video taken at dawn 9/17/10
149 years ago today, two American armies slaughtered each other by the tens of thousands (roughly 23,110) on the hills and fields outside of Sharpsburg, MD. By sundown, the Battle of Antietam would cement itself as the single bloodiest day in American History. One Emergency Militiaman, who could hear the Battle rage that day, off in the distance, would poignantly write:
"A dull gruff belch, at irregular intervals, accompanied by a sense of concussion, told the story of the distant conflict. This inspired strange and solemn feelings. Human lives were being offered up as a sacrifice upon the altar of our country, and thousands of homes would sit in dread suspense until it should be known upon whom the fatal blows had fallen."
For those who have studied the battle, I'm sure you are quite aware of the mesmerizing, yet shocking photographs of the carnage, like the one below. Antietam was the first Civil War battlefield to be photographed, just days after the fighting ended. When the images were printed in newspapers (woodcut versions) and displayed in galleries, the American people were not prepared for what they saw. The scenes were nothing like the romantic descriptions of death on the battlefield that were commonplace in the pre-war era. It was supposed to be gallant and heroic; a stark contrast to the bloody heaps of twisted and bloated corpses that were strewn about the fields of Antietam. Numbers of casualties aside, the Battle of Antietam literally changed the way America viewed war. [You may view a gallery of period Antietam images here.]
|carnage near the Dunker Church - Library of Congress|
In honor of the tranquility of Antietam, and the contrasting horrific destruction that took place there, I thought I would share just a few photos of Antietam's silent beauty, which I tried to capture while out and about on the battlefield.
[FYI: check back this evening for another Antietam related blog post]
|128th Pennsylvania monument (l), 137th Pennsylvania monument (r)|
|Antietam National Cemetery|
|130th Pennsylvania monument at the Bloody Lane|
|a tree swallow stands guard|
|the Otto Farm|
|position of Battery B, 4th US Artillery, along Hagerstown Turnpike|
|Irish Brigade monument|
|cannon on the Piper Farm|
|Dunker Curch at sunrise|
Richards, Louis. Eleven Days in the Militia During the War of the Rebellion; Being a Journal of the "Emergency" Campaign of 1862. Philadelphia: Collins, Printer, 1883.