My experiences as an Army officer now retired have given me a fascination for the military aspects of the terrain on the battlefield of Antietam. Subtle and apparently innocuous, the lay of the land had a tremendous impact on the course of the battle. The high ground south of the North Woods, the rock ledges parallel to the Hagerstown Pike, the intermittent streams that cut across the field, and the frowning heights of Cemetery Hill may not be as well known as the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, and Burnside Bridge, but they nevertheless shape the field and the outcome of the battle.
I am a lifelong student of military history with a particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I currently volunteer at the battlefield and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. These words often add a degree of color and character not found elsewhere in their stories. How they got here and where they went afterward is of great interest to me. I closely follow the careers of over 200 West Point graduates who served in the Maryland Campaign. From Generals Lee and McClellan to Lieutenants Gillespie and Custer, these men had a major impact on not just this battle, but also on the entire Civil War. These interests led me to create two Civil War related blogs, South from the North Woods and Antietam Voices, which I regularly update. I am also pursuing a long term research project that studies the leadership of Henry Hunt as Chief of Artillery of the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland Campaign; and the regular artillery batteries of the Union Army that fought at Antietam. The focus is not on artillery technology or tactics but on the officers and senior non-commissioned officers that formed the backbone of these organizations. I am relying on primary sources not usually consulted at the National Archives and Library of Congress as the foundation for my work. Tentatively titled A Severe and Damaging Fire I hope to complete this work and publish it in the next several years.
Born in Buffalo, New York, I received my undergraduate history degree from Niagara University in 1976. I was commissioned in the U.S. Army after graduation and while on active duty, held command and staff positions in the United States and Germany. While assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in 1983, I participated in combat operations on the island of Grenada. I graduated from the US Army Command and General Staff College, and was awarded a Masters Degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. I continued my military career as an Army Reservist where I retired in 2004 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with a total of 28 years of service. I am a 40-year Federal government employee, with over 25 years of supervisory experience. I have spent the last 26 years as an employee and manager for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
My perspectives on history and battle proceed out of my career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign, that fortune could have gone either way. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD.
I am pleased to offer my interpretation to groups and families of all sizes and truly enjoy sharing the story with young and old alike. I particularly enjoy taking Boy Scout and school groups on the battlefield for hikes and other programs. I believe that educating the next generation of youth is very important. I can, upon request, present my program in the uniform of a Union Army artilleryman. Given adequate lead-time, I can also tailor a program to meet your specific interest.
Jim offers the following Specialty Tours: