Antietam history comes alive with the sound of music

September 17, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SHARPSBURG - About 40 people gathered in a church Sunday at the site of what was described as "hell on Earth" 145 years ago.

They were listening to the Wildcat Regiment Band perform at Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield. The concert was part of the celebration of the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Conductor B.J. Pino said the band was playing authentic music from the mid-19th century with instruments from the Civil War era. While their dress, instruments and music were historically accurate, some modern obstacles were obvious during the band's performance.

Pino paused at least once to allow a line of motorcycles to pass before the band began a song. He said part of the original band's mission was to inspire, and that mission has not changed.


"You're in a church," he said. "It's Sunday. Need I say more?"

Marie Bikle of Boonsboro said she and her husband, Mark, have been to many events at the battlefield. She said she enjoys the quality of the music and the historical accuracy.

"Truly, this is living history," Bikle said. "You can feel the history in here."

Part of the band's responsibility was to remember what happened at Antietam National Battlefield 145 years ago, Pino said. He described the scene as "hell," saying that the carnage of that battle should never be forgotten.

Stephanie Cramer of Biglerville, Pa., and her 15-month-old son, Tommy, sat outside the church listening to the band. Cramer's husband, Tim, plays the horn in the band, and Cramer said she and her son always watch him perform.

"We love it," she said. "I'm hoping (Tommy) will grow up to be a drummer boy in the band. If not, I guess he could play the horn like his dad."

Steve Beierlein said he traveled from Utah to Antietam National Battlefield for the weekend's celebration. The history buff said it was his first time there.

"Given the current war, it's maybe a good idea to get some perspective," Beierlein said.

He said he went on a hike at the battlefield Saturday and attended several other events for the anniversary.

"It's beautiful country," he said.

Today's events

A two-part, all-day hike today will follow the battle from beginning to end. The hike begins at 9 a.m. at the New York State Monument near the Visitors Center at Antietam National Battlefield. The afternoon hike begins at 1:30 at the National Cemetery parking lot on the north side of Md. 34.

A program highlighting the Medal of Honor will be at the Visitors Center theater at 7 p.m. Henry Willard of Shepherdstown, W.Va., will donate the Medal of Honor awarded to Lt. George White Hooker of the 4th Vermont. Hooker was awarded the medal for service at Crampton's Gap on Sept. 14, 1862.

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