America Civil War Family Travel Maryland National Park Service Travels

Epic Antietam, The Bloodiest One-Day Battle

Our next stop was Antietam National Battlefield. Though much smaller than Gettysburg, Antietam was no less powerful.

Our visit started with a movie about the battle. We then went up to the viewing room where we got an amazing view of the battlefield. We also visited the small museum in the visitor center.

This is what we learned:

The battle at Antietam is known as the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. According to the National Park Service, “23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.”

“23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.”

Before embarking on our auto tour of the battlefield, we collected our Junior Ranger activity books. The kids love working on earning their Junior Ranger badges at the National Parks that we have visited.

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Dunker Church, Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD

It’s easy to see why this could have been a very bloody battle. The terrain here is very hilly and sightlines are extremely poor. A soldier could not have seen the enemy until he was almost right on top of him.

Our family did an experiment. Dad walked ahead off the trail of Sunken Alley (otherwise known as Bloody Lane). The kids and I stayed behind. It was not too long until he disappeared from view into one of the shallow valleys. Just like that, we had zero visibility of him even though he was relatively close.

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The hills and dales of Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD
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Sunken Alley (Bloody Lane), Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD
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Burnsides Bridge, Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD

Nothing stimulates the appetite of little ones more than a little learning about the Civil War and a little hiking on a beautiful day. The same holds true for Mom and Dad. We, luckily, met up with a cyber friend who recommended going to Sheperdstown, WV to find some food.

Maria's Taqueria, Shepherdstown, WV
Maria’s Taqueria, Shepherdstown, WV

We had a delicious lunch at Maria’s Taqueria. We recommend this quaint little restaurant highly.

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and Medium.com. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

2 comments on “Epic Antietam, The Bloodiest One-Day Battle

  1. I love that you did the “experiment” to see how far you could go before disappearing. We were there once at dusk, and the fireflies were rising from the fields . . . very spooky and lovely! It really did feel like the souls of all those dead soldiers were rising from the earth.

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    • The fireflies must have been beautiful! With kids, I think it’s more useful to really explore the tangible. It just means so much more to actually be on the spot where these events happened.

      Like

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