Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Antietam: If these trees could talk ...

This sycamore next to Burnside Bridge dates to the battle.

When you're obsessed with the Civil War, you do odd things.

You kick at the ground at a battlefield, hoping a piece of artillery shell or a bullet will turn up.

The Burnside Bridge tree up close.
You look at a well-worn path deep in the woods, wondering if the men in the blue or gray walked there.

And you think about trees.

Which ones stood during a battle?

There are at least two "witness trees" at Antietam, one well known and one not.

At Burnside Bridge, a majestic sycamore next to the beautiful stone arch bridge pre-dates the Sept. 17, 1862 battle. It appears in several photos taken by Alexander Gardner in the days after the fighting.

In the West Woods, where Justus Wellington and many soldiers in the 15th Massachusetts were killed, there's another, lesser-known "witness tree," according to battlefield park volunteer Jim Buchanan, author of the excellent Walking the West Woods blog. At the time of the battle, the West Woods included many 300-year-old oak trees. After the battle, most of those trees were cut down by farmers, but the tree shown below escaped the chopping block.

How many pieces of lead from the battle remain in that tree?

If it fell in a storm, what would we find?

And wouldn't it be great if this tree could talk?

Oddly, I wonder.

This tree in the West Woods at Antietam, near Maryland State Highway 65, dates to the battle,
according to battlefield park volunteer Jim Buchanan.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Photos, is there any type of protection plan and or health plan for these trees by the Park Service to keep them healthy for future generations? Thanks for the information!