Monday, May 25, 2009

Photo Gallery: Some Unique Views of the Nagle Statue


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Last week, Mike Kraus came to Antietam to take some measurements for the replacement sword on the Nagle statue. While up in the lift provided by the NPS, Mike snapped a lot of rather unusual photographs. The following are just a few. Note the level of detail in the uniform; even the top of the kepi has the general's trefoils, though not all four lines as a general would have worn.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Step Closer. . .

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I had the great pleasure today to meet Mr. Michael Kraus and his good friend Mr. David Neville, editor of Military Images Magazine. Mike, a Civil War historian and artist, will be sculpting the replacement sword for the General James Nagle statue at Antietam. He was at the park this morning to take some measurements.
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The weather was picture-perfect and the morning a fine one, indeed. I am thrilled at the progress of this project. To everyone who has thus far contributed to the restoration project, I cannot thank you enough. We are one step closer to getting the general his sword back!
For anyone wishing to donate, please click here for information on how you can go about contributing. Any dollar amount will help us greatly and will be greatly appreciated.
Me and Mr. Michael Kraus

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chambersburg Civil War Seminars: Summer 2009

Well, it's that time of year again. We're fast approaching the summer sessions of the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars & Tours, organized and led by Antietam Park Historian Ted Alexander. The summer seminars, held from July 22-26, will focus on General Stonewall Jackson and his 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. I am happy to say that I will be participating in this event, delivering a presentation on Colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby of the 27th Virginia and commander of the Stonewall Brigade at Antietam. My lecture will occur during the concurrent sessions on Friday, July 24.
Click here for more information, including how you can register to attend this event.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Deadly Week. . .

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The 48th Pennsylvania suffered its greatest casualties at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29, 1862. There, the regiment lost 152 men killed, wounded, captured, or missing. The regiment's second deadliest battle came 145 years ago today at the Battle of Spotsylvania, where more than 130 soldiers fell. With this being the anniversary of the battle, I thought I'd list the 48th's casualties during the first week of the Overland Campaign, including those who fell at both the Wilderness and Spotsylvania.
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48th Pennsylvania Casualties at The Wilderness & Spotsylvania:
5/5/1864-5/15/1864
Killed/Mortally Wounded (31)

Louis M. Robinhold, Company A, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Isaac Otto, Company A, 5/12, Spotsylvania
John J. Huntzinger, Company A, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Abel C.T. St. Clair, Company A, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Sgt. William Kissinger, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 5/24)
Cpl. David J. Davis, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Matthew Hume, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Frederick Knittle, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Laurentus C. Moyer, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Daniel Wary, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
John Deitz, Company B, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Daniel Brown, Company C, 5/6, The Wilderness
Michael Mohan, Company C, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 5/20)
Jonathan Kauffman, Company D, 5/6, The Wilderness
Lawrence Farrell, Company E, 5/6, The Wilderness
Cpl. John Powell, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 5/26)
Israel Manning, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania
David F. Thiel, Company F, 5/6, The Wilderness
John Morrissey, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Lewis Woods, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Richard Williams, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Andrew Wessman, Company F, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Lieutenant Henry C. Jackson, Company G, 5/12, Spotsylvania
James Spencer, Company G, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 5/31)
John Armstrong, Company G, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 7/1)
William Williams, Company G, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Abraham Benscoter, Company H, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Joseph Chester, Company H, 5/12, Spotsylvania (Died 5/24)
Benjamin McArdel, Company I, 5/6, The Wilderness
Henry J. Ege, Company I, 5/12, Spotsylvania
John W. Henn, Company K, 5/12, Spotsylvania

Wounded (99)

