I first visited Antietam with my family when I was 9 years old. That trip was followed by many other trips to Civil War battlefields and historic sites. While vacations to battlefields and Civil War books no doubt played an important role in my growing interest, the greatest influence was the story of my ancestor, Ellwood Rodebaugh, who fought in our nation’s bloodiest conflict. Elwood was a humble shoemaker from Canton, Pennsylvania, who left his home and his family to fight in a cause much greater than himself. He enlisted and served as a Private in Company D of the 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Along with thousands of his comrades in arms, Elwood took part in the terrible day of fighting which occurred near the banks of Antietam Creek on September 17, 1862. On that date, Elwood became one of the 23,110 casualties of Antietam. His story is a common one for those who fought at Antietam that day, and it reminds us of what the battle truly meant. The men who fought along Antietam Creek 150 years ago forever changed our nation, and their sacrifices are ones that must not be forgotten.
A native of Northeast Ohio, Daniel Vermilya has been working at Antietam Battlefield as a park ranger in the interpretive division since 2010. Dan is a proud alumnus of Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan, where he studied history and politics, writing a thesis on the Battle of Antietam for departmental honors in history. In May 2011, he received his master’s degree from John Carroll University; his thesis discussed the experiences and motivations of Ohio soldiers during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign. This year, Dan has been named the first recipient of Save Historic Antietam Foundation’s (SHAF) Dr. Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholarship Award; for the award, Dan will be researching and studying the strength, composition, and experience of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam. Dan writes and posts regularly on his Civil War blog, Our Country’s Fiery Ordeal, which covers the Battle of Antietam, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, as well as other Civil War related topics. He is also an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Indians, and Philadelphia Flyers (he has eclectic sports allegiances).