Monday, 19 September 2016
Today marks the 154th anniversary of America’s bloodiest day, the Battle of Antietam. In 1862, the rolling farm fields outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland became a scene of unrivaled carnage. Today, most of that land has been preserved so future generations can walk the ground and appreciate the sacrifices of the Civil War generation. As you remember that momentous day in our history, I want to call your attention to one unprotected piece of the Antietam battlefield, a 9-acre parcel located next door to the famous Dunker Church.
You’ve probably seen the Dunker Church in some of the most famous photos of the Antietam battlefield. This simple, white brick house of worship was the scene of some of the battle’s most severe fighting. In fact, Confederate General Stephen D. Lee called the area surrounding the Dunker Church “artillery hell” as a testament to the carnage there.
Looking at a map of the battle, you can see the importance of our 9-acre target property. Union troops under General George Greene captured the Dunker Church on the morning of September 17 then advanced onto this ground in a vicious fight with General Joseph B. Kershaw’s South Carolinians. After forcing Greene into a defensive posture around the church, the Rebels again charged across this land only to be repulsed with heavy loss.
Those familiar with the Antietam battlefield will also notice that these 9 acres are located directly across from the Visitor center and next door to the Dunker Church. Combine this with its obvious historical significance and you’ll agree that this is as important as any land we’ve saved at Antietam.
Acquiring this land is part of a larger effort to save 84 acres at Antietam and two other battlefields of the Maryland Campaign, South Mountain and Shepherdstown. I can think of no better way to commemorate the valor of those men who fought on this day 154 years ago than to protect the land where so many Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Help Save Antietam and the Maryland Campaign.
The Civil War Trust