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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2500 Quotes and 34 Books Later

A lot of great Civil War book lists are appearing here in the blogosphere at this time of year. Eric Wittenberg and Glenn LaFantasie have their Top 12, and John Hoptak is previewing new books coming out in 2011. As I approach the second anniversary of this blog, I recently added the 2,500th quote to my database. I thought it might be interesting to display a list of the 34 books that I read over the past two years from where I took many of my quotes.

Combined Operations in the Civil War

By Rowena Reed. 1 quote

Shanks The Life and Wars of General Nathan G. Evans, CSA

By Jason H. Silverman; Samuel N. Thomas; Beverly D. Evans.. 4 quotes

A Matter of Hours - Treason at Harper's Ferry

By Paul R. Teetor. 5 quotes

Blue and Gray Diplomacy

By Howard Jones. 6 quotes

West Pointers in the Civil War

By Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh. 6 quotes

A Gallant Little Army

By Timothy Johnson. 7 quotes

No Disgrace to My Country: The Life of John C. Tidball

By Eugene Tidball. 9 quotes

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington Cemetery

By Robert M. Poole. 14 quotes

A Guide to the Antietam Farmsteads

By Kevin Walker. 20 quotes

Sealed with Their Lives The Battle of Crampton's Gap

By Timothy J. Reese. 20 quotes

Fighting Joe Hooker

By Walter Hebert. 22 quotes

George Gordon Meade and the War in the East

By Ethan S. Rafuse. 26 quotes

Our Boys Did Nobly

By John Hoptak. 38 quotes

The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan by George B. McClellan. Thomas W. Cutrer editor. 39 quotes

Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign

Edited By Gary Gallagher. 42 quotes

George B McClellan: the Young Napoleon

By Stephen W. Sears. 46 quotes

Maryland Campaign of 1862 and Its Aftermath (Civil War Regiments : A Journal of the American Civil War, Vol 6, No 2

Mark A. Snell editor 48 quotes

Maryland Campaign of 1862 Volume 1

Thomas Clemens editor. 50 quotes

Mr. Lincoln's Army

By Bruce Catton. 50 quotes

Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer

By Moxley Sorrel. 58 quotes

General A.P. Hill The Story of a Confederate Warrior

By James I. Robertson. 62 quotes

Antietam: The Maryland Campaign of 1862: Essays on Union and Confederate Leadership (Civil War Regiments, Vol 5, No 3)

Snell, Mark A editor. 64 quotes

How the North Won

By Herman Hattaway, and Archer Jones. 70 quotes

Counter Thrust: From the Peninsula to the Antietam

By Benjamin Franklin Cooling. 71 quotes

General John Pope A Life for the Nation

By Peter Cozzens. 73 quotes

Taken at the Flood

By Joseph Harsh. 83 quotes

Lee's Maverick General: Daniel Harvey Hill

By Hal Bridges. 95 quotes

Reading the Man - A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters

By Elizabeth Brown-Pryor Elizabeth. 97 quotes

Commander of all Lincolns Armies A Life of Henry Halleck

By John Marszalek. 99 quotes

Until Antietam The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson

Jack C. Mason. 99 quotes

A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright 1861-1865

By Allen Nevinst. 135 quotes

Stonewall Jackson - The Man The Soldier The Legend

By James I. Robertson. 170 quotes

Cavalryman of the Lost Cause Jeb Stuart

By Jeffry Wert. 246 quotes

The Antietam Campaign (Military Campaigns of the Civil War

Gary Gallagher, editor. 325 quotes

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poffenberger Hill

I had an opportunity last Sunday to tromp around the northern part of the battlefield. The combination of a bright winter sun, light dusting, of snow, empty fields harvested of their crops, and the absence of foliage on the trees permitted a rare opportunity for me to study the terrain features and contours of the field. I also literally had the whole park to myself as the cold weather and the last shopping week before Christmas contributed to the lack of visitors on this day.

I was drawn to the high ground immediately behind the Joseph Poffenberger farm. Carmen refers to this as a “prominent hill or rounded ridge 220 feet above the Antietam, and the highest point of the battlefield, dominating all the ground west of the Hagerstown road.” Most of the year, there are crops in the fields but they had been harvested and I could range up and down this hill without fear.

The Park Service is completing renovation of the farmstead so the area around the barn is fenced off. Nevertheless, I was able to hike the fields directly behind the farm and take in the view from the high point of the hill just north of the barn.

The hill behind the farm is off the beaten path. What most people who travel the park roads see of the hill is from tour stop 2 - the view looking north past the farmstead. The hill rises an additional 40 feet behind the barn. I actually walked to the summit of the hill. There is now a wire fence line that runs roughly north from Mansfield Avenue. Past the barn, I crossed the fence and walked to the top of the hill. Looking northeast, I plainly saw the Middlekauf farm at the foot of the hill. At the base of the hill before the farm, an intermittent stream flows westward emptying into the Potomac. At the time of the battle, the entire hill was covered in pasture. Around the immediate area of the house were a grove of trees. A fence surrounded the farmhouse and out-buildings. To the south, is a farm lane which intersected the Hagerstown Pike, and just below that, there ran a narrow band of corn. A split rail fence separated this first cornfield from the North Woods.

