Celebrate Gettysburg July/August 2012 : Page 30

Destinations A shared legacy of Civil War heritage sites BY TYLER GRIMM t 30 The Mason-Dixon area’s Civil War battlefields of Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Monocacy share a distinct link to our own history here in Gettysburg. These destinations provide varying cultural experiences for families while also offering educational activities for those seeking a pleasant weekend getaway this summer. Susan Trail, superintendent for Antietam National Battlefield, sums it up perfectly by saying, “There is so much to do here!” Antietam National Battlefield is famous for being the bloodiest single day battle in American history, occurring on September 17, 1862. Located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, Antietam is famous for other reasons as well. “In the larger picture of Civil War history, Antietam provided a Union victory for President Lincoln, allowing him to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation,” Trail says. “The battle is also significant because it prevented European countries from recognizing the Confederacy as a separate nation. That would have potentially made a significant difference in the outcome of the war.” Antietam became a national battlefield in 1890 and, today, hosts a variety of historical activities. “Visitors can come to our visitor’s center, which is open seven days a week. There are films on the battle there. We also have a driving tour of the battlefield,” Trail says. The Civil War sesquicentennial (150 th anniversary) commemoration is a significant historical event not only in Gettysburg but also in these Mason-Dixon area battlefields. Antietam is planning special events to commemorate the sesquicentennial. “On the weekend of September 15 through 17, we’re going to have a number of tours of the battlefield, short overview hikes of about 1 1/2 hours long and more detailed hikes that are several hours long to all-day battlefield hikes,” Trail says. “We will also have [historical] interpreters set up at many of the tour spots on the battlefield. We are also having children’s activities and living history with people in soldier and civilian garb, guest lecturers and a commemorative ceremony on the 17 th .” Antietam National Battlefield isn’t the only Civil War destination you can visit. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Destinations

Tyler Grimm

A shared legacy of Civil War heritage sites<br /> <br /> The Mason-Dixon area’s Civil War battlefields of Antietam, Harpers Ferry and Monocacy share a distinct link to our own history here in Gettysburg. These destinations provide varying cultural experiences for families while also offering educational activities for those seeking a pleasant weekend getaway this summer. Susan Trail, superintendent for Antietam National Battlefield, sums it up perfectly by saying, “There is so much to do here!” <br /> <br /> Antietam National Battlefield is famous for being the bloodiest single day battle in American history, occurring on September 17, 1862. Located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, Antietam is famous for other reasons as well. “In the larger picture of Civil War history, Antietam provided a Union victory for President Lincoln, allowing him to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation,” Trail says. “The battle is also significant because it prevented European countries from recognizing the Confederacy as a separate nation. That would have potentially made a significant difference in the outcome of the war.” <br /> <br /> Antietam became a national battlefield in 1890 and, today, hosts a variety of historical activities. “Visitors can come to our visitor’s center, which is open seven days a week. There are films on the battle there. We also have a driving tour of the battlefield,” Trail says. <br /> <br /> The Civil War sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) commemoration is a significant historical event not only in Gettysburg but also in these Mason-Dixon area battlefields. Antietam is planning special events to commemorate the sesquicentennial. “On the weekend of September 15 through 17, we’re going to have a number of tours of the battlefield, short overview hikes of about 1 1/2 hours long and more detailed hikes that are several hours long to all-day battlefield hikes,” Trail says. “We will also have [historical] interpreters set up at many of the tour spots on the battlefield. We are also having children’s activities and living history with people in soldier and civilian garb, guest lecturers and a commemorative ceremony on the 17th.” <br /> <br /> Antietam National Battlefield isn’t the only Civil War destination you can visit.<br /> <br /> Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, established in 1963, has a history of which we may be unaware. “Unlike a single specific battle action like Gettysburg or Antietam, Harpers Ferry is a town that was pretty much decimated and occupied throughout the war,” says Marsha Wassel, public affairs officer for the park. “Harpers Ferry became a target because the Second National U.S. Armory was located here, and of course, guns were a prize of war. The initial attack on the U.S. Armory was for the guns, and more importantly, the gun-making equipment. Because of its location between West Virginia and Maryland, Harpers Ferry became an international border between the North and the South.”<br /> <br /> Like Antietam, Harpers Ferry boasts numerous sesquicentennial activities and events for visitors. “We are a great weekend destination, and we’re so close to Gettysburg!” Wassel says. “We have activities planned for this year, 2013 and 2014. Because of Harpers Ferry’s occupation throughout the war, we will be commemorating its history through 2015. Our calendar on our website has our summer tour schedule and special events.” These events include firing demonstrations, rangerled sessions, lectures, a heritage concert and much more. Sesquicentennial events began in May and continue through the summer. <br /> <br /> Monocacy National Battlefield is another neighbor to the south, located near Frederick, Maryland, and is known as the “battle that saved Washington.” <br /> <br /> “The Battle [of Monocacy] was fought on July 9, 1864, and it was part of the larger campaign by Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, who was trying to get to Washington,” says Tracy Evans, battlefield interpreter for Resource Education and Visitor’s Services for Monocacy National Battlefield. “The Union is defeated at Monocacy, but because of [their actions] they are able to delay the Confederate army, so by the time the Confederates reach Washington there are reinforcements there. The Union knew they would lose [at Monocacy], and for the Confederates, the delay here cost them Washington.” <br /> <br /> The battlefield was established in 1934, but money was not allocated to the site at the time because of the Great Depression. It wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that the first land preservation discussions began and land accruements occurred. <br /> <br /> “We have trails through the battlefield that visitors can hike, and part of that is handicapped accessible. We have ranger programs on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most importantly, we have our battlefield hike on October 20 this year,” Evans says. “There are three hikes scheduled throughout the day. These are real-time hikes, where [visitors] go on the battlefield at the time fighting happened” in specific areas.<br /> <br /> All of these Mason-Dixon regional battlefields are located within a short drive from Gettysburg. “We’d love to have people from Gettysburg fill up their tanks with gas and come on down!” Wassel says.<br /> <br /> Visit the websites for each location listed below to view complete program schedules for the current summer season and throughout the Civil War sesquicentennial.<br /> <br /> Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center<br /> 5831 Dunker Church Rd.<br /> Sharpsburg, MD 21782<br /> 301-432-5124<br /> www.nps.gov/anti<br /> <br /> Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitor Center<br /> 171 Shoreline Dr.<br /> Harpers Ferry, WV 25425<br /> 304-535-6748<br /> www.nps.gov/hafe<br /> <br /> Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center<br /> 5201 Urbana Pike<br /> Frederick, MD 21704<br /> 301-662-3515<br /> www.nps.gov/mono

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