This is the tenth 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 Randy Buchman’s interest in the battle grew from an eighth-grade school project.
In the fall of 1968 in my eighth-grade history class in New Jersey, the teacher assigned a project that we could each pick one Civil War battle about which to write a research paper. I chose Antietam for two reasons. First, it is a very cool-sounding word (that in Indian talk means “fast-flowing waters”). And secondly, I knew this was the biggest battle in the state of Maryland. And having a beloved older sister and brother-in-law who lived in the Baltimore area, I was fascinated with all things related to the state.
Soon after finishing the paper, my family celebrated Thanksgiving together in Baltimore. The next day, I talked my father and brother-in-law into driving me an hour west to visit the historic Antietam National Battlefield. It was a cold day with sleet and freezing rain, but I was totally in my element. In retrospect, that was my first narrative tour of the Battlefield as I excitedly told my family about the events surrounding the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, and Burnside’s Bridge.
I could have never imagined at that time that 26 years later I would answer the call of a Hagerstown area church to come serve as their pastor and that I would build a home on the Potomac just miles from the historic battlefield. It was a joy to live so close to this sacred place of special interest and to grow into a deeper understanding of the unique place of this battle and of the Maryland Campaign within our nation’s history. Continue reading →
This is the ninth 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 Steve Stotelmyer has been visiting for as long as he can remember.
Ever since I can remember Antietam has always been a special place. I can truthfully say that I have been visiting Antietam since before I was born. I have a treasured old black and white photo of my mother and father at the top of the observation tower at Bloody Lane and mom has the proverbial baby bump and it is me. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my parents picnicking at the Philadelphia Brigade Park and playing Scrabble on a lazy Sunday afternoon while me and my sisters played around (and on) that towering monument. I also remember Saturday afternoon visits to the concession/souvenir stand at Bloody Lane. Dad would get me a soda and candy bars (for a quarter) and we would always end up at the tower.
This is the eighth 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 Joe Stahl has had an interest in the Civil War since he was growing up in the Midwest.
How did I end up at Antietam? Growing up in the Midwest, the Civil War was something I read about. When I took a job in Alexandria, Virginia, many of the battlefields became accessible to me.
Soon I started to collect items from the Civil War and writing about them. When I retired, I decided to move close to a battlefield. I chose Antietam as I believe it is close to being a “pristine” field.
After I moved to Keedysville I was looking to become a volunteer at the Park. Dr. Tom Clemens suggested to me that I might consider becoming a guide. This would allow me to share items from my collection with visitors to the park. So, in April 2011 I became an NPS guide at Antietam. Since I have collected individual soldiers’ identification discs and identified images (called CDVs) these allow me to put a face on a soldier. I feel it brings to life these soldiers that were on this ground that day in September 1862. My collection allows me to tailor my tours to the visitor’s interests. A number of times I have been able to guide people to the location where their ancestor’s unit was on the field and show them an image(s) of another soldier that would have fought alongside their ancestor.
So, what is Antietam to me? It’s a place to go to remember the soldiers who fought here, to walk in their footsteps and contemplate what they might have been thinking and experiencing that bloody day in our past.