Looking back to the south, I could appreciate the commanding view that this position afforded. For the layman, the top of the hill might not appear significant but for Doubleday’s artillerymen, who manned this point throughout the day, it was indeed decisive. Because Civil War artillery was a direct fire weapon, and the gunner needed to see his target to hit it, an additional elevation advantage was important. And like Pelham’s artillery on Nicodemus Heights and Stephen Lee’s on the Dunker Church plateau, the high ground offered numerous additional targets simply because they could be seen. At daybreak on September 17th, 1862 this hill was the jumping off point for Abner Doubleday’s First Division of the First Corps. This was an Army of Virginia divison originally commanded by Rufus King. King would step down from command during the Second Manassas Campaign after a recurrence of his epilepsy. John Hatch commanded the division until he was wounded at South Mountain three days earlier. Now the division’s senior brigadier, Abner Doubleday who had fought at Fort Sumter moved up. When the division arrived in the area on the afternoon of September 16th, its four infantry brigades faced west. Refer to the first Carmen Copes Map at daybreak. Starting at the intersection of the Poffenberger farm lane and running north along the east side of the Hagerstown Pike were the four small regiments of Lieutenant Colonel J. William Hofmann’s Second Brigade. This had been Doubleday’s brigade till his elevation to division command three days earlier at South Mountain. Hofmann had slightly more than 700 men under his command. To their right and farther north, also on the road was Marseena Patrick’s Third Brigade. His four New York regiments numbered around 800 infantry. Until early in the morning of September 17th, there was a small gap between the two brigades. About 3:30 AM that morning, Lieutenant Frederick M. Edgell’s 1st Battery, New Hampshire Light Artillery closed the gap moving up to a stone fence along the pike and aimed his five Napoleon’s west toward the high ground across the road. A second line of infantry occupied positions behind these first two brigades. Immediately to the north of the farm buildings in a column of four regiments was Brigadier General John Gibbon’s brigade of Midwestern troops who had recently earned the nickname of the Iron Brigade. Recognizable by their regulation Hardee Hats, the brigade also was known as the Black Hat Brigade. The largest brigade in the division, Gibbon’s 1,000 man brigade had settled in among a line of limestone outcroppings between the farm and the southern summit of the hill. To the north of the summit behind Patrick’s brigade was the “other” Iron Brigade commanded by Colonel Walter Phelps. Phelp’s New York command, the smallest in the division also included the 2nd US Sharpshooters and numbered around 430 men. Behind these two infantry lines and running from south to north along the summit of the hill were the remaining three artillery batteries of Doubleday’s division. At the summit of the hill was Captain J. Albert Monroe’s Battery D, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery. Monroe served as the division artillery commander probably and selected this highest point to most effectively oversee his four batteries. To his left, just south of the summit was Captain Joseph Campbell’s Battery B, 4th US Artillery. This command, destined to suffer among the highest casualty rates of any artillery units that day lay behind Gibbon’s men and just north of the barn. Gibbon, their old commander during the Morman War of the late 1850s no doubt kept an eye on his gunners. To the right of Monroe on the north slope of the hill was Battery L, 1st New York Light Artillery commanded by Captain John A. Reynolds. Reynolds battery was the only one to have six of the excellent 3 inch ordnance rifles. Doubleday’s other three artillery commands had the equally good Napoleons. Altogether, there was approximately 3,000 infantry and 22-24 guns on Poffenberger Hill as the day dawned.

Most of Doubleday’s infantry would not remain here for long. By 6AM, the brigades of Gibbon, Phelps and Patrick and Battery B would have begun their advance south along the Hagerstown Pike. A bloody trail that would take them into the Cornfield and West Woods awaited these veterans. The 6AM Carmen Copes map (see below) shows only Hofmann’s brigade and three remaining artillery batteries left on the hill.

This little drill was a great way for me to walk the terrain and then compare it with the Carmen Copes maps. It was not my intent here to show activities on the hill throughout the day. That may happen in a future post.

On Sunday, I also poked around and took lots of pictures at the limestone ledge that is west of and parallel to the Hagerstown Pike and north of the West Woods. That area is where many of Doubleday’s men would fight over the next three hours. But that part of the hike and those maps too, are meat for a future post.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Son – A United States Marine

I opened a post three months ago with the following statement. “Serving our country has a whole new meaning today.” And it has a whole new meaning again. On September 7, 2010, my son left for Boot Camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to begin his journey to becoming a United States Marine. Yesterday at 9AM, Private First Class James William Rosebrock graduated from Parris Island. In a journey of 70 training challenging and often grueling days, he became a United States Marine, and he became a man. He is a responsible, considerate, enthusiastic, motivated and patriotic man, confident in his abilities and secure in his future. It if for sure a journey that not all young men and women can make, but there are a few, and I am humbled and overwhelmingly proud that my son is one of them. So today I take a pause from my reflections on things Civil War, and salute my son and the over 500 other new Marines from Hotel Company, Second Recruit Training Battalion, and Oscar Company, Fourth Recruit Training Battalion who passed in review. (The photo below is of Jim's platoon passing in review in front of us at graduation. He is the tallest Marine in the platoon, the first one in the second row)

As I also said three months ago, being the parent of a service member is an entirely new experience. But I have become more comfortable in that role. I also am so much more aware of the great support that parents, spouses, sons, daughters and friends give their family members in the service. So join me in thanking them for their service as well.

Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful Jimmy.

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.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Antietam Farmsteads

I just completed reading Antietam Farmsteads by Kevin Walker with Battle Narratives by K.C. Kirkman. Located within the confines of the Antietam National Battlefield boundaries are eleven farms. This book tells their story. Organized with a chapter devoted to each farm, Walker eloquently describes the architectural history of the houses, barns, and outbuildings, a chronology of the different owners from the first days of British settlement in the area through the battle of Antietam and the story of the families who worked the land at the time of the battle. In turn, Kirkman skillfully addresses the military action that occurred at the farms during the battle. Included are compelling first person accounts and quotations made by family members and soldiers who crossed paths at the battle.

The book is rich in blueprints, maps of each farmstead, contemporary battlefield drawings and
sketches made of the farms at the time of the battle, and wonderful black and white photos. Included are some never before seen drawings of noted Civil War illustrator Alfred Waud discovered by the authors as they researched the book. Each chapter contains a specialized pullout that addresses such diverse topics as fencing, drawings and artists, the recipe for whitewash, and beehive ovens.

