Robinson’s Division on Oak Ridge, July 1, 1863

Here’s Ranger John Hoptak giving an outstanding battle walk covering the actions of John C. Robinson’s division of the I Corps, Army of the Potomac, on July 1, 1863.  Robinson’s men fought on Oak Ridge against Robert Rodes’ division of the II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

Anyone who has any influence with the NPS should try to ensure that John stays at Gettysburg.  He’s really an outstanding historian and presenter.



  1. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Great presentation by John. Is there some reason why we should be influencing the NPS to have John stay at Gettysburg? Is he being considered for removal from GB or transferred to another battlefield? Just asking.

    1. His position at Gettysburg ends at the end of this fiscal year.

  2. chancery · · Reply


    Your post raises a question I’ve been wondering about for some time, namely, what are the Park Service’s policies on career specialization and location assignments.

    I have a close relative who works in a branch of the federal government where frequently changing assignments is an inevitable fact of life that is built into the traditions of the service. A typical assignment lasts 2-3 year. One-year extensions are not typical but not unheard of. Beyond that period, absent extraordinary circumstances, the employee is off to a new assignment in a new location. This continues for the entire career.

    I’ve heard that a junior ranger can expect a pretty varied experience in his or her first decade or so. It would not be unusual to start out leading interpretive tours in Acadia, then switch to back country trail maintenance and search and rescue operations in Glacier, followed by running the question desk at Grant’s Tomb.

    On the other hand, many rangers develop deep competence in specific professional areas such as history, archeology, and geology. “Confederates in the Attic” had a fascinating chapter about a ranger archeologist who had done interesting work at Shiloh (I think). Perhaps a ranger with a specialization and a certain amount of seniority mostly receives assignments relevant to that specialization — do you know how that works, and how the service balances a ranger’s individual interests with its administrative needs? And is there a different professional “cone” for rangers interested in progressing into the senior manager ranks? (I’ve googled this, a little, but haven’t learned much.)

    Finally, a slightly disputatious question. Do you in fact know that Mr. Hoptak is seeking to remain at his present assignment? Gettysburg’s loss might be Antietam’s gain, if he were transferred to another civil war battlefield. Of course, he might be looking at a transfer to a position managing Human Resources for Park Service operations in the southwest, which would be a loss for park visitors and might be a tedious assignment for him. But I would need to know more about the structure and policies of the Park Service before I criticized the action as institutional dysfunction.

    1. I can’t really give any information on NPS personnel policy. I’m nowhere near qualified to do that. Also, I don’t want to speak for John. My plea was simply my own selfish desire to see that he remain at Gettysburg. I’m 100% certain that wherever he ends up he’ll make outstanding contributions and that site will be lucky to have him. Hopefully it’s Gettysburg. Also, I hope I didn’t give the impression I was in any way criticizing the NPS. Funding is funding, and I’m sure if they had their way they’d fully fund all positions and keep them filled. If there’s any body to be criticized in this, I’d go with Congress.

  3. chancery · · Reply

    > My plea was simply my own selfish desire to
    >see that he remain at Gettysburg.

    Ah, that’s the kind of point of view with which I can sympathize completely.

    > Funding is funding …If there’s anybody to
    >be criticized in this, I’d go with Congress.

    Yeah, don’t get me started. Fortunately for your readers, it would be off topic and wouldn’t get posted . . .

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