Day 64, Monday, September 17, 2018
Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
I was due to start heading west to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding and to spend some time with family. But along the way, of course, I planned to sightsee!
Antietam National Battlefield was on my list. I had visited back in 2008, but a freak snow storm deposited approximately 1/4 inch of snow that had shut down the Visitor Center (and I thought we were bad about snow in Washington state). I was determined to return. Too bad the rain this time was insane!
Antietam (called the Battle of Sharpsburg in the south), was a Civil War Battle that occurred on September 17, 1862, and remains to this day the bloodiest day in American history. 22,717 Union and Confederate solders were killed, wounded or missing that day. Of course, it also has other historical significance. Although it was technically a draw, General McClellan and his Union troops were able to stop Confederate General Lee’s advance into Maryland. That was enough of a victory for President Lincoln, and he used the opportunity to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, which would take effect on January 1, 1863 in Confederate controlled areas.
The battlefield land was established as a park on August 30, 1890 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Approximately 385,000 people visit each year.
I first stopped at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, which was supposed to be open that day. It was just starting to rain. The Pry House was General McClellan’s headquarters during the battle and now has Civil War field hospital exhibits inside, so I was very interested in seeing it. Unfortunately, it was locked up tight – thwarted again!
So I headed over to the Visitor’s Center, and was happy to find it open. I sat in on a Ranger presentation about the battle; where things happened, and how the battle unfolded. The Visitor’s Center has a viewing area for these presentations on the second floor, so you get a good view of the layout of the field and can see a visual of what the Ranger is discussing. It was interesting!
Then I went out on the auto tour. I stopped by Dunker Church and took a peek inside.
I drove through Miller’s farm, where the fighting began on the morning of the battle. I climbed to the top of the Observation Tower. By this time, it had started to rain really hard, and the wind was kicking up, creating quite a sway at the top of the tower!
By the time I made my way over to the Burnside Bridge, which I REALLY wanted to see, it was a torrential downpour. I was sad, but ultimately decided to skip it, as I’m not even sure I would have been able to see it if I walked over to it. Which just means I will have to go back! One day, I will see Antietam as it should be seen.