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 22, 2011

The Dawn

I had occasion this week to refer back to Mr. Lincoln’s Army, volume one of Bruce Catton’s landmark work on the Army of the Potomac.  I recently talked to one of my colleagues about the writing style of modern Civil War authors.  Much of it is certainly historically accurate but has an element of dryness and structure that makes it difficult to enjoy.  My friend is actually going back to read Shakespeare to improve his own prose style.  Maybe I should do that as well.  It is no wonder that some of the best Civil War history is written by journalists like Bruce Catton and Douglas Southall Freeman.  It was Catton’s work that ignited my interest as a youngster some 45 years ago and I am still drawn to it.  Without ever having to been to Antietam as a twelve year old, I could visualize it thanks to passages like these I offer below.  This post today, is nothing more than an opportunity to go back and enjoy some of the beautiful writing that I dare say many of you read and which drew you into your own study of the Civil War.  All of these passages beautifully evoke the early morning dawn of September 17, 1862 on the fields north of Sharpsburg but the second one is my favorite.

"There was a tension in the atmosphere for the whole army that night.  Survivors wrote long afterward that there seemed to be something mysteriously ominous in the very air-stealthy, muffled tramp of marching men who could not be seen but were sensed dimly as moving shadows in the dark; outbursts of rifle fire up and down the invisible picket lines, with flames lighting the sky now and then when gunners in the advanced batteries opened fire; taut and nervous anxiety of those alert sentinels communicating itself through all the bivouacs, where men tried to sleep away the knowledge that the morrow would bring the biggest battle the army had ever had; a ceaseless, restless sense of movement as if the army stirred blindly in its sleep, with the clop-clop of belated couriers riding down the inky dark lanes heard at intervals, sounding very lonely and far off."

"And while they slept the lazy, rainy breeze drifted through the East Woods and the West Wood and the cornfield, and riffed over the copings of the stone bridge to the south, touching them for the last time before dead men made them famous.  The flags were furled and the bugles stilled, and the hot metal of the guns on the ridges had cooled, and the army was asleep-tenting tonight on the old camp ground, with never a song to cheer because the voices that might sing it were all stilled on this most crowded and most lonely of fields.  And whatever it may be that nerves men to die for a flag or a phrase or a man or an inexpressible dream was drowsing with them, ready to wake with the dawn."

"The morning came in like the beginning of the Last Day, gray and dark and tensely expectant.  Mist lay on the ground, heavy as fog in the hollow places, and the groves and valleys were drenched in immense shadows.  For a brief time there was an ominous hush on the rolling fields, where the rival pickets crouched behind bushes and fence corners, peering watchfully forward under damp hat brims."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Virtual Antietam 2.0

I just came across a great upgrade of Stephen Reckers Virtual Antietam website that now includes a blog.  Stephen is a fellow battlefield guide at Antietam who helped me get my start as a guide four years ago.  He has many great projects that are ongoing including his long awaited book Rare Images of Antietam, Vol. 1  that he says will be coming out in July of next year.  Check out Stephens important work here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Statistical Graphing - West Pointers at Antietam

Several years ago, I attended a terrific one-day course by Edward Tufte, professor at Yale University and author of Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations, and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Tufte used Charles Joseph Minard’s chart plotting Napoleon’s March to Moscow during the War of 1812 as an example of perhaps “the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”  I was so taken by this depiction that I have since purchased and framed this chart.  It now hangs in my office at home as a constant challenge to be innovative in portraying information.  If you ever have an opportunity to attend a Tufte seminar, run don’t walk. 
Minard's Chart of the War of 1812

I have lately become interested in exploring the relationships of the West Pointers that served at Antietam on both sides of the battle.  A terrific website by Bill Thayer at the University of Chicago introduced me to Cullem’s Register.  The Register is a compendium of the service records of thousands of West Point graduates over the years.  I further contacted the West Point library and obtained a link to the pdf files of the register. 

