Antietam Battlefield in western Maryland was the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War. (Well it wasn't really a civil war, but I think you know what I am talking about.) I happened to be there on the anniversary of the actual battle on September 17th. By nightfall in 1862, 23,000 men were killed or wounded, and the bodies remained in the fields for weeks.
I arrived in Maryland on Tuesday, and went and found a motel in Hagerstown, and decided to check out the battlefield before dark. This was a good decision, because the sky was clear blue, and I got some beautiful shots. The next morning when I visited, it was foggy, just like it was on the original day of the battle.
Antietam battlefield was one of the first well-photographed sites after the battle, and brought home the horror of the war in many grotesque photos of the dead lying on the ground.
The result of the battle was inconclusive, and you could say the Union won because they held the ground afterwards. But Lee evacuated his army and McClellan did not follow, causing the anger of President Lincoln, who fired McClellan because he did not continue to pursue Lee, which allowed the war to continue.
Lee's objective was to draw the union army away from Richmond and the western theater, where the union had successfully captured Vicksburg and closed off the Mississippi. In this, Lee was successful.
Antietam is very quiet and mostly untouched by modern building. There are cornfields just as there were in 1862. Some of the farmhouses are still there. It is actually somewhat serene walking around the fields and along the woods. This is certainly a sacred place.
There are a few places worth visiting. The first is Dunker Church. Photos after the war show it in the background behind rows of dead soldiers.
There are the cornfields that soldiers would walk through as solid shot from the cannons knocked them down like bowling pins.
In the cornfields was Hartsuff's brigade. The same George Hartsuff who is credited with starting the 3rd Seminole War in 1855. Hartsuff was wounded at Antietam.
The sunken road is a hallowed place, where hundreds of soldiers died on the road. And observation tower erected in the 1890s gives a good view over the road. It was said that the dead laid here as if they were still in formation.
Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball commanded a brigade here. Not sure if he is closely related, but I found another close relative that I didn't know about, and have a photo of his monument further down. These were my Union relatives. At Gettysburg, I will mention my Confederate relatives.
The south bridge, also known as Burnside's Bridge. Hundreds of Union soldiers tried to cross and were killed by Confederate artillery on the hillside above. It is called Burnside's bridge because General Burnside decided to cross the river here, instead of where he was previously, a mile and a half away, on a point that was not defended by the Confederates and no more than three feet deep in the water. A tactical move that wasted many lives and could have been avoided. This is one of the most photographed spots around. The large sycamore tree along the bridge was there during the battle.
William McKinley monument nearby.
On the other side of the battle area, is hidden the monument for the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, commanded by Col. John Kimball, most likely a relative of mine. Fighting in the Western Woods, he lost half of his brigade in 20 minutes from the bloody fighting. Not uncommon for the Union at Antietam.
The serene country paths around Antietam. It is hard to see, but there is a flock of wild turkeys down the road and to the left.