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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 teenagers who I love very much. I currently volunteer at the battlefield 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. These words often add a degree of color and character not found elsewhere in their stories. A feature of this blog is the presentation of some of these quotes. 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 that fortune could have gone either way. 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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Between Snow Storms


In the short break between snowstorms, my daughter Rachel and I escaped from our snowbound house yesterday and got some pictures of a wintery Antietam Battlefield and Harper's Ferry. We said hi to Rangers Mannie Gentile and John Hoptak manning the Visitor's Center. Needless to say, it was a quiet day and we had the battlefield all to ourselves. Rachel is a very good photographer and a number of these snowy scenes are hers. We are back inside as the next storm starts to blow out there. Enjoy the pictures of familiar views once again covered in a snowy blanket. 40 days until spring (I think).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

“I was beholding what must be the turning point of the war.”




Being socked in this weekend with 28 inches of snow here in Jefferson Maryland, I have had a bit of time to return to my neglected Antietam blogs. This is quite a contrast to last weekend when I was in Sydney Australia traveling to a conference. These two pictures, the first taken last Sunday of the Australian Pacific coast south of the Sydney, and the second, a view out of my front door on yesterday offer a contrast of where we would certainly like to be and where we are now. In the dead of winter with no apparent hope of a quick release into spring's embrace, I spent the weekend compiling many of the quotes that I collected by soldiers on both sides who fought at the battle of Antietam. Below is a selection of some of my favorites. The entire collection is found at Antietam Voices.


“I was beholding what must be the turning point of the war.”

a Confederate staff officer

a confederate staff officer commenting on the invasion of Maryland

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Pg 139

“Never were want and exhaustion more visibly put before my eyes, and that they could march or fight at all seemed incredible.”

a Virginia woman

a woman who lived in Virginia commenting on Lee’s veterans at this time

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Pg 152

“those corn acres of hell.”

A Virginian

Describing the Cornfield

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Pg 154

“brought down the enemy as grain falls before a reaper

Confederate Officer

Confederate officer’s description of French’s attack into the Sunken Road

Sears, Stephen. George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1988 pg 311

“the hottest place I ever saw on this earth or want to see hereafter…The dogs of war were loose, and ‘havoc’ was their cry

One of Hood’s Texans

Sep 17 1862

One of Hood’s Texans describing their attacks through the Cornfield. Confederate Veteran, 22 (1914) : 555

Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997 pg 614

“It was horrible in the extreme to witness the men with mangled limbs and bodies making their way to the rear….The whole face of the country seemed covered with them.”

Richmond Daily Dispatch

Sep 27 1862

Comments by a Virginia soldier

Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997 pg 898

“the incessant explosions of artillery, the shrieking whistles of the shells, and the sharper, deadlier more thrilling roll of musketry; while every now and then the echo of some charging cheer…and as the human voice pierced that demoniacal clangor, we would catch our breath and listen.”

Richmond Enquirer

Sep 23 1862

How the battle sounded from Shepherdstown, 4 miles away

Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997 pg 614

“The Federals in apparent double battle line were moving toward us at charge bayonets, common time, and the sunbeams falling from their well-polished guns and bayonets gave a glamour and a show at once fearful and entrancing.”

Staff Officer in the Stonewall Bde

Sep 17 1862

A staff officer of the Stonewall Brigade noting the Union advance through the Cornfield. Confederate Veteran, 22 (1914) : 66

Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997 pg 612

“a seamless wall of canister”

describing the fire from Nicodemus heights into the West Woods

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, pg 156


“For a time the loss of life was fearful. We had never seen anything like it.”

a Massachusetts soldier

describing the fire from Nicodemus heights into the West Woods

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. pg156

“pouring in a sweeping fire as they advanced, and our men fell like sheep at the slaughter”

a member of the 4th RI

Sep 17 1862

describing AP Hills attack at Antietam . George H. Allen, Forty Six Months in the 4th RI Volunteers (Providence 1887), 147

Robertson, James I. General A. P. Hill. New York: Random 1987. Pg 146

all realized that there was ugly business and plenty of it just ahead.”

a Pennsylvania soldier

Pennsylvania soldier talking about upcoming battle of Antietam

http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/upload/Battle%20history.pdf

“The shouts of our men, and their sudden dash toward the sunken road, so startled the enemy that their fire visibly slackened, their line wavered, and squads of two and three began leaving the road and running into the corn.”

a soldier of the Irish Brigade

Sep 17 1862

A soldier of the Irish Brigade describing their last attack

Mason, Jack C. Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army. Carbondale IL: Southern Illinois Press, 2009 pg 181

“I thought I had seen men piled up and cut up all kinds of shape, but never anything in comparison to that field.”

A Yankee

Describing the Cornfield

Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Pg 154

“The Confederates had gone down as grass falls before the scythe. They were lying in rows like the ties of a railroad, in heaps, like cordwood mingled with the splintered and shattered fence rails. Words are inadequate to portray the scene.”

northern correspondent

Sep 18 1862

a northern correspondent reaches the bloody lane on Sep 18,1862

Krick, Robert K. ” It Appeared As Though Mutual Extermination Would Put a Stop to the Awful Carnage Sharpsburg’s Bloody Lane”, Gallagher, Gary W. ed The Antietam Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Pg 223

“With fixed bayonets [at] the double quick, [they] passed through a narrow opening in a strong chestnut fence-which there was no time to remove-and charged in the most gallant manner directly up the road to the bridge. As the attacking party led by Colonel Griffen debouched from the field into the road, the rebels from heir entrenched position, redoubled the fury of their fire, sweeping the head of the column with murderous effect. Of the first hundred men who passed through the opening in the fence, at least nine tenths were either killed or wounded. Such sweeping destruction checked the advancing column, but the men sheltered themselves behind logs, fences, and whatever other cover they could find, and bravely held the ground already gained. 6th New Hampshire soldier

soldier 6th NH

Action at the Burnside Bridge during attack by 6th NH

Tucker, Phillip T. Burnside’s Bridge The Climactic Struggle of the 2nd and 20th Georgia at Antietam Creek Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole, 2000. Pg 102

“freshly plowed and manured field”

Description of 12th Corps bivouac site night before the battle

Wagner, Richard. For Honor, Flag, and Family Civil War Major General Samuel W. Crawford, 1827-1892. Shippensburg: White Mane Books, 2005 pg 134