I was discussing the Civil War recently with someone who had kindly agreed to give my most recent writing project a once-over. More precisely, we were talking about visiting Civil War battlegrounds. In the process, I realized that I never posted pictures from my second trip to Antietam, which was not too long after the first trip (detailed in this blog post).
I decided to visit Antietam again because I enjoyed it the first time but felt I didn’t get enough time to explore like I wanted to. I also wanted to go when there were fewer people around. I loved the 150th anniversary events, but to see the battlefield on a quiet day, when I could wander alone and discover things for myself, seemed priceless. So I picked a beautiful, cool day in October.
First, I would like to reiterate that Antietam–and Sharpsburg, and in fact that entire area of Western Maryland–is incredibly beautiful. Just driving around is worth it, to see the rolling foothills, the handsome Victorian towns perched on the sides of hills, and especially (in fall) the changing leaves. Second, I would also like to restate the eeriness of that beauty when looking upon the killing grounds of the bloodiest day in American history. I took lunch with me and sat on the grassy hill looking down upon Burnside’s Bridge, the hill on which soldiers positioned themselves to fire down on the poor souls trying to cross that narrow bridge. They stood right there, looking down at the same bridge I was looking down on. Except that they were picking off men as if they were fish in a barrel. They weren’t just enjoying a sunny autumn day.
Third, I would like to encourage everyone again to visit any historical site you get a chance to see. It’s always worth it. Reading about these things never quite does them justice.