Sunday, August 2, 2015

Maryland: Ghosts of Antietam

This Civil War battle was the result of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North in September of 1862.

One day of intense fighting turned the Antietam battle into one of the bloodiest of the war—second only to Gettysburg in devastation.

Bodies after the battle.
Lee’s troops met the Union army at Antietam Creek * on the 17th near the small town of Sharpsburg in Maryland. A staggering 23,100 men were wounded, killed or were missing in action after these two armies collided in cornfields and farmlands.

* In 1933, the National Park Service took over this site making it a National Park.

In just four hours alone, along a sunken road that separated two farms 5,000 men died.

Lee’s troops had reached this road and stayed, thinking at first it provided some protection. Soldiers on both sides fired continuously as the Union soldiers tried to take the position.

Finally, the Confederate soldiers were overrun—bodies fell on top of bodies along this bloody road.

Part of the Sunken Road now
known as Bloody Lane.
Today this road is called Bloody Lane. People who visit it claim it leaves an eerie impression. For no matter how many visitors roam this old road on any given day—it remains deathly quiet.

Many modern-day visitors have experienced strange activity along Bloody Lane. The sounds of gunfire and the smell of gunpowder are reported when no one is around.

One male visitor to Antietam National Battlefield spotted several men wearing Confederate uniforms as he walked Bloody Lane. At first, he thought they were war re-enactors but then he saw them vanish.

Another strange encounter occurred when a group of Baltimore schoolboys visited the lane. They heard singing out in the fields. They described it as a chant or the Christmas song Deck the Halls.

They heard Fa-la-la-la-la sung repeatedly.

Observation tower along Sunken Road.
Their encounter is telling in that during the battle an Irish brigade charged the Confederates near the observation tower located along Sunken Road. These Irish soldiers battle cry was in Gaelic and sounded like a Christmas carol.

Burnside bridge
Another active area on the battlefield is Burnside’s Bridge. It was here that General Ambrose Burnside finally pushed the Confederate troops back after several previous attempts.

Many soldiers were buried quickly near this bridge in unmarked graves.

At night, visitors near this bridge report seeing a strange glowing blue light moving around the area. Others report hearing the cadence of a drum playing—this sound fades away into the distance.

Ghostly mist captured by
one canon. Photo by
Belinda Franks
Today five upside down canon barrels mark the spots where five generals died during the battle. Photographs taken in these areas sometimes have strange mists or light anomalies in them.

It appears some of the soldiers who perished during the Antietam Battle are more than just a memory.

Two houses-- the Pry House and the Piper House both stand on the battlefield. These structures are haunted as well.

Witnesses report hearing footsteps on the stairs and seeing apparitions.

The Pry House was where Union Maj. General George B. McClellan made his headquarters. A woman seen in this house is believed to be Francis the wife of General Richardson.

Pry House as it appeared during battle.
Richardson was wounded during this battle and Francis nursed him on his deathbed.

Another structure near the battlefield in Sharpsburg is the St. Paul Episcopal Church. This building was used as a Confederate hospital following the battle.

Members of this church have heard screams, which they believe to be the southern soldiers who were wounded and dying in this makeshift hospital.

Other witnesses have seen lights flickering on and off in St. Paul’s tower.

Excerpts used in this post are from an article written by Rickie Longfellow a member of the West Licking Historical Society.

Here is a stark collection of Then and Now photos taken at Antietam. Warning: many are graphic in nature. 

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