Antietam Farmsteads is beautifully laid out and could be proudly displayed as a coffee table book. The wonderful illustrations and maps, the authors use of black and white photos, and the oversize dimensions of the book give it that nature. But this is a thoroughly researched, well written, and detailed account of these farms. Kevin Walker and K.C. Kirkman are park rangers in the Cultural Resources Division at Antietam National Battlefield and recognized authorities in the area of historic preservation. This book is a much needed addition to the scholarship of the battle and well worth your attention. The author's passion for the work they do shines through in this book.

The book is published by the Western Maryland Interpretive Association in cooperation with the Counselors of Real Estate. You can order it here from the Antietam Battlefield Bookstore or pick it up the next time you visit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Battlefield Preservation at Antietam

The theme of the Antietam hikes this past weekend was Battlefield preservation. Kicking off the hikes was a very impressive presentation by Keith Snyder in the theater that addressed the topic in great detail. He had some amazing before and after shots of the battlefield and how it has changed (for the better) over the last 50 years.

On the trail, we learned about restoration efforts at two of the most significant farms on the battlefield. Ranger Kevin Walker gave us a rare inside look at the Mary Locher cabin, frequently referred to as the Alfred Poffenberger farm. One of the oldest structures in Washington County, it is being carefully restored by the men and women of the Cultural Resources Division.

Then at the Miller farmhouse, Ranger Jane Custer described the long term project to renovate that structure. The park is in year two of a six year program.

We then met Ranger Joe Calzarette from the Natural Resources Division who showed us the reforestation efforts in the East Woods. Joe later met us again on the Final Attack Trail and showed us how the ground there is being restored to its 1862 appearance by clearing trees and brush.

My hat is off to the rangers of the Cultural Resources and Natural Resources Divisions at Antietam National Battlefield. These are renown scientists, naturalists, and artisans that the public, on their visits to the park rarely see. But they are the men and women who lovingly care for the structures and land and make this battlefield the tremendous and beautiful asset that it is today. Thank you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"But a Hop, Skip and a Jump"

Confederate staff officer Henry Kyd Douglas said that crossing the Antietam was "but a hop, skip and a jump". Armchair generals for years have wondered why Ambrose Burnside did not send the Ninth Corps wading across the creek instead of trying to cross the bridge. See for yourself what Antietam Ranger Brian Baracz discovered when he forded the creek last Friday during the Antietam Battle Anniversary Hike. Narrating the crossing is Ranger Keith Snyder.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Appreciation - Dr. Joseph L. Harsh

I learned this morning of the passing of noted Civil War historian and scholar Dr. Joseph L. Harsh. While I never had the honor of meeting him, I have come to know his protégé and friend Dr. Thomas Clemens very well over the past two years. I sincerely believe that the Carmen Papers would not have yet seen the light of day and become accessible to the general public had it not been for the original work of Dr. Harsh and his encouragement to Tom. The magnificent The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 edited by Tom, is a testimony to the work that Dr. Harsh originally did in creating Taken at the Flood, the ground breaking and definitive accounts of the Maryland Campaign, and its two companion books Confederate Tide Rising and Sounding the Shallows. Dr. Harsh’s fair and balanced accounting of George B. McClellan was sorely needed and gives an appropriate and infinitely less biased perspective on the life and work of one of the key figures of the Civil War era.

As a volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield, I had not become acquainted with the works of Dr. Harsh until I started working at the park several years ago. As I was considering whether to become a guide, I was told in no uncertain terms by other guides and rangers at the park that I needed to read Taken at the Flood. It truly is the best book out there on the Maryland Campaign. Now, in an annual ritual that I observe, I reread all three of Dr. Harsh’s works during the long cold days of winter, when the visitors to Antietam are few and the fields often sleep beneath a blanket of snow. Each year the pages of my books get more dog eared and annotated but the story remains as fresh and compelling as ever. As spring returns, I come away from my readings, energized and ready for a new season of visitors to Antietam, and with more insights and an even more heightened understanding of the Maryland Campaign. For that Dr. Harsh, I am forever grateful. Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Semper Fidelis "Always Faithful"

Serving our country has a whole new meaning today. Today at 4:20 PM, his mother, sister, and I dropped my 19 year old son Jimmy off at the Marine Corps recruiter in Frederick Maryland. Jimmy departs for boot camp at Parris Island South Carolina in the morning. My last view was of him in his red Marine Corps T-shirt, jumping into a van with two other boys and pulling out with their recruiter. He joins his first cousin Paul who is already in boot camp in San Diego.

In our nation's history, there have been millions of moments like this. In the abstract and aggregate, these are moving scenes to be sure but when you are the parent of the son or daughter who is heading off, it takes on a whole new, very immediate, and heartfelt meaning.

Jim is the oldest of my two children and my only son. He is a lot different than I am in many ways but we share a lot of the same core interests and values. Like me, Jimmy has become very involved with activities at Antietam National Battlefield. At the age of 17, he worked in the Youth Conservation Corps in the summer of 2008 building fences and trails for the park with the Natural Resources Division. In 2009, he worked in the museum bookstore at the battlefield. He also began volunteering and became a member of Antietam's all volunteer Battery B, 4th United States Artillery unit. At our last shoot on August 28, Jimmy got moved up to the gunner 4 position and and got to pull the lanyard firing the Napoleon for the first time. Jimmy portrayed an Iron Brigade soldier "volunteered into the battery." After this shoot, the members of Battery B to my pleasant surprise presented Jimmy with the Hardee hat he wore, as a permanent memento of his service. I think the highest honor was when Jimmy was selected to be a member of the honor guard at the service last September where the remains of the New York soldier found in the Cornfield back in 2008 were transferred to the State of New York for interment at the VA Cemetery in Saratoga.

