A 'Season of Antietam' and Maryland on Film

A 'Season of Antietam'
and Maryland on Film

From the desk of
Burt Kummerow

Volume 1 Issue 1

September 20, 2012

Dear Reader,

The broad, rolling uplands of western Maryland are quiet and beautiful. Farms dot the landscape, and wildlife is abundant. Pass through these parts, and you might see a beaver building his dam, a heron standing on spindly legs, or a duck paddling through Antietam creek.

So it's hard to imagine that, one hundred and fifty years ago, this bucolic setting witnessed the bloodiest day in Civil War History. Confederates called it the Battle of Sharpsburg, after the nearby town, while Union soldiers referred to it as Antietam. Whatever the name, its significance cannot be underestimated. More than 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in a 12-hour span – that's more casualties than the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War combined.

History books tell us that the Battle of Antietam was a questionable Union victory, which eventually led to President Lincoln's unveiling of the Emancipation Proclamation. But the real story, what poet Walt Whitman said would never get in the history books, was the appalling casualty count harvested in the fields around Sharpsburg. "The whole landscape for an instant turned red," one northern soldier wrote. It was a season of suffering.

Many people will think of the 150th anniversary of Antietam as a time to host reenactments and fire gunpowder. But I encourage us all to mark this day with remembrance and commemoration.

The amount of pain and suffering that those 12 hours of war inflicted on young Americans on both sides continues to be hard to comprehend. Yet there was also an enormous outpouring of care and compassion that took on the results of Antietam's mayhem. The paradox of the human condition, war versus what President Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," is nowhere more evident than during the ‘Season of Antietam.'

Here at the Maryland Historical Society, we are hosting three events surrounding the ‘Season of Antietam:'

The 'Challenges and Divisions'
of The Civil War in Maryland

Clara Barton,
Courtesy of Ken Stanek

On Saturday, September 22 at 2pm: The Maryland Historical Society Players will hold a special performance of their Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War Outreach Tour.

This ‘living history' program will feature Britt Olsen-Ecker portraying Clara Barton, the Angel of the Battlefield, and founder of the American Red Cross. Her extraordinary courage and generosity commanded the respect of every soldier.

Also making an appearance is Roderick Howard II portraying Christian Fleetwood, a Baltimore-born free black man, who, as a Union soldier, willingly risked his life during the Civil War. He became one of the first African-Americans to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

Christian Fleetwood,
Courtesy Sotterly Mansion

Both performances demonstrate the challenges and divisions of the Civil War in Maryland as well as the way African-Americans took on leadership roles in their fight for their freedom.

Audience members will receive a handsome, full-color keepsake program inspired by our Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War exhibit.

The program will take place in the France-Merrick Auditorium and is co-sponsored by our friends at The Maryland Humanities Council. Award-winning Civil War historian, Anne Sarah Rubin, history professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County, will also be participating. This program is included with regular museum admission, which is $6 adults, $5 seniors and $4 children. FREE for members. Reservations are not required.

Never-Before-Seen Civil War Photographs


On Friday, September 28 at 6pm, Ross J. Kelbaugh will discuss his important new book, "Maryland's Civil War Photographs: The Sesquicentennial Collections" (The Maryland Historical Society, 2012). No matter how well you think you know Civil War photographs, believe me, you will see some of Maryland's rich Civil War photographic legacy for the very first time.

The book features more than 400 images spanning Maryland history from the Antebellum period to the 21st Century. Included are most of the photographs featured in our landmark 2006 exhibit "The Civil War in Maryland: Rare Photographs from the Collections of the Maryland Historical Society and its Members," many of which were not published in the sold-out exhibit catalogue.

In addition, photographs that were not available for display, as well as many newly discovered images, are included -- making this the largest collection of Maryland Civil War photographs ever published!

John Merryman holding Ex parte decision, 1861-1865, Maryland Historical Society, 17F. Cas. 144.

One of the photographs included in the book is the photograph above depicting John Merryman, First Lieutenant in the Baltimore County Horse Guard, 6th Regiment, Maryland Militia. Merryman was involved in a well-known U.S. Federal court case in 1861.

In the photograph, Merryman is actually holding Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Marylander Roger B. Taney's written opinion about the refusal of his Writ of Habeus Corpus at the entrance to Fort McHenry. "Seeing this knocked my socks off," Ross says, "This image should be in every legal textbook that talks about Habeus Corpus."

Many of you will recognize Ross as Guest Curator of 2006 exhibit, "The Civil War in Maryland: Rare Photographs from the Collections of the Maryland Historical Society and its Members." He also appears as an appraiser on Maryland Public Television's new series "Chesapeake Collectibles." A retired teacher, highly regarded educator, collector and researcher, Ross is founder of and CEO of HistoricGraphics.com, and has assembled one of the largest private collections of vintage Maryland photographs and related material.

Ross Kelbaugh

"Most of the important Civil War photographs are in private hands," Ross says, "So this is your chance to see photographs you won't have access to anywhere else." Major collectors and contributors will also be on hand Friday night -- the book would not have been possible without their help and support.

A reception and book signing will follow at 7pm. Admission to the lecture is $10 for non-members and FREE for members. We will also be introducing a new 3-D photo show about the Battle of Antietam in our outstanding Civil War Gallery. To register, call 410-685-3750 ext. 377 or email events@mdhs.org

Celebrate Smithsonian Museum Day
& Enjoy Free Admission to our Museum!

