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, March 22, 2009

Nicodemus Heights Hike

A beautiful spring day brought out over 50 hikers to the long anticipated hike to Nicodemus Heights. An important part of the Battle of Antietam, Nicodemus Heights is on private property and special arrangements must be made with the landowner for visitors to come on the ground. This hike hasn't been offered to the public for two years so there was a lot of interest. Ranger Brian Baracz who led the hike and makes the arrangements with the landowner said this was one of the largest groups of hikers that he has had. Under clear sunny skies, and with Brian, an acknowledged expert on the terrain to take us around, we were not disappointed.

We started in the North Woods and headed west toward the Nicodemus Farm across Route 65. From the Nicodemus Farm, we scaled the Heights where the view is spectacular. Most of the photos in the slide show were taken from that vantage point. The one at the top of this blog looks northeast back at the Joseph Poffenberger Farm. From Nicodemus Heights, we hiked south to Hauser's Ridge and from there, we headed east and crossed Highway 65 at Starke Avenue. The final part of the hike took us through The Cornfield back to the North Woods.

There is a great essay about the fighting on Nicodemus Heights in The Antietam Campaign edited by Gary Gallagher. The essay titled "Defending Lee's Flank - J.E.B. Stuart, John Pelham, and Confederate Artillery on Nicodemus Heights" is by Robert E. L. Krick.

We are well into the spring hiking season at Antietam. This is a great time of year to visit the battlefield. There is little foliage and the views are grand. It is also cool and comfortable for hiking. Hikes run about 2 hours and 15 minutes. For a link to all the scheduled programs, start times and locations, at Antietam National Battlefield this year, click here. See you on the trail.

When using the slide show, click on the photos. You will then see a Google map showing the location where I shot each photo and you can watch the photos at your own speed.


  1. Fascinating stuff... thanks for all the photos. Those modern highways going through really stick out like a sore thumb, though. Be great if those highways were ripped out and replaced by 6' wide cart paths.... and the visitor center could rent out electric carts. Better yet, return all roads to 1862 condition and just allow walking, bikes or horses... with horse-drawn wagons for the folks who need to sit or can't walk far. Great photos... and thanks for including where they were taken from. Can't get over how hilly the battlefield is... gives a whole new perspective than reading about events off a printed page. Superb blog.
    Gary Van Ess, Green Bay, Wi.

  2. Regarding your quote of the day: too many of the top Northern generals must have gotten through West Point the same way Bush the Younger got through Harvard and Yale. It ain't what you know, but who your daddy knows....

  3. Jim,
    My wife and I were there and enjoyed Brian's tour. Is there an easy way I can copy some of your photos for my book to show the views from Nicodemus Heights (with your permission)?

    Thank you,

    Larry Freiheit

  4. Larry
    I would be pleased to share some of my photos. They are in a Picassa album that I can share if I can get your email address. If that doesnt work, I can email you specific photos. I agree. It was a beautiful day. I got many others that I didnt post simply because captioning them and linking them to a map is so time consuming.

  5. Gary
    I am glad you enjoyed the photos. You are right, many people equate farm land to flat land. As you noted this is not the case, at least here.

  6. Jim,

    Thanks for the link; will do re credit.