I served in the Army for many years but being the parent of a service member is an entirely new experience. It will take some getting used to. When we dropped him off, the recruiter gave us Jim's mailing address at boot camp. I rushed home, and finished a letter that I actually started a few days ago. As I walked out to the mail box carrying the letter and looking down at his name on the envelope, it really hit me that my son had grown into manhood and like millions of Americans in our nation's history before him, had elected military service - the highest and most honorable of callings. Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful Jimmy.

148th Anniversary Hikes September 17-19, 2010

Tom Shay posted the 148th Anniversary Hike Schedule at the Talk Antietam group site. Here it is in its entirety.

Friday, Sept 17, 2010

A special program, Morning in the Cornfield, will meet at tour stop 4, The Cornfield. This program starts at 7 a.m. and will last an hour. A full battlefield hike will be in two parts with the first one starting at 9 a.m. in the Visitor Center theater. The afternoon hike will begin at the scout campground on Burnside Bridge Rd., southeast of the town of Sharpsburg. The starting time for this program is 1:30 p.m. and the hike will end back at the lot at approximately 5 p.m. The morning hike is approximately 3.5 miles and the afternoon 4 miles.

Saturday, Sept 18 & Sunday, Sept 19

On both Saturday and Sunday there will be three overview hikes of the battlefield. These hikes are for the new visitor who is not familiar with the battle. These hikes, will provide an overview of the battle. Each walk is about one mile in length and will last approximately one and a half hours. The Cornfield and West Woods, starting at the park visitor center at 10:30 a.m. will look at the first few hours of the battle. The Sunken Road, will meet at the visitor center at 12:30 p.m. This hike will follow in the footsteps of the numerous attacks made by the Union army against the well defended Sunken Road. The Burnside Bridge and Beyond, begins in the parking lot overlooking the Burnside Bridge at 2:30 p.m. This hike will focus on the action around the bridge as well as the final attacks of the day.

Saturday, Sept 18

Nicodemus Hts. and Hausers Ridge
Time: 8 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Location: Start and end at Tour Stop 2.

History of Antietam Battlefield
Time: 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Location: Start at visitor center theater and end at New York State Monument.

Attack of the IX Corps
Time: 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Location: Start and finish at Tour Stop 9.

Sunday, Sept 19, 2010

West Woods
Time: 8 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Location: Start & end at visitor center.

Attack on the Sunken Road
: 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Location: Start & end at visitor center.

Title: Artillery Hell
Time: 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Location: Start & end at cannon in front of VC

Download the full schedule here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The SHAF South Mountain Harpers Ferry Tour Part One

On July 31st, I had a rare opportunity to participate in a tour lead by two of the world’s foremost experts on the Maryland Campaign. Dr. Tom Clemens, editor of the recently published first volume of the Carmen Papers, and Dennis Frye, Park Historian for the Harpers Ferry National Battlefield, were our guides. It was a great group including many friends and Maryland campaign aficionados to numerous to mention. The subjects of the tour were the Battles of South Mountain and Harpers Ferry. The tour coincides neatly with the publication of Volume One of the Carmen Papers, which focuses on these two battles. This post will cover the stops at Turners, Fox, and Frosttown Gaps. Next time, I will address Harper's Ferry and Crampton's Gap.

I greatly anticipated this tour and was not disappointed. It was a caravan ride and I rode with my good friends Jim Buchanan, fellow Antietam volunteer and West Woods blogger, Brian Richardson another of the Antietam battlefield guide, and Ron Dickey, a long time student of the Maryland campaign and a frequent companion on many a battlefield hike.

We were not disappointed. This was not a standard “vanilla” tour. Tom and Dennis took us along “roads less travelled”. We started at Monocacy National Battlefield. Across the road from the Visitor’s Center is the Best Farm, Lee’s Headquarters and birthplace of Special Order 191. Dennis and Tom encouraged us to challenge our assumptions and look at the situation as Lee and McClellan saw it during that first half of September. Unlike those of us who know the rest of the story and have 148 years worth of interpretation, analysis, and perspective, we have to appreciate as much what they did NOT know versus what they knew or thought they knew.

In the summer of 1862, Burnside was a highly regarded commander flush from a successful campaign against Confederate forces along the North Carolina coast. As the Maryland Campaign unfolded, Burnside commanded the right wing of the Army of the Potomac consisting of Jesse Reno’s Ninth Corps and Joseph Hooker’s First Corps. He was charged with covering the approaches to Baltimore. With the discovery of Lee’s Special Order 191, McClellan assigned Burnside’s force with the mission of advancing against the “main body” of the Confederate forces believed to be near Boonsboro. Known as the Battle of Boonsboro by the Confederates, this was Ambrose Burnside’s battle. He plan would evolve into a complicated double envelopment of an enemy position manned by veteran troops commanding the high ground. Superior numbers would be balanced by difficult terrain.

Leaving Monocacy, we took a circuitous route through Frederick; passed through Middletown on the National Road, and made our first stop at Turner’s Gap. From a vista across the road from the South Mountain Inn, we had the view that Confederate defender D.H. Hill likely had as the Battle of South Mountain unfolded. Hill’s attention had been initially more focused on preventing Federal forces from escaping from Harper’s Ferry. However as a Union advance against the South Mountain passes became evident, Hill positioned himself at the South Mountain Inn to defend against the advancing Federals. On the morning of September 14, 1862, Hill had only Colquitt’s brigade protecting Turner’s Gap with Samuel Garland’s brigade at the South Mountain Inn. Hill assumed he could count on J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry for support but on arrival at the Inn, he learned by a note from Stuart that he was heading south to Crampton’s Gap and taking all his cavalry. Unbeknownst to Hill, Stuart in fact left Tom Rosser’s 5th Virginia Cavalry and a section of guns under John Pelham at Fox Gap forgetting to mention this to Hill. As he beheld the advancing blue masses, clearly visible from his perch, Hill felt very much alone. His first move was to send for the brigades of G.B. Anderson, Robert Rodes, and Roswell Ripley who were then deployed around Boonsboro and to dispatch Garland’s Brigade down the Wood Road to Fox Gap – our next stop.

