Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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“Sumner and French at Antietam”

July 24th, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Gary Rohrer at the Sunken Road

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Gary Rohrer was born and raised in Washington County, MD where his family has lived for at least 225 years. His interests in the Civil War and passion for the 1862 Maryland Campaign go back more than 50 years to his days as a Boy Scout camping on the battlefield in the final attack area near Burnside Bridge and at Crampton’s Gap on South Mountain. There, he listened to the true stories of E. Russell Hicks, noted county historian. Gary also attended Antietam’s Centennial events as a young Boy Scout passing out programs for the last re-enactment held on the battlefield.

Gary’s professional career spanned 34 years in the public works arena as a registered professional engineer with extensive experience in the restoration and preservation of historic 19th century transportation structures such as wooden covered bridges, wrought iron truss structures, and stone arch bridges. He spent the last 20 years of his career in the roll of Washington County’s first Public Works Director. In that capacity, he revamped an ineffective preservation program for restoring and preserving many of the county’s 19th century stone arch bridges which are very much in tack and carrying modern traffic, today. Upon his retirement, he became involved as a Battlefield Ambassador while pursuing the National Park Certification for Battlefield Guide. In 2013, he became one of the first four guides ever certified by the NPS as a Battlefield Guide at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park for the 1862 Maryland Campaign. He has traveled to many of our country’s Civil War battlefields in the west and the south in an effort to further enhance his tours at Antietam. Gary has led hundreds of tours with clients ranging from the very young to the very seasoned students of the battle including retired officers of flag rank, college professors and their students.

Today, Gary is a member of the Washington County Historic District Commission and Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF). He resides near Boonsboro, MD with his family. He is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Gary’s presentation will center on a topic often debated by historians: the communications between II Corps Commander Edwin V. Sumner and the commander of his Third Division, Brigadier General William H. French. What caused French’s Division to attack the Sunken Road? Did his division arrive in the East Woods some 20 to 30 minutes after Major General John Sedgewick’s Second Division? Was he ordered to attack or was he drawn south across the Mumma and Roulette farms by Confederate fire emanating in that direction? Gary’s presentation will focus on a 2013 study conducted by historian Marion Vincent (Vince) Armstrong and published in Civil War History magazine.

Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.

These outdoors programs will be held at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn on Wednesday evenings at 7:oo p.m.   To ensure adequate seating, please bring a chair.  In case of inclement weather, lectures will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed Church of Christ.  Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets.  For updates and a full schedule of presenters & topics check our Facebook page.

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