Friday, January 26, 2007

Burnsides Bridge: a new perspective part two

(click on views to enlarge)

Burnside Bridge: two views. Above, September 1862 (Alexander Gardner).
Below, January 2007 (Ranger Mannie).

At the risk of putting too fine a point on this issue, I'd like to add to my recent post regarding the viewscape cut above Burnside Bridge. I went back to the bridge yesterday with a higher resolution camera to capture additional images. It was a beautiful mild and sunny day, and the light at 10:00 a.m. was ideal for a good shot of the bridge.

In this view, approaching the bridge from the Confederate side, look across Antietam Creek and you can see where the viewshed has been cut. The new trail runs along the crest of the hill. An inch above and slightly to the right of the distant howitzer you can just make out a rock outcropping.

That outcropping (as well as the viewshed) becomes even more apparent as you continue to approach it from the Union side of the bridge. It's dead center, just below the crest. That outcropping is actually another quarry-pit where stones were harvested to construct the bridge, just like the similar pits that Toombs' rebels used as rifle pits on the Sharpsburg bank of the creek. This pit came as quite a suprise to all of the rangers as it has been hidden in the underbrush for many generations.

On reflection, it only makes sense that stone was harvested from both sides of the creek to construct the bridge.

Marching up the steep slope, past the new tree stumps, I headed toward that quarry pit. As I hiked up the hill It occurred to me that this terrain that Ferrerro's men came charging down is incredibly steep, which probably gave them an incredible amount of momentum (providing they could retain their footing).

Upon gaining the quarry pit I noted that the floor of it was quite level...a perfect place to set up a tripod-mounted camera. As I turned around to face the bridge I realized that I was standing on the same spot at which Alexander Gardner captured his historic image.

Every day at Antietam brings new suprises.

I love this place, you will too.

Ranger Mannie


Rich said...

Dear Ranger Mannie,

I would guess that if you told this story to 100 people 99.8 of them would find nothing special about it. As for me, it gave me a chill. I always enjoy your posts. Please keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for this post as it emphasizes the concept that as familiar as the battlefield may seem, there are always hidden details (and alas, photographs) to be found.