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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.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Like Us - Follow Us

I have not explicitly mentioned this bit of news here but last fall I assumed the leadership of Antietam's Battlefield Guides.  It has given me a great opportunity to work with a terrific bunch of guys.  Our parent organization, Western Maryland Interpretive Association, and the National Park Service truly support this program.  We now have a Facebook page and our own Antietam Battlefield Guide website.  Consider taking a look at both and if you are so inclined, give us a "like" on Facebook and follow our webpage.  See you at the park. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snow Flying

It has not been much of a winter here in western Maryland.  For many that is a good thing but a boy from Buffalo likes to see the snow fly.  When the forecast yesterday called for a little snow, I grabbed my camera and headed for Antietam.  It is fairly frequent to get pictures when the snow is on the ground but I was lucky yesterday to be there when it was coming down.  I also saw fellow Antietam blogger Dave Maher on the field.  Dave is a great photographer and we will hopefully see some of his shots posted soon. I took nearly 100 pictures before I ran out of battery and flying snow.  Here are twelve that really stood out.  You can see all the pictures at the Antietam Battlefield Guides Facebook page here.  Not a lot of talk this Sunday morning, just a dozen good pictures.
At the National Cemetery
The Joseph Poffenberger House

The 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry from Mansfield Monument

The East Woods and new tree plantings

128th and 137th Pennsylvania Monuments

The southern fence of the Cornfield

A pale winter sun

Battery B, 4th US Artillery with Nicodemus Heights behind

Dunker Church and Maryland Monument from the Mumma farm lane

Tompkins Battery

132nd Pennsylvania Monument at the Sunken Road

Richardson Avenue looking south

Otto and Sherrick farm houses

Looking east from the Final Attack auto stop

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Randolph Marcy’s West Point Years


Randolph Marcy - USMA 1832
Note: This is another in a series of posts that will explore the relationships of the West Pointers who fought at the Battle of Antietam.

Before son-in-law George McClellan named him as his Chief of Staff, Randolph Marcy had already served a long distinguished career as an army officer and established himself as an explorer of some renown.

Randolph Barnes Marcy was born at Greenwich Massachusetts on April 9, 1812.  At the age of 16 years, 3 months he reported to the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1828 and there joined 68 other young men in what would eventually become the Class of 1832. 

Marcy was the only member of his class who fought at the Battle of Antietam. However, Erasmus Keyes who graduated number ten in the class served as an instructor at West Point for many years and as a long time military assistant to Winfield Scott. Keyes commanded the Fourth Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the first year of the Civil War. One division of the Fourth Corps under Darius Couch participated in the Maryland Campaign but Keyes remained at Fort Monroe with the balance of the corps when the Army of the Potomac withdrew to Washington.

James Barnes USMA 1829
As a fourth classman, Marcy was acquainted with a number of upper classmen who he would either serve with at Antietam or face in battle there.  Foremost was Robert E. Lee who graduated in 1829 at the end of Marcy’s first year at the academy.  Also in that class was James Barnes who like Marcy hailed from Massachusetts.   Barnes who ranked only three below Lee was held over at the Academy during Marcy’s second year as assistant teacher of French.  His regular army career in the 4th Artillery was brief and he resigned in 1836 after being stationed at Charleston South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis.  Barnes returned to the army 25 years later as colonel of the 18th Massachusetts Infantry and at the time of the Battle of Antietam commanded the first brigade of George Morell’s division.  One year behind Lee and Barnes were William Pendleton from Virginia and Robert Buchanan from Maryland.  Like Barnes, Pendleton’s regular army career was rather brief.  The future commander of Lee’s artillery reserve was commissioned in the 2nd Artillery in 1830. Pendleton returned to West Point during Marcy’s last year to teach mathematics and then resigned from the army in 1833 to pursue a life in the Episcopal clergy. Robert Buchanan on the other hand was a hard-bitten lifer.  He was commissioned in the 4th Infantry.  Winning two brevet promotions for gallantry in Mexico, he would serve in the same regiment for 30 years rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel on September 9, 1861.  Buchanan like Barnes commanded a brigade in the Fifth Corps.   He served in Sykes “Regular” division commanding the first brigade. Just a year ahead of Marcy was Andrew A. Humphreys of Pennsylvania. Commissioned in the 2nd Artillery, he resigned in 1836 but reentered the Army in 1838 as a topographical engineer.  Humphrey’s entire antebellum career was in that branch. There he rose to the rank of colonel and chief topographical engineer of the Army of the Potomac.   Later commissioned a brigadier general U.S. Volunteers, Humphrey received command of new division of troops on September 12, 1862 who were hastened to western Maryland to become the third division of the Fifth Corps.

Chart 1 – Randolph Marcy’s classmates in the Maryland Campaign
NAME
YEAR
RANK
STATE
COMMISSION
ANTIETAM ASSIGNMENT
Robert E. Lee
1829
2 of 46 
VA
Corps of Engineers
Commander, Army of Northern Virginia
James Barnes
1829
5 of 46 
MA
4th Artillery
1st Brigade, 1st Division, Fifth Corps
William Pendleton
1830
5 of 42 
VA
2nd Artillery
Artillery Reserve. Army of Northern Virginia
Robert Buchanan
1830
31 of 42
MD
4th Infantry
1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Fifth Corps
Andrew Humphreys
1831
13 of 33
PA
2nd Artillery *
3rd Division, Fifth Corps
RANDOLPH MARCY
1832
29 of 45
MA
5th Infantry
Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac
Rufus King
1833
4 of 43
NY
Corps of Engineers
1st Division, First Corps (till placed on sick leave)
George Morell
1835
1 of 56
NY
Corps of Engineers
1st Division, Fifth Corps
George G. Meade
1835
22 of 56
PA
3rd Artillery *
Pennsylvania Reserve Division, First Corps
Marsena R. Patrick
1835
48 of 56
NY
2nd Infantry
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, First Corps
* Both Meade and Humphreys resigned and later reentered the Army as topographical engineers

Four other future Antietam officers arrived at West Point in the three years after Marcy became a cadet. Rufus King from New York reported to West Point one year later.   King ranked high enough to obtain a coveted commission in the Corps of Engineers.  Serving just three years, King moved to Wisconsin and became a brigadier general U.S. Volunteers on May 17 1861.  As a division commander under Irvin McDowell, King saw action at Groveton and accompanied the Army of the Potomac into Maryland. There he succumbed to epilepsy and was placed on the sick list.  King’s division was commanded by John Hatch at South Mountain, and by Abner Doubleday at Antietam. 

George Morell USMA 35
In his last year at West Point, Marcy met three new fourth year men.  Joining the ranks in the summer of 1831 were George Morell, George Meade, and Marsena R. Patrick.  Members of the Class of 1835, only Meade would pursue a military career.  Commissioned initially in the 3rd Artillery he, like Humphreys resigned in 1836 and reentered the Army in 1842 as a topographical engineer.   Serving in the Mexican War, Meade would receive a brevet for gallantry at Monterry.  Morrell, who ranked number one in the Class of 1835 would also be commissioned in the engineers but would resign in 1837.  Patrick would stick it out in the 2nd Infantry for 15 years earning a brevet in Mexico before resigning in 1850 to pursue agricultural interests.  Morell would command a Fifth Corps division under Fitz-John Porter.  At Antietam Meade and Patrick fought in the First Corps.  Meade commanded the vaunted Pennsylvania Reserve Division and Patrick commanded a brigade of New Yorkers in the division that originally belonged to Rufus King. 

With respect to academics and conduct, Marcy was in the lower half of his class in both accounts. As a 4th year cadet, he started near the bottom.  His second year at West Point appears to be his best.  He put forth a prodigious effort and worked his way up 20 ranks. His total demerits that year were a respectable total of 14.  But after that, his academic performance improved only marginally as the number of demerits increased significantly.  Marcy ended up 28 of 44 academically but 147 of 211 in the order of merit.

Chart 2 - Academic Performance and Conduct - Randolph Marcy

Fourth Year
1829
Third Year 1830
Second Year
1831
First Year
1832
Academic Ranking *
53 of 69
33 of 59
31 of 52
28 of 44
Demerits
76
14
69
104
Order of Merit *
118 of 209
27 of 215
103 of 219
147 of 211
Note:  Academic ranking is within the class.  Order of merit is within the entire corps of cadets
Source:  Register of Officers and Cadets U.S. Military Academy 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832.


