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Restored monument reflects Md. unity

June 04, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Standing before the classical Greek-styled Maryland Military Monument at Antietam National Battlefield Saturday, Civil War author and historian Susan Soderberg recalled the story of Antigone, who defied an order to leave unburied the body of her brother, Polyneices, after he led an uprising against the city of Thebes.

Soderberg, whose remarks closed a rededication ceremony at the park that capped a $300,000 restoration project for the 106-year-old marker, said the erection of the Maryland monument echoed the defiance of Antigone, and serves today as a symbol for the growing friendship between the two sides in the years after the war.

The monument, which was constructed in 1900, alone is among such markers because it honors Maryland Civil War dead who fought for both the Union and Confederate armies, author Dan Toomey said.

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"It's unique because only Maryland had armies where soldiers from both sides fought each other," said Toomey, the author of "The Civil War in Maryland." "(The monument) showed the reunification of the country."

The Battle of Antietam, which was fought on Sept. 17, 1862, was one of the bloodiest battles in the country's history, said Secretary of Veterans Affairs George Owings, who said he first visited the battlefield as a teenager on a field trip.

"The sum total in that day resulted in more bloodshed than any single-day battle in the history (of the United States)," Owings said.

The passing years and weather hadn't been as kind as the good will that built the marker, said Nancy Kurtz, a member of the Maryland Military Monuments Commission, which has been responsible for restoration projects throughout the state and at Gettysburg, Pa., Stephenson, Va. and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Kurtz, who works for the Maryland Historical Trust, said the small octogonal temple had suffered corrosion from moisture to the iron framework beneath its copper-paneled dome, requiring its replacement with a modern steel framework.

The project was funded by a partnership between the National Park Service, the monuments commission, The Herald-Mail, Antietam Partners and private donations, according to a news brief released by the battlefield.

Originally built for $10,000, the monument has been closed since 2003, Secretary of State spokeswoman Marina Harrison said.

The rededication ceremony included a rifle salute by the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard and music by the state's National Guard 229th Army Band.

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