He will give his angels charge of you,
To guard you in all your ways.
неделя, 25 ноември 2012 г.
Site of one of the bloodiest battles
of the American Civil War (1861–65) at Antietam Creek,
near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862.
There were more casualties that day than on any other
day of fi ghting during the entire war. Ghosts and strange
phenomena there still greet visitors today.
The year 1862 was a particularly brutal one in the war,
and it did not go well for the Union. Confederate troops
battered the Union armies, and President ABRAHAM LINCOLN
repeatedly fi red generals in an effort to regain strategic
General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy, confi dent of
victory, organized his fi rst attempt to move the war from
the South to the North and marched his men into Maryland
on September 4. The Sharpsburg area, 17 miles from
HARPERS FERRY, was of strategic importance.
But a bad turn of luck awaited: a copy of Lee’s fi eld
orders was lost, and Union soldiers found it wrapped
around cigars. The orders were turned over to Commander
in Chief George McClellan of the Union, who
thereby knew all of the major commands in the Confederate
army, their objectives, routes of march and timetables.
The incident, the most famous intelligence coup of the
war, became known as “The Lost Order.”McClellan, however, failed to act quickly and thoroughly
upon his good fortune. He wasted time moving
his men and overestimated the numbers of Lee’s forces.
The Confederates were exhausted from repeated fi ghting
and marching. Many were shoeless. Most had been living
on green corn and apples for weeks and suffered from
debilitating diarrhea. McClellan’s lack of artful maneuvering
gave Lee’s forces advantages. When the two sides
came face to face at Antietam, both were determined to
make a stand that would change the course of the war.
The battle commenced at 5 A.M. and quickly became
fi erce and frenzied. Mortar shells and bullets thickened
the air. “I do not see how any of us got out alive,” one
survivor wrote home later. “The shot and shell fell about
us thick and fast, I can tell you. . . .” Another survivor
saw comrades fall all around him and then suddenly he
too was down on the ground “with a strange feeling covering
my body.” He saw that he was covered in blood, and
“I supposed it was my last day on earth.” What he took to
be his fi nal thoughts were of home and friends. But then
he got up, saw he was shot in the shoulder and made his
way to the rear, joining the thousands of wounded who
were attempting to get clear of the fi ghting.
The worst fi ghting took place in a sunken road that
became known as “Bloody Lane.” The road was the Confederate
center line, which Lee ordered held at all costs.
The lane formed a natural bunker that gave defending
troops an advantage. Union troops tried several times to
dislodge the Confederates, without success. Union troops
fi nally gained a position that enabled them to fi re down
on the lane, turning it into a slaughter pen. Confederate
bodies were piled two and three deep.
The battle ended as a stalemate, with heavy losses on
both sides. Confederate troops ultimately were unable to
take the bridge at Antietam, and Lee withdrew his forces
there. By sundown, the battle was over.
Lee did not retreat. Both generals expected the fi ght
to resume the next day. McClellan had no desire for it. A
truce was struck to search for the wounded and bury the
dead. Lee did not attack but instead withdrew his army
across the Potomac. He could claim a tactical victory at
Antietam for none of his lines broke, and he suffered
fewer casualties than his opponent.
The exact number of casualties will never be known.
Confederates estimated their toll at 1,546 dead, 7,752
wounded and 1,018 missing. Federals counted 2,108 dead,9,540 wounded, and 753 missing. Most of the missing probably
were killed and buried in unrecorded graves wherever
they were found. The civilians who came back to their
farms after the fi ghting found dead everywhere, including in
their cellars, outbuildings and under haystacks and thickets,
where the mortally wounded had crawled to die. Many bodies
were buried in mass graves in fi elds. Numerous of those
counted offi cially as wounded died later.
Many visitors to Antietam today experience a sense of
cold dread at Bloody Lane. Phantom shouts and whispers
and clashing metallic sounds are heard. Also reported is
the war cry of the Irish Brigade as they attacked Bloody
Lane: “Faugh-a-Balaugh,” Gaelic for “clear the way!”
More than half of the Irish Brigade—540 men out of
1,000—fell at Antietam. The most notable case was a
group of grade-schoolchildren who said they heard singing
or chanting of something that sounded like the fa-lala-
la-la of “Deck the Halls.”
Burnside Bridge, named after Major General Ambrose
E. Burnside, who held the bridge for the Union, also is
said to be heavily haunted. Many of the dead were buried
around the bridge. At night the sounds of ghostly drums
are heard, and strange blue balls of light are seen moving
about the woods. Some believe the balls of light are phantom
campfi res of the soldiers.
A phantom woman in old-fashioned dress haunts the
Phillip Pry house, a brick farmhouse where McClellan
set up his headquarters. Phantom footsteps are heard on
the staircase. The house is not open to the public; these
phenomena were experienced during a restoration of the
house after it burned in 1976.
A fi lmy apparition is seen at the Piper House, located
on the old battlefi eld and now a bed-and-breakfast. Confederate
Major General James Longstreet made his headquarters
here; the barn was used as a fi eld hospital. When
the fi ghting ended, three dead soldiers were found under
the piano in the parlor. Strangely, the apparition and
phantom voices are experienced in a portion of the house
added around 1900.
In Sharpsburg, the St. Paul Episcopal Church, damaged
during fi ghting, was used as a Confederate hospital.
Phantom screams of the wounded and dying are heard
here, and mysterious lights fl icker in the church’s tower.