Tuesday, July 26, 2005


The Dunker Church - Battlefield Shrine

The Battle of Antietam, fought September 17, 1862, was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of this nation. Yet, one of the most noted landmarks on this great field of combat is a house of worship associated with peace. Although more commonly known as the German Baptist Brethren, the name "Dunker" referred to their method of full submersion baptism used by the denomination's founders.

The Cornfield Avenue - That's what the black sign with white letters says.

The battle at Antietam Creek Maryland started on September 17, 1863 when the fighting in the cornfield near the German Baptist Church commonly called Dunkers broke out. Joseph Hooker was the Northern general in this part of the battlefield. Hooker had crossed Antietam Creek with his men to face the Confederate line commanded by Thomas Jackson. The Confederates eventually fell back to Miller's cornfield directly south of the North Woods. The fighting in this cornfield was extremely bloody, and control of the cornfield changed hands almost fifteen times in three hours.

Famous people who were noted for other events who were at Antietam:

George Custer (1839-1876) was a 22 year old officer for the Union Army at Antietam.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935) was wounded in fighting in the West Woods at Antietam.
I love this story about Oliver.

During the Confederate attack on Fort Stevens, President Lincoln came out from the White House to make a tour of Union defenses. The task of piloting him fell to Oliver Wendell Holmes, aide-de-camp to the general in command. Lincoln wanted to know where the enemy was, and Holmes pointed them out. The President stood up to look. Standing, and supplemented by his high plug hat, Mr. Lincoln was a target of exceptional visibility, and there came a snarl of musketry fire.

Grabbing the President by the arm, the young officer dragged him under cover, saying, "Get down, you fool!"

This was not the approved style for an officer to employ in addressing the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of his country. Oliver's worry came back when, just as Lincoln was quitting the fort, he took the trouble to walk back.

"Good-bye, Colonel Holmes," he said. "I'm glad to see you know how to talk to a civilian."

William McKinley (1843-1901) was the 25th president who recognized for bravery at the Battle of Antietam, for assisting Union troops. He was in charge of his regiment's commissonary at age 19.

Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863) Thomas Stonewall Jackson is one of the most famous military commanders.
Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) in June 1862 took over command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Abner Doubleday (1819-1893) fought in many Civil War battles, including Antietam.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) Founder of the Red Cross who has a monument dedicated to her for aiding the sick and wounded during and after the battle at Antietam. Notice the Red Cross at the base of the monument.

Like Gettysburg the tour around the battlefield has many monuments and the tour can either be driven or walked (in cooler weather)

Another view of the battlefield from the cornfield looking east.

The Sunken Road - A natural trench a "Bloody Lane"

Troops which include famous Irish Brigade, clashed in a raging fight that lasted more than three hours. The fighting along Sunken Road (Bloody Lane) finally ceased from confusion and exhaustion on both sides. Casualties, in the end, totaled to about five thousand. For nearly four hours (about 9:30 am to 1:00 pm), Union and Confederate soldiers fought a harsh, bloody battle on Sunken Road. Because of the horrific amount of blood on this road after this particular battle was over, it was nicknamed Bloody Lane. It was told that the Blood was literally "flowing like a river". This battle was one of the bloodiest battles fought at Antietam.

Bloody Lane looking West

Bloody Lane from the observation tower looking West from the East end. Yes that's the Musemobile down there with Scrabble Queen sitting in air conditioning ....

.... while I climbed the 81 stairs to the top

Burnside Bridge
Burnside Bridge, formally known as Lower Bridge or Rohrback Bridge, has been deemed as one of the battlefield's most famous landmarks. Ambrose Burnside attempted to move his troops across, but were held off by 400 Georgia riflemen. The battlefield's most intense fighting occurred here, in turn, naming the bridge after the famous General Burnside. Union general Burnside did eventually cross the bridge, but his men were eventually forced to retreat by 3000 rebel soldiers who made a timely arrival from Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. General Ambrose Burnside as noted earlier was famous for "Sideburns", The lost battle at Fredericksburg and having twelve thousand men held off by 400 riflemen on a hill while trying to cross a bridge......

no more than 10 feet wide.

I just loved the look of the battlefield fences and the well cared for grounds. Antietam, like Gettysburg are two places every President, Congressman and General should visit prior to sending troops into battle. To honor the brave soldiers who were and will be put in harms way they need to know the true costs up front. I say this not so much as a criticism but as an uncle of a brave and dear young man I couldn't help thinking about today.

Freedom is a long road and it's all uphill every day.

Scrabble Score - Scrabble Queen 314 - The Contender 297

Quote of the Day ~
"Beware how you take away hope from another human being." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

while antietam was tactically a draw, stratigically it prevented lee from moving into the north to surround washington. it will be studied by military historians for years to come, should have mcclellan pursued lee that day, would the war have been ended two and a half years sooner. it was considered enough of a victory for the north to allow lincoln to announce the emancipation proclamation ending a sad period in our country's history. this was really made clear while visiting monticello, home of the father of our declaration of independence, "that all men are created equal;" while his home and grounds and beloved way of life were sustained by slaves he owned.

we are most thankful to the many volunteers and national park service, whom with limited funds but a great deal of patriotism, maintain these hallowed places in all their haunting beauty for all the citizens of the world to visit.

and as an aside, yes, at a heat index of 110, i stayed in the rv and listened to the auto tour tape. all except for "burnside bridge." i had to see for myself the shallow creek where burnside lost so many men trying to cross a bridge.


©Paul Viel