Sunday, September 23, 2012

Antietam Trip - Part Two

In spite of researching and researching there are still resources I overlooked.  I found that out a few nights ago as I read William A. Frassanito's classic book "Antietam, The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day." 

I had known of this work for a long time but never checked it out until now.

I work as an artist so the study of the artist correspondents and Civil War photographers is of great interest to me.  I try to match images to the narratives on my website to provide a visual idea of location and action that the soldiers of the actual 13th experienced during their service.  I was looking at the same images used in this book via the Library of Congress image database, so I didn't think I was missing anything, which is one reason I delayed getting the Frassanito book.

     I read in the book that one particular landmark was photographed near the cornfield where the "13th Mass." fought, and had one of those 'Eureka' moments  -  Wait, I photographed that!

Those stacked rifles with the kettle hanging down is a monument placed by re-enactors of the 90th PA Vols, Christian's Brigade, the replaced the original in  a ceremony a short while back.

Taking pictures during my guided tour was really an afterthought the morning in July when I toured the battlefield.  I knew there were lots of pictures on line, and that if I wanted to take more pictures, I'd be back later in the week.  But I took another guided tour, this time with a group and never took pictures.

So, during that first tour, photos were an afterthought, but during a pause on the line where Hartsuff's Brigade fought, I thought I'd snap a few photos.  The idea was to 'stitch' the images together in photoshop when I got home, so I could have a panoramic view of what the men in Hartsuff's Brigade saw.  But I was too close and this darn tree was in the way !

After looking through the above book, I realized this was the same spot!  Look closely at the rock outcropping.  I've since added these images to my website page about the battle.

This is near the spot where the right of the 13th Mass. would have joined with the left of the 11th PA.  The 90th PA was in Christian's/Styles Brigade protecting Capt. Ezra Mathews 1st PA Battery, Co. F.  When Hartsuff's line thinned, Coulter ordered the 90th to come forward.  The 13th Mass. was the last regiment of the Brigade to retire, so perhaps they fought along side the 90th for a short while ?

Here's the panoramic on the other side of the tree.
The Visitor Center, near the Dunker Church, is just right of center on the horizon.  The high plateau of ground crowned by Confederate Batteries, that was Gen. Joseph Hooker's military objective the morning of Sept. 17.  The Confederates in the field in this photo, were protecting the artillery.

William Frassanito has dated the Alexander Gardner photograph above, to September 19, 1862; just two days after the battle.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Important Information about Antietam

Jim Rosebrock has posted two important articles regarding history's interpretation of the role Gen'l. McClellan played at the battle of Antietam.  Although I am not a fan of Gen. McClellan, I think if objectivity demands he be given more credit for what he did, rather than him taking all the blame, then he should get the credit.

The first post is here:

South from the North Woods

The second article is by Tom Clemens, whose 2nd volume of Ezra Carman's Antietam campaign is just out.  I read Vol 1, which clearly outlines the restrictions Gen. Henry Halleck put on Gen. McClellan as he moved the Army of the Potomac into Maryland.  (Halleck also dropped the ball when trying to direct Gen. John Pope during the Manassas Campaign.)  Anyway the article clearly states something that should be commonly understood, you cannot separate military operations from politics.

Thanks Jim for the two posts.

My own website page regarding Antietam has a bit of the old bias against McClellan which I will remedy before continuing on with the Fredericksburg Campaign, which I was in the midst of doing before my trip back east.

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.