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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Very Meager Lifeless Thing

As a modern day researcher, I heartily agree with Lieutenant Colonel William T. Poague a noted Confederate Army artillery officer.  Like Poague, I bemoan the bare bones nature of many of the unit reports found in the Official Records.  I will let Poague speak for himself.  He recalls the very first report that he penned when he commanded the Rockbridge Artillery at the Battle of Winchester fought on May 25, 1862:

William T. Poague
"at this place I wrote my first report on my knee, and a very meager lifeless thing it was. I supposed that after the brigade commander saw it and read it, the firewood receive it. But low and behold, I find several of my very imperfect reports published in the rebellion records, as the U.S. Government calls the volumes.[1]I ought to have embraced in them many things that were a part of the history of the battery and that would have reflected credit on the men. I find that many reports for so written, and if you make a comparative estimate of the services of our battery along with some others as based upon the reports of the commanding officer, ours would suffer by the comparison."[2]

Poague is quite critical of his reports.  I will say that they are not as good as some but much better than many others.  Nevertheless I could not have said it any better.

[1]Poague’s report of the Winchester battle, May 25, 1862 is in OR 12 part 1 pages 761-762
[2]Poague, William T. Gunner with Stonewall – Reminiscences of William Thomas Poagueby William Thomas Poague edited by Monroe F. Cockrell. (Lincoln NE: University of Nebraska Press 1957) page 25