Garland would arrive at Fox Gap, no doubt grateful to find Rosser’s cavalry and Pelham’s guns there instead of the Yankees. However, they would soon confront Eliakim Scammon’s advancing Ninth Corps brigade led by Rutherford B. Hayes’ 23rd Ohio Infantry. Samuel Garland would fall early in the fighting. The Ninth Corps was the southern element of Burnside’s plan to outflank Turner’s Gap. Fighting would last the entire day as both sides fed more and more troops into the fight. By evening, Reno’s entire Ninth Corps confronted elements of the three Confederate divisions of D.H. Hill, David R. Jones division, and John Bell Hood’s. The Confederates generally had the worst of it, but Reno ignored an opportunity to advance west down the mountain along the old Sharpsburg Road into Pleasant Valley and focused instead on Burnside’s strategy of flanking Turner’s Gap to the north. Reno would be killed at the end of the day not far from where Garland was killed that morning.

Later in the day as Hooker’s Corps moved up, Burnside sent it to the north to flank Turner’s Gap by advancing through the Frosttown Gap. In the center, Burnside and Hooker advanced Gibbon’s Black Hat Brigade up the National Pike toward Turner’s Gap where the western soldiers battled Alfred Colquitt’s Brigade to a standstill. We had a grand view of where the fighting along the National Road took place from a point on Fox Gap Road. We also learned more about the naming of the Iron Brigade and the fact that Gibbons was one of several Federal brigades with that moniker. Hooker’s troops turned right off of the National Road at the crossroad at Bolivar, clearly visible from our overlook at Fox Gap. Hooker would move up Mt. Tabor Church Road and make his headquarters at the church. George Meade, recently elevated to command the Pennsylvania Reserve Division had the lead. North of the church, the road would turn west and branch off in two directions. The southern route, now known as Dahlgren road headed west and south rejoining the National Road near the South Mountain Inn. The northern route would first head northwest before turning west and then southwest rejoining the National Road at Zittlestown. Today, this road is known as Frosttown Road. Meade’s men would head for the more northern route and there confront Robert Rodes brigade of Alabamians. Earlier in the day, Hill sent only Rode’s brigade to the north while feeding the rest of his division (Garland, Anderson, and Ripley’s brigades) to the apparently more threatened southern flank at Fox Gap, and holding Colquitt in the center. Rodes was in an isolated position. He had deliberately moved to defend the more northern road properly considering it more of a dangerous approach to the Confederate positions. For the rest of the afternoon, he skillfully fought a delaying against Meade’s advancing brigades.
In the afternoon, three brigades of D.R. Jones division and “Shanks” Evans separate brigade arrived, “fresh” from a forced march from Hagerstown and a hike up the National Road from Boonsboro. Moving up Dahlgren Road, they were in time to confront the advancing troops of Hatch’s Division. It was along Dahlgren Road near these positions where we made our stop. From our vantage point on Dahlgren Road looking south and west, it was possible for us to see in succession Lamb’s Knoll and Fox Gap, Elk Ridge, Red Hill, and in the distance, North Mountain. Fighting ended here with the arrival of nightfall. Well after dark, the Confederates pulled back from the entire Turner’s Gap leaving the field to the Federals.

Next Time - Harper's Ferry and Crampton's Gap

Sunday, August 1, 2010


This weekend, I went over the 2,000 quote mark as I continue capturing quotes related to the Maryland Campaign and the men and women who lived and died in the battles of the late summer of 1862. I started this effort when I launched South From the North Woods in January of 2009. I expanded it when I started to make the quotes available on my other blog Antietam Voices. The experience has been a humbling one for it underscores what is out there that I have not gotten to and may never get to. Initially most of my quotes were about the men who fought at the battle. This is because my earliest "collecting" came from my reading of biographies of McClellan, Lee, Jackson, Stuart, the Hills, Hooker, Richardson, and others. Later, as I read works that are more and more just devoted to the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign, the number of quotes on the battle itself has now grown to around 25% of the total and will continue to become a larger and larger share of the quote database. See more about my quote quest at another post on Antietam Voices

A Couple of Older Books Worth Taking a Look At

As I capture quotes from various sources, I discover in the bibliography or footnotes, other books out there, some not necessarily new, that I wish to add to my library. As economics are always a factor, I see if I can find them online relatively cheap. Last week, I found two such books.

The first is A Diary of Battle - The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainright 1861-1865 edited by Allan Nevins (New York: De Capo Press 1998). Wainright is a New York artilleryman who served throughout the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac. It is a first person original source written by Colonel Wainright in the form of a journal. What drew me to the book were some quotes I found elsewhere by Wainright on Joseph Hooker. The book is proving to be an interesting and compelling read.

The other book is Lee' Tigers by Terry L. Jones (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987). This is the story of the Louisiana troops in the Army of Northern Virginia. I became aware of this book as I was studying the fighting on the northern end of Antietam and became acquainted with the brigades of Harry Hays and William Starke. As I always do when I get a new book, I jump to the Battle of Sharpsburg to see what new details I could glean but was a little disappointed that the book doesn't add much to what I already know. Nevertheless it seems to be a well written and well document account which I will get back to at some point.

Both books are available at Amazon in the $2 - $3 price range so they are a bargain!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Cornfield, Copes and Me

Last Sunday afternoon in hot 95 degree weather, I set out for the Cornfield and snapped the photographs that you see below. I wanted to find a format where I could combine the photos with one of the Copes maps to get a better appreciation of what went on in that part of the Cornfield that I was standing on. I dont know if this is the best format and would therefore appreciate any input that you might have. I actually turned powerpoints into pictures to get the effect you see here.

