Antietam has long intrigued me as a battle. The significant differences in the number of combatants is the most obvious, but when combined with various phases of the battle Antietam can result in a very interesting battle on the wargames table. At least that has been my experience using Volley & Bayonet. So it was good today to arrive on the battlefield and start exploring. The visitor centre is located just across the road from Dunker Church, so that’s an excellent place to start for this evenings post.

Armed with the maps it was off to the northern areas of the battlefield including the North Woods and cornfield. I arrived on the 13th of September, a few days before the anniversary. But the cornfield, or at least part of it as some had recently been harvested, was very impressive. The height and mass is very striking. Interestingly, the area that has been harvested is at a slightly lower level.

Unfortunately much of the the area of the West Woods has been cut by a roadways making access difficult but portions are accessible. Interestingly the area to the east, down through the Mumma and Roulette Farms was significantly more rolling than I realised. Of course this draws us to the Sunken Road. A defence position ideal to halt the advance of II Corps.

Above, and below looking east down the Bloody Lane.

The Burnside Bridge was of course fascinating. That said the trees that now dominate much of this area make interpretation of arcs of fire for artillery difficult.

Above, the bridge viewed from the Union side of the stream, while below viewed from the Confederate side.

I have to admit I have a low opinion of Burnside, but the terrain his corps faced once across has made me reconsider my opinion somewhat. The area between the Burnside Bridge and the where the final attacks took place where particularly broken by ravines which made them, for me, a little difficult to interpret. The positioning of the various guns is useful in this, combined with signs and maps.

Below, guns of Brown’s battery, which engaged Burnside’s Corps after crossing the bridge and advancing west, face east ready to engage Union troops which advanced to with 100 yards of this position. These guns later moved again.

Below, other Confederate guns, this time from Gardens Battery and deployed around on high ground east of Sharpsburg. The Hawkins’ Zouave monument is visible in the background.

Another very interesting day. I can see it’s time to organise another Volley & Bayonet refight…

2 thoughts on “Antietam

  1. Nothing helps one understand a battle more than walking the ground. Suddenly, decisions that make little sense upon reading become quite clear when on the ground.
    Antietam (today) really is a beautiful and serene place.

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