When I talk with guests and host them for a tour of the Antietam Battlefield, at some point in the introductory session I usually mention that the word “Antietam” in Indian talk (Algonquian) is thought to mean “swift-flowing stream” or “fast-moving water.” And then I usually say something like, “So when you see the Antietam, I think you’ll agree with me that the Indians were easily impressed with moving water!”
Indeed, the Antietam is most often a very placid and slow-moving stream – particularly around the Burnside Bridge. From the Georgian Overlook position on the west bank, it is easy to see how shallow is the water. Often there are leaves floating very slowly on the surface of this most beautiful of picturesque Civil War locations.
However, on those occasions when a hurricane blows through the area, the stream can indeed live up to its name. And yesterday was one of those days.
I drove over to the area of the Antietam to attempt to see what it looked like and maybe even take a few pictures. I was honestly not surprised to see that the road to the southern portion of the battlefield was blocked off – as I knew that the Park was closed for the day. But here is a picture of the Burnside Bridge that I have taken from the Antietam National Battlefield Facebook page (you should become a “fan” if you are not already, as lots of great information gets posted there … and “like” Antietam Battlefield Guides while you’re at it!).
I next drove toward Keedysville and then took the back road past the Pry Mill and over the Upper Bridge (both pictured). The sight was impressive. More and more, when time permits at all, I take people on this route to begin a tour and to share with them a more wide-ranging view of the area. This enables me to share with a guest the following sights not commonly seen on a typical tour: The Newcomer house and farm, the location of the Middle Bridge, the staging areas of the east side of the Antietam, the Pry House, the town of Keedysville, the route of the 1st and 12th Union Corps, the Pry Hospital, the Cost Hospital, the Upper Bridge, and the valley of farms approaching the battlefield described in Noyes’ account of September 17, 1862 (about arms and legs piled high outside the barn doors).
Though we had some power outages and flooding and a few trees down, compared to New Jersey and New York, we are thankful to have escaped with relatively little damage.