New required reading

5 February 2008

Your assignment: catch up with some new and fascinating online work about the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Recent and ongoing now is an excellent discussion about who did what at Sharpsburg on TalkAntietam*. Beginning with fine-grain research Dean Essig is doing for his new wargame–with other genuine experts weighing in–the group is exploring the reality of the “numbers” of the battle. The unintentional but inescapable conclusion here may be that it’s impossible to acurately quantify the battle. See what you find …

from Harper's Weekly, 24 October 1863 (Son of the South)
from Harper’s Weekly, 24 October 1863 (Son of the South).

Be sure also to catch the two latest feature articles Larry Freiheit has contributed to AotW. At the top is his view of Military Intelligence in Maryland from both General’s perspectives. You’ll find a number of ‘hmmm’ moments in that piece. Larry’s also the author of an analysis of JEB Stuart’s cavalry at and before Sharpsburg, which was posted just before the anniversary last year. Mighty fine.

Also fresh is John David Hoptak’s masterful biographical sketch of Brigadier James Nagle. Ranger Hoptak is highly fluent on Nagle and the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, as you probably know from his blog. Thanks to the Save Historic Antietam Foundation for sharing that work online. When you see (or visit) next, ask John how you can help restore the General’s sword, too.


* Anyone can read the messages on TalkAntietam, but you’ll have to join the group and be approved to contribute. But that’s easy, trust me. I know the group moderator really well; I can get you in :)

National Pike blogged

25 January 2008

I’ve just stumbled over a fascinating project of Christoper Busta-Peck’s covering the Old National Road/National Pike. You probably know that part of that historic thoroughfare was on the path of the Armies during the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

National Pike marker (recreated, C. Busta-Peck)
National Pike milestone, recreated (C. Busta-Peck)

Christoper is a librarian at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, and is using the blogging medium to perfection, as I see it, to illuminate history right under our noses. History, I dare say, most of us have missed. Do go see his excellent use of GoogleMaps to cover the milemarkers and other sights along the Road, in addition to the range of other fine posts on the subject.

When he started in September 2007, Christopher explained:

This blog is my attempt to describe and share my journeys on the National Pike, as it winds its way from Baltimore to Cumberland, Maryland, as well as the National Road, from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. I plan to include plenty of photographs, maps to describe the journey.

The blog post that finally caught my attention today is about the series of 19th Century stone bridges over the Antietam and the 1910 book on the subject by Helen Ashe Hays. He’s scanned and posted the superb photos from that volume. Both of my readers will immediately recognize the spans in his post as brothers and sisters of what’s now known as Burnside Bridge.

Bravo. Brilliant!

library card

Man, oh man, am I having fun with my mini-vacation. I promised myself a few days between Christmas and New Year’s–after family visits and home chores–to devote to research and writing for Antietam on the Web. Most people would see this as an odd use of valuable free time, but I find it therapeutic play.

Today I’m pulling threads in a huge source that’s new to me: the HeritageQuest database service from ProQuest. It’s a searchable collection of thousands of books and other documents. I’d not looked into it before, thinking wrongly that it was only genealogical information. If you’re as lucky as I, and your library has a subscription, you can get to it from home by the web at the price of a library card…