What I have been doing (to the neglect of other projects sadly) is sifting through this mass of data to extract a list of every West Point graduate who fought at Antietam or served in some capacity in the Maryland Campaign.  There some 193 men on the list ranging from Joseph K. F. Mansfield, number 2 in the class of 1822 to Charles N. Warner, number 28 (and Immortal) in the Class of 1862.  I created a table that summarizes their military careers, regimental assignments, stints at West Point as faculty members, war service (in Mexico, Florida, Utah, Spanish American War and yes even World War One), home states, and other things.  For the more obscure men, I have reviewed OR 19 and 51 to see if they are mentioned, and amazingly many of them are.  I have drawn out some interesting correlations about their careers that I look forward to sharing.  This effort has taught me a lot about the Regular Army in the antebellum period before the Civil War and much about post war assignments as well.  With Minard’s chart on the War of 1812 (the European War of 1812 that is) in mind, I attempted to depict some of this information on a chart of my own.  It is essentially a diagonal time line from the Class of 1822 (top left) which was Mansfield's class to the Class of 1862 (bottom right) that sent 14 newly minted second lieutenants to the battle including young Charles Warner.  Generally the colors above the line reflect United States or Confederate States affiliation during the war.  The green lines are periods when the specific officer taught at West Point.  The white spots which drift from the top of the chart halfway across the top are Mexican War officers who received brevets for gallantry.  The colors below the time line diagonal are the regimental affiliations of the officers.  Light red is artillery, light blue is infantry and gold is cavalry.  Engineers, topographical engineers and ordnance officers are also shown. 

The initial objective was to group cadets by year group showing not just who they graduated with, but who were other students in upper and lower classes when they were at the academy.  I call this relationship spans of connection.  For example, members of the class of 1846 (the big black box in the upper left quadrant) as fourth year cadets in the fall of 1842 would have known cadets who would graduate as the class of 1843.  Four years later  as first year cadets themselves, these men would have known the fourth year cadets who would go on to graduate in 1849.  After their own classmates, they were likely closest to classmates in the classes of 1845 and 1847 (the red boxes).  The colors are less dark as you move away from 1846 (orange, gold, yellow).   Cadets in the five year program of the late 1850s would have even larger spans of connection.  This effort alone was very illuminating.  There is much more that I will address down the road but here is a peak at the chart.  Stay tuned.

West Pointers at Antietam 1822 1862

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Impending Crisis

I am currently reading David Potter’s monumental work The Impending Crisis America Before the Civil War 1848-1861 (New York: Harper, 1976). 

In his chapter titled the Political Parties in Metamorphosis, I read this passage on political parties.  Potter is discussing the Whig and Democratic parties in the decades before the Civil War.  In view of repeated failures of our modern legislative branch to legislate, (the Super Committee being the latest example) I found Potter’s words on the characteristics of the American political parties very interesting.  I keep coming back to this paragraph on page 226. 

Relatively unencumbered by ideological mission, the two parties did not have enough intellectual focus to offer voters clear-cut alternatives.  Thus they failed in one of the classic functions theoretically ascribed to political parties. But if they defaulted in this way, they performed admirably another equally important if less orthodox function: the promoted consensus rather than divisiveness.  By encouraging men to seek a broad basis of popular support, they nourished cohesiveness within a community and avoided sharpening the cutting edge of disagreement to dangerous keenness.  Without ideological agreement as a basis for cohesiveness, the parties could still cultivate unity, based upon the practical need that diverse groups may have for one another’s support.

I rarely use this blog as a political forum.  However, I truly believe that we are at the other end of the pendulum these days.  There is to much intellectual focus.  The alternatives are clear-cut nowadays.  But what our leaders seem to posses in abundance in clarity of position, they forfeit in ability to promote consensus and fail to seek broad basis of popular support.  The American people clearly recognize the problems.  But our leaders seem incapable of working together to make decisions. Now this very divisiveness that is so well promoted in the 21st century could very well mean our decline.  Nothing is getting done.  We cant stand further putting off of the key decisions that need to be made right now. Henry Clay, John Q. Adams, Daniel Webster, Stephen Douglas, and John Calhoun have been replaced by Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Nancy Pelosi, prisoners of their own special interest keepers.  There are many times to hold firm to our ideological standards but surrendering any idea of compromise or bipartisanship all the time is unacceptable. 

Impending Crisis then or now?  But that’s just me. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Marine Corps is 236 Today. Thanks to one Marine in Particular

Lance Corporal Jim Rosebrock
Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps and tomorrow is Veteran's Day.  I am particularly proud of one Marine today.  That is my son Jim who has now been serving proudly in the Corps for over one year.  Jim attended his first Marine Corp's birthday party last weekend and the photo here shows him with some of his comrades at the party.  Jim, now a lance corporal, keeps the AV-8B Harrier II jump jets flying in Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA-513) stationed Marine Corps Air Station - Yuma Arizona.  Many of Jim's fellow Marines in the 513th are returning from a deployment in Afghanistan. 

