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About Antietam on the Web

notes from the webmaster

The US Military Commission to Crimea
The US Military Commission to Crimea (c. 1855) - Four military officers: l. to r. Maj. Alfred Mordecai,
LCol. Obrescoff1, Maj. Richard Delafield, Capt. George B. McClellan.

Daguerreotype from the US Library of Congress (click picture to see larger copy)

About AotW :: site scope | questions? | copyright | privacy | accessibility | rss | technical | appreciation


An historian should yield himself to his subject, become immersed in the place and period of his choice, standing apart from it now and then for a fresh view.   - Samuel Eliot Morison

Antietam on the Web (AotW) is presented for your enlightenment and entertainment. It began in November 1996 as a small personal project to help the webmaster sort out and display the vast amount of information available about the great Civil War battle, but it has grown well beyond that, both as an exercise in history research and as a Web project.

We're continually expanding the project: taking advantage of the membership framework to engage the larger community of interested people and pooling our resources to better present the story here online. There is so much little-known information and talent available, and the Web is proving an excellent way to help find and harness it.


Site Scope and Quality

In January 2004 we did a quality review of the site using standards developed by the Internet Scout Project. See the results for considerably more detail about what we're about, how we think we're doing, how the site works, and why you should trust what you see here.

About a month after we did this self-evaluation, the Scout Project folks came to visit, and then listed us in their Report

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Questions about the Battle?

We're happy to try to answer your questions or hear your comments about the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg. If you have a question, though, please do look around the site or consult the site map for help finding the answer first before contacting us.

You might also try the TalkAntietam Discussion group (a web/email list) if you have something specific to ask or discuss concerning the battle - there's lot's of knowledge and expertise represented there.

If you are tracing your Civil War-era ancestors, however, we'll likely be of little use. Please try other web sites, like those dedicated to genealogy, for that kind of thing.

For more general Civil War questions, go ahead and ask, but we may not be the best source. There are many other fine references on the Web. Some of the best of these may be found on the Bibliography page.



This is a non-commercial web site created and operating specifically for research and educational purposes. Our use of excerpts from copyrighted works, with appropriate credit for their creators, is reasonably believed to fall within the provisions of fair use as provided under US copyright law.

We have tried to be careful to credit others' work when we use it, so material not quoted or attributed to another source or individual, or that which is not in the public domain—quoted US Government documents and pre-1923 photographs and publications, for example— is mine/ours. In addition, the Antietam on the Web site as a body is copyrighted material.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Our intent is to be as free with this material as possible, but certain rights are reserved. Generally, you may make unrestricted non-commercial use of this material with proper credit. If you want to use it for any commercial purpose, simply contact us to make prior arrangements.

For complete details click on the Creative Commons link below for full license and terms of use.

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On the other hand, if you believe we've done something to infringe on your copyright, please notify us immediately, with supporting details, so that we can correct the problem.

For more about how copyrights work in the USA, see the Copyright page at the US Copyright Office.

For details about other creative content on AotW you might also like to see more about the maps and about the photos & illustrations used here.


Your Privacy

This web site uses logs and software programs, including Google Analytics, to create statistics that we use to assess what information is of most or least interest, find server performance issues, find service errors, and monitor the inevitable malicious activity. Our server host and Google collect and store the following information on our behalf:

They will keep these server logs for an undetermined period (maybe forever!), but only the server owner/admin and the AotW webmaster can see this information.

None of the above identifies anyone personally, and we do not and will not share server information with anyone else, unless it results from malicious activity - in which case, we will notify the ISP of the activity.

While you are visiting Antietam on the Web we also set a cookie on your computer, called PHPSESSID, which keeps session state data for us while you move about the site. It does not contain any personal information about you, unless you are logged in as a Member (in which case it'll contain your name and the status of your login). It is required by our operating software - you may choose not to allow this cookie, but then the site may not operate correctly. This cookie expires and disappears after you leave AotW.

If you choose to provide us with personal information by other means, in an e-mail message, for example, we will use this information only to respond to your request. We will neither share your e-mail nor any other personal information you give us with anyone without obtaining your permission. We do save most email traffic indefinitely, but it is archived to a computer not on the internet.

