Thursday, May 09, 2013

Antietam panoramas: Sharpsburg's Main Street church

Connecticut Civil War veterans chipped in
 $400 in 1891 to purchase this stained-glass
 window for the  German Reformed Church.
I got up early last Wednesday morning to shoot this panorama of Main Street in Sharpsburg, Md., a town Norman  Rockwell should have put on his bucket list. Of particular interest to me is the Christ Reformed Church, the red-brick building toward the left of the image. Called the German Reform Church during the Civil War, it was one of three churches in town used as a Union hospital after Antietam.

During the past three months, I have been digging into the stories of some of the Connecticut soldiers who were patients in that church. One of those men was James Brooks, a 19-year-old private in the 16th Connecticut, who lay in no-man's land in farmer John Otto's cornfield for 40 hours before he was found by a Union burial crew. He initially was treated in Otto's barn, a makeshift field hospital, before he was transferred to the German Reformed Church, where he died on  Oct. 11, 1862. Brooks' body was returned to Connecticut and buried in a small cemetery in rural Willington under a gravestone that notes he died of  "six heavy wounds."

If you visit Sharpsburg, put a stop at the church on your to-do list, and arrange to go inside to check out the beautiful stained-glass window that faces Main Street. In 1891, Connecticut Antietam veterans donated that window in honor of their comrades who died at the battle. Below is a panorama of the inside of the church, shot with my iPhone 4.

The church suffered significant damage during the war and was remodeled in the 1890s. The blood-stained Civil War-era floorboards  were reportedly ripped out in the 1940s, although I have heard that some of the original floorboards remain. I'll try to confirm that on my next trip to Sharpsburg.  An aside:  Recent blog subject Barney Houser, a private in the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade, lived in the house to the left of the church during the Civil War. Items borrowed from his house for use in the German Reformed Church hospital included an iron kettle, a skillet, four window blinds, four ladles and a Dutch oven.

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