Several of Jim's high school friends that I know serve now.  One is a United States Army Ranger enroute to a deployment of his own after Thanksgiving, and another is finishing up boot camp at Parris Island.  Another will be commissioned as Army lieutenant out of ROTC next spring.  Five years ago, I took these boys to the Boy Scout Philmont Camp in New Mexico.  Now they proudly serve their nation.

To those who have little positive to say about the young of this generation, I say look at men like Jim who are laying it on the line everyday.  As an old paratrooper, I know that they have learned the same lesson that I did many years ago - that the best in life is earned, not handed to you.

Lets not forget our veterans this weekend -  all the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and coast guardsman who put it on the line every day for us.  If you see one thank one.  And better yet, don't just do it on Veteran's Day.  Go out of your way to make every day Veteran's Day. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ride the Auto Tour!!

Antietam volunteer Dave Maher shot this great video from his car yesterday. It covers about the first five auto tour stops at Antietam National Battlefield.  The crystal clear skies and beautiful fall foliage are really accented here.  The video is in real time.  Dave, I am looking to more footage soon.  Thanks again. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Honor

From left to right Mannie Gentile, Alan Schmidt, daughter Rachel, me, Dan Vermilya, Bob Casey, Christie Stanczak and Joe Nicodemus.  (Photo courtesy of Mannie Gentile)
Today, I was honored by my colleagues at Antietam National Battlefield as the park's first ever Master Ranger Volunteer.  The award recognizes 500 hours of volunteer service in one year.  The cool thing is a distinctive patch that I get to sport around on my guide shirt.  Mannie also has a very nice post at his blog here

It was great to be joined by fellow volunteer and lovely daughter Rachel. (Photo courtesy of Mannie Gentile)

It is great to be recognized for something you like to do but even greater to work with and be a part of the finest interpretive staff of rangers, volunteers, and guides in the Service.  While I say thanks to all of them for a job well done, I want to say a special thanks to Ranger Christie Stanczak, volunteer coordinator and very dear friend for making this possible. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Final Attack Trail Work Party This Saturday

Last weekend's SHAF workday to begin the walking trail up to the Eighth Connecticut and Ninth New York monuments was snowed out. There will be a work party this Saturday November 5th led by Antietam Ranger Joe Calzarette to work on this trail. Meet at the Antietam Visitor's Center at 9AM. Bring gloves, water, and dress for the weather. Right now the weather forecast looks good but as last weekend if there is a steady rain that morning, the event will be cancelled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Important Trail Addition - SHAF Workday on Saturday

The Save Historical Antietam Foundation (SHAF) workday is this Saturday, October 29th and begins at 9:00 AM.  SHAF is funding and helping to build a walking trail loop off the Final Attack trail to lead up to the stop on the top of the hill where the monuments to the Eighth Connecticut, and Ninth New York, and Rodman mortuary cannon are located.  This important addition to the trail network will allow access to the site without parking on the grass shoulder of Harpers Ferry Road.  Be part of this important work.  It will be greatly appreciated.  Meet at the Antietam Visitor's Center at 9AM.  Bring gloves, water, and dress for the weather.  If there is a steady rain that morning, the event will be cancelled. 

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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the McClellan "Roller Coaster"

The view from McClellan's headquarters of Antietam Battlefield

Harry Smeltzer’s great blog post over at Bull Runnings is entitled Your Grandpa’s Maryland Campaign –NOT!!!. Equally informative and instructive are the comments to this post that offer in a microcosm the range of different reactions to General George B. McClellan. 

I usually do not reply in the depth that I did to Harry’s post.  As a guide and volunteer at Antietam, I hear all sorts of reactions to George B. McClellan.  I happen to agree with the current interpretation on the general that is advocated by our rangers and codified in the works of Joseph Harsh, Ethan Rafuse, Tom Clemens and Vince Armstrong.  My own thoughts "On the McClellan Merry Go-Round" as Harsh once called it, have been fermenting for some time.