In pursuing the relationship of the men who fought at Antietam, their time and memories together at West Point forged relationships that ran to the end of their lives. It is no wonder that men like Marcy Meade, Morell, and Humphreys were comfortable in each other’s company. It is interesting how many of Marcy’s acquaintances at West Point were destined for the Fifth Corps.  Men like Morell, and Humphrey as division commanders and Barnes and Buchanan at brigade level were at the top level of Fitz-John Porter’s corps. 

And as they gathered to fight at Antietam, Marcy and his West Point comrades would face two more of their own just east of Sharpsburg. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

West Pointers at Army Headquarters

McClellan and members of his staff
There are a couple of reasons why I have not been posting lately.  One is that I accepted the position of Chief Guide at Antietam National Battlefield back in October.  That has taken up a great deal of my time and though rewarding, has taken me away from my Maryland Campaign studies.

The other reason is that I have become increasingly fascinated with something that I first posted about here back in December.

That is I have undertaken a study of all the West Point graduates who served at the Battle of Antietam.  Studying Cullem's Register and with some help from the library staff at West Point, I have amassed what I think is a pretty complete list of all the graduates.  They range from Joseph Mansfield in the Class of 1822 to the fifteen second lieutenants of the Class of 1862 who served with the Army of the Potomac.  One of these young officers was Mansfield's son Samuel who was on his way to western Maryland to serve with his father.

In between the Mansfields, father and son are about 194 officers.  I say 'about' because there are several who I suspect served in the Maryland Campaign but I don't have absolute confirmation of their presence.  Circumstantial evidence indicates yes but I am still working on them.  And then there is John Pelham and Tom Rosser.  Members of the June 1861 class, they stayed at the Academy long after their states (Alabama and Texas) seceded hoping to receive their diploma.  However with the firing of Fort Sumter, they had no choice to resign doing so just a few short weeks from their graduation.  Pelham later said that not receiving his diploma was the greatest regret of his life. 

Of these 194, only 30 served with Lee in the Army of Northern Virginia.  The remainder, 164 are with McClellan but this number also includes Dixon Miles and Jesse Reno who were killed before the battle, and John Reynolds, unhappily serving back in Pennsylvania.  The Union to Confederate ratio of 5.4:1  really surprised me.  I thought there were many more Confederates than that.  On closer examination however, the ratio is much closer if you just include general officers.  There are a total of 63 generals with 42 Federals and 21 Confederates.  This is exactly a 2:1 ratio which seems closer to what we feel seems right. 

The numbers are very startling when you just look at the Army headquarters which we will do here.  The Army of the Potomac headquarters with 36 West Pointers including McClellan had more West Point officers total than Lee had in his entire Army.  Lee had only four officers who graduated from the Military Academy who can be said to have worked on his staff.  The numbers are below starting with Lee:


Position
Name
Rank
Year of Graduation
Class Rank
Commander
Robert E. Lee
General, CSA
1829
2 of 46
Chief of Staff
Robert H. Chilton
Colonel, C.S.A.
1837
48 of 50
Military Secretary
Armistead Long
Colonel, C.S.A.
1850
17 of 44
Ordnance Officer
Edward P. Alexander
Lieutenant Colonel, C.S.A
1857
3 of 38
Chief of Artillery
William Pendleton
Brigadier General C.S.A.
1830
5 0f 42


