After leaving Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, W- and I still had some time before needing to head back to get ready for the wedding so we went to visit the Battle of Antietam. Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War with over 22,000 casualities.
W- and I watched the short video in the Visitors Center ( a touch graphic with the head shots, just FYI), and then opted for the auto tour, figuring that like Gettysburg, it would be the easiest way to see the most things. Although we didn’t linger at every site (we were there at the wrong time of year for The Cornfield to look anything like it would have during the battle, for example), we were able to explore quite a bit:
Clara Barton Monument
Located near the Poffenberger Farm and the North Woods at auto tour Stop #2 is the Clara Barton Monument. The eventual founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War due to her assistance at several battlefields, including Antietam
One of the heaviest sites of fighting during the Battle of Antietam was at the Sunken Road. This old farm road was used by Confederate forces similar to a trench, where they were able to mow down approaching Union soldiers. Eventually that afternoon, the Union Gen. Richard H. Anderson’s troops managed to break through a capture the lane, turning what had been a Confederate fortification into a shooting gallery. More than 5,000 soldiers died on the Sunken Road in approximately 3 hours.
Originally known as Lower Bridge, the bridge gets its current name from the Battle of Antietam when Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside attempted to take the bridge from inferior-numbered Confederate troops commanded by Gen. Robert Toombs, who had the advantage of the higher ground. It took the Union three tries before they were able to capture the bridge, but they were unable to pursue Toombs’ men much further due to Confederate reinforcements which had arrived in an incredibly timely fashion from Harpers Ferry. Fun Fact: Vehicle traffic was allowed over the bridge as late as the 1960s, and foot traffic is still allowed to this day.