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.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On the Final Attack Trail

A series of ravines had to be crossed by Ninth Corps (looking west)
I joined fellow bloggers Jim Buchanan and John Banks for a walk along part of the Final Attack Trail today.  The rainy morning was replaced by a sunny and windy afternoon and we took advantage of the greatly improved weather conditions to begin our jaunt.  John is interested in the Connecticut units at Antietam and in particular wanted to see the 16th Connecticut monument on the in the middle of Otto's cornfield.  We started at the Otto Farm and ventured south.  For Jim and I this is a distance from our usual haunts in the North and West Woods respectively and it was nice to explore this end of the field a bit.

 For the Federals of Rodman and Willcox's division, their fight didn't really begin until after capture of the bridge.  They would face an increasingly desperate defense by Toomb's resupplied Confederates and other elements of David Jones's division.  These Confederates attempted to hold back the surging Federals who moved over the series of ridges east of the Harper's Ferry Road towards Sharpsburg. As you behold this difficult terrain, it is easier to see why Lee decided to make his stand "in these hills" in the first place.  It is also important to credit the Ninth Corps with completing a difficult advance over some very challenging ground.

Jim and John in the footprints of the 16th Conn. (looking west)
Only the timely arrival of A.P. Hill's Light Division would sweep the Union far left back and prevent Burnside's right flank from capturing Sharpsburg and possibly unraveling the Army of Northern Virginia.  From the vistas here in the south you can see Lee's artillery positions on Cemetery Hill and even the Sunken Road observation tower to the north.  These views dissolve the myths that this battle was a series of disjointed isolated actions that had no direct bearing on each other.

Fellow Volunteer Jim Buchanan
The Final Attack Trail is a great hike and there is plenty of nice fall weather still ahead.  Come out and take a look.

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