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ANTIETAM – History Tour

History-Irish-Brigade-AntietamMy husband, our 6-year-old son, Isaac, and I left Gettysburg early in the morning and we were off to Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, another key battle site during the Civil War and the spot of the bloodiest one day battle in American history. This time we didn’t hire a guide, but instead purchased a guided audio tour in the gift shop. We enjoyed this method of touring just as much, if not more, than with the personal guide. We were able to pause, rewind, and listen again at each stop to the CD in our car, which made it convenient for me who seems to have developed late onset A.D.D.

After buying our CD at the visitor center, we stopped at Clara Barton’s memorial. Clara Barton’s name may sound familiar as she was not only a nurse during the War, but later went on to found the American Red Cross. I wanted to get Isaac’s picture with the memorial stone, but he wouldn’t get out of the car as his tolerance for ‘History Tour 2014’ was waning. So, I took a few pictures, sans people, and off we went.

Another stop was at the Irish Brigade Memorial. The Irish have a marker here because Thomas Meagher, an Irishman by birth, fought here and recruited other Irishman for the war effort. His story is a remarkable one. Before the Civil War, he was a convicted criminal in Ireland who had been sentenced to exile in Tasmania. He escaped from Tasmania and then traveled to the U.S. and served in the Civil War and then later as the governor of Montana. I guess if you can survive a boat trip from Ireland to Tasmania, and then escape from Tasmania to the U.S., fighting in a war might not be terrifying, but simply your next challenge.

Our final stop was the battle site at Burnside Bridge, named for Union General Ambrose Burnside. General Burnside truly defines success and I’m not talking about his bravery in the Civil War. His full, bushy, side burns that looked like mustaches running across his cheeks, made side burns fashionable in the 1860s. Not only that, he invented a gun which bore his name, the Burnside Carbine, and got the bridge at Antietam named after him. Setting facial hair trends, being the namesake to bridges, creating rifles… and what have I done lately?

When I was younger, the Civil War didn’t interest me much. But once I began to learn about the individuals in the War, John Burns at Gettysburg, President Lincoln, General Burnside, Thomas Meagher, and so on, the story has become captivating and ordinary people have become larger than life.

The Waynedale News Staff

Emily LaRue

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