I was invited to speak after one of the roundtable's members participated in one of my Antietam battlefield tours last summer, and my topic was, well, the battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign of September 1862.
This was the first time I delivered such a presentation, so I was just a little nervous that it would turn out alright. I essentially ran through my typical Orientation Talk, but instead of speaking from the Antietam Visitor Center's Observation Room with the battlefield behind me, I was standing in a room hundreds of miles from Antietam with nothing but wood panelling to my rear. But, in the end, it went incredibly well.
What I hoped to do with this presentation was address some of the lasting myths surrounding the campaign and battle. I discussed McClellan in a rather different--and far more favorable--light, and stressed that Lee had decided upon a tremendous gamble by making a stand at Antietam, one that very nearly resulted in the destruction of his army. I hit upon the mistaken notion that 30,000 soliders of the Army of the Potomac remained idle in reserve all day. But mostly, I addressed many of the long-standing indictments of General Ambrose Burnside's generalship at the bridge and during the final Union assault.
I got to meet some really nice people, especially Mr. Jay Jorgensen, the expert of the fighting at the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, and Mr. Henry Ballone, who most generously sent me copies of photographs he had taken during the meeting. These were two of the many friendly members of the Roundtable. I did not do an exact head count, but estimated there were more than fifty people in attendance. I was most pleased with the entire evening, and was glad to receive many compliments on the presentation. I hope that I may be invited back in the future, and that I may get the opportunity to present this same program at other organizations.