- Jim Rosebrock
- 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, April 2, 2020
This moment in time that we are living in reminds me of the days after Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t around then for sure, but I have studied that period of our history very much. For weeks after December 7th, Americans heard about the terrible damage done to the Navy at Pearl Harbor and the losses of Wake, and Guam to the enemy. By April only the Philippines remained, held against overwhelming odds by beleaguered, American soldiers, sailors and airmen. Some feared that an enemy invasion fleet would appear off the west coast at any moment.
We are now in the April of our own crisis. We hear projections of a level of deaths like World War. In the short term we fight on but there is more discouraging news still to come and more dark days ahead for us.
In May of 1942, Corregidor fell. The American aircraft carrier USS Lexington was sunk at Coral Sea and another carrier, the USS Yorktown was badly damaged and all but written off as it limped back to Pearl Harbor.
But behind the scenes, American codebreakers have cracked the enemy’s naval code. The USS Yorktown is put back into service, not in months but in hours. The American industrial base is starting to warm up. Americans tightened their belts, ration supplies, join the military, work the factories-men and women, young and old of all races and creeds. Helen Longstreet, the 77 year old widow of Confederate general James Longstreet's riveted airplanes at the Bell Aircraft plant in Atlanta.
In this crisis of our generation, we have not turned the ship yet, but it is starting to turn. Paramedics and first responders at great risk continue to serve us. In hospitals, nurses, doctors and staff fight on against great odds with inadequate supplies and equipment. We are turning empty buildings into hospitals. Hospital ships are docked at our biggest cities. FEMA is finding medical supplies, literally all over the world. Ford and GM will start making ventilators, testing kits that can rapidly diagnose COVID are being innovated in record time. There are already test groups of recovered from COVID volunteering to help with additional medical research. Essential employees continue to work. Most Americans follow the stay at home and social distancing ordered in their respective states.
Imagine living thru the first months of 1942. What must it have felt like in April when everything seemed to be going wrong.
And then June came. A victory at Midway, not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.
For us today in early April, June is long way off. There is more bad news and sadness ahead. But June will come.