Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Six Cemeteries of Sharpsburg

It is remarkable that a village as tiny as Sharpsburg would be the site of six cemeteries. Some like the National Cemetery are very large, others are particularly small, as in the case of the African-American burying ground known as the Tolson Cemetery.

Let's begin right behind the visitors center just uphill from the Mumma farmstead.

Lying in the heart of the battlefield, on shaded high ground is the always tranquil and inviting Mumma cemetery.

This is the burial ground for the Mumma family and although its surrounded by a gated stone wall, it is always open to visitors seeking shade, cooling breezes, and beautiful vistas.

Continuing to higher ground is the town cemetery, Mountain View.

 This is the cemetery that has been the final resting place for generations of Sharpsburg residents since 1883.  From its height you can look north for views of the Piper Farm and the Visitor Center, to the east, as the name implies are vistas of South Mountain and Elk Ridge.

Of course no visit to Antietam National Battlefield would be complete without a stop at the National Cemetery with its ornate front gates and  picturesque Victorian Lodge.

The massive statue of the Civil War soldier, known as Old Simon, stands sentinel over the graves of 4,776 Union soldiers, a continuing reminder of the price of freedom.

Proceeding down the hill toward Sharpsburg, one encounters the Lutheran cemetery.
This cemetery was established in 1768 with the earliest internment dating from 1774.

The church that stood here during the savage fighting of September 17th 1862 is long gone, but the stones still bear silent witness to that terrible fight.

Much of the African-American heritage of Sharpsburg can be found represented in the Tolson cemetery directly behind the Methodist Episcopal Church in Sharpsburg.  Dating back to 1867, the church was founded by and served former enslaved blacks, including...

this member of the U.S. Colored Infantry, a veteran of the Civil War, and a messenger of emancipation.

Finally, tucked off mainstreet, are the stones of the Reformed Church burial ground.  

The first burial was in 1775, the last in 1883 when Mountainview Cemetery opened and became the primary resting place for the good people of Sharpsburg.

Each of these cemeteries has its own special character, and each is equally worthy of a visit. Do seek them out on your next trip to the Valley. Perhaps we'll encounter each other amid the memories.

Ranger Mannie

Free book on the H.L. Hunley

Free book contest at Jim Beeghley's blog!!

And unlike this replica, Jim's offering an book about the actual Hunley

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Looking forward to Christmas tacos

Everyone has their own holiday traditions, for some its going over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers. For Virginia and I, here in the beautiful Cumberland Valley, its a little different.

First a drive down Pleasant Valley to one of our favorite places...

Historic Harper's Ferry and a great hike along the C&O Canal (Two National Parks in one place!)

Then its home to prepare dinner...

my homemade pizza!

We turn it into a holiday trifecta by popping in everybodys favorite holiday movie...

Donovan's Reef.   What a perfect day.

Happy Thanksgiving all!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kevin Levin and Jim Beeghley...

have new sites: Civil War Memory 

and Teaching the Civil War with Technology  are both updated in my list of links at right.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New developments at Antietam

Things are afoot at your National Park.

Remember the big storm last June? (link and video here

The flagpole in the National Cemetery was left askew from those intense winds.  This coming week a new flagpole will be installed and preparations are underway for the heavy lifting.

Also in the cemetery, work continues on the restoration of the historic rostrum, which is being restored to its former glory.  The new timbers are now in place.

Here's some really big news: 

Finally, the Three Farms and Bloody Lane trails are now open.

At last!  the park is connected by hiking trails from north to south.

Trail markers and maps are in position and just waiting for you.
Come to the park with your hiking boots and a lunch, pick up a trail guide brochure and hike the entire park, its good for your heart you know.

Staying in shape, Just north (and now, south too!) of Sharpsburg,

Ranger Mannie

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something I'm doing now


I'm producing videos for the park!

Go here and scroll down to where it says:

"click here to see the video"

and see the video.

Then, come out to the battlefield on December 6 to see the real thing.

Ranger Mannie

Friday, November 14, 2008

Its gonna be fine

I encounter, everyday, people who are wishin' and hopin' for a Ranger job of their own, either full-time or seasonal. with Lots of people have a desire to don the green and gray and find a career in our National Parks.

