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.

Now I Need a Nap

16 09 2007


I’m back from a wonderful but tiring couple of days at the best park in the NPS, Antietam National Battlefield.  Batteries are recharged, but I need a little rest all the same.  In the following, click on the thumbnails for full size images.

I left Pittsburgh at 6:15 Saturday morning and arrived at the visitor’s center around 9:30 to pick up a tour schedule and a long sleeved T-shirt that I found for $10 – I heard on the radio that the temperature wouldn’t go much over 70 degrees.  The parking lots were already filling up, and in fact I saw Superintendent John Howard have to park on the other side of the old Hagerstown Pike.  I spoke quickly with rangers Mannie Gentile and John Hoptak and Virtual Antietam tycoon Steve Recker before leaving for the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival in town.

At the Save Historic Antietam Foundation booth I met up with fellow board members Bill Maharay, Don Macreadie, and Tom Clemens.  In short order we were joined by board members Dana Shoaf, Paula Reed and John Schildt, Tom’s better 89% Angela Clemens, and SHAF web master and fellow blogger Brian Downey.

window.jpgWe hung for awhile at the booth and schmoozed the crowd, then Bill and I walked over to the former German Reformed Church (now the Christ Reformed Church) to see the recently refurbished and rededicated stained glass windows of the 11th and 16th Connecticut regiments, as well as the hopefully soon to be restored Pennsylvania GAR window and the rest of this gem of a building.  The Reverend Delancey Catlett helpfully and patiently answered a myriad of questions – go here to learn more about the church and the windows.  Bill and I walked back to the festival, and I accompanied Brian back down to the church after retrieving my camera.  Here’s a picture of the impressive 16th CT window – my camera doesn’t do it justice.

baracz.jpgAfter watching the battle of the (Rebel and Union) bands and hearing the benediction back at the festival, Brian and I drove up to the VC and spoke briefly with rangers Gentile and Hoptak once more.  I also saw author Mark Snell in the bookstore, but didn’t get a chance to speak with him.  Brian and I had to scoot over to the Burnside’s Bridge parking area for the start of a walk of the 9th Corps assault and final attack, led by Ranger Brian Baracz.


bridge.jpgIt was a crystal clear day, a little cool but not so cool that I couldn’t shed my long sleeved shirt.  We walked the new trail east of the bridge, and got to see the long obscured view photographed by Alexander Gardner so famously in 1862 (see here).  Here’s my version:

We crossed back over the creek and hit the final assault trail.  I did some work on the Otto Farm Lane on a SHAF work day in 2005, but had not walked the trail before.  Brian had with him some Antietam on the Web maps of his own creation (based on the Carman maps) which really helped interpret things for us.

brass.jpgAfter 2.5 miles and 2.5 hours on the field, we went back to the VC – specifically the New York monument – for an artillery demonstration, which is always a good time.  Love those polished brass Napoleons.  Also love things that go boom.  And there were two of them!


boys.jpgDuring the demo we spoke a bit with Ranger Hoptak and I drafted him to write an article on General Nagle for the SHAF newsletter.  Here are Brian and John relaxing on the steps of the New York monument at the end of what must have been a long day for John.

Brian and I stopped for a bite and drink at Capt. Bender’s Tavern in Sharpsburg and then headed once again to the VC to meet up with Tom and Angela for Ethan Rafuse’s lecture on McClellan at Antietam.  I’ll have details on that tomorrow.  After the talk, we all headed back to Tom’s house in Keedysville, where Ethan joined us after selling and signing about 12,000 copies of McClellan’s War.  We sat outside on the pleasant patio talking Civil War and other things until the chill drove us inside.  Brian headed home and Ethan back to his hotel, but not before he signed my copies of the McClellan book (a favorite of mine) and his First Bull Run study, A Single Grand Victory (another favorite).  I then retired to the really cool guest room/library addition to the Clemens’ 19th century home.

That’s enough for tonight.  I’ll post more tomorrow, but in the meantime you can read more about the weekend at Brian’s and Mannie’s blogs.

145th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam

13 09 2007


 Miller’s Cornfield



Bright and early (well, probably dark and early) Saturday morning I’ll head down to Sharpsburg for the Heritage Day festivities in town and the anniversary programs at the park.  I’ll spend some time at the Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) booth at the festival (outside Nutter’s Ice Cream Shop), so stop by and say hello if you get a chance.

