Sunday, August 23, 2015

Visiting Antietam Battlefield

Today we went to Maryland to visit Antietam Battlefield...site of the bloodiest one-day battle in American history.


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"It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield." -Union General Joseph Hooker 
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My favorite part was visiting the farm where Clara Barton helped the soldiers. I told this very story at our history presentation when we first moved here, when I portrayed this famous lady.
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At the start of the war she was living in Washington DC. She was actually from Massachusetts so when a train arrived with a Massachusetts regiment, she went to the station to greet them. However she was horrified to find they had been attacked...on northern soil by southern sympathizers. She took care of the men the best she could, without supplies. As soon as she returned to her desk she wrote home for donations for supplies of all sorts to help "our boys." Supplies arrived in abundance to the point of her needing to rent a warehouse, where she set up her bed too. This became her new home. 
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Poffenberger Farm

Eventually President Lincoln heard about her effective good work for the soldiers, so she became a trusted person of top secret communications. Whenever Lincoln received news of an impending battle, he sent a messenger to her to share the secret. One day she received news to head to Harper's Ferry.   She collected her wagon team (who initially disagreed with her but soon learned to do whatever this little lady said) and packed the wagon with supplies. En route to Harper's Ferry they received a new message...head to Antietam.  Battle was about to begin.
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Poffenberger Farm

She was at the back of the caravan of troops. She reasoned that if she remained behind the troops, she'd arrive long after the fighting began and many would die while waiting for supplies to aid their injuries. She tried to move to the front but was met with great resistance. That evening while everyone she awoke her crew whom she told to take a round about route to the front of the line. By dawn they had arrived at the front of the line. What was the commander to do? She won the day and arrived at Antietam at the beginning of fighting to this very farm pictured in this summary.
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Poffenberger Farm

She immediately found the doctor who hoped she had lanterns. It was dark and he had no light to see for operating on victims who fell in battle. Indeed, she had brought lanterns...an entire wagon full of them.
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"The shells crashing through the trees and fluttering overhead as well as the musketry...all contributed to mark the time, and place, fixed in one's memory forever." -Sgt. Charles Broomhall, 124th Pennsylvania Infantry
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These pictures were taken from atop the observation tower, which was my second favorite part of the tour. A delightfully cool and refreshing breeze blew there too! These beautifully scripted markers were enscrolled on the ledge all around. This tower actually dates to 1890.
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This stone bridge was my third favorite. I love old bridges!
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Burnside Bridge


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