Some people wonder how it is possible to do even hundreds of tour groups at Antietam and not get bored with the narrative. Well, even though there is a fair amount of repetition of the actual battle material, the people who come are very diverse, and interesting things happen along the way that never happened before.
Today, for the 2nd consecutive day, I had a busload of teenagers – this time from Ohio. It is sometimes a challenge to get them engaged, as there is clearly a wide range of natural interest in a historical site. I’ve learned that if I can get the girls interested, I’m likely to get most of the group – so I’ll often speak right at the girls, ask questions of them and fuss over them a bit, and then I’ve got the whole group tracking with me. It was going great today – until the end at the Burnside Bridge.
After some recent cool and damp weather, this afternoon was brightly sunny and warm. That is probably what brought a lot of “nature” to life. Before even reaching the bridge we were assaulted by thousands of gnats. And then, when crossing, the bumble bees were flying around us as thick as the missiles from the 2nd and 20th Georgia regiments 150 years ago – I caught one of them in flight – see the picture with its shadow cast upon the bridge surface. But finally, there was the real narrative killer – the appearance of a guy I’ll call General Burnslide – getting a spring tan on the sides of the bridge. He was not alone, as his cousin Captain Griswold of Company A was curled up about five feet away.
This sent my busload of kids headed for their transportation at the double quick. The tour was essentially done!
Even with what I believe to be the most despicable creatures on the planet hanging out at the Burnside Bridge, it has to be about the most beautiful spot on earth.