§ A Novel of Time Travel
I waited until about 9:00PM and decided to risk a stealthy visit to the park. It was quite dark, and even though this was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, there weren’t a lot of visitors in the park. I had arrived the weekend before all the big crowds would descend on the site. However, I wanted to make sure there would be no one in the park.
As I related before, I had gone to Boonsboro, MD, which is about 6 miles due east of Sharpsburg, to eat dinner. Coming back toward Sharpsburg on Hwy 34, the modern road bypasses Keedysville, MD. In the old days the road left Boonsboro, went through Keedysville, and split just passed Keedysville with the left branch going west to Sharpsburg. The right branch winds in a northwesterly direction about 5 miles, crosses the Hagerstown Pike and continues to Williamsport, MD, which is where part of Lee’s army crossed the Potomac after Gettysburg.
If you take the Keedysville/Williamsport branch of the road, you will cross over the “Upper Bridge”, which is one of the original bridges over Antietam Creek that the Union 1st Corps and 12th Corps used on September 16, 1862.
After you cross this bridge and travel another 2 miles, you will see a gravel road that leads off to the east. This is the old Smoketown Road, and it comes out in the East Woods, which was the scene of some horrific fighting on September 17, 1862.
I have averaged visiting Antietam Battlefield once a year since 1994. When I fly to Baltimore and drive a rental car to the battlefield, I always come in this way to get in the mood of 1862. The wooded terrain and fields are such that you can let yourself believe it is the 19th century once again.
This night I traveled, as usual, on the Smoketown Road. As I approached the actual boundary of the Park, I switched off my headlights and parked my car at the bottom of a hill just east of the junction of the Smoketown Road and a paved road that turns to the right and skirts the eastern side of the East Woods. This road continues north to the North Woods.
There is a private residence in viewing distance of this junction, and I didn’t want anyone seeing a reflection off my car and calling park security.