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Shepherdstown 250 gears up for Antietam Walk

By Staff | Aug 24, 2012

The next major event on the calendar for the 250 celebration in Shepherdstown is the Antietam Remembrance Walk scheduled for Sept. 16 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The coordination of the event is a joint project between Shepherdstown and Sharpsburg, Md. residents to commemorate and honor those who fought at the Battle of Antietam as well as the citizens of both towns who opened their homes to care for the wounded and dying.

The September weekend marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. A multitude of events will be held in and around Sharpsburg and the battlefield to remember the battle. Sunday’s walk, which covers a path of 3.4 miles, will pay tribute to the 23,000 casualties of Sept. 17, 1862 and to those who remained standing, helping their wounded brothers find care in the surrounding towns.

Shepherdstown was one such town. Citizens opened their homes, their businesses, their churches to serve as refuge and shelter for wounded men making the walk from Antietam across the Potomac River to escape ongoing fighting.

Mary Bedinger Mitchell, a resident of Shepherdstown at the time, is quoted as saying, “The wounded continued to arrive until the town was quite unable to hold all the disabled and suffering. They filled every building and overflowed into the country round, into farmhouses, barns, corn-cribs, cabins wherever four walls and a roof were found together.”

It is the community spirit of giving aid that will be celebrated with the Remembrance Walk. Meredith Wait, coordinator of the Shepherdstown 250 events, said “This is a way we can reach back into history to acknowledge our townspeople.”

The walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. near the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s tent headquarters on MD Route 34 and is open to all who wish to participate. The route crosses the Potomac River and winds through the Shepherd University campus ending at Town Hall.

Wait indicated that shuttles will begin running participants from Shepherdstown to Maryland at approximately 4 p.m. Parking will be available at Shepherd University. The shuttles will also be available at the conclusion of the walk to return participants to the Maryland side of the bridge if that is where they park their vehicles.

Wait indicated that preregistration for the walk would be helpful as the organizers are not able to determine how many participants there may be. Visit www.antietamremembrance.org to pre-register.

In addition to the walk, the event organizers are encouraging all homes and businesses in town to adorn their locations with yellow.

According to the diaries of Mitchell, “Some one suggested that yellow was the hospital color, and immediately everybody who could lay hands upon a yellow rag hoisted it over the house. The whole town was a hospital; there was scarcely a building that could not with truth seek protection under that plea, and the fantastic little strips were soon flaunting. . .from every roof-top and chimney.”

The goal is to recreate that atmosphere on the day of the walk. Collections of white or yellow sheets are underway to provide strips to those who wish to participate. The strips will be available at Town Hall, the Visitor’s Center, Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery and Four Seasons Books. Those who have yellow sheets, or white ones which will be dyed yellow, and wish to contribute them to the project should drop them at Dickinson and Wait Gallery downtown. The strips are to be tied on the houses and other buildings in town by noon Sept. 16 and kept there until the end of the day on Sunday, Sept. 23 as there are other events commemorating the battle throughout the week.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.Shepherdstown250.com.