Antietam Battlefield – Fall 2009

Antietam NBP: path looking toward Roulette Farm buildings.

Antietam NBP: path looking toward Roulette Farm buildings.


Of my three primary arts, photography was to have provided relief from the other two: music and writing.  As a hobby, it was to have given me something to do outdoors, away from piano, apart from books.  Over the years, and perhaps in the inexorable workings of things, photography, the hobby, has become an avocation and profession, and the money, if it’s to be made, may come from shooting weddings and commissions for commercial work.  However, I’ve had print sales over the years, and so it too has become something of a studio art: one moves the pixels around at a desktop.

Thank goodness, however, that one cannot get really nice “pixels” by looking at a computer monitor.

It’s good to get out!

Antietam is just 25 minutes from my door and affords much opportunity for landscape photograhy.  Of course, it offers not only unique values for informing each picture, for when you look over pictures from Antietam, you are looking into one of history’s great theaters of contemporary values, politics, and warfare, but it fits with my weekly comments at Oppenheim Arts & Letters on conflict, despotism, and, I suppose, one might call the new thing “Jewish Universalism”. 

Antietam tells of a turn for the better in the implementation of the founding ideals of the United States and the launch of their expression into international politics.  One might say the South took some convincing that it had lost the Civil War, but it acknowledged that possibility at Antietam.  If the analogy holds, other battles being waged today would seem headed toward a similar outcome.

The battlefield today has a reputation as the best preserved of such landscapes in the United States, and I believe it.  Although in my walks, I’ve learned where the Port-a-Potties are stored and come across leaseholders minding their fields, one may in many parts experience and look out across a still completely rural landscape: farms, fields, simple single-lane blacktops, fire roads (by width), and trails.

Many have described the park as “tranquil” but some, myself included, continue to find it brooding and haunted.

Life stopped altogether for a little more than 3,000 souls (in round figures) at Antietam on September 17, 1862 (more were to die shortly afterward of their wounds, and experts have extrapolated additional figures for that).   As a commemorative park, elements of the landscape, from Dunker Church to Mumma Farm and elsewhere have been reconstructed with the intent to hold still that day in time, so as one walks its lanes and trails today, that walk may be the same as another soul experienced it some 147 years ago.

Antietam NBP: Bloody Lane from Observation Tower, Fall 2009.

Antietam NBP: Bloody Lane from Observation Tower, Fall 2009.

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