What can quickly be seen is that by moving just a short distance in any direction, you will obtain a very different view. Look for example at the Poffenberger barn in those pictures that point north. The view varies from being able to see the entire structure, to just the top of the barn, to nothing at all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"I tell you there is no romance in making one of these charges"

As we remember the Battle of Gettysburg this weekend on the 234th birthday of our nation, consider the words of Sharpsburg veteran John Dooley a young Irishman from Richmond who joined the First Virginia Infantry along with his father and brother. Dooley fought at South Mountain, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. Elected lieutenant before Gettysburg, he participated in Pickett's Charge on July 3 where he was shot in both legs and lay on the battlefield all night. Captured the next day, Dooley was released on February 27, 1865. His war journal is a great first hand account of the fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia.

This quote was made by Dooley on July 3. Pickett's Charge glorified mostly by those who never fought there has a different look from the eyes of an infantryman like Dooley. Here is the full quote as Dooley prepares to make the charge:

"Our artillery has now ceased to roar and the enemy have checked their fury, too. The time appointed for our charge is come. I tell you, there is no romance in making one of these charges. You might think so from reading 'Charlies O'Malley,' that prodigy of valour, or in reading of any other gallant knight who would as little think of riding over gunners and such like as they would of eating a dozen oysters. But when you rise to your feet as we did today, I tell you the enthusiasm of ardent breasts in many cases ain't there, and instead of burning to avenge the insults of our country, families and altars and firesides, and the thought is most frequently, Oh. if I could just come out of this charge safely how thankful would I be!"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A New South Mountain Blog

Welcome to another great blog on the Maryland Campaign. Check out Tim Ware's Bloody Prelude: The Battle of South Mountain here. Tim is a seasonal ranger at South Mountain who I know well as a fellow volunteer with Antietam National Battlefield's historical artillery unit Battery B, 4th US Artillery. Tim has already done several interesting articles on this important battle of the Maryland Campaign in his blog. He is a very serious student of Civil War history and I look forward to learning more about South Mountain from him. Welcome to the blogosphere Tim!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"As to burning our house, we know that in doing so, you were carrying out orders."

When I give tours at Antietam National Battlefield, I sometimes relate the story of the burning of the Samuel Mumma farmhouse and the improbable exchange of letters 44 years later between Sergeant Major James Clark of the Third North Carolina Infantry, who led the detail of soldiers that burned the house and Samuel Mumma Jr. who as postmaster of Sharpsburg in 1906 received Clark's letter and responded. To the left is a Alexander Gardner photo of the ruins of the Mumma homestead taken shortly after the battle. When James Clark took up his pen, he was merely addressing his letter to the postmaster of Sharpsburg and had no idea that he would be reaching the son and namesake of the house owner. Perhaps even more surprising is that Mr. Mumma responded to him.

I had never seen the letters until this week when I came across a copy of Antietam The Aftermath a collection of letters and remembrances about the battle and the Sharpsburg vicinity that was arranged, and edited by Wilmer F. Mumma, the great-grandson of Samuel Mumma. This very interesting work copyright 1993 by Wilmer M. Mumma is extremely rare and I am grateful to the Antietam National Battlefield Library for sharing this important work with me.

Below printed in their entirety are the two letters.

New Bern, N. C.
March 19, 1906
Sharpsburg, Md.

Dear Sir

Please be so kind as to give me the correct name of the man who owned or lived in the brick house that was burned at the Battle of Antietam or Battle of Sharpsburg, being called by both names.

I belonged to the 3rd North Carolina infantry, Colonel William L. Derassette, Ripley's Brigade, D. H. Hill's Division.

This house stood immediately in our front as the battle was being commenced and at times was in the enemy's lines. General Ripley, to prevent its occupation by sharpshooters and protect his officers from being picked off, ordered it burned. A volunteer call was mad as to who would go and do it. Five or six privates from Company A volunteered and I took charge of them, being at that time, Sergeant Major of the Regiment. After firing the house we all got back to our lines, myself being the only one hurt. Ripley ordered me to carry orders down to his line to 44th and 48th Georgia Regiments to come up and take a rail fence in their front. He was shot soon after I left him. I carried the orders down to the Georgia troops and being weak from the loss of blood, went off the field by an old Church and on to our hospital. Then a women, young and beautiful and black haired, helped to bandage my arm. I have often wondered if she was any of the family and where they when caught between the lines of battle.

I wish to write up the particulars of the event truthfully and there are some particulars about the family I would like to have.

On the next campaign, Gettysburg, by the command to which I belonged, we assisted to capture General Milroy at Winchester, Virginia, and I had to lay up for repairs and did not get any further.

My brother, now deceased, said that he saw the old gentleman, or thought he talked with the owner of the house burned, and said that he hoped the next time they fought, they would get out of his cornfields, as he gathered no corn or crops that year.

Hoping to hear from you with a line of particulars, as to where the family went that morning September 17th, 1862, I am,

Yours respectfully and truly

James F. Clark

Late Sergeant Major
3rd North Carolina Regiment

As Wilmer Mumma relates in Antietam The Aftermath, "Although Samuel Mumma, Jr. was a Union sympathizer and his family had lost everything at the hands of Sergeant Clark, he was not one to bear a grudge. In fact, he was rather pleased to hear just what exactly happened. Samuel, Jr. not being much of a scribe, his daughter, Bertha Alice, did the writing as he dictated the following:"

Sharpsburg, Maryland
March 22, 1906
Mr. James F. Clark
New Bern, N. C.

Dear Sir:

In reply to your letter of March 19th asking for some information concerning the burning of the brick house on September 17th, 1862, I will say that the house referred to was owned by my father, Samuel Mumma, Sr. The house, a large brick colonial one, near the Dunkard Church, was burned at the Battle of Antietam. My father was told that the family had better get away, so we left on Monday afternoon the 15th, took nothing with us as they were cannonading then and we were afraid that there would be a battle at once. Some clothing was gotten together and the silverware was packed in a basket ready to take, but in our haste to get away, all was left behind. Father and mother and the younger children left in the two-horse carry-all (the older children walking as there was a large family) going about 4 miles and then we camped in a large church called the Manor Church, where man others congregated.

