Tag Archives: Antietam

150 Years ago today: Antietam

Please take a moment today to remember America’s bloodiest day.

I’m planning to keep an open post today, updating with photos were I can. The first stop of the day- the Cornfield:

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Surreal ….

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The same site, looking at the CWT Antietam Battle App:

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Cannon fire from the New York Monument:

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Head count for morning tour is 585. Took 25 minutes for the group to pass single file up to Cornfield Avenue.  Again the battle app view:

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Ranger Hoptak, surrounded by visitors, starts the Sunken Lane tour.

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We arrive at the Sunken Lane… with the tour group playing “sides”.

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Afternoon hike got underway around 2:30.

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The last stop was a personal pull off on the way home.  Anyone care to identify this spot?

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Another successful 150th observance.  The folks at Antietam are always on their game for the battle anniversary.  This year, they topped all previous years.  Great job guys!

Antietam moves the guns around

Several people asked me today about changes to the lineup of the guns at Antietam.  Well let me direct you to Jim Rosebrock’s post on the subject which has the details.  He notes that Ranger Kieth Snyder came up with the plan, which involved 38 guns.   And,  “Now, they are all two-gun position and with the exception of one tube, every gun repositioned and added is the same type that was there during the battle.”  Just in time for the sesquicentennial!

But of course, that means I’ll have to drive up that way and conduct even more “field research” to update my notes.  Yes.. another excuse to visit Antietam (as my wife’s eyes are rolling as I type).

Great news is this lone howitzer out by the Burnside Bridge was relocated:

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Why do I applaud that move?

Because I’ve grown tired of explaining to fellow battlefield stompers that the Federals were not firing the howitzer point blank onto the Georgians on the other side!

Where Walking the Field Pays Off: Southern Half of Antietam Battlefield

As fellow blogger Harry Smeltzer recovers from yesterday’s outing, I’m assimilating the experiences and information from the full day spent on the trails at Antietam.

Outstanding attendance, more than I’ve seen in previous years.  I don’t have the totals, but there must have been 80 or so at the morning start for the cornfield walk at 7 am.  My estimate on the 9 am tour was over 125.  And I must say while us old guys were in full attendance, the audience had a large number of younger folks.  Perhaps the Civil War enthusiast community is not aging out as some have predicted.

Morning rains prevented the rangers from hitting all the points for the morning hike. But as skies cleared in the afternoon, we covered the southern portion of the field, and we were treated to some of the field’s “off the beaten path” locations.  All better, as I find the southern half of the field more interesting (and much overlooked by historians).

As I review my photos, this one stands out as a reference point for further study:

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This photo was taken from the ridge line just northeast of the Burnside Bridge.  Just right of center is a white house which, I think, is the house at the stone mill.  Just below and to the right is the Sherrick Farm.

To the left of center is the Sharpsburg water tower, a convenient modern landmark.  In that direction is the Hawkins Zouaves monument, on the far ridge.  To the left of that, across the open fields, is the area where the final Confederate counterattack of the day, led of course by General A.P. Hill, crashed into the Federal Ninth Corps.

I’ve captured this line of sight against one of the Antietam Battlefield Board maps, showing the action at about 4:20 PM:

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The green dot is the location where the photo was taken and the arrows showing the field of view.

Lots of wiggly terrain contour lines on the map.  Those tighten up near Antietam Creek where everyone knows the ground is steep.  But what isn’t fully grasped by the casual examination, is the presence of several additional ravines and elevations between the creek and where the final action took place.  Even the line of sight, in the photo above, conceals the elevation changes.

Here’s a view just 300 yards west of the first photo, on the west side of Antietam Creek:

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For emphasis, to get from the first site to this location, the visitor must walk down to Antietam Creek, cross the Burnside Bridge, and then walk up about 110 to 120 feet in elevation.  On that September day in 1862, from the position above the attacking force had to march down and back up a couple more times just to get in position to attack Sharpsburg. And of course that movement was far from “uncontested.”

Our ranger guides summed this up best – it was the terrain just as much as the Confederates that defeated Burnside’s Ninth Corps that afternoon.