Kevin Pawlak


pawlak-2016In September 1862, the landscape of Western Maryland became the focus of a nation divided in two, the focus of a nation that held its breath as Robert E. Lee’s thus far victorious Confederate army advanced north across the Potomac River to deal the final blow to a United States that seemed to be on its last leg.  Lee began his campaign with the goal of defeating a Union army on northern soil and gaining independence for the eleven states of the Confederacy while Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, and George McClellan, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, struggled to keep the young United States as one nation instead of two.  This decisive campaign culminated along the banks of Antietam Creek in western Maryland and stopped the Confederacy’s quest for independence while helping to grant freedom to a whole race of people and changing the course of the Civil War and of the United States itself.  The importance of the Maryland Campaign cannot be fully understood unless you join me in seeing one of the best-preserved battlefields in the United States and walking in the footsteps of the soldiers and civilians who experienced the bloodiest single day in American history.

I became a student of America’s greatest struggle after my first trip to the Gettysburg battlefield in southern Pennsylvania when I was nine years old.  There, a licensed battlefield guide sparked my interest in the Civil War and it has grown ever since.  I hope that as a guide, I too can inspire others to find their passion and realize how important the Civil War was in shaping the United States that we know today.

I graduated from Shepherd University in 2014 with a major in the Civil War and Nineteenth-Century America.  I write regularly for the Emerging Civil War blog and published my first book in 2015: Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital.  I am also actively involved as a member of the Board of Directors of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association.

I hope you will join me as we traverse the fields of Antietam that were marred by the horrors of war and forever changed the lives of not only the soldiers but also the civilians that lived around the once peaceful town of Sharpsburg, Maryland.  Come with me to the iconic Dunker Church, walk with me through the infamous Cornfield, step into the Bloody Lane, and cross the Burnside Bridge and experience one of the most important days in American history with me at Antietam National Battlefield.

I can accommodate tours of any size and can personalize your tour to fit a particular interest that you may have in the battle.  You can book a tour with me by calling the Antietam Museum Bookstore at 301-432-4329 or 866-461-5180.

10 responses

  1. Welcome to the guide service, Kevin; looks good, You’ll do a great job!

  2. Kevin, congratulations on joining the Battlefield Guides! I hope to be following you soon.

    I just discovered your blog and enjoyed your description of Lawton’s Division. One question: in regard to your statement: “…After suffering heavily from a stand-up brawl with Duryee, the 38th Georgia, to the 61st’s right, advanced to utilize the cover of a rock ledge that lay in their front but were bloodily repulsed by the fire of the 97th New York and 107th Pennsylvania…”, I’m trying to picture the troop positions on the field, particularly the “rocky ledge”. My first thought was the rocky ledge west of the Hagerstown Pike and north of Starke Avenue, but that’s too far west and north of the area you are referring to, correct?

  3. Gerald,
    I’m glad you enjoy the blog. As for this rock ledge used by the 38th and 61st Georgia, I could not find the location, which were based mainly on Carman’s description of the fighting in that end of the battlefield. It is definitely not the famous rocky ledge west of the Hagerstown Pike and north of Starke Avenue. The Carman-Cope maps show many rock ledges in the triangular field formed by the Hagerstown Pike, modern Cornfield Ave., and Smoketown Road. As I’m sure you know, that field is privately owned today and so I was not able to find its exact location but just by looking at the field from any vantage point, many small rock ledges can be seen throughout the field. Unfortunately, this rock ledge used by the Georgians may actually be gone or underneath either Cornfield Ave. or the post-battle house and barn that sits near the intersection of Cornfield Ave. and the Hagerstown Pike.

  4. Thanks for looking into that. There certainly could be a few topographic adjustments in the last 150 years either by park improvements or agricultural activities.

  5. I just got done reading “To Hazard All: A guide to the Maryland Campaign.” I enjoyed it very much. On page 50, you gave reference to the site in Frederick Where it is believed that SO 191 Was found by Mitchell. Can you speak to the evidence you found that lead to the discovery? I would to hear more about it.

    1. Hi Michael,

      The evidence you reference is best explained in a book by Timothy Reese called, “High-Water Mark: The 1862 Maryland Campaign in Strategic Perspective.” Reese found that D.H. Hill’s division moved its camp on September 10 to that location, making it more plausible that this is where the Lost Order became lost as compared to the Best Farm on the Monocacy battlefield.

  6. Kevin
    My great great grandfather Lorenz breidenstine was in the 28th Ohio regiment. We visited Antietam years ago and found the 28th Ohio monument down by Burnsides Bridge. I told my kids that this is where there great great great grandfather was during the battle. We later found out he was sick in a hospital starting September 12 in Washington DC. He missed the entire campaign. However the 28th Ohio played a major part in the battle at Piedmont. He was at that one. Just read your book Ohio at Antietam. Very good. Lorenz survived the war and is buried in the veterans cemetery in Dayton Ohio

  7. Mr. Pawlak,
    I just watched your presentation on C-Span on Fitz John Porter. Awesome. Your energy was incredible. Your knowledge and preparation were top shelf. Very impressive. I record a lot of C-Span history based programs. Your presentation is top 1%. Thanks for tour hard work. Keep up the good work.
    Matt S
    Wash State

    1. Thanks very much Matt! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Hi Kevin. I was chatting with Ryan Duffy at the Holland Land Office today and mentioned that I watched your 1/18 presentation on YouTube. Very well done.
    I have read some of your stuff , but didn’t realize you went to Notre Dame High School , as did I (Class of 1964). I have been to Antietam, South Mountain, Harper’s Ferry , Frederick and Shepherdstown a bunch of times. I am currently reading Steven Cowie’s “When Hell Came To Sharpsburg “.
    Glad to see an ND grad pursuing a history career. Keep up the great work. Dave Reilly.

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