June 21, 2009

Yesterday's Trip

Our "staff ride" to Antietam was pretty slick. We started at South Mountain, then to Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg, and then the battlefields of September 17, 1862, near the creek that gave the battle its name. Our guide was a member of the faculty who knew his stuff, provided dramatic readings at various places, and gave us his take on the events at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.

Factoids: (i) General officers are memorialized with a marker which consists of a cannon barrel mounted vertically in a block of stone, muzzle first, and placed where they fell. One general died some twenty minutes into his first command and his first battle. (ii) Coffee played a role in the campaign--often one side or the other stopped to brew coffee before continuing the attack. There is a rather large monument to a certain master sergeant of Ohio Volunteers who was recognized for bringing coffee and hot food to his men under fire. The man was William McKinley. (iii) Clara Barton's first big test was Antietam. The Union had no system for evacuating men from the battlefield at that time, a situation which would be rectified by Gettysburg.

The only down side was the bug I picked up late the day before. By the middle of the afternoon, I had a low grade fever, a hacking cough, and felt like I had been beaten with a board. Fortunately, we were chauffered around in a bus yesterday so all I had to do upon our return was stumble to my room, swallow some over the counter stuff, and sleep it off. Feeling better today but I laid low all day and gave up my plan of indulging in one of my favorite past-times: showing up at Robbo's house with short notice and mooching off the hospitality of Robbo and The Butcher's Wife.

Yips! from Robbo: Just as well, as you would have found Orgle Manor emptied of its denizens. As it happened, we were taking the elder Llama-ettes up to camp in Pennsylvania. Our route, I-270, goes right over South Mountain and then skirts just to the north of Sharpsburg. As is usually the case when coming across the crest and heading down the west face, I almost put the car over the guardrails several times as I craned to look out over the valley and imagine the positions of the two armies. Really ought to stop to do that, but the mountain-top pull off is still closed for renovations.

I also indulged in my favorite pastime of boring the gels and teh Missus stiff with my Cliff Clavin-like recitations of historickal and geographical factoids.

Posted by LMC at June 21, 2009 07:25 PM | TrackBack

Anytime you want to see McKinley's birthplace or national memorial, let me know. I'm not too far away from either.

My OH doors are always open to llamas.

Posted by: GroovyVic at June 21, 2009 09:28 PM


An irresistable force meets an immovable object.

RESULT: Slaughter.

Enough said.

Posted by: Tbird at June 22, 2009 08:56 PM

I am so sporry to hear that you became ill. It sounds like a wnderful trip. Next time you might want to rent Robert as a tour guide. (I am sure that I would.)

Posted by: babs at June 22, 2009 09:04 PM

Did the staff ride take you by Pry House? I found McClellan's choice of HQ (across the creek and at least 1.5 miles from the battlefield, with a poor view of it) interesting...

Posted by: ChrisN at June 23, 2009 07:24 PM

I followed up my Gettysburg visit with Antietam in Oct. of 2004. Both places are unbelievably moving and stirring. I only had an hour or two left to do Antietam, so I mostly hit the high points. I liked the comment that said "irresistible force meets an immovable object" Very apt description for Antietam.

Posted by: Ron Whittaker at June 25, 2009 08:28 AM