Author Archive: antietamguides

Finding Antietam: A Guide’s Story, Jim Buchanan

This is the thirteenth essay in our monthly series “Finding Antietam – A Guide’s Story.” Each month, we’ll feature the story of one of our guides and what sparked their interest in Antietam and the Civil War and why they became an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Antietam Battlefield Guide Jim Buchanan shares his story this month.

A unique visitor keeps Jim Buchanan company in the West Woods

I first became involved as a Guide at Antietam National Battlefield through volunteering. After some rounds helping out at the Visitors’ Center desk, I started walking the fields more and more. A couple other volunteers started doing the same and after awhile three or four of us explored the fields together, comparing notes, asking questions, and enjoying the beauty that the field has to offer. These informal excursions usually involved food, and eventually breakfast or lunch at the local eatery called the Red Byrd was added to the itinerary. As volunteers, we also started posting ourselves at particular stops on the tour route. I chose to set up shop at Stop 5, the Philadelphia Brigade Park.

I did so for two reasons. First, the shade offered by the abundant trees at that part of the field kept me comfortable as I set out my camp chair, foldable table, and waited for visitors to amble by. In those days (about 15 years ago), posting at Stop 5 meant that maybe 15 visitors would come by in a six-hour period. Sitting there, I would see folks coming down from the Cornfield heading south along the Hagerstown Pike. They would slow down at the turn off to the Philadelphia Brigade, idle for a few seconds, and then continue on to the Sunken Road. Bus caravans wouldn’t even bother to slow down. It was a lonely volunteer post. But it gave me time to read and that was the second reason. Time spent reading under a maple tree pulls you chapter by chapter, article by article, into the Antietam narrative. At first occasionally and then regularly other volunteers would join me in the shade as the afternoon grew late. They would join the camp with their own foldable chairs and we would go into the early evening puzzling the mysteries of the field. Continue reading →

Finding Antietam: A Guide’s Story, Matt Borders

This is the twelfth essay in our monthly series “Finding Antietam – A Guide’s Story.” Each month, we’ll feature the story of one of our guides and what sparked their interest in Antietam and the Civil War and why they became an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Antietam Battlefield Guide Matt Borders shares his story this month.

Matt atop Kill Deer Mountain

When it comes to my involvement with Antietam National Battlefield I can honestly say it grew out my love of Civil War history as a whole. I got hooked on this history when I was nine years old, after a family vacation that had included a stop at Gettysburg National Military Park. I was fascinated by the idea that the country had torn itself apart and had managed to, albeit imperfectly, stitch itself back together. This was the point I began to understand the power of these historic landscapes to relate to visitors and to tell their stories.

I devoured pretty much anything Civil War-related through high school, aided by a best friend who was easily as big a nut as I was. It was during this period I got involved with reenacting and living history, portraying Union artillery up in Michigan. It was a good hobby and gave me the briefest glimpse into what the Civil War might have been like for the men in the ranks. It was also at this time that I began to consider a career in history.

After a brief stint in pre-Vet, I registered as a history major at Michigan State University. I was fortunate to have a variety of supportive professors that not only encouraged my passion for history but challenged me to look at the larger context of history, how the American Civil War plays into American and indeed world history as a whole. Those lessons stuck with me and along with my interest in the historic landscapes themselves, I cast about looking for a summer internship or job that could aid in this. Thus in the summer of 2002, I got picked up as an intern at Antietam National Battlefield.

I thought I prepared myself pretty well. I read the classic works on Antietam and had a good idea of the flow of the battle. It was only after getting here and working with the rangers and volunteers that I realized just how little I actually knew about the campaign and how the battlefield terrain dictated the movements and positions of the armies. I had a lot to learn! Continue reading →

Finding Antietam: A Guide’s Story, Justin Mayhue

This is the eleventh essay in our monthly series “Finding Antietam – A Guide’s Story.” Each month, we’ll feature the story of one of our guides and what sparked their interest in Antietam and the Civil War and why they became an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Antietam Battlefield Guide Justin Mayhue shares his story this month.

Justin Mayhue and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in 2018.

I was introduced to the Civil War by my father at an early age. As the years past, I took my interest to a higher level. I listened intently to my mentors at the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable. I developed a keen interest in relics and memorabilia. Antietam is my home battlefield since I was born and raised in Washington County. Becoming a guide in the early days of the program was a natural fit for me. It certainly is not a job, It is my passion.  Keeping the memories and sacrifices of the fallen alive is important to me. I have given over 1,150 tours and counting.

 

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