Courtesy Clarence Hickey

Saturday, September 29, is Smithsonian Museum Day with free admission to our museum. All day, we will host special lectures and tours about Medicine and Photography in the ‘Season of Antietam.' Clarence Hickey will portray Dr. Edward Stonestreet, who was a Rockville physician and U.S. Army Surgeon. He will demonstrate Civil War-era medical techniques on a mannequin dressed as a Civil War soldier: removing a Civil War bullet, demonstrating Civil War Anesthesia instruments, and discussing the pre-op and post-op care of the wounded.

Real and reproductive Civil War-era medical instruments will be on-hand, as well as a variety of Civil War bullets, Minie balls, grape shot, buck shot, slusters and other slugs (with no gunpowder) that created many of the battlefield wounds surgeons had to treat. Clarence will also discuss and debunk some of the longest-standing myths on Civil War medical care. This is a safe and family-friendly demonstration that you won't want to miss.

Clarence is the author of "Send for the Doctor: The Life and Times of Dr. Edward E. Stonestreets, 19th Century Physician & Civil War Surgeon Montgomery Country, Maryland." He is also a docent with Montgomery Country Historical Society.

Just go online and fill out the Smithsonian Museum Day Live form to receive FREE admission for one person, plus a guest! Details can be found here: www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

Maryland On Film:
Special Segments from the
MdHS Collection

Bayshore Round-Up, 1928, Moving Image Collection, MdHS

Many people think of the Maryland Historical Society as a repository of primary sources – such as the original manuscript of the Star Spangled Banner, maps, prints and broadsides. But did you know that our library owns approximately 1,000 hours of oral history audio and a collection of several hundred films and VHS recordings?

"While the source material for much of the history of the 18th and 19th Centuries is paper based, i.e. manuscripts and maps, the 20th Century has an added visual element," says Eben Dennis, Special Collections Librarian. "Much of its story is told through audio/visual recordings and photographs."

"Film is an extremely fragile medium," Eben continues. "Early films were made with nitrate, which is an extremely combustible material." For this reason, films from our collection need to be preserved before they are lost forever. Though newer types of film were not likely to combust, they were still very fragile and susceptible to degradation without proper storage and care.

Over the past twenty years, MdHS has received grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) to preserve 9 of our original 35 mm reels.

These films were shipped to a conservation lab, where the original reels are cleaned and fixed, and preservation and viewing copies are made so that the information can be made accessible without stressing the original.

On Saturday, October 13, we will feature segments of 9 films that have been preserved from our collections throughout the years. They cover footage from the first International Flight from Baltimore to Bermuda in 1937, VE Day in 1945, film of the Orioles at old Memorial Stadium (1957) and candid footage of Bayshore Amusement Park (1920).

We'll also be highlighting the two most recent films to be preserved, "Fair of the Iron Horse" and "Druid Hill Zoo", which are two home movies of the Siebert family from 1927.

"This is your ‘sneak peek' into the life of Marylanders," Eben says, "What things used to look like in the city – buildings that no longer exist – and even some funny moments."

Approximately 45 minutes of footage will be shown on a loop through the day and allow for drop-in visitors. We'll also be making popcorn using our vintage popcorn machine – to impart that true movie-going experience!

Audience members will be able to take home a free copy of our booklet, Filming Maryland.

This event is part of "Free Fall Baltimore" programming made possible by the Baltimore Area of Promotion and the Arts. FREE admission all day. For more information, call 410-685-3750 ext. 377 or email: events@mdhs.org.

Other Events in October

The Plan of the City of Baltimore, author unknown (engraved by Joseph Cone), 1818, Maryland Historical Society, LPrv17

On Thursday, October 4 at 6pm: Our Francis Scott Key Lecture Series continues with a special presentation on Mapping Baltimore During the Era of the War of 1812, by Edward C. Papenfuse, PhD, Maryland State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents, Maryland State Archivist.

There will be a reception following the lecture. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online or by contacting Development Coordinator, Kellie Saunders at ksaunders@mdhs.org or by calling 410-685-3750 ext. 399.

One Final Note

I hope you like our new 'look.'

We have created this 'e-letter' to be distributed on a monthly basis.

The new design stems in large part to the recent survey we sent out, and so I want to send you my sincerest ‘thanks' for taking the time to send us your response.

Our new e-letter contains more details about our upcoming events and information on how you can get involved with our Maryland Historical Society. You'll also be hearing more from me. We're calling this new publication "History Alive!," and it is my hope that we can make the wonderful objects and documents in our collection come to life through our performances, our lectures, our publications, and our events.

I also want to let you know that the latest issue of our Maryland Historical Magazine is now available on our website. Simply login to view it. You will need your membership number, which can be found on your membership card. Your password is your last name with the first letter in uppercase.

I'd also like to introduce a new Trivia feature, beginning with this week's question

Question: During the Great Fire of 1904, firefighters intentionally demolished buildings around the conflagration's perimeter in hopes of containing the blaze. One man ran to his Charles Street property, placed himself in the doorway, and refused to let the firefighter's set the charges. Against all odds, the property survived the fire and continued to serve Baltimore until 1954. What was the name of the building?

We will be offering prizes for the correct responses – so email us your answer, and best of luck!

Until next month,
Burt Sig 2
Burton Kummerow
President, The Maryland Historical Society

When to Visit:
Wednesday – Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday from 12 noon – 5 pm (Museum Only)

Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine."

The Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street and open to the public Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday (library only) 12 pm-5pm.