Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Report on My Research Trip East - Part 1

     I want to post about my trip to Maryland and Pennsylvania in July.  I will try to continue later with the 'Real Time' posts for the Summer campaign of 1862,  but the posts wont be in real time anymore.  I had to drop everything to prepare for my presentation on the 13th Mass at the Battle of Antietam at the Chambersburg Seminar last July, and I want to report on that.

     I arranged to have  tour a of the Antietam battlefield before the Seminar started.  Battlefield Guide Jim Rosebrock customized a 2 hour tour that traced the footsteps of Hartsuff's Brigade during the battle.  My cousin and her husband joined us for the tour, but more on that later.

     Jim began with an overview of  the Armies and their strategies for the battle. We stood on the high ground just outside the visitor center and looked over the terrain.  After that introduction we hopped in a car and drove out to the 'Upper Bridge' where Rickett's Division crossed Antietam Creek the 16th of Sept., 1862.   The Bridge is not on Park Land, - such is the benefit of booking a guided tour.

     From the bridge we proceeded to the Smoke town road, which still looks very much as it did in 1862.  (this part of the road is also not on Park Land.)  We passed down the road a bit and paused -somewhere by the side of the road very near  where we stopped, the 13th Mass bivouacked for the night of the 16th.  We were using maps from the newly published book "The Maps of Antietam" as a guide.  From here we moved forward to the spot (on park land) where the regiment, (with Hartsuff's Brigade, Rickett's Division)   formed their battle lines in preparation for the advance, very early in the morning on the 17th. It was at this time, Gen. Hartsuff, road forward to do reconnaissance and was wounded.   Looking about we tried to conjecture the direction he took.  We then advanced  - toward the cornfield, where the Brigade met the enemy.

The park recently added two field guns to mark the position of Col Ezra Matthews 1st PA Battery F, which supported Rickett's advance.  We walked out to the guns, which were not there, last time I visited in 2006.  Jim carefully explained the battle, and I shared a few of the stories from the soldiers in the regt.  Then we went back to the car and drove to the furthest point of the brigade's advance.  This is only a brief description of what we did, but it was an invaluable tour.  There are a couple errors on my website which I will be correcting soon.  Particularly useful was Jim's perspective on Gen. McClellan's leadership during the battle.  It was more balanced than the usual story, and I will amend the comments on my web page accordingly, although I am still not a McClellan fan.

     Walking the terrain is so much better than studying maps of the battle from afar, and it helped my presentation - the eyewitness accounts in my talk became clearer - easier to follow and understand.

     The tour was on Sunday morning, and my presentation was not until Wednesday, so I decided to drive up to the Army Heritage Education Center in Carlisle, PA, to spend a couple days there, making copies of 13th Mass Materials in their collection.  I took over 800 digital images, mostly of the letters of John Viles, the arranger of music for the 13th Mass Band, and Albert Liscome of Co. C.  I have been transcribing some of these materials, since coming home, which is why I have not been posting on the blog - but more about that in a future post.

Antietam Ceremonies for the 150th

For now, I would just like to point out the ceremonies the battlefield staff have planned for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle on Sept. 17. Check this out !

Next up, a short bit on the Field Hospital Exhibit at the Pry House, Antietam Natl Battlefield.

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