Saturday, May 11, 2013

Antietam panoramas: Burnside Bridge

                                            Click on image for full-screen panorama.

BURNSIDE BRIDGE (Confederate view): Here's an interactive panorama taken just steps to the left of a quarry  pit from which the rebels fired on the Federals attempting to cross the small stone-arch bridge. Confederate forces held off the Union IX Corps here for about three hours before retreating on Sept. 17, 1862. Capt. John Griswold of the 11th Connecticut led skirmishers across the creek just to the right of the bridge. Shot in the middle of the 4-foot deep stream, he staggered to the bank on the rebels' side. Surgeon Nathan Mayer and four privates rescued Griswold, carrying him to a nearby small shed. (The shed has long since been torn down.) The Lyme, Conn., officer died the next day from a bullet wound near the stomach. The Park Service has done terrific work here restoring this site to near its 1862 appearance.

                                               Click on image for full-screen panorama.

BURNSIDE BRIDGE (Union view):  As the 11th Connecticut fanned out here along Antietam Creek, aiming to pin down the rebels on the bluffs across the stream, it faced withering fire. "The air rang with whistling balls," an 1868 history of Connecticut's service during the war noted, "and the ground quaked with the hard breath of artillery." 11th Connecticut Pvt. Daniel Tarbox of Brooklyn, Conn., was mortally wounded in the attack, dying the next day.  (On this spot last spring, I read a portion of 18-year-old Daniel's final letter home to his father. You can watch that here.) Each time I visit Antietam, I am amazed by what the Confederates accomplished here. With a few hundred men, some firing from perches in the trees on the bluff, they held off the Union IX Corps for three hours, time their army sorely needed for A.P. Hill to bring up his boys from Harpers Ferry, about 17 miles away. The bluffs along Antietam Creek are not very imposing, but they were imposing enough that Wednesday for the Yankees.

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