America’s Bloodiest Battle
On Sunday, Sept. 15, the Antietam Remembrance Walk from Sharpsburg, Md. to Shepherdstown commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. The three mile walk began at 5:30 p.m. at the Sharpsburg train station where guest speaker Steve Recker shared comments about the battle and those who traveled the route to Shepherdstown to receive aid for their wounds.
Recker is the author of “Rare Images of Antietam, and the Photographes Who Took Them,” and developer of Virtual Gettysburg, a critically acclaimed ineractive Civil War battlefield tour.
More than 400 individuals followed Shepherd University students who portrayed wounded soldiers on their journey across the Potomac River to the small town of Shepherdstown. Homes and churches were adorned with yellow rags to indicate that the doors were open to providing assistance to those in need, just as it was done in 1862.
Sunday’s walk took place on the eve of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, declared to be the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. In addition to Civil War re-enactors, many families participated in the walk.
Kathy Sholl, who donned period dress for the occasion, said she decided to participate in the walk with her husband, Mike, to pay tribute to her great-grandfather, John Henry Funkhouser, who fought in the Civil War.
“I thought we would come here and walk in memory of him. Mike has family that was on the northern side. I have family on the southern side. It’s really wonderful. We went for a little while this afternoon to the national battlefield, and there were so many things to see and do there and to experience,” she said.
Judy Bradshaw, an artist that lives near Shepherdstown, said she decided to walk because of her appreciation of Antietam, where she often paints and hikes with her husband.
“I’ve been reading about it, and I wanted to be a part of this. It’s a perfect day, and it’s a good thing to do. We just have to remember what happened 150 years ago (Monday). It’s a pretty big thing,” Bradshaw said.
Jim Staley, who lives in Shepherdstown, said he wanted to walk because of the dual anniversaries of the founding of Shepherdstown and the Battle of Antietam.
“My great-grandfather was a Confederate cavalryman, and he stayed in Shepherdstown. It’s probably a good thing that he did, or I wouldn’t be here today,” Staley said.
Mark Cucuzzella, who lives in Shepherdstown, brought his children to the walk and said the course of history was changed 150 years ago.
“Lee’s army retreated on this exact path, so it’s nice to show my kids what it was all about. They’ve spent the whole weekend in the national parks learning all about this history, so this will kind of be a nice final thing,” Cucuzzella said.
The walkers completed their journey at Town Hall where the student performers shared excerpts from writings of the Civil War era. Also portrayed was Miss Clara Barton who explained about the treatment of the soldiers and the needs they faced.
A ceremonial lighting of candles was done by all in attendance as Jake Smith played “Taps” to close the event.
Shepherdstown 250 organizer Meredith Wait, who was instrumental in working with representatives from Sharpsburg, showed great emotion during the playing of “Taps.”
“That song and ‘Amazing Grace’ on bagpipes always gets to me,” she said.
Wait said that she was pleased with the outcome of the event and the large number of individuals who took time to participate in the walk. She indicated that she hopes this will become an annual event with more participation from year to year.
-Edward Marshall, Ogden Newspapers, contributed to this story.