Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland

The day after Ken, Linda, Sally, Beth and I toured Gettysburg, we toured Antietam. We’d spent the night in Hagerstown, Maryland and drove the 15 miles south to the battlefield early in the day. The tiny museum was underwhelming. The slide show consisted mostly of slides from other Civil War battles and many of them were repeated.  I fell asleep.

While the others wandered around the bookstore, Beth and I went outside. It was in the mid-80s and humid, but since this was the hottest day of the entire vacation, it wasn’t bad.

When the others came out, we headed out on the tour route. Our first stop was the Dunker Church where some of the worst fighting took place. The original building blew down in a storm in 1921. This one was built in 1962 using as much of the material from the original as could be saved.

The battlefield, then and now, included a lot of cornfields. I tried to convince Sally that what we were looking at was interesting, but she kept saying, “It’s just a cornfield.” I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t just “a” cornfield — it was THE cornfield, but she wasn’t impressed.

After a while, only Ken and I were getting out of the car. We did all climb out at one stop to look at an old cemetery. Beth chased butterflies and actually caught one!

This sunken road came to be known as Bloody Lane after the battle because of the hundreds of Confederate soldiers who died there — so many that a person could walk the length of the lane on the bodies (if a person wanted to).

There was a tower that looked down the length of the lane. While we were up top, Beth felt led to yell, “To arms, to arms, the British are coming!” I tried to explain that she had the wrong war, but she didn’t care.

We drove to Burnside Bridge, where 400 Confederates held off an entire Union corps for most of the day. We walked down the hill and crossed the bridge.

On the slope above the bridge, there was a monument to William McKinley.

It says:

WILLIAM McKINLEY
January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901
Fourteen Years Member of Congress
Twice Governor of Ohio 1892-3 and 1894-5
Twice President of United States
1897 – 1900 – 1901
Sergeant McKinley Co. E. 23rd Ohio Vol. Infantry, while in charge of the Commissary Department, on the afternoon of the day of the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, personally and without orders served “hot coffee” and “warm food” to every man in the Regiment, on this spot and in doing so had to pass under fire.
 

We made one last stop, an overlook above the area where the battle ended. The two houses in this photo were there during the war.

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