When you consider how few of those jobs actually exist out there it can be easy to get down, disheartened, and discouraged. Lots and lots of talented folks, young and old seem to fall by the wayside. I guess that's just part of the winnowing process.

My advice is to be patient, be flexible, be useful, be ready, and be cheerful.

Add to that advice this encouragement from Glen Yarborough (complete with GoGo girls!).

Lets all hang in there together, there may be a Ranger hat at the end of that rainbow.

Ranger Mannie

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Veterans Day...

from my favorite veteran...


(pictured slightly backwards on Naval Communications Station, Guam, 1971)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The situation north of here

Is something about to hit the fan up there?

Battlefield barns: a triptych

As the weather gets crisp and the days shorten, its a fine time to reflect upon some of the work that's gone on at the park over the past year. Three projects, in particular spring to mind as they all have to do with big, old, barns; two that belong on the battlefield and one that didn't, sort of.

Starting with the continuing saga of the Joseph Poffenberger barn on the northernmost end of the battlefield. The restoration of this barn has been underway for a year now and the progress is remarkable in both the scope of conservation as well as the skill of the park personnel involved in the undertaking. (click here for deep background)

New siding has been placed over the new upright timbers outside the cattle stalls on the lower level.

Major beams and crossmembers have been hewn, notched and pegged into place on the main floor.

Like pieces in a very large, very old and fragile puzzle, these timbers await their turn.

The Poffenberger farm project was slated as a five-year restoration project, and I must say that they are going great guns on it.

The second barn in this threesome is the Cunningham or Parks barn, severely damaged in the big wind storm that barrelled down the valley back in June (click here for a reminder).

The western end of this original structure was all stove in from the force of the wind, causing this barn to rocket to the top of the priority list.

Repair crews from the Maintenance  Division got in to action immediately to first, stabilize the structure, and then begin the process of repair.

This picture, taken last week shows the barn all healed up  and ready to weather many more storms.

Finally,  the barn that didn't belong.  Actually the foundation of the barn was original to the time of the battle, but the timber overstructure was from much later.  This is the barn right near the Mary Locher cabin on the west side of highway 65.  The time had arrived to remove the top portion and reveal and stabilize the historic foundation walls.
The work provided the drama that heavy machinery is always able to bring to any party.  

First the roofing gets stripped off, and then key timbers are cut, and then...

I was able to hear the Crash! from the visitor center parking lot.

The wreckage was carted away and it became the turn for that little concrete block shed to yield to battlefield preservation.

Presto!  As the remainder of wreckage is removed and the turf heals...

visitors will have this park-like view of the historic barn walls as well as the strategic Hauser Ridge beyond.

And these were just three of the many (many) projects undertaken at the park this year.  I'll post views of other 2008 park projects in upcoming blog entries.

There's always something going on,

just north of Sharpsburg.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

See you there!

Fall in! 2008

This Saturday will find me up in Gettysburg at the 2008 Fall in! military miniatures in war gaming convention (link here).

Though focused on miniatures and gaming,  I'm inclined to think that among the dealers I'm bound to find some deals on unpainted plastic 54mm ACW guys by some of my favorite makers. Also I think it'll be fun to meet some of the other enthusiasts up there and see the levels of play involved as well as the historic scenarios of the simulations.

 I'm not into "miniatures"; those beautifully hand-painted, pewter soldier figures that are both expensive and non-conducive to playing in the dirt. Also I've never been into war gaming which involves two of my least favorite aspects of human life: competition and following rules.  I prefer simply setting 'em up and knocking 'em down. Still I think it will be both fun and interesting to watch others maneuvering their period-correct, little armies across various historic tableaux.  I'm also expecting to encounter some pretty jolly people as well, and that's the main thing.

If you see me be sure to say hello.

With my limited wardrobe, I'll look like this:

Though as I think of it...there will be a World War One
theme to the convention. hmmm...

...then again...


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

In other words...



(lotsa links here)

See you at the polls!


If not now, when?

Antietam National Cemetery contains  over five-thousand reasons for you to go out and vote tomorrow:

and here's a couple more:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Union Forever!

Production for Use! (here)

Quick, hand me the Flit!

With the crisper weather we've been having yellow jackets coming into the Visitor Center, with this result:

On my shift at the front counter I've been keeping a tally.

This gentleman has no idea just how hazardous his attire may proove to be!

Still swatting in Sharpsburg,