I’ll be visiting with friend and SHAF president Tom Clemens, and also expect to see fellow bloggers Brian Downey, Mannie Gentile and John Hoptak this weekend, as well as CWTI’s Dana Shoaf who will speak about the 16th CT as part of the SHAF lecture series.  I think most of this group will probably be in attendance at Ethan Rafuse’s lecture Saturday night.  I also hope to take some of the ranger led tours on Saturday and Sunday before heading back home late Sunday afternoon.

I’ll be the guy in the green Jamestown Jammers ball cap.

Nathan George Evans

13 09 2007

Nathan George Evans: born Marion, SC 2/3/1824; nicknamed “Shanks” for his thin legs; brother of Chesley D. Evans, signer of SC ordinance of secession; brother-in-law of CSA general Martin W. Gary; attended Randolph-Macon College in Virginia; West Point Class of 1848 (36 of 38); Bvt 2nd Lt. 1st Dragoons 7/1/48; served on frontier duty in Texas1848-55; 2nd Lt 2nd Dragoons 9/30/49; 1st Lt 2nd Cav 3/3/55; duty in Kansas, 1855-1860; Sioux Expedition, 1855; Capt. (5/1/56 per Heitman, 12/20/55 per Cullum); Cheyenne Expedition 1856; Utah Expedition, 1858; Arkansas River Scout, 1859; Kiowa and Comanche Expedition, 1860; duty in Colorado, 1860; leave of absence, 1860-61; married Ann Victoria Gary, 3/20/60; resigned 2/27/61; Maj. SC Militia, AAG, 1/61; Capt ACSA Cav 3/16/61; Maj. CSA 3/16/61; AAG James Island Forces, 6/61 to 7/20/61; Col. CSA 4th SC Inf, 7/61; 7th Brigade, Army of the Potomac (AotP), 7/20/61 to 10/12/61; BGCSA 10/21/61 (n 10/21/61, c 12/19/61); 4th Brig., 4th Div, AotP, 10-22-61 to 10-24-61; Brg. X, Div. X AotP, 10/24/61 to 11/12/61; 1st Brig. 2nd Div. AotP, 11/12/61 to 12/18/61; 12/18/61 received Thanks of Confederate Congress “for the brilliant victory achieved by them over largely superior forces of the enemy in the battle of Leesburg [Ball’s Bluff]; 3rd Subdistrict, District of SC, Dept of SC, GA & East FL, 12-18-61 to 3/14/62; 3rd Subdist, Dist of SC, , Dept of SC & GA, 3/14/62 to 5/28/62; 2nd Subdist, Dist of SC, Dept of SC & GA, 5/28/62 to 6/19/62; Brig X, 1st Subdist, Dist of SC, Dept of SC & GA, 6/19/62 to 7/8/62; 3rd Brig, Jones’s Div, First Corps, Army of Northern VA (AoNV), 7/8/62 to 8/9/62; Evans’s Brig, Hood’s Div, First Corps, AoNV 8/9/62 to 11/6/62; Evans’s Brig, Dist of NC, Dept of NC, 11/6/62 to 3/3/63; James Island, 1st Subdist, Dist of SC, Dept of SC, GA & FL, 5/15/63 to 5/25/63; Evans’s Brig, Loring’s Div, Army of MS (AoM), 5/25/63 to 6/63; Evans’s Brig, Breckinridge’s Div, Army of TN (AoT), 6/63 to 6/21/63; Evans’s Brig, French’s Div, AoT, 6/21/63 to 8/3/63; Brig X, 2nd Subdist, Dist 1, Dept of SC, GA & FL, 8/3/63 to 9/15/63; arrested by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard for disobedience of orders, Sept. 1863; acquitted of charges 11/5/63; Evans’s Brig, 1st Subdist, Dist of SC, Dept of SC, GA & FL, 3/11/64 to 3/21/64; 1st Subdist, Dist of SC, Dept of SC, GA & FL, 3/21/64 to 10/17/64; wounded after falling from his horse, 4/16/64; 2nd Subdist, Dist of SC, GA & FL, 10/17/64 to 11/5/64; failed to secure a command through to the end of the war; no record of parole; high school principal, Midway, AL, until his death on 11/23/68; buried Tabernacle Cemetery, Cokesbury, SC.

Sources: Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy, Vol II, pp 365-366; Eicher & Eicher, Civil War High Commands, pp 228-229,793; Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U. S. Army, Vol. I, p. 410; Silverman, Thomas & Evans, Shanks: The Life and Wars of General Nathan G. Evans, CSA; Wert in The Confederate General, Vol II, pp 107-108; Warner, Generals in Gray, pp 83-84. 


 Photo credits: a, b, c –; d –



12 09 2007


I promise to post a biographical sketch of one of the real heroes, if not THE hero, of the Confederacy at Fist Bull Run, Colonel Nathan G. Evans.  This will be the first sketch of a Confederate posted to this site.  I think that we’ve been taking enough about Evans’ OR that it’s high time I posted that, and if you haven’t discerned the pattern yet, I pair the ORs with the sketches.

I’m also going to set up a page with links to the biographical sketches I have posted.

On a related note, I sent an email to Art Bergeron at the U. S. Army Heritage & Education Center (formerly the U. S. Army Military History Institute USAMHI) regarding any capture of flags by Wheat’s Battalion at Bull Run (see this post).  Art is an authority on Louisiana in the Civil War.  He was on the road when he responded to my email, and promised to look into the issue when he gets back to his materials.

In Print is In Print, No Matter How Fine the Print

10 09 2007

acw1108.jpgI received an email and a phone call from friends over the weekend to let me know that the November issue of America’s Civil War magazine is out, and I grace its pages once again.  It’s a little different this time, and if I hadn’t asked my buddies to be on the lookout for my name, they undoubtedly would have missed it altogether.




Earlier this summer, editor Dana Shoaf asked if I would consider being a contributing writer for the magazine in addition to sharing Reviews in Brief duties.  As a contributing writer, I’m expected to write three pieces for the magazine each year, and to discuss random topics with the editor from time to time.  I’m to write Reviews in Brief for new releases in capsule form, not as detailed or as critical as the full blown reviews.  Each column will typically cover three to five books.

A few very cool things attach to this offer, which I eagerly accepted: I get free books; I get paid to write the reviews; the reviews count toward my three-piece commitment; and I get listed in the masthead of each issue as a Contributing Writer.  Not bad.  And as you can see from the list, I’m in some pretty good company.

As we talked about here, Dana has moved on to take the helm of Civil War Times Illustrated (sorry, I’m set in my ways and haven’t dropped Illustrated from the title).  I’m now working with Tobin Beck at America’s Civil War.  Tobin seems pretty cool so far based on emails.  No, he is not named for the author of Tobin’s Spirit Guide made famous in the film Ghostbusters.  I asked.

I’m going to do my best to write at least three more posts this week.  Not because I feel compelled to write something for the sake of writing something (I think you readers are smart enough to tell when we bloggers do that), but because there are some things I’ve promised to write which I haven’t got around to writing. 

Also, a couple of comments seem to have slipped past the email notification I usually get from WordPress each time a new comment gets posted.  I think I have found and replied to any that begged a reply.

Slocum Bio

6 09 2007


slocum.jpgHenry W. Slocum was the colonel of the 27th NY Volunteer Infantry in Col. Andrew Porter’s brigade of Col. David Hunter’s division of McDowell’s army at Bull Run.  He was wounded while withdrawing up Matthews Hill in response to the unexpected appearance of Hampton’s Legion.  Slocum recovered and went on to lead a corps in the Army of the Potomac and rose to army command under fellow Bull Run veteran William T. Sherman.

slocumbook.jpgThe other day I picked up a new biography of Slocum, Sherman’s Forgotten General, by one Brian C. Melton, an assistant professor of history at Liberty University.  This is the only modern biography of Slocum as far as I know.  You can download an older one of him here.  Given his role at Bull Run I felt obligated to buy the book, though I did so not without some misgivings.  The chapter on Gettysburg is subtitled McClellan at Gettysburg by Proxy.  Oh boy. 

The first thing I do when I see something like this is check the bibliography and notes to see who the author cites when referring to McClellan.  Sadly, I found the usual suspects, or more specifically the usual suspect – unfortunately my vow of silence prevents me from typing his name.  Also, while Melton’s bibliography does list Ethan Rafuse’s study of First Bull Run, A Single Grand Victory, that same author’s now or soon to be standard study of McClellan before and during the Civil War, McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, is nowhere to be seen.   And Melton’s book is a 2007 release.  Not a good sign.

But I’ll withhold judgment until I read the book – I have to be fair.  I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get to it, but when I do I’ll at least talk about the Bull Run parts here.  And yes, I know I still owe you the recap of the Bull Run bits of the Heintzelman book.  There are quite a few things I’ve promised to write about that I just haven’t been able to get to.