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Battlefield to mark 145th anniversary

Special events weekend to commemorate bloodiest day in U.S. history

Special events weekend to commemorate bloodiest day in U.S. history

September 12, 2007

SHARPSBURG - Antietam National Battlefield has scheduled a special event weekend for Friday, Sept. 14, through Monday, Sept. 17, to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

On Sept. 17, 1862, Union and Confederate armies clashed for 12 hours near the town of Sharpsburg. By sunset, more than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing, making the Battle of Antietam the bloodiest day in American history.

In addition to regularly scheduled ranger programs such as orientation talks, artillery programs, aftermath talks and ranger-led automobile tours, there will be many special programs. A variety of ranger-led hikes offered throughout the weekend will cover specific phases of the battle. Hikes lasting 1 1/2 hours offer an overview of each phase, while 2 1/2 hour hikes offer a more in depth study of that phase. The hikes start from different locations on the battlefield. Those participating in the various hikes should be sure to bring water, bug repellant and wear comfortable shoes. The hikes will go on rain or shine. For a list of specific times and starting points, visit the park Web site at www.nps.gov/anti.

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The battlefield events coincide with the annual Sharpsburg Heritage Day set for Saturday, Sept. 15. For more information see: www.sharpsburghistorical society.org, and click on the calendar of events.

Friday's special events at Antietam begin at 6 p.m. with a Commemoration Ceremony at Dunker Church. Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy M. deVries, U.S. Marine Corps, will offer remarks. At 7 p.m. National Park Service Chief Historian Emeritus Ed Bearss will speak about the Battle of Antietam in the Visitors Center's theater. Reservations are required due to limited seating in the theater, and can be made by calling 301-432-5124.

Bearss is a Civil War lecturer and tour guide, who grew up during the Great Depression on his family's cattle ranch in Montana. Once his interest in military history blossomed, he began naming the ranch animals after famous generals and battles. His favorite milk cow was Antietam.

Living history volunteers portraying soldiers will conduct artillery and infantry firing demonstrations on Saturday. Firing demonstrations will be held near the Visitors Center from noon to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 5 p.m. A Dunker Church Walk will begin at 11 a.m., departing from the Visitors Center, and a National Cemetery Walk will be held at the cemetery at 2 p.m.

On both Saturday and Sunday, rangers will present a special Aftermath of Battle program that will include living history volunteers portraying the U.S. Sanitary Commission. On Saturday at 7 p.m. author Ethan Rafuse will present a program on Union Gen. McClellan at Antietam. The program will be held in the Visitors Center theater and reservations are required.

On Sunday, Maryland State Park Ranger Al Preston will give a talk about the Battle of South Mountain. It will begin at 11 a.m. in the Visitors Center's Observation Room, where visitors can view South Mountain to the east. At 11:30 a.m. the Wildcat Regiment Band will perform a concert at Dunker Church. Members of the band will perform selections from during the years of 1830-1860, and also hymns played on 19th century original instruments. The band will present a grand concert at 2:30 p.m. at the Mumma Farm. A shuttle from the Visitors Center to the Mumma Farm will be provided.

On Monday, Sept. 17, a two-part, all-day hike will follow the battle in depth from beginning to end. The first part of the hike begins at 9 a.m. at the New York State Monument near the Visitors Center. The afternoon hike will begin at the National Cemetery parking lot, on the north side of Md. 34, across from the National Cemetery. It begins at 1:30 p.m. and will end back at the lot at approximately 5 p.m.

At 7 p.m., a program highlighting the Medal of Honor will be held at the Visitors Center theater. During the program, Henry Willard of Shepherdstown, W.Va., will be donating the Medal of Honor awarded to Lt. George White Hooker, of the 4th Vermont. Hooker is an ancestor of Willard and was awarded the medal for service at Crampton's Gap on Sept. 14, 1862. Several speakers will participate in the program, including Ted Alexander, senior historian at Antietam. The Medal of Honor will be available for viewing.

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