“Reverent men and women from afar shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and low the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.” These eloquent words, spoken by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on October 3, 1889 at the dedication of the 20th Maine Monument at Gettysburg, still resonate today for visitors who come to America’s many Civil War battlefields.
A native Idahoan, with Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in History and a Master of Science in Mining Engineering from the University of Idaho, I first came to Antietam in 2003 with my husband. I found the landscape picturesque and the story of the soldiers and civilians who experienced the September 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam captivating. After retiring from the Idaho Department of Lands in 2009 my rottweiler Shiloh and I moved east and I became a volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield. The rest as they say is history.
Shiloh and I hike Antietam’s many trails where we can follow in the footsteps of the valiant American soldiers who fought on these fields over 150 years ago. I am an avid photographer, and a living historian who, with other park volunteers, represent Battery B, 4th U. S. Artillery in conducting artillery firing demonstrations for park visitors at Antietam.
I had two great great grandfathers who fought in the civil war, one with the 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery and the other with the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry. Neither were engaged at Antietam.
Antietam represents many things, courage and cowardice, sacrifice and suffering, competency and incompetency but above all else it stands as the single bloodiest day in American History where Americans slew other Americans in unprecedented numbers. Brothers fought brothers to a standstill after more than 12 hours of combat. Six generals, 3 in Union blue and 3 in Confederate grey were killed or mortally wounded. When it was all said and done Lee’s first invasion of the north had been turned back and President Lincoln was able to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Now the war would be fought to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.
Antietam National Battlefield is one of the best preserved, most pristine battlefields in the National Park System. When one visits “the cornfield”, Bloody Lane and Burnside Bridge they can almost hear the thunderous roar of cannon and small arms fire and smell the sulfurous odor of gunpowder. It would be my pleasure to guide you around this hallowed ground. Come experience with me the sacrifice and serenity that is Antietam.