Antietam Campaign

A key turning point in the Civil War, The Battle of Antietam took place on Maryland soil, as Confederate soldiers crossed the Potomac River and clashed with Union forces in the sleepy town of Sharpsburg.

The picturesque Burnside Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield, the scene of intense fighting on September 17, 1862, holds the namesake of Federal Gen. Ambrose Burnside.

Capital Region
Western Maryland
126 miles on rural roads connecting several small towns from White's Ferry to Sharpsburg

Places along the way

White's Ferry
24801 White's Ferry Rd
Dickerson, MD 20842

Dickerson Conservation Park
20700 Martinsburg Rd
Dickerson, MD 20842

John Poole House
19923 Fisher Ave
Poolesville, MD 20837

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard
18125 Comus Rd
Dickerson, MD 20842

Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area
6565 Dickerson Rd
Dickerson, MD 20842

Sugarloaf Mountain Recreation Area
7901 Comus Rd
Dickerson, MD 20842

Monocacy National Battlefield
5201 Urbana Pike
Frederick, MD 21704

National Museum of Civil War Medicine
48 E Patrick St
Frederick, MD 21701

Barbara Fritchie House Airbnb
154 W Patrick St
Frederick, MD 21701

City Hall Park
101 North Court St
Frederick, MD 21701

The Main Cup
14 W. Main St.
Middletown, MD 21769

Gathland State Park
900 Arnoldstown Rd
Jefferson, MD 21755

Washington Monument State Park
6620 Zittlestown Rd
Middletown, MD 21769

South Mountain Battlefield State Park
6620 Zittlestown Rd
Middletown, MD 21769

Boonsborough Museum of History
113 N Main St
Boonsboro, MD 21713

Crystal Grottoes Caverns
19821 Shepherdstown Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713

Antietam National Cemetery
302 E. Main St
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Antietam National Battlefield
5831 Dunker Church Rd
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

C&O Canal National Historical Park-Ferry Hill Plantation
16500 Sharpsburg Pike
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Pry House Field Hospital Museum
18906 Shepherdstown Pike
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum at Antietam Station
17230 Shepherdstown Pk
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Kennedy Farmhouse (John Brown Raid HQ)
2406 Chestnut Grove Rd
Sharpsburg, MD 21782

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In September 1862, General Robert E. Lee moved his Confederate army into Maryland, hoping that a military victory on Union soil would gain foreign support for the Southern cause. Lee’s ensuing campaign came to a head with the Battle of Antietam.

White’s Ferry to Frederick

Including MD 107, MD 109, MD 28, MD 355, MD 85, MD 80 & I-70

Confederate soldiers forded the Potomac River and entered Maryland near White’s Ferry. Cavalries then clashed in Poolesville, which was no stranger to Civil War action: In 1861, Union troops assembled here before being ferried into Virginia for the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, and in 1863, Confederate horsemen stormed through on their way to Gettysburg, Pa. Civil War exhibits are found inside the circa-1793 John Poole House.

Several miles due north, you’ll find the Monocacy National Battlefield. Well-known as the site of the July 1864 conflict dubbed “The Battle that Saved Washington,” Monocacy also played a key role during the Campaign of 1862. Ask at the battlefield visitor center for details about Lee’s “Lost Orders,” which were found in this area by a Federal private and given to Union Gen. George McClellan prior to the battle at Antietam.

Frederick — the site of a 50-block historic, cultural and commercial district — has both the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Barbara Fritchie House. Fritchie was a 95-year-old widow who, as poet John Greenleaf Whittier proclaimed, defiantly waved an American flag from her window as Confederate troops moved through town.

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Park visitors take a walk on Antietam's Bloody Lane.

Image Credit: National Park Service

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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Union cavalry salute at Antietam National Battlefield where park programs and events help visitors experience the battle through soldiers' eyes.

Maryland Lore

The Monocacy Aqueduct was twice a target of Confederate demolition crews during the Antietam Campaign, but both attempts to destroy it failed.

The stone Monocacy Aqueduct carried the C & O Canal over the Monocacy River, allowing canal boats to transport goods to market. Confederate troops tried and failed to destroy the aqueduct on September 4 & 9, 1862.

Image Credit: Tourism Council of Frederick County

Byways in this Region

Historic National Road
Journey Through Hallowed Ground

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