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Plans outlined to mark 150th anniversary of the Maryland Campaign

Antietam National Battlefield superintendent described events that will happen at area battlefields

June 19, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent Susan Trail spoke Tuesday about events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff photographer

Events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War, including the battles of Antietam and South Mountain, were outlined Tuesday morning at a news conference held at Antietam National Battlefield.

“The commemoration will feature a wide variety of tours, living history demonstrations, exhibits and commemorative programs by all of our national parks in this area and with our partners,” Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent Susan Trail said. “The Maryland Campaign is considered by many historians to be the turning point in the American Civil War.”

Trail described events that will be held at Antietam National Battlefield, South Mountain State Battlefield, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Monocacy National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

“The scope and impact on those battles had a profound effect on the country, both at the time they occurred, and even now,” she said. “Beyond the casualties suffered in the fighting, the Union victory at Antietam denied the Confederate States of America desperately needed European recognition and aid, and allowed President Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.”

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At Antietam National Battlefield, the events will run from Sept. 15-22. Visitors will have a chance to learn about the soldiers who fought at Antietam; living historians will provide interpretive programs; guest speakers will be featured; and battlefield tours of various duration will be available.

Other events will include a commemorative program and a remembrance ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery, during which the names of all of the soldiers killed or mortally wounded in the battle will be read aloud.

At South Mountain, events will include battlefield tours and living-history trails.

Dan Spedden, park manager for the South Mountain Recreation Area, which includes South Mountain State Battlefield, said the events will help people understand the historical significance of what happened there.

“We have been known for so long as such a recreational attraction, and the culture and historical entity was kind of in the background,” he said. “Now we’re evolving it as kind of an equal partner to our already robust recreation side.”

Spedden said he has enjoyed working with other national parks to put the commemoration together.

“To present this as the Maryland Campaign, people are going to want to study the whole thing,” he said. “It’s important (that) we erased all boundaries.”

Other events being commemorated include the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy at Monocacy National Battlefield July 7-8; the 151st anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas July 21-22 at Manassas National Battlefield Park; the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas Aug. 25-26 and Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Manassas National Battlefield Park; and the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Harpers Ferry at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Sept. 13-15.

Also on display for three months beginning Aug. 1 will be the Special Lost Orders 191 at Monocacy National Battlefield, which were issued by Gen. Robert E. Lee outlining his plans for the Army of Northern Virginia during the Maryland Campaign.

“We actually can see a piece of history,” said Rae Emerson, acting superintendent of Monocacy National Battlefield. “Here is this lost order being seen in the visitor center.”

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