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 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.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

In the materialistic preoccupation we seem to now have about everything and its effect on the economy...on the day after we have offered thanks for all of our blessings, we now encounter this monster thing so-called Black Friday. It is comforting (or maybe not) to note that our political ancestors were keeping an eye on the bottom line as well. Here is a comment made by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase (photo at left) back in 1862.

"McClellan is a clear luxury-fifty days-fifty miles-fifty millions of dollars-easy arithmetic but not satisfactory"


Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase in correspondence with New York editor Horace Greely in May of 1862 discussing George B. McClellan's deliberate advance up the Peninsua. From George B McClellan - The Young Napoleon by Stephen Sears. (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1988)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

In the Library

Long on the shelf, I am now reading Counter-Thrust From the Peninsula to the Antietam by Benjamin Franklin Cooling (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007). Having just completed Hattaway and Jones classic How the North Won - A Military History of the Civil War which is among the best books that I have ever read on the war, I am ready to get back down to the operational level of military operations. This new read promises to fill that interest. As I never have just one book open, I am also reading The Union Cavalry Comes of Age Hartwood Church to Brandy Station 1863 by Eric Wittenberg (Washington D.C.: Potomac Press, 2003). I recently had the pleasure of meeting Eric for the first time at a Hagerstown Civil War Round Table meeting and the book had long been on my reading list. I am well into the book and am not disappointed. It is a great read.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Antietam Overlook from the Pry House




































The National Park Service recently improved the views of Antietam National Battlefield from the Pry House. An overlook deck was built just west of the house and some of the trees were cleared away. Tom Clemens mentioned this to me when I was at the park yesterday so I decided to check it out today. The construction of the overlook and clearing of the trees now makes it possible to see much more of the battlefield. While the New York Monument was visible before, you can clearly see the Mumma Farm and cemetery, the Dunker Church, and Maryland Monument. If you look closely, you can even see the Philadelphia Monument in the West Woods. I hope more of the trees get cleared to the south west in order to get a better view of the Sunken Road. Here is my video and several snapshots of the new vista. Better yet, come out to the park and enjoy the fall foliage and witness the views for yourself.