…just north of the Pennsylvania border, Louis Richards was encamped with the 2nd Pennsylvania Emergency Militia. In the early morning hours, he could hear, “A dull gruff belch, at irregular intervals, accompanied by a sense of concussion, [which] 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.”
In the rolling farmland of western Maryland, two American armies waged brutal war on each other. After 12 hours of combat, the day finally came to a merciful end, and 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing; America’s bloodiest single day.
The “dull gruff belch” of artillery has long passed, and today we gather on and off of the Antietam Battlefield to remember those who have gone before us, in our country’s darkest days.