampton Roads and field works around Newport News. Stewart was attached to the Army of the Potomac upon its arrival on the Peninsula in April 1862.  Brigadier General John G. Barnard, Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac says this about Stewart’s service with that army: 

Capt. C. S. Stewart, was temporarily detached from duties at Fort Monroe, and
joined the army about the middle of April. He was attached to General Sumner's headquarters during the siege [of Yorktown]. On the advance of the army he accompanied the advance guard under Brigadier General Stoneman with whom he remained until the arrival on the Chickahominy, where he was taken sick from overexertion and was obliged to return to Fort Monroe…. [he] rendered valuable services at Yorktown, and at the battle of Williamsburg he discovered the unoccupied works on the enemy's left, ascertained the existence of and reconnoitered the route by which they might be gained, and by which Lieutenant Farquhar (who had accompanied him) led Hancock's brigade. To him, therefore, the decided successes on that part of the field are in a great measure due…. Afterwards, with the advance guard under General Stoneman, he was so unsparing of himself in his reconnaissance and reports of the character of the country, roads, etc., as to induce the sickness which compelled him to leave the field.[8]

Stewart remained at Fort Monroe after the departure of McClellan’s army in August of 1862.  He was Consulting Engineer during James Longstreet’s siege of Suffolk in April 1863 and later led the construction of additional field fortifications covering Portsmouth and Norfolk.  In 1864, Stewart was in charge of building the defenses around the prisoner of war camp at Point Lookout Maryland.  He ended the war as chief engineer of the Middle Military Division. He ended the war as a Major in the Engineers with two brevets to Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel.  Stewart spent five years superintending the construction of the Delaware River and Bay defenses.  From 1870 until his retirement in 1886 he was stationed in California serving on numerous construction projects and engineer boards.  Stewart rose to the rank of full colonel in 1882. 

On July 1st, 1886 his son Cecil graduated from the Military Academy and was appointed a second lieutenant in the 3rd Cavalry.  He served for 21 years and among other assignments serve in combat in the Phillippine Insurrection.  One of Cecil’s classmates was another cavalryman by the name of John J. Pershing. 

Charles Stewart retired on September 16, 1886.  His wife died just two months later in California.  Now a widower, Stewart returned to his boyhood home of Cooperstown.  He led a quiet life, but remained active in church and local affairs for many years.  On April 23, 1904 he was appointed a Brigadier General, United States Army retired, in accordance of an Act of Congress approved April 23, 1904.  Three months later while on a trip to Siasconset, Massachusetts, he suffered an accidental fall.  He died of internal injuries resulting from that accident on July 22, 1904, age 81. Charles Stewart is buried at Lakewood Cemetery in Cooperstown New York. 

How was it that such a distinguished officer never reached general officer rank?  Stewart and McClellan were on excellent terms after they graduated.  They served for a time at West Point after the Mexican War.  While under Little Mac’s command in the Army of the Potomac, Stewart made important contributions to the siege of Yorktown and Battle of Williamsburg and lead the reconnaissance of Stoneman’s cavalry as it advanced toward Richmond in May of 1862.  I will leave it to General Alfred A Woodhull an old friend to offers a possible explanation. 

“It was a complaint of McClellan's and of Stewart's friends alike
that the former, when holding effective influence and knowing as he surely
knew his classmate's admirable qualities, failed to make him a general
officer of volunteers. It was so easy to do, and so easy to have undone
should it prove undesirable, that the explanation seems to be that McClellan
awaited Stewart's initiative by application. But that was not Stewart's
way… In many respects the career of General Stewart represents that of
the mass of those meritorious officers upon whose intelligence, fidelity,
and high sense of duty to the nation the essential character and the
ultimate efficiency of every permanent military establishment must depend.
They rarely are in the public eye, and they discharge their duty
with assiduity because it is their duty. They shrink from notoriety and from the   
well-intentioned but worthless praise of incompetent judges,
and equally disdain the censure of the partisan and the ignorant.” [9]

[2] Charles Stewart to John C. Spencer February 12, 1842, Charles S. Stewart West Point Application File 1842 318
[3] John C. Waugh , Class of 1846 (New York: Warner, 1994), 54 New York;  George McClellan to Elizabeth McClellan, February 1, 1845, McClellan papers.
[4] Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point New York for the years 1843-1846
[5] Demerits ranking is based on all four classes
[6] Waugh, Class of 1846, 66; Gardener, Memoirs page 8
[7] Charles Seymour Stewart, born April 12, 1858; died, February 8, 1893. Cecil Stewart, born April 12, 1864 died 1933, Cora Stewart, born March I5,  1873; died, February 1, 1876.
[8] OR 11:1 Report of General Barnard page 123-124; Reports of Brig Gen. John G. Barnard, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer of operations from May 23, 1861, to August 15, 1862.
[9] 1905 Association of Graduates “Charles S. Stewart” 70-71