Antietam Weekend Continued

17 09 2007

I don’t want to turn this blog into a travelogue, but my last post seems to have generated a lot of interest if the hits I received today are any indication.  So I’ll finish up the story for you. Once again, click on the thumbnails for a full size image.

OK, where was I?  Oh yeah.  Early Sunday morning, I enjoyed a nice fresh waffle breakfast with Tom, Angela and young Joe Clemens – and Bomber, the famous Clemens battlefield hound.  I can’t thank the Clemens Clan enough for their hospitality.  Finest kind.

pry.jpgI headed out from Keedysville just before 9:00.  I wanted to at least check out the new West Woods trail at the park before starting for home.  But between Keedysville and the park is the Pry Farm, and I remembered that the Medical Museum in the house had a copy of the Personal Memoirs of John Brinton: Civil War Surgeon for sale.  Brinton was a cousin of George Brinton McClellan who served throughout the war.  So I made the right into the farm.  There was a reenactor encampment there, but all but one fellow seemed to have been off elsewhere.  The museum was closed, but I noticed that the barn door was opened, and I had never been in the barn before so I poked my head in.  Inside were three people, and one of them turned out to be George Wunderlich, director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.  It turned out he was conducting a seminar on the antebellum banjo, something on which he is an expert.  George took the time to give me a little history lesson and I found the whole business fascinating.  I even got to hold one of the beautiful instruments.  George told me that the museum didn’t open until 10:00 AM, and that the seminar would be kicking back up around then and there would be jam sessions later on, so I decided to head over to the park and stop back at the Pry Farm later. 

I checked the schedule of events for Sunday and found that there was a 10:00 AM Ranger Walk on the 2nd Corps that would include the West Woods trail, so I walked over to the New York monument where Ranger Mike Gamble was mustering the troops.


 Once again we had a beautiful day.  Look at that sky behind my favorite Antietam monument.   


Our walk took us to the West Woods, where this ledge demonstrates the sloping terrain west of the Hagerstown Pike that Lee used to his advantage to shuffle troops from point to point unseen by the enemy.


This small monument is just south of the 15th MA lion on the new Hagerstown Rd.  Ranger John Hoptak, who was assisting Ranger Gamble on this walk, told me that this fellow Stetson is a relative of the originator of the famous hat of the same name.  There’s a thread for you to pull, Brian!  Read John’s account of the weekend here. 


Leaving the west woods and heading toward the parts of the field traversed by the 2nd Corps divisions of French and Richardson, we visited the Mumma Farm – only the stone spring house dates from the battle.  A descendant of the family works at the park, and I did see him a couple of times over the weekend. 


Then we passed through the Roulette Farm.


This is the ancient siding of the Roulette Barn.  Mannie has an uncanny knack of making subjects like this interesting.  I, as you can see, do not. 


North of the Sunken Road, Ranger Gamble formed the Irish Brigade for the assault.  He wrapped things up in the lane.  A fine ending to a fine walk, which was again 2.5 miles and 2.5 hours. 


After the walk I went back to the Pry Farm, where I picked up the Brinton book and watched some Signal Corps reenactors at work.  Unfortunately, the musicians had moved along their agenda to discuss next year’s conference, which will apparently take place on Anniversary Weekend again.  I’ll have to try to remember that.



5 responses

18 09 2007
Tom Clemens

Not only was Stetson a relative of the hat maker, his brother, who at one time was president of the NY Bar Asso. was the personal lawyer of J.P. Morgan. That may explain how his brother could afford to fund this monument and the one at the corner of Smoketown Rd and Hagerstown pike.


18 09 2007
aly army

great travelogue! makes me want to be there… could you please email me — I have a question to ask?



18 09 2007
mannie Gentile


It was great seeing you again if only for a moment. Seems that everytime we meet you are vacationing and I’m working. Glad you went on Ranger Mike’s hike. Like the lipgloss said of the chapstick…

“he’s the balm!”



7 10 2007
behind AotW » Blog Archive » A Painter and a Coffin for Two Stetsons

[…] Anniversary weekend at the Antietam battlefield, Harry Smeltzer came upon the stone honoring Lieutenant Colonel John L Stetson. Stetson was killed at the head of the 59th New York Volunteer Infantry, at the farthest reach of the disastrous Federal Second Army Corps advance into the West Woods on 17 September 1862. […]


9 10 2007
Doc C

Went to Antietam on the way to work in Cumberland. Have been there numerous times but thought it would be special to visit on the 17th since have numerous ancestors (20) who fought there, were wounded (5th New Hampshire) and died 16th Conn. Perhaps the most poignant place for me is the rail fence along Hagerstown Pike where my uncle in the 9th La faced off against a cousin in the 2nd Wisconsin. To see the piciture of the dead in the La Brigade and the current area along the pike is perhaps the most stirring civil war site to me.


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