By spokesman | September 16, 2008
Antietam National Battlefield is near the C&O Canal and is a must visit destination for bicyclists traveling on the Canal. Touring the battlefield by bicycle has several advantages over walking or driving. Biking the eight mile battlefield loop is quicker than walking and it is easier to see the monuments and plaques on bike than in a car. When I rode the loop this weekend, there were several anniversary related activities including reenactors and a demonstration of Civil War medical treatments. The medical instruments looked more like tools from a Home Depot than surgical instruments.
The battle at Antietam took place on Sept 17, 1862 and was one of the biggest battles of the Civil War. The above photo shows Lincoln meeting with General McClellan at the battlefield. Over 23,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded or reported missing in the one day battle. The battlefield is at a remote location, so it has been mostly spared from development pressures (unlike other Civil War battlefields). The battle was historically significant for several reasons including:
- it was the first major incursion into the North by the South
- it was (and still remains) the single bloodiest day in American history
- it was a lost opportunity for the North; more aggressiveness by Union General McClellan including pursuing Lee’s Army during his retreat could have shortened the war by several years
- Lincoln decided to remove McClellan from command after the battle
- the Confederate defeat dashed their hopes for recognition by the British
- it led Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which introduced a moral element into the war
The battlefield is close to the C&O Canal. There is a large visitor center that shows several films and provides an excellent history of the battle. From the Canal, the closest point is Taylors Landing which is about 5 miles from the visitor center. Here is an excellent cue sheet for a loop ride from the Antietam visitor center that tours the entire battlefield and connects to the C&O Canal at two points. The cue sheet is intended for cyclists who drive to the battlefield for a visit but cyclists riding the entire Canal can use it to plan a side trip to Antietam.
Topics: C&O Canal/GAP |