I’ve added a new tool on AotW: an interactive tree diagram display for the Orders of Battle (OOB) of each of the main armies in Maryland. You can click any “node” (dot) on the diagram to drill down further into an Army Corps/Wing, Division, or Brigade at Sharpsburg. Each of the unit names is also a link to a page with more information about it.

I hope this new way of looking at the command organizations will be useful. I find the trees are a lot of fun to play with, too.  Here’s a sample of what they look like:

Give ’em a try and let me know what you think! Start at the main OOB page and look for the tree symbol.

Site Redesign Complete

20 February 2018

Antietam on the Web was a bit overdue for an overhaul: some of the PHP code had been deprecated (gone obsolete), much of the HTML was clumsy and likewise obsolete, and the site navigation didn’t make it easy to find the information on the site. Most of the navigation dated from 2005, and even the newest PHP and HTML code was last updated in 2010.

So I re-wrote and re-organized the whole thing.

The content is now gathered into big clusters for people (soldiers & units), places (maps), events (narrative),  and features (special projects).  I hope you’ll find it easier and more intuitive to use. It’ll certainly run more efficiently and be easier for me to maintain.

Here’s a quick visual comparison, new vs. previous home page design.

I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Front page imagery

17 March 2014

Antietam Battlefield's Burnside Bridge, Sharpsburg, Maryland
Antietam Battlefield’s Burnside Bridge (between 1980-2006, by Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress)

The home page of Antietam on the Web is really just a simple table of contents decorated by a photograph taken on the battlefield. Since I did a major redesign/simplification of the site in 2010, I’ve used about half a dozen pictures to represent the place and the history of Antietam.  Here are their stories.

The Antietam Roster

7 August 2012

The number of people present on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 cannot be precisely known, but it must have been large. Ezra Carman estimated troops actually engaged on September 17th at about 85,000 (51,536 Union, 32,851 Confederate), with thousands in reserve and in support roles nearby. The armies’ mustering strengths in the first week of September were as great as 85,000 and 65,000, respectively. Adding in the Federal garrisons at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, along with local and detached units along the railroad and Potomac River, I think there were something like 160,000 soldiers on the Campaign.

I’d like to know all their names, and get them listed on Antietam on the Web (AotW) so their families, researchers, and other interested people can find them. I can’t possibly get them all, I know. No one could, but I’m working on it.

So long, GeoCities

17 October 2009

The end of an era.

GeoCities announce logo

Yahoo! GeoCities, our free web site building service and community,
is closing on October 26, 2009.

Your GeoCities site will no longer appear on the Web

After years of playing with Antietam battle information and biography on paper, then in spreadsheets and text files, I started putting it online in 1992. I had an email account with a community organization and a little FTP space on their server. The Gopher service was my friend.

When I learned about web browsing and hypertext, I saw before me the holy grail. Finally – an effective way to tie all the people and event threads together. I did a little poking about and found GeoCities’ free hosting. The price was attractive, so I opened Antietam on the Web there in November 1996…

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 :)

JEB Stuart in Maryland

22 August 2007

It is well that Antietam on the Web does not depend entirely on one person for new material, as I am again overwhelmed with my vocation and necessarily neglecting this avocation. Thankfully, AotW is also served by a large group of people who each contribute in many ways, large and small. We’re at 85 enrolled Members now, with hundreds more contributing less ‘officially’ over the years.

Stuart rides around the AoP, June 1862click to see larger image

One of our newest members, Larry Freiheit, has done some fine research on the War, and has offered a capsule analysis of JEB Stuart’s performance on the Maryland Campaign of 1862 to be our latest Featured Exhibit. It’s been a while since we put up a new exhibit, so I’m very glad to have Larry’s help.

I’m slowly working through Larry’s paper, formatting paragraphs and his abundant footnotes for the web, but I wanted to get some of the highlights out: teasers, I guess, for the complete work due in a few days. I hope he won’t mind my taking a few nibbles out of the whole to whet the appetite …

