An online journal of Mannie Gentile, a National Park Service interpretive ranger working at our nation's finest National Battlefield: Antietam.
DISCLAIMER: please note that this blog represents only my views and not those of my various employers.
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My friend and colleague Holly is what you could call the complete Ranger. Last year she split her time between two agencies working as a Ranger here at Antietam National Battlefield as well as fulfilling the Ranger role at Fort Frederick State Park, seen here toting a musket.
Now she works exclusively as an Antietam Ranger and recently turned up on the cover of...
the Hagerstown and Washington County visitor's guide. Putting her best foot forward, its Ranger Holly!
Antietam Creek is way up in a springtime flood brought on by 24 hours of rain and the last of the snow coming off the mountains. Ranger Brian and I hopped in a park vehicle to check out the action at Burnside Bridge, with these pix as a result.
Brian, with the very wide, fast, and deep Antietam Creek in the valley below.
Looking upstream, the creeks banks are strictly academic.
Downstream, its hard to tell where the creek ends and the historic trace begins. Note tree damage from the 48-hour windstorm just ended.
The Ninth Corps side of the bridge with water approaching the hub of the gun. We've all seen that gun completely submerged in previous floods. This is water you want to steer clear of, it's cold, fast, and strong, and with flooded banks it's impossible to tell where the drop-off is.
I shudder to think how foolhardiness would fare against this.
Keep your socks dry, and stay on the pavement today.
Mannie (high and dry just north of you-know-where)
This winter, for Maryland, was a doozie! The park was simply buried, for such a long time, under feet of snow. Thought the calendar tells us that winter isn't over, a walk outdoors tells us with equal authority that Spring has established a bridgehead and there's no turning back.
And not a moment too soon, I say.
Buds seem to be sniffing the air to see if the coast is clear.
These make me want to expect an audible "pop".
Though the crocuses seem to always be the first on the scene...
it's the snowdrops, actually, that lead the way every year.
I think this will be my best year yet, in the best time of year, at the best possible place. Come see for yourself...
Many fine folks have teamed up here at Antietam National Battlefield to provide a new Educational program for school groups this year. The program explores the challenges of gathering accurate intelligence, specifically estimates of the strength of opposing forces based upon visual observation and the limitations of the modes of battlefield communications during the American Civil War. The program was the idea of Ranger Christie Stanczak and fellow blogger and Park Ranger John Hoptak.
Christie hosts zillions of kids to the Park every year and provides some really outstanding hands-on programs. This year she wanted to do one on Civil War recon and surveillance, so she teamed up with John and they came up with"Count the Flags, Sir!" a program designed to put students in the role of scouts trying to ascertain the size of Lee's invading forces. It goes across the curriculum encompassing history, math, and english, and it should provide a lot of fun as well.
I volunteered some design and fabrication time to make the physical components for this new program which included nearly 800 54mm plastic toy soldiers in representative regiments of approx 40 men each mounted on poplar flats and two cool looking cases in which to safely store and transport them.
Here is one of the box carcasses prior to clamping and glueing. Soliders, mounted on one of the poplar flats are in the foreground. Note the slots milled into the sides of the box and the flats fitted into storage position. The flats are grooved and I had to melt holes into the base of each of the plastic soldiers to maximize the adhesion abilities of the "Liquid Nails" used to affix the one to the other.
Mounting the horses was particularly challenging as the hooves provided very litlle surface area to attach to the flat. To provide more secure anchorage, I used coathanger wire, bent in a flat-bottomed "U" shape The base of the "U" was then fitted and glued onto a groove on the flat after heating the uprights to red-hot and passing the through the body of the plastic horse.
This resulted in a very stable (nice pun!) and durable mount for the horse. (note: no horses were harmed in the making of this photograph).
Though Liquid Nails is not recommended for plastic, the grooved flats and the dimutive cannon wheels provide plenty of surface area to assure good adhesion.
Artillery and infantry units were mounted in both deployed as well as "on the march" positions.
As BMC/Americana sells only mixed lots of blue and gray soldiers, and that this is A.P. Hill's Division, all soldiers, once mounted on the flat and regardless of their actual loyalties, were given a nice overcoat of gray spray paint.
These are the finished transport cases. With heavy duty handles and casters they are very easy to transport...
and they provide organized protection for the soldier-covered flats.
Park volunteer Marleen Robert spent numerous hours, carefully gluing the soldiers to the flats, she became mighty handy with a caulking gun!
Its surprising how many soldiers can fit in those two cases.
Confederate artillery in battery with infantry support moving into position behind.
Confederates on the firing line hitting the 16th Conn. in the flank on the afternoon of September 17th along the Harper's Ferry Road just outside of Sharpsburg. A bad day for the Nutmeg State.
One flat is the headquarters group with mounted officers, dispatches being sent off, signal, state and battleflags. Easy to identify, even at a distance, as a high-value target. This flat also references another one of Christie's programs which has kids using signal flags and code discs sending and receiving messages in the field 1862-style.
Artillery column arrives just in the nick of time...
as A.P. Hill's Division arrives to save Lee from defeat.
There are many good history lessons still to be learned,