An online journal of Mannie Gentile, a National Park Service Park Ranger working on the National Mall in our nation's capital.
DISCLAIMER: please note that this blog represents only my views and not those of the National Park Service.
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It was a good morning for volunteering at Antietam today. I spent a little time on the Union Attack trail which takes the visitor along the approach of the Ninth Corps toward Antietam Creek and to Sharpsburg beyond. One of the icons of the battlefield, if not the Civil War, is Burnside Bridge (also known as Rohrbach, or Lower bridge.
In the days following the September 17th, 1862 battle, photographer Alexander Gardner brought his camera to the battlefield to record some of the most recognizable images of the war, including the bridge.
This morning I took my camera to Gardner's position to record what the scene looks like 155 years later. The view is from the point of view of the Ninth Corps, and as you can see that unlike today there was no cover at all for the Federals as the slope was clear cut. Also notice the very young sycamore tree at the end of the bridge, which is now the much beloved "witness tree" of the Battlefield.
It was a beautiful day at the battlefield yesterday - moist and overcast. The parking lot was full to overflowing and Gary Edelman and Tim Smith were leading one of their legendary eight-hour battlefield hikes to what looked like about 80 appreciative stalwarts.
I mostly hung out in and around Dunker Church chatting up visitors. Though I've forgotten a lot in the three and a half years since I left, things are slowly coming back. Everyone that I talked with marveled at what a beautiful park Antietam is, and comparisons always turn to the great contrast that is Gettysburg. Antietam, like Shiloh, is nearly pristine, and it's a joy to be a small part of it.