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GTM Civil War Center to host March 21 lecture on archaeology and GIS

ISSUED: 6 March 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War will present Dr. Stephen Potter, regional archaeologist emeritus for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, on Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Potter will give a lecture titled “Bullets, Canister, Case and Shrapnel: Archaeology and GIS at the Piper Farm, Antietam National Battlefield.” This lecture is free and open to the public.

Potter’s research, with contributions by Tom Gwaltney and Karen L. Orrence, will focus on the Union and Confederate forces that fought at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American military history with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded, and missing. Some of the fiercest fighting occurred around the Sunken Road, the northern boundary of the Henry Piper farm.

Over four field seasons, archaeologists conducted systematic metal-detector surveys of the 16-acre Piper Orchard, site of the Confederates’ retreat from the Sunken Road and their stand to hold the center, the Union advances of Caldwell and Brooke’s brigades, and the senseless charge of the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment. A combination of GIS analysis, 3-D terrain modeling, viewshed analysis, and a review of the historical record resulted in the identification of unit positions and movements derived from an examination of 2,033 military artifacts. This research provides a more detailed understanding of the events at Piper Farm, reveals actions not documented in historical records, and demonstrates potential applications to other battlefield landscapes.

For more information, visit or For questions, contact Jennifer Alarcon at 304-876-5429 or

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