You’ve already gotten my esteemed colleague Kathleen Ernst’s take on Harpers Ferry. Now you’ll get mine on both Antietam and Harpers Ferry.
I drove to Frederick first, though, to find a library to do email in, since the last time I had was in New Hampshire. Found out that one of my best friends had become a grandmother again, which was exciting. After I left Frederick, I headed towards Antietam National Battlefield, and spent a while there.
Across the fields
A detail of one of the monuments
Bloody Lane from the top of a viewing tower
“The feeling wasn’t quite the same as Gettysburg. For one thing, it’s not nearly as touristy. For another, my feelings about the battle were tempered by my reminiscing about the MacKade stuff (the Nora Roberts books set here) and by the fact that I’ve been listening to the [Disney] Tarzan soundtrack on the way over. Kind of hard to hear battle noise over jungle drums. Part of me is now thinking I might have done that on purpose…
“It’s still a very solemn place. It was hard to read the signs and know that over 20,000 men died in one day there. The single bloodiest day of the war (or any American war, apparently). ‘Owls hooting in the trees, ghosts walking on the air.’ (The Pride of Jared MacKade by Nora Roberts) For me it was hawks (migration season) rather than owls, but still. Odd feeling.”
The end of the Antietam auto tour is at the Harpers Ferry Road I’d been looking for and couldn’t find the day before, so I took it. The road winds along the Potomac River through the woods, and was beautiful.
And visited the many and varied exhibits. The one about John Brown kind of spooked me. That man had the most intense blazing eyes. The town itself was fascinating. I wish I’d known at the time that the National Park Service’s historic preservation headquarters was there, but they’re not open to the public, anyway.
On my way back to the hostel, I crossed the Potomac River:
And read my guidebooks that night as I prepared to tackle Washington, DC, the next day.