Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 210 - Antietam National Battlefield

Today Chris and I went to Antietam Battlefield at Sharpsburg, MD. Chris became interested in the Civil War several years ago when it was covered in his school. He has been to Gettysburg several times, but this first time for both of us to visit Antietam. The battle here between McClellan's and Lee's Armies was the bloodiest one-day battle in US history, with about 23,000 killed, wounded or missing. Six generals were killed (3 on each side). We listened to one of the Park Rangers talk about the battle at the visitor center with a view of much of the battlefield through the windows. The battlefield is still much the same as it was in 1862. Monuments to both Union and Confederate units and individuals appear across the battlefield (above are the Maryland and New York state monuments). Cannons also dot the landscape and the Park Service has restored many of the fences to be as they were in 1862. The battle began at dawn in a cornfield at the northern end of the battle field and continued along a road in the middle that became known as "bloody lane".

This battle was a turning point in the war, as it was a Union victory that gave Lincoln the impetus to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and it prevented Lee from moving further north into Pennsylvania and possibly cutting off Washington from the northern states. The lower bridge over Antietam Creek (also known as Burnside's bridge) was the site of the afternoon battle, resulting in many more casualties. The next day Lee's army retreated across the Potomac River into Virginia and the war continued on for two more years. (Notice that Chris has been bitten by the photo bug too!)

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