I am not an academic historian but merely an avid amateur who reads everything I can find about the battle and the men who fought there.  I am fortunate to volunteer at Antietam Battlefield nearly every weekend and have been a guide there for the past four years as well.  I have studied the terrain and have the advantage of knowing all the rangers who make the study and interpretation their life's work. And finally my perspective as a retired soldier gives me some additional useful perspective.    

I am not an apologist for McClellan. I agree that he made mistakes. There was an arrogance and snobbery imbued into his personality that came from his blue blood Philadelphia origins.  He let that get the better of him sometimes.  His political instincts were not highly evolved. Unlike Lee, he failed to cultivate and maintain a good relationship with his commander in chief.  He didn't appreciate the power of the radicals in Congress.  He tended to try to do too much himself.  He could have learned more from General Scott but viewed him as an obstacle.  He didn’t try to bring all his corps commanders into the inner circle preferring to rely on the recommendations of his “pets” Fitz Porter and William Franklin, men with similar conservative political and military perspectives. A terrible error was McClellan’s inclination to “leave Pope to get out of his scrape.”   Instead of truly extending himself to help Pope, a man he detested, McClellan merely followed Halleck’s orders to the letter.  This mean spirited attitude truly appalled Lincoln. 

McClellan was a brilliant trainer, organizer, logistician, and strategic planner.  As Army commander-in-chief in early 1862, his strategic concept to attack on all fronts and his understanding and inclination to employ Army-Navy joint operations (Burnside’s Carolina and Butler’s New Orleans expeditions) preceded Grant's successful implementation of similar plans two years later.  His overall concept to advance up the Peninsula was a good one that was similar to part of Grant’s own final approach to Richmond after the Overland Campaign failed to achieve decisive results.

Despite their deteriorating relationship, Lincoln decided that McClellan was the only man capable to assume command during that harrowing first week of September. His decision was over almost total opposition of his cabinet.  This decision to restore McClellan was one of the most important acts of his presidency.  Lincoln knew his general's limitations but he also recognized that McClellan’s strengths were what the country needed then.

Operationally, McClellan had a different mission in Maryland than he did in front of Richmond.  He learned from his experiences on the Peninsula.  He had the example/specter of Second Manassas less than a week after resuming command to consider as well.  I'm sure that he and Porter had some discussions about that battle in the days before Antietam.  McClellan intensely felt the weight of responsibility at Antietam and frequently made reference to it in his writings. 

Lincoln's faith was not in vain.  In the space of several days, McClellan restored the army's flagging morale, He reshuffled some senior commanders, incorporated new regiments into the ranks, absorbed Reno's Ninth Corp, the Kanawha Division, and two corps from the Army of Virginia into his command and began straightening out logistics (an action which is often overlooked in the Maryland campaign.) 

McClellan had a primitive intelligence service and he erred on the side of extreme caution when evaluating and accepting the intelligence estimates of detective Pinkerton.  His cavalry was still learning and was just then being concentrated into a single division under Pleasanton during the campaign.  His artillery was still principally dispersed though it to was moving in the direction of more consolidation as well.  Two corps commanders (Hooker and Mansfield) were new to that level of command.

He advanced northwest from D.C. protecting both Baltimore and Washington.  On September 12th, just days after being restored to command, McClellan's right wing under Burnside entered Frederick from the east as the last elements of Lee's cavalry abandoned the town and headed west. Lee's operational planning and issuance of Special Order 191 to open his supply line through Harpers Ferry was based partly on the assumption that whoever commanded the pursuing Federal army would take much longer to reach western Maryland. 

McClellan’s response to Special Order 191 was not a timid one. He prudently spent the afternoon of Saturday September 13th validating the authenticity of the order. But when convinced of its validity, he ordered an attack by his divided army on several fronts to relieve Harpers Ferry on one end of the line and to attack Longstreet’s “main body” on the other. Admittedly, he could have pressed Franklin forward that afternoon instead of delaying the Sixth Corps advance until the next day.  Franklin took all day to arrive at Crampton’s Gap and overwhelm the Confederate defenders shortly before sundown.  Franklin’s slowness on Sunday afternoon and subsequent failure to attack McLaws and relieve Harper’s Ferry on Monday morning was perhaps the greatest failure of the campaign

On the battlefield, McClellan was without question a careful, methodical, tactician.  He believed in maintaining a large reserve and his tolerance for taking risk was much lower than many other army commanders.  Whatever his exact understanding of the size of the rebel army confronting him, McClellan developed a sound offensive plan.  It called for attacks first in the north at daybreak and later in the south to force Lee to commit his reserves and enable a final attack by Porter in the center.  Unfortunately there was no written plan and McClellan did not meet together with all his commanders before the battle to put them all in the picture.

