Thursday, December 29, 2011

Antietam visit: David Reel Farm

This barn on the David Reel farm took a direct hit from Federal artillery during the
Battle of Antietam, killing many of the Confederate soldiers who were being treated there.
(Top photo: Library of Congress Collection)
I have long been fascinated by Alexander Gardner's photo of the ruins of the barn on the David Reel Farm at Antietam. Located off Mondell Landing Road midway between Sharpsburg and the West Woods, the farm today is in private hands and is usually inaccessible to battlefield tourists. (Ranger-led walks are sometimes held near the farm in the spring.) I first read about the terrible story of what happened at the farm in William Frassanito's excellent, ground-breaking book "Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day" about 30 years ago.

Located just behind Confederate lines, the barn -- which was used as a field hospital -- took a direct hit from Federal artillery and caught fire, killing many of the wounded inside.  In a search of the barn after the battle, local boys found human bones and lumps of melted lead, perhaps from bullets those soldiers were carrying. (1). Being careful not to trespass, I took the present-day shot of the barn from my car.  I hope to learn more about what happened there during a visit to Antietam in the spring.

(1) The Battlefield of Antietam, Oliver T. Reilly, 1906, Page 26.

No comments:

Post a Comment