One of our good friends is in Maryland today. His name is Frank, and his real job is that of principal at a school in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. But today he is engaged in another passion. Frank is a Civil War reenactor and today he is in Maryland, along with thousands of his colleagues, reenacting one of the the turning points in the war, the Battle of Antietam.
At dawn on this day in 1862, near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, United States forces mounted an attack on rebel forces arrayed along Antietam Creek. The day proved to be the single bloodiest day in the entire war, and, indeed, in all of American history. All told, more than 23,000 americans were either killed or wounded on this single day.
The battle might have proven decisive in the war General George B. McClellan, commanding the United States forces, pursued the retreating southerners the following day. But he did not, and allowed then to escape, thus allowing the war to continue for another two and a half years. For this failure, McClellan soon lost not only the confidence of President Abraham Lincoln, but also his command.
But the success, limited as it was, had great significance.
The limited victory for United States forces gave President Lincoln the ammunition needed to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which would be formally enact the following january. This changed the dynamic of the war from one simply to maintain the union, to one which would abolish slavery. Moreover, the announcement served to persuade both Britain and France to refrain from recognizing the rebel government as a legitimate nation and thus hastened the demise of the rebellion.
So, this is truly a date fraught with momentous significance for the United States. Every school child has heard of Gettysburg, but Antietam is often forgotten, though in some ways it had far greater importance overall.
But today, at least for the thousands of souls gathered on that hallowed site to reenact the bloody day, those who gave their lives there are remembered. And they are honored, as well they should be. Their sacrifice gave us back our American Nation.
Here at Mobile Ed we believe in the importance of history. We understand that without a strong knowledge of where you have been and how you got to where you are, that you cannot know where you are going or how to get there, and, more importantly, how to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Knowledge of history is vital to the importance of our children. Which is why we offer several different historical characters, available to visit your school and bring to life some of the great figures of the past - Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and more. Experiencing one of these great school shows will provide memories a student will carry with them back into the classroom, where the vibrant images will assist them to learn the rest of this nation’s long and important history. A subject many erroneously think of as boring, becomes wonderfully exciting and dynamic, and may well change your child’s perception of the past. We have seen it happen, again and again.
So on this, the anniversary of one of the most important battles in the history of our country, and even, one might say, the history of the world, we take a moment to remember those brave men who gave their all, so long ago. And we hope that you will help us to ignite in your children an understanding of the majesty and grace of the men and women who have passed this way before. The future depends upon it.
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN