About Me

My photo
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.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Trail Under Construction

The unfinished trail looking east. Branch Ave in the distance
Have you ever wished that you could easily hike from the Final Attack Trail or Branch Avenue all the way up the Hawkins Zouave Monument?  In a matter of months you will be able to.  Since last fall, the Park Service has been working on a spur of the Final Attack trail that will connect the Hawkins Zouave Monument path to Branch Avenue.  This past weekend, SHAF’s workday focused on continued improvement of this emerging trail.  About a dozen volunteers and rangers dug stumps, cleared brush, and moved rocks to further carve out this trail.  The two maps posted here show where the trail is going through.  It is along the northern boundary of parkland on the west side of Branch Avenue.  It will emerge somewhere on Branch Avenue near the 23rd Ohio Monument.  Here are several pictures along the new trail looking eastward toward Branch Avenue.

New Trail
SHAF Volunteers
Copes 4:20 PM
While the little plot of land on the park map is known as the Hawkins’ Zouaves monument, it also houses a monument to the Eighth Connecticut along with Isaac Rodman’s mortuary cannon.

On the 4:20 pm Carmen-Copes map Fairchild’s brigade (which had the highest casualty rate of any Federal brigade that day) is battling with elements of Drayton and Kemper’s brigades.  Coming up on their left is the Eighth Connecticut. Fairchild’s brigade is within yards of the town of Sharpsburg.  The battle hangs in the balance. 

Antietam National Battlefield has been working hard to add to the trail system around the park.  Last year the Tidball Trail was created to afford views of the artillery positions manned by units of the Federal Horse Artillery. This year you will soon have the opportunity to traverse this new trail over hotly contested ground on the southern part of the battlefield. The trail is not ready yet but it should be ready for the 150th Anniversary commemorations later this year. Look for a Park Service announcement soon.  


  1. Jim, Good to hook up again this Saturday; it sure was a beautiful day at a great place in American history. You guys certainly are facing a very busy, but I'm sure rewarding, six months. Ron Dickey

  2. Ron,
    As always good to see you too. Hope we get a few more opportunities as we observe the 150th.