Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day in Sharpsburg, Maryland and Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The reason for my visit was a chance to spend time with the students in Prof. Mark Snell’s course on the Civil War and memory. I spent a beautiful morning alone on the Antietam battlefield with my handy copy of Ethan Rafuse’s new guidebook, which I think is excellent. Ethan knows the battlefield well and does an effective job of positioning the visitor in places that are ideal for understanding the ebb and flow of battle. I walked and read my way through much of the Morning Phase of the battle and had no problem losing myself in the sun and history.
By the time I had worked up a healthy appetite it was time for lunch with everyone’s favorite NPS Ranger, Mannie Gentile. I’ve only met Mannie once before and that was a very brief meeting. That said, Mannie is one of those guys whose personality shines through on his blog and that translates into feeling like you’ve known him for some time. I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and especially the conversation. It’s always nice to spend time with people who do what they love. It shines through. The NPS is lucky to have Mannie on board now as a full-time employee and I look forward to my next visit with him. After lunch we stopped by to see Ted Alexander. I haven’t seen Ted in a number of years, but he is the man who is responsible for introducing me to the war back in 1993. I am forever grateful for Ted’s encouragement of my early research interests and for opening up the archives whenever I was in town.
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