Thursday, March 06, 2008

Burnside Bridge on a foggy morning

Pictures taken this past autumn at Antietam National Battlefield remind me of why I am eagerly looking toward May 28, and my return to full-time Rangering (for the Summer, that is).

Every season reveals a different aspect of the beauty of the Antietam Creek Valley.  Here's the historic Sherrick Farm bathed in the fog rolling up from the creek.

In the misty distance a familiar structure begins to take shape, Burnside Bridge.

At Antietam its easy to find a slice of privacy, on a perfect morning, of a perfect day.

One of the most commonly asked questions by visitors who go on the two-hour ranger tour is;
"Why didn't Lee blow up the bridges?",  you know, like they do so often in the movies.

There's a full palette of answers, including:

Lee didn't come to Maryland to alienate the people of Maryland, but to win them over, which is not done by destroying their bridges and their livelihoods.

Lee used the bridges to his advantage, as choke points for the Federal attacks.

Lee didn't have the luxury of an enormous surplus of black powder to expend in the demolition of these bridges.

and, finally, the simple one...

These bridges are nearly indestructible.

And aren't we glad of it.


One of the cool things about the Spring and Autumn fog seasons at the park is that we are caught smack between the fog rising from Antietam Creek and that which rises from the mighty Potomac just a mile and more away.  As the sky clears to brilliance the lifting fog leaves behind ragged curtains of vapor hanging in the air, betraying the locations of those two waterways.

Looking up the "witness tree" on the Union side of Burnside Bridge.  Visitors always ask if there are bullets deep inside.  I can only imagine that there are.

Through the mist the Antietam rolls slowly toward the Potomac River to eventually lend its waters to the bay and the ocean beyond.  I have to wonder if a hundred and forty five years ago some floating piece of wreckage from the battle drifted down this creek only to end up on some beach on another continent, leaving some beachcomber to ponder the origin of so foreign an object.

Come ponder for yourself, its your park, year-round...

just north of Sharpsburg

Ranger Mannie


John Cummings said...

I have a thing for the Sherrick House. Great fog shrouded view sir. All I really know about the place is the story Bill Frassanito tells of the family hiding the silver, I think it was, in the stone wall around the property. Its quite a house and the way it sits on the land is just "neat", can't quite come up with other words right now. I guess the thing I find appealing is that it seems it holds a real drama of its own. Is there a lot known of the family? I always have an eerie but welcoming feeling walking around the grounds.

mannie said...


Just off the top of my head I know that Mr. Sherrick was a man of enough means to open his home to the Mumma family while they were rebuilding from the battle. Apparently he had another home elsewhere.

I find myself drawn to the Sherrick farm too. "Neat" does pretty well describe the setting.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

Wow, these are great pictures Mannie! At least there are a few benefits to the ugly weather we've been having lately.

John C. Nicholas

mannie said...

Thanks John