John D. Hoptak

John Hoptak

John Hoptak

For eight years, it was my great pleasure to work as a Park Ranger at Antietam National Battlefield, one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields in the nation. I continue to work for the Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park. However, I return to Antietam every chance I get and am proud to be a licensed guide. The study of the American Civil War has been a lifelong passion of mine; indeed, it was visits to places like Gettysburg and Antietam when I was quite young that fostered this fascination.  I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Kutztown University in 2000, a Master’s Degree in history from Lehigh University in 2003, as well as an Instructional I Teaching Certificate in Pennsylvania. Since 2008 I have also been employed as an Adjunct Instructor at American Military University, where I teach courses in American history, Civil War history, and Mexican-American War history.

I really enjoy writing and have authored several books and articles, most recently Confrontation at Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost, and The Battle of South Mountain, both published by The History Press (2012 and 2011, respectively) as part of its Civil War Sesquicentennial Series. In addition, in 2011, I wrote Antietam: September 17, 1862 for the Western Maryland Interpretative Association, a concise, 90-page guide to the Maryland Campaign and Battle of Antietam. In addition to these books, I have written First in Defense of the Union: The Civil War History of the First Defenders (2004), Our Boys Did Nobly: Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam (2009), They Will Be Remembered By A Grateful People: Civil War Heroes of Schuylkill County (2009), and Antietam Trivia (2009). My articles have appeared in several publications, including America’s Civil War and Pennsylvania Heritage. I do my best to keep active John in matters of historic preservation and among other ventures, I led the effort to place historical tablets in the city of Pottsville in honor of General James Nagle, and recently concluded a nation-wide campaign to restore the 48th Pennsylvania monument at Antietam by replacing the missing sword from the Nagle statue.

As a native of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, my major focus of study has been the 48th Pennsylvania, a regiment recruited from my native area. In November 2008, I launched a blog documenting the history of the regiment. This blog can be found at:

Antietam is an incredible place and what happened here must rank among the most important events in American history, for it was here that Lee’s first invasion of Union soil was turned back, where the Union army emerged victorious, and where Abraham Lincoln would find his platform for announcing a proclamation of emancipation. It was also the place of great suffering and great sacrifice, which has been remarkably well preserved.


One response

  1. I have taken your tours at Gettysburg – always learn new things. I am interested in Antietam due to my research of the 128th Pa. I need to tell a friend about your 48th Pa blog. His great-great grandfather was in the 48th. He was a carpenter and according to his pension records, he was in the mine.

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