Tuesday, June 1, 2021

‘Antietam’ On Confederate Names Chopping Block

Interesting article, although Maryland was never a northern state, even though it was on the side of the Union. From The Federalist:

The Battle of Antietam is one of the few Civil War battles fought in the North. Among other things, Gen. Robert E. Lee thought the Marylanders of the agriculturally rich counties of western Maryland would rally to the Southern cause with men and supplies if he took his army into Northern territory. He was badly mistaken.

The small, sturdy farms and towns of mountainous Western Maryland were the domains of the scrappy direct descendants of the Revolutionary generation, and largely immigrants—Germans, Dutch, Scots, Irish—who, then, as now, shared far more in common with their Appalachian cousins in staunchly Union western Pennsylvania and the soon-to-be-formed West Virginia than they did with the residents of low-lying Baltimore, Alexandria, and Richmond.

They turned a cold shoulder to Lee’s army and stayed in their homes as it marched through their towns singing “Maryland, My Maryland.” Instead, they cheered the Union’s Army of the Potomac as it arrived to stop Lee’s advance.

In local folklore, a woman in Frederick, Maryland stood in the doorway of her home with her small daughter beside her and defiantly waved the Union flag at the Confederate Army marching by toward Hagerstown, the seat of Washington County (named for the father of the Nation). A passing Confederate officer saluted her, although he demurred: “To you, madam; not your flag.”

This incident was later embellished into an epic poem once taught to Maryland schoolchildren about Barbara Fritchie, a 90-year-old denizen of Frederick who defiantly waves a Revolutionary War-era American flag at the marching Confederates from her bedroom and shames them. The poem’s famous line resounds: “Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country’s flag,’ she said.”

In real life, the Battle of Antietam was bloody, the carnage considerable. They fought for a full day, face to face across a farmer’s cornfield, around a German Baptist church, and for control of a bridge spanning the Antietam. Matthew Brady’s famous photos show them lying side by side locked in death together where they fell.

More Americans died that day than on any single day in our entire history: 7,650 men total, more than 4,000 of them Union soldiers, a full 25 percent of the Union Army’s fighting strength that day. More than 12,000 more Union soldiers were wounded, and 10,000 for the Confederates.

But the Union army held; Lee’s was forced to retreat the following day. Thus, “Burnside Bridge,” “The Cornfield,” “Dunker Church,” and most famously, the sunken road forever-after known as “Bloody Lane,” passed into the province of history. The Antietam Battlefield was one of the first Civil War battlefields dedicated as a national site by the United States, in 1890. (Read more.)

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