22 miles W of Frederick; 10 miles S of Hagerstown; 57 miles SW of Gettysburg
Antietam (or Sharpsburg to Southerners) is perhaps the saddest place you can visit in Maryland. A walk down Bloody Lane will send shivers up your spine -- especially after you've seen the photographs of the corpses piled up on this road. (Photos at Antietam were the first ever taken of a battlefield before the bodies were buried.) More than 23,000 men were killed or wounded here when Union forces met and stopped the first attempted Southern invasion of the North in September 1862. It is the site of the bloodiest day of the Civil War -- with more Americans killed or wounded than on any other single day of combat, including D-day. President Lincoln made a battlefield appearance shortly after the battle at Antietam to confront the Union's Gen. George McClellan over his unwillingness to pursue the retreating Confederate army. Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross 19 years later, nursed the wounded here.
Today, the battlefield is marked by rolling hills and farmland and attended by a visitor center, a cemetery, modest monuments, and the gentle waters of Antietam Creek. The mood is somber. Gettysburg has all the monuments and displays, but this is the place to come to consider the tragedy, rather than the triumph, of war.