Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dr. Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholarship Award

This past February, Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) accepted applications for the Dr. Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholarship. This award is a research grant in honor of the late Dr. Joseph L. Harsh, a man whose work is a staple in Maryland Campaign historiography, and has inspired generations of historians, including myself. I am extremely honored and humbled to announce that Save Historic Antietam Foundation has named me the first recipient of this award.

This award is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me. It consists of a research grant to further knowledge on Antietam. For my research, I will be studying the strength, composition, and experience of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam. My work will investigate exactly how strong a fighting force the Army of the Potomac was, and how its strength potentially affected how George McClellan fought the battle. I believe this topic has tremendous implications for how we understand the accomplishments of the Union army during the Maryland Campaign, and it could also inform how we understand the generalship of George McClellan. Upon the completion of my research, I will be speaking and presenting my findings at a seminar, sponsored by SHAF, on September 8 at Antietam National Battlefield, the weekend before the park’s official Sesquicentennial celebrations. I will also be submitting the research as a publishable article. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get started on this project. I will hopefully be able to incorporate my research and findings into posts on here as well, sharing tidbits that I come across along the way.

As I said, I am extremely honored and humbled by this award. Dr. Harsh’s work on the Maryland Campaign has been an enormous influence on my growth as a historian. Before I read Dr. Harsh’s work, I was just a common observer of the campaign. I wasn’t truly a student of Antietam until I had dog eared, underlined, and highlighted copies of Dr. Harsh’s main work Taken at the Flood, and its companion Sounding the Shallows on my bookshelf (not to mention Confederate Tide Rising as well). To be doing such important research on such an important topic during the year of the Sesquicentennial for Antietam is beyond anything I could have imagined. If you told the nine year old me who was fascinated with Antietam when he first visited that he would be doing this kind of work during the 150th anniversary of the battle, he wouldn’t have believed you. I am incredibly blessed.

I sincerely thank the folks at Save Historic Antietam Foundation for this opportunity. Below, I have the text of their press release on the award. I would also like to congratulate Susan Rosenvold from the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. SHAF has awarded Susan a Sesquicentennial Award for Scholarship, funding her research on the work which Clara Barton did during and after Antietam. Susan will be presenting her research at SHAF’s September seminar as well.

For Immediate Release

Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc. (SHAF) is proud to announce the recipient of its first Dr. Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholarship. The winner’s research will be presented at a free seminar at Antietam National Battlefield sponsored by SHAF on September 8, 2012. This award was created in honor of Dr. Harsh, a professor at George Mason University, an award-winning author on Confederate strategy in the Maryland Campaign and member of SHAF. The purpose of the Scholarship is to further knowledge on the battle of Antietam and Maryland Campaign, and it is open to all applicants. The first award recipient is Daniel Joseph Vermilya of Kirtland, Ohio. Dan is a seasonal ranger at Antietam National Battlefield. His topic will be “The Strength, Composition, and Experience of the Army of the Potomac at the battle of Antietam,” which will also be submitted to SHAF as a publishable article. Dan’s research is based on primary sources, and will be conducted extensively at the Antietam Battlefield library and the National Archives.

There were several very strong applications, and the selection process was quite difficult. After long deliberation the selection committee decided to also fund a proposal by Susan Rosenvold, the Director of Operations and Education, Pry House Field Hospital Museum at Antietam National Battlefield. Susan is an authority on the life and services of Clara Barton, and her proposal was to identify and locate the places on and around the Antietam Battlefield where Barton worked and cared for the wounded. Susan listed an impressive number of sources she intends to consult to complete her project, and she, too, will present her findings at the SHAF Seminar in September. The results of her research will also be published. Because of the merits of her proposal and the experience she brings to the project the selection committee decided to award Susan a special SHAF Sesquicentennial Award for Scholarship.

Additional information on the research papers and the free September 8, 2012 Antietam seminar will be posted this spring on SHAF’s website (www.shaf.org).

Further information can be obtained from Tom Clemens, President of SHAF, 301-432-2522 or at Antietam@verizon.net.


  1. Congrats! I've enjoyed your blog and look forward to the results of your project.
    John Rogers

  2. A recognition very much well-deserved. Congrats, Dan! We're all proud of you.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. I am very excited about the project. I will be sure to post updates on my progress.