History of Antietam National Cemetery (Bradford - page 42)
The bridge has been known in the neighborhood ever since the battle as the Burnside Bridge, which name, for its pastoral as well as patriotic significance, it will probably retain forever.
Thus ended only, for want of light to pursue it further, a battle that had raged for nearly fourteen hours, and which beyond doubt was the fiercest and bloodiest of the war.
Twelve thousand of our dead and wounded warriors, and at least as many more of the enemy lay stretched upon the field.
I have, of course, not ventured to attempt more than the merest outline of some of the most prominent points of the action. To note the movements of the various divisions, brigades and regiments, their marches, manoeuvres and combinations, and the names of the officers who led them, even if I possessed the information necessary for the purpose, and that would insure me against doing injustice to any, would far exceed the limits permitted to such an address.
I should rejoice to be able to refer by name to every man who that day did his duty, from the General-in-Chief to the humblest subordinate in the ranks, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that they are all registered elsewhere, and that neither their names nor deeds are dependent on this ephemeral record.
Viewing these hills and valleys, as we do to-day, in the full luxuriance of their autumnal beauty, restored by the indomitable energy of their thrifty population to the condition they presented before hostile armies selected them as the theatre of their contest, and then calling up to memory or imagination, the spectacle they exhibited when that contest-closed, and the harvest of death lay heaped in horrid swarths all over their undulating surfaces, and how impressive, almost appalling, is the sense of the destruction which a few brief hours had accomplished ?
The day before the battle, this region, one of the most beautiful and productive of the State, in its orchards and meadows, cornfields and pastures, woodlands and water courses, presented
"A happy rural seat of various view."
that filled the eye of the visitor with delight inferior only to that of the happy husbandmen, its owners. They, thus far knowing little of war, save by its distant echoes, awoke on the morning of the 17th of September, 1862, to all its dread realities—
"Hark to that roar whose swift and deafening peal,
In countless echoes through the mountains ring;
Now swells the intermingling din ; the jar
Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb ;
The falling tree, the shriek, the groan, the shout,
The ceaseless clangor and the rush of men,
Inebriate with rage. Loud and more loud
The discord grows, till pale Death shuts the scene
And o'er the conqueror and the conquered draws
His cold and bloody shroud !
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.