22 thoughts on “A Visit to Antietam

  1. isw7 September 15, 2012 / 9:54 pm

    Thank you! — A big help, for the cable-less among us.

  2. dallas daniel hessler junior September 16, 2012 / 7:21 am

    now i kno a lot more about antietam

  3. Past Is Prologue (@prologuepast) September 16, 2012 / 8:42 am

    Best battlefield tour I’ve been on in 27 years — both live and in-person and, today, virtually via the Internet. Bravo, Drs. Simpson and Grimsley (and C-SPAN) !

  4. John Foskett September 16, 2012 / 9:00 am

    Nicely presented – although Mark should have insisted that anybody with the cojones to wear a Yankees cap should go for a dip in the Creek…..

  5. Charles Lovejoy September 16, 2012 / 5:57 pm

    I only have C-SPAN 1& 2 Thanks for posting , I’ve watched it 5 times. Very informative. I thought I saw Mike Kiernan in the group ? 🙂

      • Charles Lovejoy September 17, 2012 / 2:37 pm

        Why can’t the history ch show something of this quality?

        • tonygunter September 17, 2012 / 3:43 pm

          If you somehow worked in aliens, I’m sure they would.

          • Charles Lovejoy September 17, 2012 / 7:11 pm

            Maybe next time Brooks and Cliff could mix in some aliens or UFOs and History ch would be all over it 🙂

  6. tonygunter September 17, 2012 / 2:14 pm

    Nice. I let this play in the background as I was working on something, so I’m not sure if I missed this … but the key advantage in Lee’s position is the interior lines that Sharpsburg gave him. McClellan thought he was trying to crumple Lee’s left flank; the problem McClellan’s men faced is that Lee quickly shifted his position so that his flank became his center.

    You pointed out that McClellan didn’t think well on his feet as the operational situation changed. Perhaps if he had established his headquarters behind his main thrust instead of 10 miles away on the far side of Antietam creek he would have been better able to adjust to the new situation.

    One thing that seems important to me to understanding the failure of the Union on that day is just how open was the Confederate flank between Hooker and the Potomac. Put another army corps to the west of Hooker, and the only initial resistance they hit is a single (albeit large) battery sitting in a cornfield. Beyond that, open fields all the way to Sharpsburg. It’s hard to see how Lee would have saved his army if McClellan had committed his army fully to the initial assault instead of holding the majority of his army on the east bank of the Antietam.

  7. rcocean September 17, 2012 / 4:59 pm

    The whole Antietam show on C-span was fantastic. This is the kind of programming that PBS SHOULD be doing. I was surprised -however – at how many cranks there are in the viewing audience. Some character actually argued with Dwight Pitcaithley that the Morrell tariff was a *real* cause of the war. As if 600,000 people would kill each other over a small tax! Pitcaithley explained that if you read the secession documents of December 1860-April 1861, nobody talks about the tariff – its all about slavery. Politicians proposed some 350 articles (contained in 66 proposed constitutional amendments) in an effort appease the South and save the Union. Of the 350 articles – 2 dealt with the tariff. And the crank still argued it was all about the tariff!

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 17, 2012 / 6:09 pm

      It is tremendously important for some people to believe what they believe, regardless of whether it happened. Those people who identify with the Confederacy to the extent that they talk about “we” as if they were there cannot consider why “they” might have fought. It’s fantasy on multiple levels.

      • Charles Lovejoy September 17, 2012 / 7:21 pm

        Of course, my idea as to why most solders in the Confederate army fought in the Confederate army is , they simply were born in the southern states and there was a war. Same reason my late father in law use to say he fought it Mussolini’s army in East Africa. He was Italian and was in the Italian army and sent to East Africa. Rant and file solders are often just caught up in the moment.

        • Noma September 19, 2012 / 8:49 pm

          Sherman tells Halleck why he thinks most southerners accepted the Confederate cause:

          I would deem it very unwise at this time, or for years to come, to revive the State governments of Louisiana, etc., or to institute in this quarter any civil government in which the local people have much to say. They had a government so mild and paternal that they gradually forgot they had any at all, save what they themselves controlled; they asserted an absolute right to seize public moneys, forts, arms, and even to shut up the natural avenues of travel and commerce. They chose war–they ignored and denied all the obligations of the solemn contract of government and appealed to force.

          We accepted the issue, and now they begin to realize that war is a two-edged sword, and it may be that many of the inhabitants cry for peace. I know them well, and the very impulses of their nature; and to deal with the inhabitants of that part of the South which borders on the great river, we must recognize the classes into which they have divided themselves:

          First. The large planters, owning lands, slaves, and all kinds of personal property. These are, on the whole, the ruling class. They are educated, wealthy, and easily approached. In some
          districts they are bitter as gall, and have given up slaves, plantations, and all, serving in the armies of the Confederacy; whereas, in others, they are conservative…

          Second. The smaller farmers, mechanics, merchants, and laborers. This class will probably number three-quarters of the whole; have, in fact, no real interest in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy, and have been led or driven into war on the false theory that they were to be benefited somehow–they knew not how. They are essentially tired of the war, and would slink back home if they could. These are the real tiers etat of the South, and are hardly worthy a thought; for they swerve to and fro according to events which they do not comprehend or attempt to shape. When the time for reconstruction comes, they will want the old political
          system of caucuses, Legislatures, etc., to amuse them and make them believe they are real sovereigns; but in all things they will follow blindly the lead of the planters. The Southern politicians, who understand this class, use them as the French do their masses –seemingly consult their prejudices, while they make their orders and enforce them. We should do the same….

          CAMP ON BIG BLACK, MISSISSIPPI, September 17 1863
          H. W. HALLECK, Commander-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.


          • rcocean September 20, 2012 / 10:40 am

            Thanks for the post/link on Sherman. I’m always amazed at what a good writer he was; as was Grant and Meade (who’s been forgotten). His analysis seems sound – but he forgot about adjusting the tariff on iron rails and french coffee pots.

          • Noma September 20, 2012 / 7:24 pm

            Sherman’s letters (edited by Brooks Simpson) seem like the best thing I have seen for revealing his innermost personality. Quite a range of material. Somehow, his personality seems to appear in sharper focus than in his Memoirs or in Lloyd Lewis’s book. (Just started John Marszalek’s biography, which seems to reveal the personality more.)

            But, I haven’t read much about Meade, except Theodore Lyman’s wonderful book. Do you have anything in particular that you would recommend?

          • rcocean September 24, 2012 / 4:40 pm

            Read his life and letter – which are on-line

  8. John Foskett September 24, 2012 / 11:45 am

    By the way, I note that parts two and three of the Receding Tide Trifecta are coming up for their 150th – Corinth and Perryville. Any chance of a salute to the boys in blue who put Van Dorn and Bragg in reverse?

    • tonygunter September 24, 2012 / 5:08 pm

      My favorite Corinth story: Rosecrans orders McPherson to have his men up and prepared to march in pursuit at first light. Rosecrans comes across McPherson standing in the road at mid-morning and angrily demands to know why the men are still in Corinth. McPherson pulls out the order and reads it “Have your men up and prepared to march at first light.”


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