Born and raised in Benton, Pennsylvania, a small farming community much like Sharpsburg, I enlisted and began my adventure in the U.S. Army in 1984. My 24-year career was spent in and around light infantry units like the 10th Mountain Division, the 25th Infantry Division, and the 101st Airborne Division including combat operations during the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) and Kosovo. During my career as a senior non-commissioned officer, I held a variety of leadership and staff positions at all levels. I hold an undergraduate history degree from Excelsior College and a Master’s Degree in Military History from the American Military University. Upon my military retirement I continued to serve as a defense contractor for both the Army and the Navy. After moving to Maryland I started to volunteer with the National Park Service at the Antietam National Battlefield as a Battlefield Ambassador throughout the park. Over the years I have led military staff rides and guided scout groups on hikes across Shiloh, Chickamauga, Manassas, Gettysburg and Antietam.
In 2015, I moved to Sharpsburg to become the proprietor and Innkeeper of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, Bed & Breakfast.
My interest in the American Civil War and the Battle of Antietam in particular occurred many years ago when I was told the story of a young man named Henry. In August of 1862, Henry, who was from Montour County, Pennsylvania answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 300,000 nine-month militia. Henry enlisted in the ‘Danville Fencibles’ which was comprised of men mostly from the Danville Iron Works. Before the end of the month they were mustered into service as Company A, 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment and in defensive works outside Washington.
With General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate invasion into Maryland, they were quickly assigned to Brigadier General Nathan Kimball’s First Brigade, 3rd Division, Second Army Corps, alongside three veteran regiments. In just over a week’s time Henry and the 132nd Pennsylvania would receive their ‘baptism of fire’ fighting for a Sunken Road among the fields and farmsteads that reminded them so much of home.
Henry survived the battle at Antietam as well as the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville unscathed. After being mustered out he returned home to Danville to become a successful businessman, farmer, and family man. This story was passed down to me through the generations, as Henry Vincent was my great-great Grandfather.
Come join me at the Antietam National Battlefield to walk the Sunken Road and the pristine countryside to hear the stories of other men like Henry Vincent and understand their experience during the bloodiest day in American history. I look forward to seeing you at the battlefield!