A lifelong student of American History with a focus on the Civil War, John Hoptak earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Kutztown University and his Master's Degree in History from Lehigh University. He also holds and Instructional I Certificate in Social Studies and Citizenship Education (7-12) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Hoptak is currently employed as a Park Ranger/Park Educator at Gettysburg National Military Park, where he has been employed since 2012. Previous to working at Gettysburg, Hoptak worked as a Park Ranger at the Antietam National Battlefield. He has been employed by the National Park Service since 2006.
Hoptak is the author of numerous books and articles, which have appeared in such publications as America's Civil War, Civil War Times, and Pennsylvania Heritage. He has authored two books for the History Press' Civil War Sesquicentennial Series: "The Battle of South Mountain" (2011) and "Confrontation at Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost" (2012). He also penned a guidebook for the Antietam National Battlefield, entitled "Antietam: September 17, 1862," published by the Western Maryland Interpretative Association, 2011. His first book, published in 2004 and titled "First in Defense of the Union: The Civil War History of the First Defenders," chronicles the history of the first five companies of Northern volunteers to arrive in Washington after the commencement of hostilities. His other books include "Our Boys Did Nobly: Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam" (2009), "They Will Be Remembered By A Grateful People: Civil War Heroes of Schuylkill County" (2009), and "Antietam Trivia" (2009). Most recently, he has authored/edited, "Dear Ma:" The Civil War Letters of Curtis C. Pollock, First Defender and First Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. (Sunbury Press, 2017). He is also a frequent lecturer at Civil War Roundtables and Historical Societies, having spoken at such Roundtables at the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable, the Civil War Roundtable of Kentucky, and the Capitol Area Civil War Roundtable. He has appeared in several PBS Documentaries, including "Heart of the Civil War" and "Our Town: Pottsville."
John is also active in matters of historic preservation. Among other ventures, he led the effort to place historical tablets in the city of Pottsville in honor of General James Nagle, and has recently concluded a nation-wide campaign to restore the 48th Pennsylvania monument at Antietam by replacing the missing sword from the Nagle statue.
Although interested in all aspects of the war, John's main interest lies in the Civil War history of his native Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and particularly the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment recruited almost entirely from Schuylkill County. John hosts a blog dedicated to the 48th PA, which can be found at: www.48thpennsylvania.blogspot.com