By Mr. Frederick R Poole (ACC )November 2, 2009
Recently in October at Sharpsburg, Md., the Army Contracting Command received the opportunity to stand on hallowed ground where over 150 years ago, more than 24,000 brave Soldiers lost their lives in what is known as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam.
According to Army Contracting Command's Col. Joseph L. Bass, this was an opportunity for co-workers to get together and relax in an informal environment, to enjoy themselves and learn about our United States history in the process.
September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam is known as the bloodiest one-day battle of the American Civil War, with more than 24,000 Soldiers losing their lives that day.
Despite the Civil War taking place more than 150 years ago, Army contracting existed, making the staff ride much more significant. U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center Historian and ACC's designated tour guide, Michael E. Lynch explained the relevance and similarities shared with contracting that occurred in the Civil War to ACC's contracting experiences today.
"We want you to walk away with a better appreciation of the experience U.S. Soldiers went through and realize that 150 years ago people did jobs similar to what you're doing, and had similar challenges to what you all face today."
One of the many examples of contracting Lynch used was General Ambrose Burnside, who resigned from the Army to sell weapons to the Army much like contractors. He manufactured a breech-loading rifle known as the Burnside rifle.
As participants digested Lynch's knowledge of the Battle of Antietam, they were able to comprehend and become easier engaged with the experienced historian thanks to his ability to make the exploration relate to the staff participants and their roles today.
Army Contracting Command's Chief of the Commanding General Staff Group, Melissa D. Rider could relate to the experience because certain parts of the battle stressed the need to plan and the need to execute properly. She realized through the example of Brigadier General William H. French the consequences of what can happen when a plan falls apart.
French was known for leading his men down the wrong road, they went south and away from the war as they lost contact with General Edwin V. Sumner. French and his men attacked unsuspecting Major General Edwin Sumner and later received aided from General Israel B. Richardson's division. French and Richardson's troops were able to drive southerners back.
"The staff ride displayed good leadership because it lets us understand how people in the past operated under chaotic conditions," said Rider.
In addition, Lynch explained the battle tactics of both the Confederate and Federal Army, the challenging conditions each side faced during the war, and the level of intelligence President Abraham Lincoln displayed during these times.
According to Bass anyone can come out and deliver facts pertaining to history but to present information and make it relative to your guests is commendable.
"We know that there is plenty of preparation that goes into a staff ride and Lynch made this enjoyable and relevant to us." Bass said.
The staff members visited a number of different sites related to the Civil War McClellan Campaign, including Dunker Church, Cornfield Trails, Bolivar Heights Battlefield and the Sunken Road which is also known as "Bloody Lane". They set foot on each of these premises as Lynch went through the play-by-play description of what took place September 17, 1862.