Commemoration of Battle of Antietam
COMMEMORATION OF BATTLE OF ANTIETAM
(By Ray C. Thompson)
Hagerstown, Md, Sept. 1.
A lone sentinel nearby Antietam Battlefield is the only honor-in-stone to the brave men of the world -renowned Robert E. Lee, who made the supreme sacrifice for the Confederate States of America at the Battle of Antietam — hardest fought and bloodiest one-day's battle of all America's wars.
This monument to the Confederacy is the only edifice erected and dedicated to 3,457 loyal Sons of the South who now lie facing this monument, all in one unmarked grave under scarcely a half-acre of sod of Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown, Md. With aid from the State of West Virginia the plot was purchased, and the monument erected and maintained solely by the devoted State of Maryland.
Particular significance comes to this Confederate memorial September 4th to 17th when more than a quarter million people from all over the nation, and President Roosevelt, attend the National Antietam Commemoration, and witness the 75th anniversary and re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg, nearby Hagerstown, on the final and climactic day, September 17… for but few of them will see this signal marker - 14 miles away in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Antietam’s field of death was the most crucial of the War Between the States. General Lee knew that to win the war he must first win in enemy territory, for which he would receive the deferred support of England and France, which would open up the Federal Blockade of Southern Ports - restore the shipping of cotton to Europe's mills. A decisive victory at Antietam would have placed Lee in Washington and the Confederate States of America among the independent nations of the world.
For never in all the years of the struggle was the South so close to victory as on the morning of September 17, 1862, on the banks of Antietam Creeks at Sharpsburg, Maryland. It was the turning point of the war at the high-tide of the Confederacy called by some one of the decisive battles of the world – where Lee starting the day with 35,000, ending it with but 25,000 -famished and footsore, held the Federal Army, 87,000 strong well-fed and finely equipped for war.
No greater valor -no more extra ordinary or distinguished service was ever rendered than by the 3,457, who lie beneath the smooth in an unmarked field—save for -the glory of the lone sentinel, the "Confederate Monument," placed and cared for by Maryland.
In all Maryland Lee lost 13,609. He, reduced Federal forces by 27,767 -a number equal to better than 50 per cent of his whole army. He later became prouder of Sharpsburg than any other battle, where be knew his men faced the heaviest odds of the war.
Just as surely the several States of the South should be just as proud of their brave men who paid the supreme penalty here, where Northern States, though not the victors, have erected suitable memorials on Antietam's field of death. But the South has not. The Confederate Monument by Maryland stands 14 miles away in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown, Md., which thousands may not see, September 4th to 17th.
Ray C. Thompson
Culpeper Star Exponent
Used with permission of the
Culpeper Star Exponent
Ray Thompson was the chair of the National Publicity Committee of the National Antietam Commemoration.
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.
Culpeper Virginia Star
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc
Washington County (Md.), 1937.