SHAF Tour with Vince Armstrong

12 10 2008

What a beautiful day yesterday!  And to top it off, I got to spend it exploring some of the most gorgeous government owned land in the nation, Antietam National Battlefield.  The Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) sponsored a dinner (Friday) and tour (Saturday) with Marion V(ince) Armstrong, author of “Unfurl Those Colors”, a history of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland Campaign of 1862.  I couldn’t make the dinner, but determined to attend the tour, even if it meant leaving my house at 5:15 Saturday morning (it did).  I was not sure when I went to bed on Friday that I would actually make the trip, but I’m glad I did.  I arrived at the VC just before 8:30 – the tourists were to meet in front of the building at 9:00 AM.  I saw Ranger Mannie Gentile and got to say a quick “Hello” before he started his busy day – then the SHAF members started showing up.  President Tom Clemens, who put the dinner and tour together for SHAF, was an early arrival, along with Mr. Armstrong with whom I had corresponded for a SHAF newsletter interview (which I posted here).  Outside I was happy to see that friend David Langbart had driven in for the tour.  I’ve stomped many battlefields with David over the past 10 years or so.  At 9:00 AM, about 20 tourists (and two frisky canines) set off on the first part of Vince’s tour, the West Woods (Sedgwick’s division) phase.

I decided to travel light, and since I had been over most of the field before I left my camera at home.  Big mistake, because we ended up crossing the Rt. 65 bypass onto the A. Poffenberger farm, which is not visited very often, and never by me.  So I have no pictures of Hauser’s ridge or the Mary Locher cabin.  David took lots of pictures though, and hopefully he’ll send me a sampling (David has sent me some nice photos of Piedmont Station which I have scanned and around which I will write a post this week).

After breaking for lunch (we got sandwiches at the Battleview Deli), and bumping into Ranger John Hoptak in the VC, we toured the Sunken Road (French’s & Richardson’s divisions) phase.  We were joined by Steve Recker, who was unable to make the morning tour due to guide commitments.  Vince led a well structured tour, touching on just about everything – tactics-wise, anyway – covered in his book.  He also let us in on his next project, which will cover the same events from the Confederate perspective.

At lunch David mentioned something with which I have been wrestling.  He thinks the blog might be improved upon by separating the digitization part (the OR posts, for instance) from the original content part.  I’ve thought about that, and if you’ve been following along you probably know that such was my original intent.  But unlike friend Brian Downey, who keeps Antietam on the Web separate from his blog, Behind Antietam on the Web, I lack the technical expertise and time required to build a good, database web site.  Early on, I posted the ORs as pages instead of articles, so they did not show up here on the main blog page.  But I decided I really wanted folks to read and see the stuff, and didn’t get much traffic to those items if I posted them as pages. So for the foreseeable future, at least, I think I’m going to put everything in as articles.  This will become less boring (but hopefully not less informative) once I finish with the official reports, which should be soon.

A good time was had by all, and I headed home about 3:30.  I had to stop once on the way home as I was getting pretty tired, but capped off a fine day with a big win for Penn State at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI (Camp Randall was the training ground for Wisconsin volunteers, and was named for the wartime governor of the state, so that was on-topic).  Hopefully, we’ll be able to put together one or two tours each year.  Check out our website (www.shaf.org) for news of upcoming events, and consider becoming a member – we have an awesome newsletter and a swell new logo!








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