Cape Gazette

Antietam: Walking on hallowed ground

Sharpsburg, Md. site of 150th anniversary events
Sep 24, 2012
Photo by: Ron MacArthur More than 3,000 acres in and around the Antietam Battlefield has been preserved, including the locations where the fighting took place on Sept. 17, 1862.

If the Battle of Shiloh did not convince people that war was anything but glorious, the Battle of Antietam did. For 12 hours on Sept. 17, 1862, some of the most ferocious fighting of the Civil War raged on farm fields near the small town of Sharpsburg, Md. Dead Union and Confederate soldiers covered the fields, and farmhouses were turned into makeshift hospitals to deal with thousands of wounded. Residents of the area were shocked at the horrors they witnessed. In the bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history, 23,000 men were killed, wounded or missing.

Civil War enthusiasts descended on the area around Sharpsburg Sept. 15-17 to take part in sesquicentennial events, including re-enactments of the fighting that took place 150 years ago. Thousands of re-enactors helped bring history alive to the estimated 100,000 people who attended events throughout the weekend.

Historians say the Battle of Antietam was significant for several reasons:

• Although both sides suffered serious losses, Union officers looked at the battle as their first major victory over Gen. Robert E. Lee. In retrospect, had Union generals extended the battle, it's possible that Lee's army could have been crushed.

• Lee's first invasion of the North was repelled, which kept possible European intervention out of the war on the side of the Confederates.

• The victory paved the way for President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the 10 Confederate states.

For more information on the Battle of Antietam, go to

Sunken Road became etched in history as Bloody Lane following the battle. Thousands were killed in just a few hours. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Some of the Union dead from the battle are buried in Antietam National Cemetery not far from the battlefield. Confederate dead are buried in various cemeteries. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
During the re-enactment of the battle, Confederate soldiers maintain their line even though they are outnumbered. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Union re-enactors advance on Confederate troops as the battle around Dunker Church ends. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Union re-enactors march into battle on the first of two days of battle portrayals near Sharpsburg, Md. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
On the early morning of Sept. 17, 1862, this cornfield was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War. As many as 8,000 men were killed or wounded in less than four hours of fighting. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Looking toward the New York monument, the photo is framed by the Maryland monument, the only Civil War memorial honoring units from both sides from one state. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Antietam National Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the Union casualties of the battle. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Antietam National Cemetery contains several graves from Delaware Union soldiers who fought at Antietam. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The Pry House was the headquarters of Gen. George McClellan and later turned into a hospital. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Confederate re-enactors prepare for battle as they march to the battlefield. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Union re-enactors camp near Burnside's Bridge. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Burnside's Bridge is one of three skirmish locations during the Battle of Antietam. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The land where the Battle of Antietam was fought is considered hallowed ground. With more than 23,000 killed, wounded or missing, it's the bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Confederate re-enactors muster early in the morning of the battle. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Two re-enactors walk along the Bloody Lane trail, one of three battle locations on Sept. 17, 1862. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A re-enactor waits for the rest of his cannon crew prior to battle. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
In camp, a re-enactor takes time for a break. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Smoke covers the battlefield during the Union bombardment of the re-enactment of the battle near Dunker Church. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Dunker Church was in the middle of the battle and received major damage. It was restored not long after the war. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
This photograph taken a few days after the battle shows Dunker Church in the background. The images captured from the battlefield and displayed at Mathew Brady's New York studio shocked people. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Re-enactors, including Abraham Lincoln, assemble to discuss the aftermath of the fighting. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Several calvary charges took place during the Battle of Antietam. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
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