But the plan was working.  The brutal fighting in the north indeed caused Lee’s characteristically bold reaction around 8:30 AM to commit ALL his reserves to the shattered left flank.  Yet, from McClellan's perspective at the Pry House, Lee forcefully met and repulsed every attack launched by the Federal commanders:

·      Hooker’s First Corps counterattacked by Hood’s division
·      Mansfield’s Twelfth Corps attack engaged by three brigades of D.H. Hill’s division.
·      Sedgwick’s division flanked by McLaws and other Confederate troops in the West Woods
·      French and Richardson’s divisions met by Richard Anderson’s reinforcing division in the Sunken Road, and Manning’s brigade attack on their right.

This had the effect of causing McClellan to reassess the full commitment of Porter’s corps and the cavalry in the center.  Often overlooked in the “old interpretation” of the battle is the fact that Porter's regulars were in fact advancing toward the heights of Sharpsburg when they were recalled.  When A.P. Hill struck Burnside's left flank at nearly the moment that his right was entering Sharpsburg that confirmed in McClellan's mind that Lee was still a very dangerous enemy. It justified and rationalized his decision not to hazard an attack by the Fifth or Sixth Corps.  This thinking carried on to next day in his decision to keep a strong reserve and not attack preferring to wait until the 19th.  By then, Lee was gone.

I believe that the shadow of Second Manassas hung over McClellan (and Porter). They saw in every counter-stroke by Lee a smashing potentially battle-ending attack like that suffered by Porter only 18 days earlier.

Grant lost at Belmont; He had a tough time at Shiloh. It took him a long time to figure out how to capture Vicksburg.  But he was far enough down the chain of command and far enough from the flagpole to recover, learn and advance.  Sherman had what amounted to a nervous breakdown early in the war.  Again, he was far enough away from the flagpole and the interfering Washington chain of command and had a mentor the likes of Grant to shield him and permit his recovery.  Both men had time to get better.  McClellan did not get the benefit of a learning curve like Grant, and Sherman.  He had the entire Lincoln administration, the Congress, and the national media following his every move from fifty miles away.  Again, this is not an excuse but a reality.  Grant had two years of additional time to figure out how to deal more successfully with this poisoned environment.

Since I have heard a lot about Grant and Lee in this string of comments, let’s recall what they later said about McClellan.

Grant on his round the world tour from 1877-1879 said this of him: "McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war. As a young man he was always a mystery. He had the way of inspiring you with the idea of immense capacity, if he would only have a chance. Then he is a man of unusual accomplishments, a student, and a well-read man. I have never studied his campaigns enough to make up my mind as to his military skill, but all my impressions are in his favor. I have entire confidence in McClellan’s loyalty and patriotism. But the test that was applied to him would be terrible to any man, being made a major general at the beginning of the war. It has always seemed to me that the critics of McClellan do not consider this vast and cruel responsibility—the war, a new thing to all of us, the army new, everything to do from the outset, with a restless people and Congress. McClellan was a young man when this devolved upon him, and if he did not succeed, it was because the conditions of success were so trying. If McClellan had gone into the war as Sherman, Thomas, or Meade, had fought his way along and up, I have no reason to suppose that he would not have won as high a distinction as any of us.” From Around the World with General Grant: A Narrative of the Visit of General U.S. Grant, Ex-President of the United States, to Various Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in 1877, 1878, 1879; To Which Are Added Certain Conversations with General Grant on Questions Connected with American Politics and History, by John Russell Young.

Lee’s cousin Cassius Lee recalled a conversation that he had with the general on February 15, 1870. "I asked him which of the Federal generals he considered the greatest, and he answered most emphatically "McClellan by all odds." From Recollections and Letters by Robert E. Lee.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 2004.

Victorian niceties aside, these are two heavy hitters whose perspective can't be ignored.   

