Saturday, June 26, 2021

Looking For Some Cee-gars At Antietem


Burnside's Bridge at Antietem Creek

We left Gettysburg after a two night stay and moved southward towards Sharpsburg, MD to visit the battlefield of Antietam. I am not going to present a potted history of the battle; that can be read Here . Antietem is probably the most complete and protected Civil War battlefield in the USA and because it is a bit off of the beaten track, is never crowded with visitors as compared to Gettysburg. The visitors' center is under construction so the only part open is the well-stocked book shop. I managed to find a treasure or two or five during the shopping phase of our visit.

Antietem National Military Park in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

We spent the night at a fine local Bed and Breakfast place called The Inn At Antietem

Lelia enjoying breakfast at the Inn At Antietam.

The breakfast was awesome (an over used word, but apropos in this case); consisting of Eggs Benedict with asparagus and sausage for the main course, grapefruit with maple syrup/brown sugar carmelized on the surface, and exquisite baked goods such as blueberry scones and mini-pecan squares.

We were well nourished for our tour of the battlefield in the hot sun. Remember to bring a bottle of water when you visit Antietam or any other battlefield. It seems like it has always been around 90-degrees Fahrenheit every time I visit this place.

We started our battlefield visit at the small visitor's center in the park. The facility is undergoing extensive renovation and enlargement so there is no overview film to watch for the first time visitor. A park ranger does give a 30 minute presentation outside the visitors' center and this proved to be very helpful. The visitors center is located on the high ground in what was the center of the Confederate battle line, so there is a very good view of all of the important features in the park. Across from the visitors center is the famous Dunker Church, seen below in the Gardner photograph and in situ present day.

Antietam Visitors Center display.

The Dunker Church at Antietem

After poking our noses into the Dunker Church (not much to see other than some church pews), we got into our car and drove to the north end of the battlefield where General Joe Hooker commenced the battle early in the morning with his I Corps attack through the Miller Cornfield.

The starting point of General Joe Hooker's First Corps attack from the North Woods into the Miller Cornfield

The Miller Wheatfield?
This plot of land is next to the famous cornfield. The East Woods can be seen in the center distance.

Our self drive tour of Antietem started in the northern section where Hooker's I Corps attacked. We made a stop at the famous Miller Corn Field, not much in the way of grown corn this time of year. We moved on to the East Woods and the Mumma Farm where Mansfield'd XII Corps assembled to attack the Confederate center.

Battlefield interpretive marker. American battlefields are well marked in this regard.

The Sunken Road in the Confederate center.

Confederate center looking towards the Sunken Road (located near the tower on the right).

The Sunken Road

The Sunken Road position. Note how the rise in the ground on the other side of the
fences rises and could hide the advance of Union soldiers marching towards this position.

You cannot see the "sink'" in the Sunken Road in this picture. The hollow lies between the two rows of snake rail fencing and runs all the way to the observation tower in the distance. Unfortunately the tower was closed.

This portion of the tour covered everything but the area where Burnside's IX Corps attacked the Confederate left flank at the bridge that now bears his name: Burnside's Bridge. We visited the bridge the next day and then moved on to visit Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

NEXT UP: Harper's Ferry and Washington DC


  1. Really enjoying this series, thanks.

  2. I went to Antietam several years ago. My take away was how "flat" ground like around Antietam could easily hide regiments in their gentle terrain; also how truly complicated it must have been to control a battle in those days. It is easy to see how victory slipped from McClellans grasp.
    It is great to see you teaching your daughter history, and spending quality time with her. My parents would take us to all different museums, within driving distance. I dare say that my sibling and I never stopped wanting to learn more about our passions, mine being history.

  3. A trip to see the major battlefields of the ACW is one of the things on my retirement to do list. Unfortunately here in the UK Covid has put a pause on fulfilling any of the travel objectives. As an aside how is Antietam pronounced?

  4. Enjoyable article, thank you.