Company A:
*Sgt. Albert C. Huckey, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*Cpl. Charles Brandenburg, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Knee
*Cpl. Jacob Honsberger, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head (slight)
*Morgan Leiser, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*Benjamin F.C. Dreibelbeis, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm (slight)
*Charles Hillegas, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Back
Company B:
*Sgt. Thomas B. Williams, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Concussion by Shell
*Gottleib Shauffler, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Wrist
*David Deitz, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Foot
*John Brown, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head
*Henry Shoppell
Company C:
*2nd Lieutenant William Clark, 5/6, Wilderness, Left Hand (slight)
*Sgt. Jonas Geiger, 5/6, Wilderness, Leg
*William Neely, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Left Leg
*William J. Haines, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Side
*Murt Brennan, 5/12, Spotsylvania
*James Coakley, 5/12, Spotsylvania
Company D:
*2nd Lieutenant H.E. Stichter, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Back (slight)
*Sgt. Henry Rothenberger, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Shoulder
*Cpl. Edward Lenhart, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*James Deitrick, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Thigh and Hand (severe)
*Botto Otto, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg, Arm, and Toe
*Perry L. Strausser, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Right Hand
*George S. Beisel, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*William F. Moyer, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Shoulder
*John Kohler, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Chin
*Jonas Miller, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*Joseph Zeigler, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Shoulder
*Patrick Cooligan, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head (slight)
*Andrew Knittle, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*Gustavus H. Miller, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*Henry D. Moyer, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Side
Company E:
*Sgt. John McElrath, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head
*Cpl. Samuel Clemens, 5/6, Wilderness, Hand (slightly)
*Cpl. William J. Morgan
*James McLaughlin, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Right Army
*George W. Schaeffer, 5/12, Spotsylvania
*David Williams, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Foot (slightly)
*W. Simmons. 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*G.W. James, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*W.C. James, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*James Meighan, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Thumb
*Robert Penman, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
Company F:
*Sgt. Richard Hopkins, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hand (slight)
*William E. Taylor, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hand
*Anthony Carroll, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*William S. Wright, 5/12, Spotsylvania
*James Brennan, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Abdomen
*Henry Holsey, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*William H. Kohler, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Back
*John Eddy, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head
*Jno. T. Reese, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*John Crawford, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head
*A.H. Whitman, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
Company G:
*Sgt. R.M. Jones, Head (slight)
*Cpl. George Farne, Hand
*Patrick Cunningham
*John Becker, 5/6, Wilderness, Foot
*Adam Hendley, 5/6, Wilderness, Neck (slight)
*M. Berger, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Left Arm
*Clay W. Evans, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hand
*Patrick Grant, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*William Maurer, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Shoulder
*John Kautter, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hand
*Patrick Savage, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
Company H:
*Samuel Fryberger, 5/6, Wilderness
*William Donnelly, 5/10, Ny River, Abdomen
*William Huber, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm
*Benjamin Koller, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm (slight)
*John Klineginna, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Eye
*Daniel Ohmacht, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Arm (slight)
*Albert Davis, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Thigh
*John Stevenson, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Groin
*Michael Melarkee, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Right Shoulder
*Daniel Cooke, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Foot
*John Cruikshank, 5/123, Spotsylvania, Hand
*Michael O’Brien
*Charles Focht
*John Olewine, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hand
*Joseph Edwards, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Finger
*Thomas Palmer, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
Company I:
*Sgt. Luke Swain, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Concussion of Shell, Arms & Legs
*Sgt. Jacob Ongstadt, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Head (slight)
*Cpl. D. Klase, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Thigh
*Cpl. Wesley Knittle, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hip
*Charles Lindenmuth, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Face
*Francis Boner, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Leg
*Charles Washington Horn, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Both Legs and Hand
*M. Dooley, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Both Legs
*W. Tyson, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Concussion, Head
*Charles DeLong, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Hip
Company K:
*Cpl. George Weaver, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Breast
*David R. Dress
*Elias Fenstermaker, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Finger
*Thomas Fogarty, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Finger
*Henry Schulze, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Body
*Franklin Ely, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Foot
*Simon Hoffman, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Foot
*Andrew Webber, 5/12, Spotsylvania, Breast

Missing in Action (11)

*George Seibert, Company C
*Edward Ebert, Company D
*John D. Weikel, Company D
*William Gottschall, Company E
*George Kramer, Company F
*Harrison Bright, Company H, Deserted, Returned 6/6/64
*Michael Scott, Company H
*Lewis Aurand, Company H, Deserted, Returned 6/6/64
*James Wentzell, Company H
*W.B. Beyerle, Company I
*W.B. Shearer, Company I

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Great Honor

A Return to Kutztown
(my Baba, Anna, mom Colleen, wife Laura, sister Angie, and brother-in-law Greg)


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I had the great pleasure yesterday to return to the idyllic campus of my undergraduate Alma Mater, Kutztown University, in order to accept an Early Career Excellence Alumni Award. The four years I spent at Kutztown ('96-'00) rank among the very best years of my life, and to receive an award from the university is a great honor. Truly, no words of mine can express just how appreciative I am; indeed, I find it hard to believe. That I was chosen for the award came as a surprise, and I must thank everyone who made it possible. My sister, Dr. Angie Hoptak-Solga, who has been a hero of mine my entire life and who currently teaches biology at Kutztown, put in my name for nomination. Unknown to me, she then recruited my wife, Laura, to get letters of recommendation from a few of my colleagues at Antietam, Rangers Christie Stanczak and Alann Schmidt, who both kept the secret while submitting letters to the Alumni Awards Committee. I cannot thank them enough for the honor. The same could be said for the committee who selected me as one of the four recipients for this award. Yesterday was the first time in a long while that I walked the campus of Kutztown, and though much has changed--new and improved classroom buildings and dorms--I still felt as though I was returning home. Kutztown has, and will continue to hold, a very special place in my heart. As far as I am concerned, a better institution of higher learning cannot be found. The professors at Kutztown treat their students fairly, with respect, and provide great guidance and instruction. Missing is the air of intellectualy snobbery that define far too many university faculties. At Kutztown, the professors focus on the students and on quality instruction, and not just on their own careers. Teaching is in no way incidental to their positions; it is their focus. Grateful is hardly an adequate enough term to describe how I feel about all the support I have received from Kutztown and from my professors over the years. So, to my family, and to everyone else who made this award possible, thank you. It is truly a great honor.