On Tuesday evening, a friend and I came back to the house, thinking to get some clothing but found that everything of value had been taken. I then started for Sharpsburg and at the ridge on the field above our house, where the line had formed, General D. H. Hill and some other officers had me brought to them, and questioned me as to whether I was a memeber of that family. They then asked me about different roads to the Antietam Creek. I gave them a correct statement although I was a Union boy. After we left, my older brother Daniel came back to the house and went to bed. Towards morning, some officers knocked at the door and Daniel being young also, was afraid to open the door and jumped out the back window, leaving it up and spent the remainder of the night in the upper room of a stone building that was once used by slaves. The next day he went to Sharpsburg. That morning the house and barn were burned but we were told that General Richardson's Battery (a Union General) had shelled the house and barn and burned them.

Our family then went to a friends house until spring. In the spring of 1863 we rebuilt our house and had just moved in a few weeks before the army went to Gettysburg.

As they were passing through to Gettysburg, an officer approached me and asked me if I know who had burned that house. I told him that I did not. Then he told me that he and eight other men were detailed by General Ripley to burn the house and hat he had picked up a chunk of fire from where they had been cooking and had put in in an open window on to a bed. He told me the color of the quilt and the shape of the bedstead.

We lost crops, fencing and everything, all amounting from $8,000 to $10,000 and were never recompensed as the Government claimed it was damaged by being right in the heart of the battle.

As well as I can remember, the hospital you spoke of must have been at the home of one Harry Reel, southwest of the old Dunkard Church. He had a daughter with black hair. She is now dead and the rest of the family have moved west. That was the nearest hospital that I knew of.

As to burning our house, we know that in doing so, you were carrying out orders.

Enclosed find a few souvenir postals of the battle. Hoping that these points will help you in your work, I am,

Samuel Mumma, Jr.,
Sharpsburg, Md.

NOTE: Both letters and the Wilmer Mumma's intervening narrative are found in Wilmer M. Mumma, ed., Antietam The Aftermath (Sharpsburg, 1993) pp. 24-26

Saturday, May 22, 2010

From the Antietam to the Little Bighorn

Last weekend, I picked up Nathaniel Philbrick's new book The Last Stand - Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (New York: Viking 2010). I received the book as part of the Treasury Executive Institute's program. My casual scan through the book quickly turned serious as I realized how great it was. I usually don't have trouble putting a book down after an hour or two but I spent all of last weekend devouring this one. It is that good. Mr. Philbrick's research is very thorough. His portrayal of all the characters, both Native American and United States is tremendous. Mr. Philbrick's vivid narrative gave me a very clear understanding of Captain Frederick Benteen and Major Marcus Reno, Custer's principle lieutenants for the first time. Benteen is a fascinating character. Read the book and see why. The maps that accompany the narrative are first class. For the first time, I could clearly understand the geography of the Little Bighorn Valley and the movements of the various columns. Needless to say, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested not just in this particular campaign but in this period of American history as well.

But why do I mention this book in a blog dedicated to the Maryland Campaign? In reading the book, you will discover a number of soldiers at or near the Little Bighorn who also fought at Antietam. Obviously, George Custer is one of them. Custer was, in 1862, a young brash second lieutenant fresh out of West Point. Assigned to General McClellan's staff, it was Custer who requisitioned Phillip Pry's house for McClellan's headquarters. As the Little Bighorn Campaign of 1876 unfolds, Custer is now second in command (but acting commander in the field) of the Seventh Cavalry. The Seventh is part of a column moving westward from the Dakotas and part of an effort to trap the Sioux between three converging columns approaching them from the east, west, and south. General Alfred Terry commands this west bound force known as the "Dakota" column.

John Gibbon, commander of the Iron Brigade at Antietam, leads the so called "Montana" column, moving eastward from Montana. Like Custer who in 1876 is back to his regular army rank of lieutenant colonel, Gibbon too had reverted to his regular rank of colonel after the Civil War. As their columns separate and Custer and the Seventh Cavalry depart to meet their destiny Gibbon tells the young officer, "Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." To which Custer ambiguously replies"No, I will not."

The third column moving up from the south is the Wyoming column commanded by George Crook. It is Crook's brigade at Antietam that launches the first attack against the Rohrbach bridge on the southern part of the line. In the Little Bighorn campaign, Crook's force will be prevented from linking up with the other two columns when the Sioux defeat him at the Battle of the Rosebud on June 17, 1876. Forced to retreat, Crook's force will not be in any position to assist Custer when the Seventh Cavalry is overwhelmed at the Little Bighorn.

When the bloody battle of the Little Bighorn is over and Gibbon's force at last reaches the battlefield, they will find only the battered remnants of Reno and Benteen's battalions. Along the Little Bighorn Gibbon will discover Custer and his men dead to the last man. Among the fallen will be one other with a connection to Antietam. Second Lieutenant James "Jack" Sturgis, age 22 and fresh out of West Point is an officer of E Troop known as the Gray Horse Troop.

As Philbrick relates in the narrative: "While his body is never officially identified, several decapitated corpses were found near the river at the mouth of a deep ravine. One soldier later claimed he recognized Sturgis's scorched head along with several others in a Sioux fire pit. Out of respect for Sturgis's mother who visited the battlefield several years later, a grave marker was placed in the vicinity of Last Stand Hill. The possibility exists that the young lieutenant came as close as anyone in the Gray Horse Troop to reaching Sitting Bull's village."