Friday, September 23, 2011

John Reynolds in the Maryland Campaign

John Reynolds
Check out a new group of quotes on Union Major General John Reynolds over at Antietam Voices here.  Reynolds, would be killed nine months after the battle of Antietam on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Reynolds, much to his disgust and that of his corps commander Joseph Hooker was detached from command of the Pennyslvania Reserve Division and sent to Pennsylvania to organize the Pennsylvania Emergency Militia who were being raised against a feared attack into Pennsylvania.  John Curtin, the powerful Pennsylvania governor asked the War Department Reynolds by name to command this militia. Here is the terse message exchange between General Halleck and General McClellan regarding this assignment.  Never known for being at a loss for words, see General Hooker's reaction to the reassignment.  Reynolds' division was part of his corps.  All correspondence is taken from the Official Records, Volume 19, Part II.

WASHINGTON D.C., September 11, 1862 (Sent 10.20)
Major-General McClellan
The Governor of Pennsylvania wishes the services of General Reynolds. Can you order him here for that purpose? H.W. Halleck, General-in-Chief
Headquarters, Army of the Potomac
ROCKVILLE, MD., September 11, 1862 (10.45 a.m.)
Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck, General in Chief:
General Reynolds is now engaged in important service, supporting with his division an attack on New Market. He has one of he best divisions, and is well acquainted with it. I cannot see how his services can be spared at the present time.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN, Major-General
WASHINGTON D.C., September 11, 1862 (Sent 1.55 p.m.)
Major-General McClellan, Rockville, Md.:
General Reynold's division can be commanded by some one else. He has been designated for other duty, and must report here immediately.
H.W. Halleck, General-in-Chief
Headquarters, Army of the Potomac
MIDDLEBROOK, MD., September 11, 1862
Maj. Gen. H.W. Halleck, General in Chief:
I have ordered General Reynolds to report to Governor Curtin at the earliest practicable moment.  He is now about 25 miles from here. He will probably not be able to start before morning.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN, Major-General
Hdqrs, Third Corps, Army of Virginia
Ridgeville, Md., September 12, 1862
Brig. Gen. S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant General:
I have just been shown an order relieving Brigadier-General Reynolds from command of a division in my corps. I request that the major-general commding will not heed this order; a scared Governor ought not to be permitted to destroy the usefulness of an entire division of the army, on the eve of important operations.
General Reynolds commands a division of Pennsylvania troops of not the best character; is well known to them, and I have no officer to fill his place.
It is satisfactory in my mind that the rebels have no more intention of going to Harrisburg than they have of going to heaven.
It is only in the United States that atrocities like this are entertained.
Major-General, Commanding Corps.

Monday, September 19, 2011

365 days to the 150th. (Its a Leap Year!)

Check out Harry's post at Bull Runnings on his visit to Antietam this weekend.  I couldn't have said it better and echo his sentiments completely.  The rangers and volunteers  did a tremendous job.  The crowds were truly awesome and are hopefully an indication of what is to come next year.  
Ranger Brian Baracz at the Smoketown Road

Ranger Kevin Walker at the Joseph Poffenberger House
Rangers Keith Snyder, Brian Baracz and John Hoptak leading the tour near the Cemetery
Ranger John Hoptak at the Pry House

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 1862 Voices

Abraham Lincoln

"Your dispatch of today received. God bless you and all with you. Destroy the Rebel army if possible.”
Abraham Lincoln September 15 1862 Telegram from Lincoln to McClellan. 2:45PM September 15 1862. From The Battle of South Mountain by John David Hoptak.  Charleston:  The History Press, 2011.  page 181

George B. McClellan
“We attacked a large force of the enemy yesterday occupying a strong pass four miles west of Middletown. Our troops old and new regiments behaved most valiantly & gained a signal victory. R.E. Lee in command. The Rebels routed and retreating in disorder this morning. We are pursuing and taking many prisoners.”  George B. McClellan in a telegram to retired Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott.  September 15, 1862,  From The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan. Ed. Stephen W. Sears. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1989 page 464.