The Hoptak family. . .my dad Dave, sister Angie, and mom Colleen

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"They Gave Us A Volley, And Their Peculiar Yell. . .:" The 48th Pennsylvania at the Wilderness

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Today, 145 years ago, witnessed the start of the confused, chaotic battle of the Wilderness and the commencement of the very bloody, savage Overland Campaign. Here are several accounts, penned by several participants, of the actions of the 48th Pennsylvania at the Wilderness:
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Sergeant Joseph Gould: “On the way to the Wilderness the regiment crossed the Rapidan River on May 5th, and about two hundred veterans of the regiment were sent to the right of the army and deployed as skirmishers and fought the enemy as such nearly all day, losing some men killed and wounded. About five o’clock in the afternoon they rejoined the regiment, went into line of battle and became engaged just at dark.
“On the 7th but little hard fighting was done as we were moving about all day position. It was hard to determine just how our army was fronting and the lines running. Some troops were marching towards Fredericksburg on the left and others to Chancellorsville on the right. The woods were still burning from the effects of yesterday’s firing, and many of the wounded were burned to death ere they could be removed.”

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Captain Joseph Hoskins:After crossing the Rapidan, a detail of 200 men was made and put under my command: Lieut. Pollock, of G, and Lieut. Eveland, of A; Sergeant Al Huckey, of Company A, with a full complement of non-commissioned officers. The names of all but a few have escaped my memory. I recall Bob Reid and Clay Evans, Sandy Govan, David Thiel, and Adam Hendley. We left the regiment and moved to our right, and in a very short time came into contact with a line of the enemy’s skirmishers; they gave us a volley and their peculiar yell, expecting to start us on the back track; but, instead, we advanced and drove them out of the woods; and, on reaching the open field, we came to a halt. The enemy fell back to a rail fence, some fifty yards to our front, and there we held them until relieved by a Michigan regiment. We then moved to the rear and buried David Thiel, who had been killed in the advance. We then joined the main body of the regiment. Heavy firing was in progress all day, and on the 6th, the 9th Corps. . .was engaged almost the entire day in the Wilderness fight, under infantry fire, losing heavily.”


Captain Joseph Hoskins, Company F
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Major Oliver Christian Bosbyshell: “The Forty-eighth crossed the Rapidan River at Germanna Ford, on the fifth of May, 1864, moving toward the Spotswood Tavern, where a bivouac was had. Very early on the morning of the sixth, the command, with the Second Brigade, in front, moved close to the Old Wilderness Tavern and on out the road to Parker’s Store. A half mile out this road, the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania were deployed as skirmishers to cover the flanks of the column. The enemy’s skirmishers were found about a half mile further on, and gave way before the advancing troops. A small stream was crossed, and three regiments of the Second Brigade formed line, advanced until the enemy was found on the opposite side of an open field, drawn up in considerable force, and supplied with a battery, stationed probably a quarter to a half a mile from the junction of the Parker store and Plank roads. A brisk fire was opened by the enemy from the battery as well as from the small arms of the infantry. The line was moved forward to the edge of the woods and the First Brigade formed to cover the left. The action was becoming quite brisk, and General Potter was preparing to charge the enemy, when he received an order to withdraw his command, move to the left, and attack on the right of General Hancock near the Plank road. This movement was made through a dense wood, almost impenetrable, owing to the tangled underbrush; the new line was formed as quickly as possible on Hancock’s right, and the attack made where it was utterly impossible to see anything from the thickness of the woods. The enemy was posted on the opposite side of a swampy ravine behind entrenchments. Sharp firing at very close range ensued, followed by a savage charge, which brought the boys into the enemy’s rifle pits in some places. Being unable to maintain the advantage gained, the troops fell back. Twice the charge was renewed—considerable ground was gained, but the enemy retained possession of their line.
The firing continued until dark; the brigade remained in the front line and entrenched its position. The Forty-eighth was thrown forward as skirmishers during the night, its line extending over a division front.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pleasant Surprises

Been under the weather the past two days with a sore throat and earache. . .having gone through strep throat once in my life, which I never hope to experience again, I am taking some preventive measures to make sure my cold does not become any worse. Rain was the order of the day today at the park and, accordingly, the number of visitors was down. . way down; my 3:30 Orientation Program was attended by just five people. But on this otherwise gloomy day, I had a few pleasant surprises. First, I noticed that Brett Schulte, who maintains one of my favorite blogs, TOCWOC (The Order of the Civil War Obsessively Compulsed), included my site as among his Top Ten favorite blogs. Thanks, Brett!
Returning home after what seemed like an extra-long commute, I was pleased once more, this time by seeing that the July 2009 Issue of America's Civil War had arrived in the mail. In addition to an update on my Nagle Sword Restoration project and a great article by Kim O'Connell on Witness Trees (inlcuding several at Antietam), this particular issue features a biography I penned on the life and ill-fated service of Confederate colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby of the Stonewall Brigade.
Head on out and pick up a copy!