Jacob Rohrbach Inn (Sharpsburg, Maryland)

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“The Tale Untwisted” – Alex Rossino

July 4, 2019 by jacobrohrbach

Dr. Alex Rossino

The discovery of Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders no. 191 outside of Frederick, Maryland on September 13, 1862 is one of the most important and hotly disputed events of the American Civil War. For more than 150 years historians have debated if George McClellan, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, dawdled upon receiving a copy of the orders before advancing to challenge Lee’s forces at the Battle of South Mountain.

Alexander Rossino will discuss how ‘Little Mac’ moved with uncharacteristic energy to counter the Confederate threat and take advantage of Lee’s divided forces, striking a blow in the process that wrecked Lee’s plans and sent his army reeling back toward Virginia. 

​On Wednesday, August 21st Dr. Alex Rossino will put a final word on the debate over the fate and impact of the Lost Orders on the history of the 1862 Maryland Campaign during his talk – “The Tale Untwisted: George McClellan and the Discovery of Lee’s Lost Orders, September 13, 1862”.

Dr. Rossino earned his PhD in History at Syracuse University in 1999. He is the author of Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity, a study of German policies against Polish Christians and Jews during the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939. He worked for 9 years as an historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before moving to the private sector to provide market analysis for the government contracting community, work he continues to this day. Following a long hiatus from writing, Dr. Rossino moved to Western Maryland in 2013 and turned his studies to the American Civil War, a subject of interest to him since childhood. In 2017 he published Six Days in September: A Novel of Lee’s Army in Maryland, 1862 with Savas Beatie. The novel examines the history of the second half of the Confederate invasion of Maryland from a first-person perspective, combining history and fiction to help general readers better understand the importance of the 1862 Maryland Campaign to Robert E. Lee and his army. A sequel to the book giving the same treatment to McClellan’s army is due out in 2019. Dr. Rossino is also the author of two new articles on the Civil War in Maryland: one on the Confederate Army in Frederick and the other on George McClellan’s handling of Lee’s Lost Orders in September 1862, which he co-authored with Cartographer Gene Thorp. Last, but not least, he is the editor of Savas Beatie’s new Civil War Spotlight essay series, a service publishing historical essays on issues of importance to Civil War studies. His talk today is based on the inaugural offering in that series.

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.

“The Last Army of the Republic: the Myth of the Unused Reserves at the Battle of Antietam.”

July 4, 2018 by jacobrohrbach

Steve Stotelmyer

Civil War Summer Lecture Series

Always interested in local history, especially South Mountain and Antietam, Mr. Stotelmyer was a founding member of the Central Maryland Heritage League in 1989. The league gained a modest amount of success in preserving some of the lands of the South Mountain Battlefield. From 1989 through 1994 Mr. Stotelmyer served as a volunteer at the Antietam National Battlefield. In 1992 he published The Bivouacs of the Dead: The Story of Those Who Died at Antietam and South Mountain, Toomey Press, Baltimore Maryland. From 2000 through 2005 Mr. Stotelmyer served as a part-time volunteer and historical consultant for the South Mountain State Battlefield. Steven currently enjoys being a National Park Service Certified Antietam and South Mountain Tour Guide.

It is another one of those familiar stories about Antietam that has been told so many times that it is accepted as fact. Allegedly, Gen. George B. McClellan stood idly near the end of the battle while thousands of reserve troops did nothing. In most versions, the reserve troops belonged to McClellan’s most trusted corps commander, Gen. Fitz-John Porter. For a brief moment McClellan seemed ready to commit these reserves and looked to Porter, his most trusted subordinate. Porter is said to have slowly shaken his head with disapproval and is purported to have said to. McClellan, “Remember, General! I command the last reserve of the last army of the Republic. In truth, this accusation against McClellan is a complete fabrication rooted in the intrigues of partisan politics rather than historical fact. Gen. Porter, was not only a hapless victim of the debacle at Second Manassas three weeks before, but also bears the responsibility for McClellan’s less than decisive victory at Antietam. The elephant in the room that remains unacknowledged is that Porter was unreasonably punished in both battles not for his military actions, but rather for his political affiliation and friendship with McClellan. It is my hope that this talk not only debunks the myth of the unused reserves, but also contributes to the redemption of Fitz-John Porter who was quite likely the most unjustly persecuted military figure in our nation’s history.

On Wednesday, August 1st,  Steve will present his talk, “The Last Army of the Republic: the Myth of the Unused Reserves at the Battle of Antietam”.

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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