Ralph Bratch of Veterans Help Group visits Antietam Battlefield

As a veteran I, like many people, have always had an interest in Civil War history.  On May 28, I finally got the chance to visit the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, the site of the Civil War Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg).  This is one of the most famous battles of the Civil war. It took place on September 17, 1862, in the foothills of the Appalachians near the Potomac River in northwest Maryland. Union forces led by George McClellan fought Confederate forces led by Robert E. Lee.

The picture shows Burnside Bridge, the site of one of the most intense battle scenes of the war with both forces in concentrated fighting directly on this small bridge.  In the end, the Union forces eventually took the bridge, but only after suffering significant casualties.  It remains one of the most pictured bridges of the entire Civil War.  The combined forces were around 114,000 men.  There were approximately 23,000 total casualties, making the Battle of Antietam the single bloodiest day of battle in U.S. history.  This experience served as a reminder to me of the enormous cost of war that comes on the backs of veterans.


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