And here is McClellan's staff


Position
Name
Rank
Year of Graduation
Class Rank
Commander
George B. McClellan
Major General U.S. Army
1846
2 of 59
Chief of Staff
Randolph Marcy
Brigadier General U.S.V.
1832
28 of 44
Aide-de-Camp
Bowman N. Sweitzer
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1853
24 of 52
Aide-de-Camp
Edward M. Hudson
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1849
22 of 43
Aide-de-Camp
George A. Custer
Captain-Staff
June 1861
34 of 34
Aide-de-Camp
James P. Martin
First Lieutenant 7th Infantry
1860
23 of 41
Escort
James B. McIntyre
Captain, 4th Cavalry
1853
49 of 52
Chief of Cavalry
Chief of Cavalry
John Buford
Brigadier General U.S.V.
1848
16 of 38
Chief of Artillery
Chief of Artillery
Henry J. Hunt
Brigadier General U.S.V.
1839
19 of 31
Ammunition Reserve Train
William D. Fuller
First Lieutenant 3rd Artillery
June 1861
25 of 34
Regular Engineer Battalion
Chief Engineer
James C. Duane
Captain, Engineers
1848
3 of 38
Engineer Battalion
Cyrus B. Comstock
First Lieutenant Engineers
1855
1 of 34
Engineer Officer
Miles D. McAlester
First Lieutenant Engineers
1856
3 of 49
Engineer Battalion
Charles Cross
First Lieutenant Engineers
May 1861
2 of 45
Engineer Company
George L. Gillespie
Second Lieutenant Engineers
1862
2 of 28
Topographical Engineers
Senior Topographical Engineer
Nicolas Bowen
First Lieutenant, Topographical Engineers
1860
4 of 41
Assistant Topographical Engineer
John M. Wilson
First Lieutenant, Topographical Engineers
1860
12 of 41
Assistant Topographical Engineer
Alonzo H. Cushing
First Lieutenant, 4th Artillery
June 1861
12 of 34





Adjutant General
Adjutant General
Seth Williams
Brigadier General U.S.V.
1842
23 of 56
Assistant Adjutant General
George Ruggles
Colonel-Staff
1855
19 of 34
Assistant Adjutant General
Albert V. Coburn
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1855
17 of 34
Assistant Adjutant General
James A. Hardie
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1843
11 of 39
Inspector General
Inspector General
Delos B. Sackett
Colonel-Staff
1845
32 of 41
Assistant Inspector General
Nelson Davis
Major-Staff
1846
49 of 59
Provost Guard
Assistant Provost Marshal
William D. Wood
Major, 17th Infantry
1845
37 of 41
Aide de Camp
James J. Van Horn
Captain, 8th Infantry
1858
14 of 27
Provost Guard
George A. Gordon
Captain, 2nd Cavalry
1854
30 of 46
Provost Guard
Royal T. Frank
Captain 8th Infantry
1858
18 of 27



Commissariat
Chief of Commissariat
Henry F. Clarke
Colonel-Staff
1843
12 of 39
Assistant Commissary of Subsistence
Porter A. Parker
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1856
9 of 49
Commissary of Subsistence
Thomas Wilson
Captain-Staff
1853
29 of 52
Quartermaster
Chief Quartermaster
Rufus Ingalls
Lieutenant Colonel-Staff
1843
32 of 39
Assistant Quartermaster
Charles G. Sawtelle
Captain-Staff
1854
38 of 46
Quartermaster Guard
Marcus Reno
Captain, 1st Cavalry
1857
20 of 38
Ordnance
Assistant Ordnance Officer
William H. Harris
First Lieutenant, Ordnance
June 1861
8 of 34
Assistant Ordnance Officer
Francis H. Parker
Second Lieutenant, Ordnance
June 1861
20 of 34

Here is the breakout of McClellan's staff by West Point year-group.


Class
Names
1832 (1)
Marcy, R.
1839 (1)
Hunt, H.
1842 (1)
Williams, S.
1843 (3)
Hardie, J. Clarke, H. Ingalls, R.
1845 (2)
Sacket, D. Wood, W.
1846 (2)
McClellan, G. Davis, N.
1848 (2)
Duane, J. Buford, J.
1849 (1)
Hudson, E.
1853 (3)
Sweitzer, N. Wilson, T. McIntyre, J.
1854 (2)
Gordon, G. Sawtelle, C.
1855 (3)
Comstock, C. Colburn, A. Ruggles, G.
1856 (2)
McAlester, M. Porter, A.P.
1857 (1)
Reno, M.
1858 (2)
Van Horn, J.  Frank, R.
1860 (3)
Bowen, N. Wilson, J. Martin, J.
May 1861 (1)
Cross, C.
June 1861 (5)
Harris, W. Cushing, A. Parker, F. Fuller, W. Custer, G.
1862 (1)
Gillespie, G.

What conclusions can we draw from this?