  • … Stuart's actions during this campaign were part of and controlled by Lee's late 1862 strategy and must be evaluated in light of his tactical moves implementing that strategy …
  • There was no reason for Lee to believe that the slow-moving Federal army was going to be such a threat that unusual expediency or detailed instructions on his part were needed. Stuart, as the cavalry division commander reporting directly to Lee, could not help but be influenced by this relaxed control of his army commander, but the danger with Stuart was that the “Gay Cavalier” needed tighter control and guidance than any of Lee's other top commanders…
  • … during the Maryland Campaign, Stuart's penchant for frivolity came into play arguably detrimentally affecting his performance … Stuart's mood of jollity and lack of serious concern about the enemy [early in the campaign] prevailed and infected his staff. It is likely, however, that this mood was at least partially influenced by Lee's relative calm state of mind believing that the Union advance was typical of what he saw of the events during the Peninsular Campaign …
  • Lee relied on Stuart for intelligence of the enemy's moves but also used other available means … but given the results of his actions during this campaign based on what he knew, Lee's intelligence gathering was inadequate. … [h]owever, it is also true that McClellan's intelligence in this generally friendly country was little better than Lee's. Stuart and Pleasonton maintained fairly effective cavalry screens thwarting both Union and Confederate efforts to gauge the other's movements.
  • Stuart's ride from Harper's Ferry to Sharpsburg to personally bring the good news about its fall to Lee (about which Lee had already received news) can be viewed as another of his unnecessary grandstanding exploits despite his statement that Jackson asked him to do so. Here, as later at Gettysburg, Lee had no time to coddle Stuart and met his report with a brusque reply.
  • His screening efforts prior to and including the Frederick sojourn were at least good; rearguard actions from Frederick to South Mountain and his noteworthy defensive actions in Sharpsburg especially at Nicodemus Hill with his artillery are generally viewed as very good; his miscues at the South Mountain gaps and Harper's Ferry are recognized as failures…

Of course posting bullets this way is not entirely fair to Mr Freiheit — being out of context and unsupported by his notes, so I’ll get his complete piece up on AotW as soon as I can. I’ve been enjoying his perspectives, and wanted to share; and it’s taking me way too long to prepare for publication.

Update Monday 8/27

Larry’s complete article is now up on AotW. Very fine.


The illustration above is of General Stuart at the head of his column on the famous ride around the Federal Army of the Potomac in June 1862 (click for larger view). The original lithograph by Henry Alexander Ogden was published in about 1900, and is at the US Library of Congress.

People’s Choice Awards

8 August 2007

No, not television, the American Civil War on the web.

I’m knocked over by Civil War Interactive’s (CWi) new list of the Top 20 Civil War Websites, on which Antietam on the Web hits #4 (with a bullet, so to speak).

Top 20 Award graphic from CWi

It’s very cool also to see blogs on the CWi list for the first time. Dmitri’s Bookshelf, Eric’s Ranting, and Mannie’s Rangerousness are all there. Hearty congratulations to them and all the online treats in the 2007 Top 20!

Thanks to the voters and to Joe Avalon at CWi for hosting the poll. Thanks also to John David Hoptak for cuing me to the results (Yankee huzzah?).

Kickstarting the oh-seven

3 January 2007

This humble blog is off to a flash-bang start in 2007, thanks to you – the Reader of the Year.

9rules logo

A big ‘hello’ to all my new brothers and sisters at the 9rules Network and to all the people who have already found this blog through the network. Over the last couple of years 9rules has become an excellent place to discover high value blogs, on all sorts of subjects. I’m glad to now be a part of that dynamic community. And yes, there are nine rules behind the name. I identify most closely with #4: Simple is Beautiful.


A big shout-out also to Harry Smeltzer for his excellent article on Civil War blogs in the current issue of America’s Civil War magazine.

ACW March 2007 Cover top

Although there are dozens of fine ACW blogs out there–most better than mine–Harry made me and this blog look particularly good. Very nice press. Thanks Harry!

So … another big ‘howdy’ to the readers who are joining us as a result of that piece. It’s good to see all the new faces.

To all our readers: I hope you’ll find something you can use and enjoy here, and that you’ll feel free to comment often and let me know what you think.

Thanks again and happy New Year to all of us!

This past week I was reminded of a website maintenance chore I’ve been neglecting. An observant and sympathetic reader noted our link to the Meade Archive was broken because the site had moved. This kind of thing happens all the time, of course.

Cross-linking to other information is the best thing about the Web, but also its Achilles’ heel. Sites move, change, and disappear at an alarming rate. I have, at this point, thousands of links from within AotW to other sites. If there were dozens or even a hundred, I might be able to click on them every three months or so, to check to see that they still work.

Xenu button

Since that’s not practical, I depend on a lovely little automatic tool called the Xenu Link Sleuth (review w/screenshots). It’s a Windows desktop program–written by Tilman Hausherr–that runs through the site checking every link and reporting results. It’s quite fast, and also free. I’ve using it for 4 or 5 years now, and recommend it highly.

Xenu produces a variety of reports to show broken links, redirects, and other link issues. You can control how deeply Xenu spiders your site, include or exclude directories, and configure the reports to meet your needs. Very easy.

Word to the wise for our new digital historians: check those links, prevent link rot. ‘Course, now that I’ve done my first check in about a year, I have a huge pile of issues to chase down and resolve.

It’s not all glamor and glitz, you know.