Saturday, October 20, 2012

Antietam: An old view of Burnside Bridge

Burnside Bridge, probably photogaphed late in the 19th century. (Connecticut State Library archives)
Image enlargement reveals the post-war 
Spong farmhouse.
While digging in the Connecticut State Library archives recently, I found several old Antietam images, including this one of Burnside Bridge. I'm not sure for certain who took this photograph, although I suspect it's the work of renowned battlefield photographer William Tipton. Based in Gettysburg, Tipton photographed Antietam and the dedication of monuments to the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th Connecticut on Oct. 11, 1894. (Perhaps this amazingly detailed image of the 16th Connecticut monument also was taken by Tipton.)

Enlargements of the Burnside Bridge image reveal additional information. In the photo below, the monument to the 51st Pennsylvania, dedicated in 1887, abuts the left side of the bridge. (It was later moved a short distance away.) The 51st Pennsylvania and 51st New York were the first Union regiments to capture the bridge on Sept. 17, 1862. In the upper right, note the Spong farmhouse, a post-war structure. In the extreme upper left of the top photo is part of another structure, probably a Spong farm outbuilding. The Spong farm property was purchased by the Washington County (Md.) Historical Society in 1937 and donated to the government in 1940. Both Spong farm structures have long since been torn down. For more on old Antietam images, I highly recommend Stephen Recker's recently published book, "Rare Images of Antietam," which includes an 1889 image by Solomon McFarland from a similar vantage point.

In an enlargement of the top image, the arrow points to the  51st Pennsylvania monument,  
which was dedicated in 1887.

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