James Sturgis is the son of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment's commander Samuel Sturgis. Sturgis commanded a division of Ambrose Burnside's Ninth Corps at the Battle of Antietam. It was men from Ferraro's brigade of Sturgis's division who captured the Rohrbach bridge on September 17, 1862. During the Little Bighorn campaign in 1876, Sturgis was on detached service in St Louis when the battle occurred. Sturgis and Custer did not get along. Sturgis said this about Custer after the battle. "That he was overreached by Indian tactics, and hundreds of valuable lives sacrificed thereby, will astonish those alone who may have read his writings-not those who were best acquainted with him and knew the peculiarities of his character."

[Note: All quotes here are from Nathaniel Philbrick's book The Last Stand - Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (New York: Viking 2010)]

Monday, April 19, 2010

“Goodbye Pope, your grave is made.”

I recently finished reading Peter Cozzens biography General John Pope A Life for the Nation. Those of us who are students of the Maryland Campaign view Pope through the narrow lens of events in the east in the summer of 1862. Just like there is a tendency to stereotype McClellan, there is a similarly inclination to do the same to Pope. He is remembered as the loud mouth braggart who alienated the officers and men of his Army of Virginia and of the Army of the Potomac with his bombastic proclamation to them shortly after assuming command. Robert E. Lee calls him a miscreant and orders Jackson to “suppress” Pope when he issues equally controversial orders that make hard war on the civilians of Virginia. Pope fumbles through the second Bull Run campaign and is exiled to Minnesota to fight the Sioux. This simplistic view hardly stands the test of closer scrutiny. Pope certainly had a big mouth that got him in trouble on more than one occasion. He wasn’t afraid to pull political strings if it would help to advance his career. But before and after the second Bull Run campaign, Pope served his country in a highly creditable way.

Pope was a successful general in the west. In the spring of 1862 he captured Island Number 10 in the Mississippi and participated in the Corinth campaign with Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. In June of 1862 Pope was summoned by Edwin Stanton to command the scattered forces that had been maneuvering unsuccessfully in the Shenandoah Valley to capture Stonewall Jackson. He proceeded east with great reluctance. Gordon Granger, one of his subordinate commanders in Pope’s Army of the Mississippi would bid his commander farewell with the prophetic words “Goodbye Pope, your grave is made.” Pope’s reputation as a successful aggressive commander was viewed with great anticipation by many of his soldiers in Virginia. His orders to make war on the Virginians was viewed with great anger across the south, but most of Pope’s new soldiers were only to willing to comply with them after campaigning up till then under the more restrained warfare of McClellan. However his infamous proclamation of July 14 1862 that impugned their fighting ability caused morale to plummet. Pope was undeniably at his worst during the Second Bull Run Campaign and the decisive defeat suffered by the Union provided Robert E. Lee with the momentum to propel the Army of Norther Virginia across the Potomac into Maryland. In the chaos and crisis of the first week of September 1862, Lincoln reluctantly chose McClellan to pursue Lee over the now apparently discredited Pope. Lincoln appreciated Little Mac’s proven organization skills and recognized that he had the love of his men and the support of the officers. But Lincoln never forgot that McClellan left Pope to “get out of his scrape”. Pope was sent to Minnesota to put down a Sioux uprising that had broken out and threatened to overwhelm the scattered settlements of that far western state. He realized that he made a huge mistake in accepting command in the east. While passing through Chicago enroute to Minnesota, he told well-wishers “My friends-the state of Illinois it has been for many years my home- and I am glad to return to it. God Almighty knows sorry I am I ever left it.”

While Pope’s exile was viewed with delight in Democratic Party circles and by the McClellan clique of the Army of the Potomac, Pope didn’t leave town without some parting shots of his own. He preferred charges of dereliction of duty against McClellan protégé Fitz John Porter for Porter’s apparent disobedience of Pope’s orders to attack with his corps at Second Bull Run. Porter retained command of the Fifth Corps at McClellan’s request during the Maryland crisis but was relieved of command shortly thereafter and tried by court martial in December of 1862. Found guilty by the court martial board hand picked by Edwin Stanton, Lincoln approved the findings and recommendation. Fitz John Porter was cashiered from the United States Army on January 21, 1863. Porter would spend the next 23 years fighting for redemption. In 1879, the Schofield Board would overturn the court martial results but it wasn't until 1885 that Democratic president Grover Cleveland signed a relief bill that reinstated Porter to the army with the rank of colonel and placed him on the retirement list the same day.

In Minnesota, Pope found his niche again competently handling the suppression of the Sioux uprising. Gratified by the results of the Porter court martial, he was anxious to get back into the war. His competent and restrained handling of the Indian crisis on the western frontier had not gone unnoticed and his apparent exile there angered many of the soldiers who he served with in the west. Pope’s advocacy for humane treatment of the Indians was years ahead of most military officers of the time. He was generally well thought of by U.S. Grant. Another friend, William T. Sherman would sarcastically react to Pope’s Minnesota reassignment. Said Sherman, “I see the people have made a clear sacrifice of Pope and McDowell, and are now content with having killed two of their own generals. This is a glorious war.” With the elevation of these western generals to the top military commands later in the war, Pope was hopeful that he would move closer to the main stream of the war. But the bureaucracy moved slowly. It was not until February 3, 1865 that Pope was appointed to command of the Military Division of the Missouri headquartered at St. Louis, Missouri. As Peter Cozzens says in his book, “Ulysses S. Grant had restored much of the luster to John Pope’s tarnished reputation." Pope would end his military career in March 1886 as a major general in the regular army of the United States, ironically filling the major general billet vacated by his erstwhile Bull Run confidante Irwin McDowell.

That Pope is such a controversial figure can be measured by the quotes I have about him. See them here at Antietam Voices. They range from effusive praise to downright condemnation. Cozzens’s book captures this paradox and should be studied to attempt to make a balanced appraisal of the man. Probably Union naval officer Andrew Foote said it best about Pope. “A good man of dash. Give him 10,000 men to carry a position and it is done promptly. He has courage, energy and enterprise, and in a smaller field was remarkably successful, but in a large theatre of action he is out of his place and nothing but failure could be expected.”