South Mountain to Sharpsburg
Including US 40 Alt, US 40, MD 17, MD 67 & MD 34
From Frederick, follow the Historic National Road Byway beyond Braddock Heights before branching off toward South Mountain Battlefield State Park. Intense fighting occurred here three days prior to Antietam, with some of the wounded, including future President Rutherford B. Hayes, removed to homes and churches in Burkittsville and Middletown. Local Civil War relics are displayed at a museum in Boonsboro.
As dawn broke on Sept. 17, battle lines were drawn near Antietam Creek — Lee’s 41,000 soldiers faced a Federal army twice that size. By dusk, Union forces held the field, but more than half of the 23,000 casualties wore blue, not gray. Union dead were buried at the Antietam National Cemetery, with many Confederate soldiers laid to rest in nearby Hagerstown.
A thorough tour of the beautifully preserved Antietam National Battlefield — from Burnside Bridge to the “Bloody Lane” — can take several hours when a must-see visit to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum is included. Also plan to stop at the farmhouse where abolitionist John Brown planned a pre-Civil War raid of an arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W. Va. The raid, though unsuccessful, inspired many anti-slavery groups.
A few days after the cannons fell silent at Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln visited the battlefield. Then on September 22, Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a major step toward the prohibition of slavery.
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