\"\"

Compared with Gettysburg, no one goes to Antietam

\"\"

Two weeks ago I did a two day tour of the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields. The contrast in what I experienced at the two battle sites was incredible.

If you can say this about a battlefield, Gettysburg is 'hot'. A massive visitor center, a multitude of parking lots, loads of bus tours all add up to thousands of daily visitors. {I'm guessing, but I was there on July 22 and I'm sure in excess of 10,000 visited that day.}

The gift shop at Gettysburg is a supermarket-sized store full of tee-shirts, baseball caps, books, videos, knickknacks, replica weapons and uniforms. It's huge. Even the fee for the visitor center is big - $10.50 per adult and $6.50 per child. That's $34 for a family of four.

Antietam is only 40 miles from Gettysburg, just across the border in Maryland. Based on official numbers, Antietam gets approximately 25% of the visitors that Gettysburg gets. I don't know how those figures are derived, but from what I saw 10% would be more like it. When I was there I saw few visitors and no buses at all.

Antietam has a small visitor center, a small parking lot and a very modest-sized gift shop. Oh, and it also has a friendlier admission price of $6 per family.

I'd been to Gettysburg in '95 when it was more like today's Antietam experience. I don't know what exactly has driven the change since then, other than possibly the impact of the movie Gettysburg, but today Gettysburg is a big time attraction. Reminded me of being at the Washington Monument or Independence Hall, only way out in the middle of nowhere.

Which is better to visit? I couldn't say, really. Gettysburg has the name and is, I suppose, the more significant battle. All Americans should get to Little Round Top or the Wheatfield or the Angle at some point.

View from Little Round Top

Yet the Battle of Antietam is pretty important too. The battle took place on September 17, 1862, which is still the bloodiest day in American history. It was easier to get my head around Antietam - Cornfield, Sunken Road, Burnside's Bridge. I found the key locations at Antietam somewhat more visually evocative, but maybe that's just me.

The point is that it's hard to choose between the two of them, yet one battlefield attracts a million more visitors annually than the other. I guess if someone told me they could only get to one, I'd probably go for Antietam simply because it's so much less crowded, but you probably need some idea as to what you're looking at before you go.

Also, from my an Irish perspective, standing on the ground in and around the "sunken road" or "bloody lane" is extremely poignant. It ranks right up there with Fredericksburg in significance. It was there that the Irish Brigade was first cut down in large numbers and, if you're interested in the Irish Brigade, Antietam is probably more crucial than is Gettysburg. {Although I prefer the Irish Brigade monument at Gettysburg - above - than the new one at Antietam - right.}

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: