Travels: Antietam National Cemetery

This week I've got a gig in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  The drive takes about 1hr 15min, but there's not much traffic and the scenery is beautiful.  I prefer the route that takes me along the old National Pike (highway 40), turning at Boonsboro to cut across the Antietam Battlefield, passing through Keedysville and Sharpsburg.  The drive is full of historic sites, crosses the Appalachian trail, yet I can get NPR the whole way. I tend to leave ridiculously early to avoid rush hour on I-70 which also allows me a little spare time to stop and check out interesting things on my way. On Monday I stopped at the Antietam National Cemetery.

After the Civil War battle of Antietam there were so many dead soldiers from both sides that most were quickly buried in shallow mass graves on the farmland that made up the battlefield.  As time passed it became clear that reburial would be necessary and the National Cemetery was established.  The original plan called for interring soldiers from both sides together, but the final decision reserved the cemetery for Union soldiers and sent the Confederates, including a large number of Texans, to other cemeteries in western Maryland and West Virginia.  

Soldiers that could be identified have personalized headstones and they are grouped by regiment.  The number of headstones seems small until you realize that many mark graves holding multiple soldiers who could not be identified. 

 

I didn't have time to take the battlefield drive or do a thorough exploration of the cemetery. This is definitely a place that Dylan and I should come back and spend a full day.