September will be a busy month: Maryland Campaign Sesquicentennial Events

The month of August will prove busy for us sesquicentennialists in the Eastern Theater. Cedar Mountain activities now pass the baton to events leading toward Manassas. And the march continues into September with roads towards Sharpsburg. Several good stops along the way. Let me mention a few here (and please feel free to add more in the comments section):

September 5: “Prelude to Antietam: September 1862 in Loudoun” – The Loudoun Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee hosts an evening showcasing events here in Loudoun during the Antietam Campaign. Tours of Harrison Hall, where Lee and his generals planned the campaign, begin at 6:30 pm. At 8 pm historian Tom Clemens discusses Loudoun’s role in the campaign. The event starts at the Old Loudoun County Courthouse on North King Street. (See the Loudoun Civil War page for more details.)

September 8: Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) hosts a series of lectures observing the 150th anniversary of the campaign. Harry has the details, to include the excellent lineup of speakers.

September 11: The Loudoun Civil War Roundtable hosts fellow blogger and Antietam park ranger John Hoptak, who will discuss the Battle of South Mountain. The meeting starts at 7:00 at the Balch Library, 208 West Market Street in Leesburg. (Watch for updates on the Loudoun CW Roundtable website.)

September 13-16: Harpers Ferry National Historic Site hosts observances of the battle fought there. Events include:

  • Thursday, September 13 – Ranger led hikes over Maryland Heights up to the Naval Battery, at both 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 13 – presentation by D. Scott Hartwig on the battle of Maryland Heights.
  • Friday, September 14 – Book signings and author events, hands-on archeological discovery tent, ranger presentations about the battle, living history displays (including “Contraband Camp”), and a bus tour. A lantern light program starts at 7 p.m., discussing “Jackson’s Ring of Fire.”
  • Saturday, September 15 – Continuation of activities noted above, with the “Cowards of Harpers Ferry” replacing “Contraband Camp.” The park hosts a panel discussion from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and an evening lecture by Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust at 7 p.m.

September 15-16: Antietam National Battlefield kicks off its 150th observance with a weekend’s worth of activities. The park hosts a family tent with hands-on activities for all those aide-de-camp types out there. Living historians provide interpretive programs. The Virginia History Mobile and the Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show will be on site both days. In addition to ongoing interpretation at the visitor center and at tour stops, the park provides overview hikes on both days:

  • 10 a.m. – Cornfield and West Woods, starting at the visitor center.
  • 12:30 p.m. – Bloody Lane, starting at the visitor center.
  • 2 p.m. Burnside Bridge, starting at Tour Stop 9

Concurrently, the park hosts “Antietam In Depth” hikes with detailed looks at selected parts of the battle, each about three hours in duration. For Saturday the 15th:

  • 9 a.m. “A Great Tumbling Together of all Heaven and Earth” – Fight for the Cornfield and the West Woods. Starts at the visitor center.
  • 2 p.m. “The Adjacent Plains were Covered with a Carpet of Red, Blue and Gray” – The attack and defense of the Sunken Road. Starts at the visitor center.

On Sunday the 16th the in-depth hikes scheduled are:

  • 9 a.m. “The Regiment Prepared for the Final Struggle” – Burnside Bridge and the Final Attack, starting at Tour Stop 9
  • 2 p.m. “We new that Culmination of Another Great Tragedy was at Hand” – September 16: Prelude to Battle, start at the visitor center.

For those needing a rest from the field, there is a series of speakers presenting worthy topics, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. On Sunday evening, at 7 p.m., NPS Chief Historian Emeritus Edwin C. Bearss speaks on the campaign along with historian James McPherson.

September 17: The mother of all trail days at Antietam starts at 6:30 a.m with a Sunrise in the Cornfield program at Tour Stop 4. At 8:30 a.m. an extended morning hike explores the fighting in the Cornfield, West Woods, and Bloody Lane. The afternoon hike starts at 2:30 p.m. outside the National Cemetery, covering the fighting at Burnside Bridge, Union advance to Sharpsburg, and A.P. Hill’s counterattack.

Conveniently in between the hikes, the park holds a commemorative program at the National Cemetery, starting at 12:30 p.m. Starting at 3 p.m., a remembrance ceremony at the cemetery features a reading of the names of soldiers killed or mortally wounded in the battle.

September 19: On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shepherdstown, the park hosts a lecture by Thomas McGrath, author of Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign, September 19-20, 1862.

September 22: 150th Anniversary of the Issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Events include presentations by Robert G. Stanton and David W. Blight.

I intend to immerse myself in these events. Scarcely a day without some Civil War program from September 4 to the 22nd. You’ll find me on the fields ….

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

5 thoughts on “September will be a busy month: Maryland Campaign Sesquicentennial Events

  1. Cool list!
    We’ll probably cross paths (or tramp together) on the mother of all trail days (9/17) at Sharpsburg. I’m worried that the Park will be swamped, though, on Sat & Sun, so I plan to skip the actual Anniversary weeked events. Maybe pop in Sunday evening for Mr Bearss and stay nearby to be ready early on Monday. Is a Sunday night pub/eating event in order?

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