Antietam - Like You've Never Walked It Before! - September 9
Following his crushing defeat of John Pope’s hapless Army of Virginia at the Battle of Second Bull Run, Robert E. Lee elected to take his Army of Northern Virginia northward across the Potomac River in an effort to bring the ravages of war to Northern territory. In early September 1862, the Confederates began their invasion of Maryland, opening it with a complex operation to remove the threat to their supply line represented by the Federal garrison of Harpers Ferry.
While this series of movements was unfolding in the mountains, President Abraham Lincoln reluctantly returned Major General George B. McClellan to command of the Federal forces defending Washington. The result was a series of battles for the passes in South Mountain that, while Union victories, alerted Lee to his dangerous situation and permitted him to complete the Harpers Ferry operation successfully. His foray into the North at an end, Lee gathered his army outside the village of Sharpsburg, Maryland and prepared to make a stand. McClellan leisurely approached and on 17 September began the bloodletting known to history as the Battle of Antietam (US) or Sharpsburg (CS). During the course of the Civil War’s bloodiest day, names like the Cornfield, the Dunker Church, Bloody Lane and Burnside’s Bridge were forever etched in America’s consciousness. Tactically a draw, Antietam was a Union victory strategically. The war would go on, but Lincoln’s issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation following Antietam would henceforth change its character in incalculable ways.
On Saturday morning, we will assemble at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center and then set forth to cover the battle sequentially from north to south. We’ll visit the North Woods and East Woods areas and witness first-hand how the rolling hills affected visibility and influenced the course of the battle. We will walk across the famed Miller Cornfield, the scene of indescribable carnage compacted into an area about 250 yards deep and 400 yards wide that changed hands repeatedly throughout the morning. Then, at the West Woods, we will walk through the thickets to the 15th Massachusetts line, and on to the Dunkard Church.
After a picnic lunch, we will resume our hike - through the fields from the Mumma Farm to Roulette Lane and the Bloody Lane, where, from about 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM, Union and Confederate soldiers fought a particularly vicious battle.
Next, at Burnside’s Bridge we’ll see where a small number of Georgian sharpshooters, protected by trees and boulders overlooking the bridge, held off repeated attempts to take the bridge by Union forces commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside. Fittingly, we will close the day at the Antietam National Cemetery with a tribute to those who fell contending for their respective causes.
Although this tour will involve vigorous walking, we’ll never be far away from our support vehicles - - so you can take a breather and catch a ride if you wish. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Registration Fee - $150
What is included in your registration:
· The services of an expert historian chosen for his knowledge and experience
· Transportation to all sites as described
· Saturday lunch
· Refreshments and snacks during the tour
· Map package and handouts
Lodging: You are free to lodge where you like. Here are some options: