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)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Antietam 150th: A Time Like No Other

Since I was a 9 year old, I have dreamed about being a park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield. Today, I got to live that dream to the fullest. I led a Cornfield hike for over 100 people, which I concluded by telling them all the story of my great-great-great grandfather next to the Philadelphia Brigade monument in the West Woods. I saw a few visitors getting a bit blurry eyed when I talked about Ellwood leaving behind his young children to die for his country. I must admit that I found myself getting teary eyed at the occasion. I couldn't help but think back to the days when I sat with my Grandpa in Canton, PA, talking about Ellwood and the Civil War. Those are very special memories for me, as was today.

For the rest of the day, I spent time at the Sunken Road and the Cornfield leading battle talks for groups of visitors. The weather was perfect, the park was overrun with visitors, and the ranger staff, volunteer staff, and park guide staff rose to the occasion. 
I must also say that I have been stopped several times by visitors who recognize me from the blog. I am very grateful that people would first take the time to read what I have to say, and second, that they would then take the time to say hello and tell me that they appreciate my writing. Thank you very much to everyone who visits this site!

I am very blessed indeed. 

Ranger Dan as a nine year old walking in the Sunken Road

Ranger Dan today, September 15, 2012, in front of the Cornfield at Antietam


  1. Thanks for all you do to keep the memory of these brave warriors alive.

  2. My son and I visited the battlefield on Saturday a d truly enjoyed our day there. We didn't get to participate in as much as I would have liked, we both felt honored to be in the presence of such an amazing place. The Park Service did an amazing job. I will be heading back up there for Sunrise, because #1 I am a photographer and cannot resist the opportunity and #2 I just feel drawn to be there today. Thank you for the blog. I shall look forward to exploring it further.