Maryland Hikes: Antietam National Battlefield

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Panorama of one of the main battlefield from the observation tower.

I have discovered a very beautiful place in Maryland recently. It is Antietam National Battlefield, located in Sharpsburg, Maryland. The park, site of the bloodiest day in America’s history, where over 23,000 men were killed in one day, is truly a national treasure.  I remembered reading about that battle in high school, but had no idea that I lived so close to it, until recently.  Now it’s a beautiful place to catch the sunset, find peace and quiet in nature and take time to reflect on America’s past.

 

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Sunset at a field in Antietam National Park

When I think of the American civil war, I can’t help but also think about what’s happening in Syria and other countries, where they are battling out their own civil wars.  The USA and those countries seem so very different today, but  we also had a very tumultuous, horrifying time in our own country, right in our backyard.  I can’t help but imagine that  the people living in Sharpsburg back in 1862, might have gone through something somewhat similar to what people in Syria and other current civil wars are going through today.  We’re lucky that we went through our civil war at a much earlier time in history than other countries. I can only imagine how many more people would have died at Antietam if the soldiers back then, had access to the weapons available today.  May it never happen again.

The battlefield, as well as several buildings and structures, has been preserved as a tribute to the soldiers that died there. Visitors can do a historical driving tour, or walk through the park on several walking trails. Most of the fallen soldiers who died at Antietam, have been buried at Antietam National Cemetery, just across the street. However, throughout the park there are several monuments to various battalions, and commanders from different states.

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View of the fence surrounding “Bloody Alley,” where several thousand soldiers died.
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Civil War era style fences

At the Burnside Bridge driving tour stop, there are a couple different loop trails anywhere from 1.2-1.5 miles in length that meander through the woods and fields. We recently did the Snavely Ford Trail, which starts out at the parking lot, and then follows a lovely creek through the woods and then loops back through a field to the parking lot. At night, it’s quite possible to see several deer leaping through the tall grass. We walked by a fawn hiding in a thicket, that didn’t seem at all perturbed by our presence.  Along the trail we also found some interesting flora, such as Pawpaw trees, (which have a delicious fruit!) and some puffball mushrooms, both pictured below.

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View from Snavely’s Ford Trail

If you live in Maryland, I highly recommend visiting this park. There is a $10.00 entrance fee at the visitor’s center, during business hours, but it’s well worth it!

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Sunset at Antietam

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