Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

SHAF Tour - 2nd Corps at Antietam

Expand Messages
  • Harry Smeltzer
    Save Historic Antietam Foundation Sponsors Dinner and Tour Author and historian Marion V. Armstrong will be the featured speaker and tour leader in a
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 5, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      Save Historic Antietam Foundation Sponsors Dinner and Tour



      Author and historian Marion V. Armstrong will be the featured speaker and
      tour leader in a SHAF-sponsored event taking place October 10 & 11, 2008.
      His new book, Unfurl Those Colors: McClellan, Sumner and the Second Army
      Corps in the Antietam Campaign, is receiving critical acclaim and will be
      the featured topic of event. On Friday night, October 10, at 6:30 p.m.,
      SHAF will host a dinner at the Old South Mountain Inn, followed by a lecture
      focusing on the early actions of the campaign. On Saturday morning,
      October 11, Mr. Armstrong will lead a morning walking tour of the Second
      Corps' attack in the West Woods. After a break for lunch (on your own), he
      will lead a walking tour of the Second Corps attack at Sunken Road.



      This is a special event that is a unique opportunity for personal contact
      with a nationally-recognized authority on this portion of the battle of
      Antietam. The cost for the entire program is $50 for SHAF members - the
      public is also invited to attend for $60. Dinner attendance is limited to
      45 due to space limitations. Reservations, details on menu, and start times
      for the walking tours will be posted on SHAF.org, or by calling
      301-432-2996.



      Mr. Armstrong recently took some time to answer some questions for SHAF.



      SHAF: Mr. Armstrong thanks for conducting this tour for SHAF members. Can
      you start off by telling us a little about your background?



      MVA: I'm a native of Maryland, born and raised in Havre de Grace. I
      graduated from the University of Scranton in 1969, and then served six years
      on active duty as an infantry officer with tours in Viet Nam and Korea.
      After that I worked for the Army as a civilian and remained active in the
      Army Reserve. I have had a life long interest in history, which I indulged
      with a master's degree in history from Old Dominion University and a
      doctoral degree from Middle Tennessee State University. After retiring in
      1995, my wife and I moved to Tennessee where I began teaching history as
      adjunct faculty for various colleges in the Nashville area.



      SHAF: What first got you interested in the Battle of Antietam in general and
      the role of the Second Corps in the campaign in particular?



      MVA: I can't remember a time when I was not interested in the Civil War. I
      was a teenager during the Civil War centennial and my father brought me to
      the centennial reenactment of the Battle of Antietam in September 1962.
      That was my first visit to Antietam National Battlefield. Thereafter
      Antietam was always my favorite Civil War battle.



      As I became more knowledgeable about the battle I also became increasingly
      uncomfortable with the standard interpretations of the role of General
      Sumner at Antietam. It always seemed to me that there was more to his
      story. So after completing my master's degree in the early 1990s I decided
      to see if I could discover the details of his actions and orders at
      Antietam. That led to the publication of Disaster in the West Woods, which
      is a defense of Sumner as commander of the Second Army Corps at Antietam.



      For my doctoral dissertation I wanted to do an operational study that would
      illustrate how Civil War tactical doctrine-the subject of my master's
      thesis-was applied and practiced in the field. Since the army corps was the
      operational unit of the Civil War army, and since I already had a large
      amount of research on Sumner and Antietam, the Second Army Corps in the
      Maryland Campaign was the natural choice. I completed the dissertation in
      2004 and it was published earlier this year by the University of Alabama
      Press as Unfurl Those Colors!



      SHAF: Perhaps the most controversial aspect of your book, "Unfurl Those
      Colors", is your argument that Sumner ordered French to attack the Sunken
      Road position, which flies in the face of the conventional interpretation
      that the separation of the corps was unintentional. In brief, on what do
      you base your theory?



      MVA: First, Sumner's reconnaissance as he arrived on the battlefield brought
      him to the high ground in the vicinity of the junction of the Smoketown Road
      and the Mumma farm lane. This was at the point in time when Rhodes's and
      Anderson's brigades were moving into the Sunken Road, something that was
      clearly visible from where Sumner was. Sumner had just received
      instructions from McClellan to continue the attack to the south and west of
      Sharpsburg, which would necessarily involve seizing the West Woods. He
      could not accomplish this and leave the Confederate force in the Sunken Road
      in his rear. His decision was to send Sedgwick's division to the West Woods
      and have French's handle the forces in the Sunken Road.



      Second, after Sedgwick seized the West Woods, Sumner was on the Hagerstown
      Pike in front of the Dunker Church and sent an order to French to press his
      attack. The order was carried by Sumner's son and aide, Captain Sam Sumner.
      Sam did not ride back to the East Woods to find French, which he would have
      done if French were lost or late, but rode east past Tompkins's battery to
      the vicinity of the Sunken Road because he knew this is where French would
      be directing the attack on the Sunken Road. Also, it should be noted that
      the order was to "press the attack," not "begin the attack," because the
      attack on the Sunken Road had been previously ordered.