We do collect additional specific personal information from our members upon registration: name, city, and email, but we use this only to identify, manage, and communicate with our membership. You may opt not to provide this information, but then you will not be able to participate as a Member. We store user-selected passwords for our members, but these are stored encrypted, and we never see them in clear. We also keep track of member submissions and editing activity. We never share any of this member data with anyone, and it will also exist in our database for the forseeable future.

If you have any concerns, questions, or comments about Privacy issues, please contact the webmaster.



To be sure as many people can use the site as possible, we have been learning about how to design for accessibility from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). We have been applying best-practice design and coding techniques in this effort, working toward compliance with the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG). Thanks to Denny Lancaster and his Talking Hands for giving us a nudge.

We use an automated testing tool called Cynthia Says, along with the required manual testing steps, to find issues to be resolved. While we have not tested every individual page on the site, we have sampled each of the basic design template types, which are truly representative of the whole site. As of July 2004 the whole site is at a minimum Level A conformance to the WCAG, in fact much of it is at Triple-A. We're planning to get all of it to the Triple-A Level as soon as we can. [detailed status]

If you use assistive technologies or have access issues, we'd particularly like to hear from you about how we're doing, and your experiences in accessing the Web in general. We want to get this right.

Level A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0


RSS Feed

In May 2005 we wrote some code to automatically create an RSS feed for our users. This will let our readers keep up with the latest additions and updates on the site within their own blogs or sites, or with an RSS Reader, and jump back to AotW to see the new content.

What's RSS and how does it work? See a good introduction from an ITer at the University of Iowa, or a more technical tutorial by Mark Nottingham.

(RSS Logo) Get the RSS Feed for AotW updates


Technical Details

AotW was originally built from static HTML pages, handcoded. When we moved to a new server in 2003, we restructured the site architecture. It is now delivered largely by (X)HTML generated by PHP code talking to a mySQL database. The database contains the masses of factual information and text content which you see displayed on the site. AotW is ably hosted by GoDaddy.

In February 2004 we began the next level of architecture upgrade. We are attempting to separate the 'presentation' and 'content' layers of the site by removing formatting and layout instructions from the HTML and putting it in CSS2 style sheets, where it belongs, instead. While we're at it we hope to able to validate the site as XHTML 1.1 compliant. Although most browsers are displaying the old, kludgy HTML just fine, it is increasingly difficult to maintain and build upon, and does not lend itself to some of the features we are thinking of for the future.

It is taking us a while to work through all the components of the site, however - there's a lot of 'workaround/hack' HTML relying on tables and custom layout tags, and it's all mixed in with both static content and in the database. We expect to go through several steps before we're complete. As a start, we have completed the re-work of the Home page and the Exhibits and ORs. The results are encouraging, but please let us know if your browser displays AotW oddly.

This page is valid XHTML 1.1! This page uses valid CSS!

Thanks for coming by, enjoy your visit, and please feel free to contact the webmaster at any time - we'd like to hear from you.

Brian Downey, webmaster


Over the years a number of well-regarded people and organizations have reviewed, cited, or otherwise favorably noticed AotW. Many of our old internet friends are gone now, but some of the best are keeping on, and new ones are coming up. We'd like to thank a few of them here, and invite you to visit them - they are the best at what they do.

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1   "...The Commission continued to rub elbows with Europe's elite. By imperial invitation they attended a military review on the Champs de Mars. They sat next to Prince V.A. Dalgouroucki, the Russian Minister of War, who greeted them heartily and promptly assigned them a military escort for their stay in Russia, a Lieutenant Colonel Obrescoff, his own aide de camp". It is probably Obrescoff in the photograph. He is 'unidentified' in the Library of Congress documentation of this picture. (Reference thanks to the USAMHI via Dave Tooley, San Diego CWRT)
Moten, Matthew, The Delafield Commission and the American Military Profession, College Station (Tx): Texas A&M University Press, 2000, pg. 128  [AotW citation 454]