South Mountain & Antietam Weekend: A Field & Walking Tour - CALL 800-298-1861 to take advantage of a SUBSIDY from a private donor - pay $195 instead of $295!

On May 19, 2018 - 08:30 - May 20, 2018 - 16:00

Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the CWEA will present this full two-day walking tour with a super-affordable registration fee of $195 per person.

Our donor, who we’ll call “Glenn,” writes:

“Of all the Civil War battlefields, I am most partial to Antietam where one of my relatives fought. A few years ago, on one of your tours at Antietam, I had a wonderful time and can’t say enough good things about tour leader John M. Priest. But I was disappointed in the small size of the group. More people should have been there to benefit from the trip. So I started thinking that, in addition to the big push to save battlefields, maybe we also need a push to get more folks to take organized battlefield tours. $195 per head will strike many as way more manageable than $295 per head. So I’m willing to do this: have your registrants pay only $195 per person and I’ll pick up the other $100. If this works well, maybe we can do it again”


Logistics limit us to about 25 SIGN-UPS. So, FIRST COME, FIRST-SERVED.


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 and 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. Uncertain how to counter Confederate movements until he fortuitously gained possession of a copy of Lee’s Special Order 191, McClellan now knew that Lee’s forces were divided and ripe for defeat in detail. Unfortunately for the Union, McClellan and his senior commanders responded slowly. 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 day-long 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 of our tour, we will gather at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center and, at 8:30 AM, depart by bus for Crampton’s Gap at South Mountain. After a brief bathroom break, we will walk the Confederate battle line and into the open field east of the War Correspondent’s arch to view the field from the Union perspective.

From there we will drive to Turner’s Gap via Bolivar Crossroads at Route ALT 40 and follow Mount Tabor Road to inspect the Union I Corps approach up to the gap, stopping at the far right of the line to inspect the ground, then drive along the upper road of the gap to trace the Pennsylvania Reserve approach against the 6th Alabama.

Then, we’ll hike along the Appalachian Trail to Fox’s Gap to study the virtually unchanged battlefield where the longest of the three gap fights occurred.

  From there, we’ll go to Keedysville, MD for a solid lunch at Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd. Then, on to the Antietam battlefield where we will begin 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. And that will be enough for Saturday.

On Sunday morning, where, in the early morning of September 17, 1862, artillerists waited for the rising sun to burn off the fog, we will begin at the gun emplacements at the Visitors Center and discuss the key role of the artillery and learn why this battle is often referred to as “Artillery Hell.”

Then, we will 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. 

  At Burnside’s Bridge we’ll replenish with a box lunch and then continue 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. We will also visit the Otto Farm, and fittingly, we will close the day at the Antietam National Cemetery with a tribute to those who fell contending for their respective causes.

  Overall, we will examine the actions of the two armies, and ultimately will be left to ponder why Lee was willing to risk everything to win, while McClellan was reluctant to risk anything.  Throughout the tour, when no walking, we will move from site to site via a bus, and will also have a support car traveling with the bus. In case anyone gets winded, they can hitch a ride in the latter and hardly ever miss a beat,

  • Snacks for morning & afternoon breaks will be plentiful – sodas, water, coffee in the AM in case it’s chilly, cookies, fruit, etc.
  • Each attendee will receive a high-quality map-set.
  • But most importantly we will be led by a remarkably knowledgable and likeable tour guide – Mike Priest!

Join us for this exciting adventure in Civil War history amid the rolling hills of western Maryland. And pay ONLY $195 – not $295 (on a first come-first-served basis). And in case you need some ideas as to how to spend that extra $100 per person, during that weekend, consider a sumptuous dinner at:


THERE – we’ve figured it all for you – and we Hope to See You at Antietam!

John Michael Priest

Mike Priest, a retired Washington County, Maryland high school history teacher, is an Antietam Battlefield Licensed Guide. He has written and/or edited 13 books and numerous articles on the American Civil War including: Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle; Before Antietam: The Battle for South Mountain; and Into the Fight: Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. His latest book is Stand to It and Give Them Hell: Gettysburg as the Soldiers Experienced it from Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, July 2, 1863.

Registration Fee (Lodging Not Included) - $195

If You Must Cancel we will refund 100% of your fees paid or transfer them to another program, as you wish.

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 & Sunday lunches

·      Refreshments and snacks during the tour

·      Map package and handouts

WE'RE SWITCHING CREDIT CARD SOFTWARE so online registration is unavailable

FOR NOW, CALL 800-298-1861 to complete your credit card registration; or SEND CHECK to:


Box 78, Winchester, VA 22604

Saturday, May 19

8:15 AM on                    Assemble at Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center

8:30 AM                       Depart by bus for South Mountain

12;30 PM                       Lunch at Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd Restaurant in Keedysville, MD

2: 00 PM                        Begin Antietam tour 

5:00 PM                         Conclude for the day

Sunday, May 20

8:15 AM                       Tour Continues from Antietam Visitor Center

12;30 PM                       Picnic Lunch at Burnside Bridge

4:00 PM                         Arrive Back at Antietam Visitor Center

Antietam/SMt. Frederick

Lodging: You are free to lodge where you like. Here are some options:


Hampton Inn Hagerstown
1716 Dual Highway,
Hagerstown, MD
United States
Days Inn Hagerstown
1101 Dual Highway
Hagerstown, MD
United States
Hampton Inn Frederick
5311 Buckeystown Pike
Frederick, MD
United States
Comfort Inn Red Horse
998 W Patrick St
Frederick, MD
United States
Comfort Inn
920 Dual Highway
Hagerstown, MD
United States
(301) 739-9050
Econo Lodge
25 Union Street
Harpers Ferry, WV
United States