      Third, French in his battle report mentions Sam Sumner delivering the order
      to press the attack. The point in time when Sam arrived was after French
      had already committed Weber's and Morris's brigades, and based on the order
      he committed Kimball's brigade to the attack. Sedgwick's attack toward the
      West Woods and French's attack toward the Sunken Road were simultaneous
      events that could only have occurred simultaneously if both had been given
      orders to start at the same time.



      SHAF: What do you think of the new trails at the park, specifically the West
      Woods trail?



      MVA: I applaud wholeheartedly the effort to give visitors greater access to
      the battlefield through the development of interpretive trails. This is
      especially true of the West Woods trail. Not only does it allow greater
      access to the limits of Sedgwick's advance, it also allows access to the
      ravine in the West Woods which led Barksdale's brigade to the gap between
      the 125th Pennsylvania and the 7th Michigan. This is what led to the
      reverse suffered by Sedgwick's division. How we interpret the battle is
      based in large measure on what we can see and know of the field itself.
      There is much more of the battlefield available today than ever
      before-thanks in no small measure to the efforts of SHAF-and our
      understanding of the battle is increased exponentially when we are able to
      walk it and see it as the participants did.



      SHAF: Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to or
      wish to accomplish with the upcoming SHAF tour of Second Corps at Antietam?



      Much of my interpretation of the role of McClellan, Sumner, and the Second
      Corps at Antietam is dependent on being able to see the battlefield as the
      participants did. The visual prospective is critical to understanding
      decisions, orders, movements and outcomes during the battle. SHAF and its
      members have been key to acquiring and restoring the battlefield. This
      gives historians an invaluable source for interpreting the battle. On the
      tour I hope to show the SHAF membership how my access to the battlefield
      influenced my interpretations. I owe a large debt of gratitude to SHAF for
      making that resource available.





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Thomas Clemens
      In keeping with the real time nature of this year s Maryland Campaign anniversary Steve Stotelmyer will be doing a real time walk and talk of the morning
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 10, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        In keeping with the real time nature of this year's Maryland Campaign anniversary Steve Stotelmyer will be doing a "real time" walk and talk of the morning engagement at Fox's Gap. Please meet at the Reno Monument at 9:00 AM on Sunday, September 14. The walk will start at the Reno Monument and end at the Reno Monument. The walk will cover about 2 miles and most likely take 2-3 hours (more likely 3). We will be walking on private property normally inaccessible to the public. Participants should dress accordingly. They may want to bring water and insect repellant. There is no charge.
        South Mountain State Battlefield staff will also be conducting a real time walk later in the day covering the afternoon action at Fox's Gap. Site Manager Al Preston has more on that.


        Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
        Professor of History
        Hagerstown Community College



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • G E Mayers
        Tom, Since I can not make it, if Steve has any handouts for his walk, would you kindly ask him to mail me one? IIRC you should still have my snail mail
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 10, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          Tom,

          Since I can not make it, if Steve has any handouts for his walk,
          would you kindly ask him to mail me one?

          IIRC you should still have my snail mail address.

          Yr. Obt. Svt.
          G E "Gerry" Mayers

          To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
          on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
          Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
          the Almighty God. --Anonymous
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
          To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:58 AM
          Subject: [TalkAntietam] Fox's Gap this Sunday


          > In keeping with the real time nature of this year's Maryland
          > Campaign anniversary Steve Stotelmyer will be doing a "real
          > time" walk and talk of the morning engagement at Fox's Gap.
          > Please meet at the Reno Monument at 9:00 AM on Sunday,
          > September 14. The walk will start at the Reno Monument and end
          > at the Reno Monument. The walk will cover about 2 miles and
          > most likely take 2-3 hours (more likely 3). We will be walking
          > on private property normally inaccessible to the public.
          > Participants should dress accordingly. They may want to bring
          > water and insect repellant. There is no charge.
          > South Mountain State Battlefield staff will also be conducting
          > a real time walk later in the day covering the afternoon action
          > at Fox's Gap. Site Manager Al Preston has more on that.
          >
          >
          > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
          > Professor of History
          > Hagerstown Community College
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
        • Thomas Clemens
          I doubt I ll get there Gerry, SHAF has a table at Heritage Festival in Sharpsburg all weekend. And I ve been around Fox s Gap with Steve several times.
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 10, 2008
          • 0 Attachment
            I doubt I'll get there Gerry, SHAF has a table at Heritage Festival in Sharpsburg all weekend. And I've been around Fox's Gap with Steve several times. Sorry.


            Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
            Professor of History
            Hagerstown Community College



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • G E Mayers
            Ok. BTW the Carman info you sent me some time ago has helped with my book quite a bit. Yr. Obt. Svt. G E Gerry Mayers To Be A Virginian, either by birth,
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 10, 2008
            • 0 Attachment
              Ok. BTW the Carman info you sent me some time ago has helped with
              my book quite a bit.

              Yr. Obt. Svt.
              G E "Gerry" Mayers

              To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
              on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
              Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
              the Almighty God. --Anonymous
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
              To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:04 AM
              Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Fox's Gap this Sunday


              >I doubt I'll get there Gerry, SHAF has a table at Heritage
              >Festival in Sharpsburg all weekend. And I've been around Fox's
              >Gap with Steve several times. Sorry.
              >
              >
              > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
              > Professor of History
              > Hagerstown Community College
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.