Let it be released from the mind

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Travel back in time

Laika kept watch for red and blue (that is if she can see those colors!)

With a completely open weekend ahead of us, D & I ventured to Antietam, site of our nation's most bloody battle. Just outside Frederick, over 20,000 men died in the span of about 15 hours. From daybreak to mid-day the battle raged on through the infamous cornfield. Although we wasted countless years as children talking about how our country came to be and was made from the hands and hearts of our people, I remember zippy about the Civil War. Of course, since they didn't bother to teach us anything about current history (as in the last 75 years) I'm also clueless to that--so good job curriculum writers for middle and high school history!

This was an excellent learning experience, and a slightly emotional day as it was the 145th anniversary of the battle. Lucky for us that we were available this weekend and had no idea that it was the anniversary. They had some guided hikes that weekend, canon firings, and people in period dress that made the day a bit more special. We walked nearly the entire Civil War trail which was approximately 8 miles. I confess we drove to Burnside Bridge, pictured below, because we would have had to backtrack 2 miles or so to get back to the visitor center and we were hankering for snacks. Burnside Bridge was certainly the most beautiful stop on the tour, as the perfect weather, blue skies with puffy white clouds, and serenity of the creek overwhelmed us. The bridge itself is of course idealic, and D watched the giant sycamores while in pure bliss. Burnside Bridge is where 50 or so Georgians held this bridge from 4 or 5 sets of confused Union troops for the entire day, finally succumbing late that afternoon once the Union troops organized themselves and forced their way across the bridge.
cemetary overlook on civil war trail

Antietam became a very important battle for several reasons. General Robert E. Lee eventually backed off his positions of moving into Maryland from Virginia. While it was certainly not a victory from either side, the pull back from Lee's troops persuaded Lincoln to write a little thing I like to call the Emancipation Proclamation. Of course we know that this freed thousands of people and eventually lead our country to its current state. The battle of Antietam, as I mentioned above, was the bloodiest battle ever in America. Of course, by this I mean single battle and not long-term brutalization and murdering of the poor Indians. But that's a whole other story. This battle also brought out the best in a lot of people--Clara Barton became a hero, saving the lives of countless soldiers to her own possible detriment. She later established the Red Cross.
British Soldier Moss :)
We finished the day at Harper's Ferry, complete with ice creams (custard, really) and a jaunt along the C&O canal towpath.