MDP is back after a three day break for the holidays. Today’s picture comes from Antietam, it’s a shot of the sunken road, also known as bloody lane as viewed from the observation tower. The stretch of land on the left of this shot was where the second (out of three) phase of the battle took place. You can imagine the carnage that results when hours of battle are compressed into such a tiny space of land.
One more fact about the bridge picutre from yesterday is that the bridge carries the Appalacian trail over the Potomac. Most people know that the trail goes through Maryland because they see the sign on the bridge above interstate 70 where the trail crosses the highway.
Of course, if there’s a train going through a Maryland town, I’m probably going to be interested in it. Despite the tunnel’s name, it is located on the Maryland side of the river. This tunnel goes through the harsh cliffs of Maryland heights allowing the trains from Baltimore and DC to pass through it just before they pass over the Potomac and into Harper’s ferry. If you remember past posts about the C&O canal, you might be interested in knowing that this picture was taken from the canal, as it meanders along the shore of the Potomac. With the Canal having right of way along the entire shoreline, there was no room for trains to pass. So the railroad was forced to build this tunnel.
Close to the faded sign from yesterday, these two decided to spend Saturday afternoon on the cliffs above Maryland Heights. On top of these hills, the remnants of multiple civil war gun placements and forts survive from the years that the Union held Maryland heights and its commanding view of Harpers Ferry and the Potomac.
This cliff faces the Potomac in Maryland Heights, an area just across the river from Harpers Ferry , West Virginia. Someone in the early 20th centry thought that it would be a great idea to paint an ad on the face of the cliff, forcing knowlege of his product on everyone in Harpers Ferry who dared to look across the river.
I think this is a hilarious remnant of a time when complicated names for products that did little were perfectly matched with large ads that defaced scenic landscapes. All that is missing is the song and dance of a less than repuatable door to door salesman.
On September 17, 1862 in what was then just Sharpsburg, MD, the bloodiest battle in American history was waged along the edges of the Antietam Creek.
Since I’ve vistied Antietam, I’ve been fascinated by all the history of the battle and the events leading to it. You can find a lot of intetnet articles which will describe the battle for you. I hope you look into them. You can lean about how an equal number of Union generals and Confederate generals were casualties of the battle. You can also learn how better leadership on the Union part could have made this draw into a decisive victory, and may have ended the war years ahead of time.
Since I’ve visited, I’ve read enough to know that, in many ways, the Union had a chance to win the war here in Western Maryland, but let it slip from their hands. Did you know that the Union received secret informaton on confederate positions as they made their way to Sharpsburg? It’s true. The Union acted on it, but a bit too late, which is why the real engagement happened in Sharpsburg, and why we don’t hear nearly enough about the Battle of South Mountain. Did you know that before Antietam, the Confederates entered Western Maryland thinking they could recruit people they found along the way? That’s true too. What we know as our state song began as the Confederates’ efforts to recruit Maryland citizens to their side.
I’ve learned much of this since I’ve visited Antietam. However, nothing will ever compare to seeing the park itself. Only by walking through the fields and over the actual creek did I realize how overwhelming it is that the bloodiest day in American history took place over realatively small areas of land.
It’s the compact areas where the majority of casualties occurred that make you stand back and think about this battle. There were three major battle areas. Each one was relatively well contained. There was a corn field in the morning, later a line defined weakly by a sunken area (called bloody lane, which is roughly seen in the right side of today’s picture up to the modern viewing tower) and late in the day battle moved to a bridge over the creek (visible in a previous MDP post).
It’s an amazing experience to see these places yourself and to imagine what it was like to fight for them. I hope you get to go to the fields and see what I mean.
**** Also: for those who want to learn more, the NPS website has a gallery of pictures taken by Alexander Gardner, a photographer who came to Antietam and photographed the aftermath of the battle. It’s not for everyone, but if you are interested, I’m posting the link here.
Since it’s almost independence day, I figured this would be a good chance to use this picture of flags in front of a group of ominous storm clouds. You will note the Maryland Flag and the Washington County flag flying to either side.
Today we have another photo courtesy of Bryan, who took this shot in Antietam specifically becasue it offers more of a pure look at the field; that is to say that it is free from construction and monuments.
Braddock did indeed make his way through Maryland, meeting with quite a few of our Nation’s most important figures along the way. Not only did he meet with Benjamin Franklin in Frederick, but he rode a great deal of the way to Fort Cumberland with George Washington.
This picture was taken in Sharpsburg. It is entirely possible to retrace Braddock’s movements through Maryland, following these road markers as you go. Many of them say nearly the same thing.
This is another picture from the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD. What’s great about visiting Antietam is that you can take a self guided tour throughout the grounds and there are probably hundreds of monuments and plaques to help you make sense of your journey. If your New Years Resolution is to visit more Maryland historical sites, this is a fantastic place to start.