Robert E. Lee

"We will make our stand in these hills." Robert E. Lee calling out to D.R. Jones men as they arrived at Sharpsburg on September 15 1862. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 305

Thomas J. Jackson

"Through God's blessing, Harper's Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered.  As Hill's troops have borne the heaviest part in the engagement, he will be left in command until the prisoners and public property shall be disposed of, unless you direct otherwise.  The other forces can move off this evening as soon as they get their rations.  To what point shall we move?" Thomas Jackson in a dispatch at 8AM on September 15.  Arrived at Lee's HQ about noon advising of his success against Harpers Ferry on Sep 14. From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. page 424

"I will join you at Sharpsburg."
Thomas Jackson Sep 15 1862
Jackson to Lee. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 318

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 1862 Voices

"The day has gone against us and this army will go by Sharpsburg and cross the river.  It is necessary to abandon your position tonight."
Robert E. Lee
Sep 14 1862
Lee to McLaws reporting the defeat at South Mountain and his decision to retreat out of MarylandFrom Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999.
page 289

"We are firing the passes of the Blue Ridge. Have possession of the heights on the left of Hagerstown pike; are now attacking the right. Franklin is attacking the Rockville [Crampton's] Pass, through the same ranges. Thus far all goes well. Have taken about 100 prisoners. I have the troops in hand. They are confident, and hope to have gull possession of the passes by dark."
George B. McClellan
Sep 14 1862
McClellan's 4PM report to Halleck on the Battle of South MountainFrom Unfurl Those Colors! McClellan, Sumner, & The Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion Armstrong. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.
page 121

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 1862 Voices

Joseph K. F. Mansfield

"We may never meet again."
Joseph K. F. Mansfield September 13 1862.  Joseph Mansfield bidding farewell to fellow Connecticut native Gideon Welles as he departs to assume command of the 12th Corps.  Mansfield will be mortally wounded four days later in the East Woods at the Battle of Antietam.  From Lincoln's Darkest Year The War in 1862 by William Marvel. Boston: Houghtin Mifflin Company Company, 2008. page 188.

William Nelson Pendleton

"bold, prompt, energetic, and sagacious"
William Nelson Pendleton September 13 1862
Pendleton in a letter to President Davis who had asked Pendleton for "occasional confidential memoranda of the positions, doings etc of the army."  Pendleton is describing General Lee.
From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 222 

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 1862 Voices

Joseph Hooker

"a scared Governor ought not to be permitted to destroy the usefulness of an entire division of the army, on the eve of important operations....It is satisfactory in my mind that the rebels have no more intention of going to Harrisburg than they had of going to heaven.  It is only in the United States that atrocities like this are entertained."
Joseph Hooker, September 12 1862.
Hooker protesting to McClellan the reassignment of division commander John Reynolds to command militia in Pennsylvania at the height of the Maryland Campaign.  From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. Page 204

Robert E. Lee

"Before crossing the Potomac, I considered the advantages of entering Maryland east or west of the Blue Ridge.  In either case it was my intention to march upon this town [Hagerstown]"
Robert E. Lee, September 12 1862
Lee to Davis explaining his intentions to move on Hagerstown. From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 1862 Voices

"General, I wish we could stand still and let the damned Yankees come to us!" James Longstreet, September 11 1862
Longstreet to Lee after he is ordered to proceed on to Hagerstown and to leave D.H. Hill at Boonsboro.  From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 184

"All evidence that has been accumulated from various sources since we left Washington goes to prove most conclusively that almost the entire rebel army in Virginia, amounting to not less than 120,000 men, is in the vicinity of Frederick City.
George B. McClellan,  September 11 1862
McClellan in a letter to Halleck from Rockville MD
From The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 1 South Mountain. Edited by Tom Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2010. page 183 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10, 1862 Voices

Confederate troops moving through Frederick

"their friends were anxious to get rid of them and of the penetrating ammoniacal smell they brought with them."
Lewis H. Steiner September 10 1862
Doctor Steiner of the U.S. Sanitary Commission watches the reaction of the citizens as the Confederate Army left Frederick. 
From Taken at the Flood Robert E. Lee & Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Jospeh L. Harsh.  Kent:  The Kent State University Press, 1999. page 171


Ambrose Powell Hill
"Donning his coat and sword he mounted his horse and dashed to the front of his troops, and looking like a young eagle in search of his prey, he took command of his division to the delight of all his men" George Mills
September 10 1862
A North Carolina officer describing the suspension of A.P. Hill's arrest and his return to duty commanding the Light Division.
From General A. P. Hill - The Story of a Confederate Warrior by James I. Robertson.  New York:  Random House, 1987. page 135