My Dad and I left early on Saturday and drove straight to the 150th reenactment of Antietam. We made good time, until we reached the two-lane country road leading to the farm where the event was being held. For whatever reason, traffic management left a lot to be desired, and we sat in line for close to thirty minutes before finally entering the site and parking. Even with the long wait, we had enough time prior to the reenactment to wander through sutler's row and tour the encampments. The weather was pleasant and cool, a far cry from the high temperatures and humidity of last summer's Manassas events.
|I had the opportunity to see and hear the 2nd South Carolina String Band before the reenactment. Their performance of Bonnie Blue Flag was a highlight of the event.|
|Not everything was faithful to the time period. These artillery reenactors moved their pieces into position using pick up trucks....|
|....although some did it the old-fashioned way!|
|Union regiments on the way to the field. Unfortunately, the massive power lines overhead provided another reminder of modern times.|
|Union troops stream past Dunker Church in the distance. The event organizers constructed a half-size replica of the historic structure for the reenactment.|
|Union and Confederates battle around Dunker Church and the West Woods. At this point, the numbers of "dead" and "wounded" were starting to accumulate on the field, but of course, nothing could ever recapture the true carnage of Antietam.|
After a brief lunch, my Dad and I checked out the detailed paintings of the battle by James Hope in the Visitor Center. We then stepped inside the real Dunker Church to listen to a lecture on divided Maryland during the Civil War. Although I was familiar with much of the story, the Park Ranger was an incredible speaker and managed to capture perfectly the complexity of slavery and loyalties in the Old Line State. As I listened to his speech, artillery fire cause the wooden floor beneath my feet to vibrate, and carried me, however briefly, back to the day of the fight.
|Union reenactors file past the Dunker Church after finishing a living history demonstration near the Visitor Center.|
We hit all the main stops, including the North Woods, the Cornfield, Bloody Lane, and Burnside Bridge. We also visited the Pry House, site of Gen. George McClellan's headquarters. My Dad and I opted to drive rather than take the Park Service shuttle buses. Good thing. The long lines at shuttle stops and the scarcity of buses reassured us that driving was likely the better choice.
|The Cornfield, site of intensely brutal fighting on the morning of September 17.|
|Confederate infantry demonstration at Bloody Lane. The National Park Service scheduled several living history events throughout the battlefield.|
|A reproduction of a Civil War ambulance at the Pry House. The Pry Barn (behind the ambulance) served as a field hospital at Antietam, primarily for the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine now runs a Field Hospital Museum at the site.|
|Through a stroke of luck, I arrived at Burnside Bridge just as Park Ranger and fellow blogger Mannie Gentile began an overview lecture on the action occurring at the site. Mannie's presentation was both insightful and stirring. I don't think I've ever seen such a captivated audience listening to a Park Ranger. The National Park Service lectures that I heard on Saturday featured slavery and fight for emancipation as a prominent part of the story.|
|Looking down at Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's men eventually pushed across the bridge when Confederate resistance began to weaken.|