Sunday we rose early again and we soon headed on the road to Antietam battlefield – in separate vehicles since we each would be leaving from there later that day. We quickly met up with Ranger Mannie Gentile, and Dimitri met us out front of the Visitor Center. Mannie was set to give visitors a general overview tour of the field at 10:00 am, so the four of us decided to tag along. We promised Mannie that we wouldn’t heckle him🙂
Although I’m pretty well versed about the battle and the Maryland Campaign, I was extremely impressed with Mannie’s talk and tour. Everyone who attended listened to him with rapt attention. It was a great introduction for Dimitri, since he hadn’t yet had a good overview of the field [in the picture, that’s Mannie on the left, then Eric, myself, and Dimitri on the right]. Mannie started with a talk about the state of the war and the elements of the campaign, then we stopped at The Cornfield. After describing the initial action there (truly, it’s called The Bloody Cornfield for good reason) we then went to the Sunken Road. I get chills there everytime. Mannie finished up at Burnside’s Bridge. Afterwards we talked for a while, then Dwayne, Eric and I took Dimitri on a walk around the famous bridge. The gnats (Antietam’s official bird this time of year) were getting pretty bad, and we needed to get on the road to our next stop at Harper’s Ferry, so we said goodbye to Dimitri and piled into my truck for the trip. Dimitri is a terrific fellow, and we enjoyed spending time with him. We all agreed that we’ll have to have another Blogger’s Convention very soon.
Driving the old Harper’s Ferry Road this time of year is visually stimulating. Beautiful old war-time road trace through beautiful country – and along the beautiful river all the way to town. We were amazed at the literally thousands – thousands – of folks out for the day biking, rafting, swimming, etc. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and heat.
We got there around 2:00 pm or so, found a place to park near the train depot, and walked over to a BBQ restaurant for lunch (my wife and I had eaten there a few years back and I recommended it to the guys). After lunch, we took a walk down to the Armory, then to a bookstore on the main street that had opened last year. None of us knew it was there until coming on it, and we were amazed at the selection. Terrific store, and I heartily recommend it to you next time you visit. We came out of there with some books we’d never heard of before but that will be great sources for future projects. Turns out they want to stock Eric and my Plenty of Blame to Go Around book, so I got information to have our publisher contact them.
After spending time marvelling at the view from the Overlook, Dwayne and I marched Eric up to Jefferson’s rock. Folks, if you’ve never been up there… it’s a climb. Woooheee. We all made it to the top and took some pictures. I have a creaky left knee from an old football injury, and it started aching from the climb – in fact, it’s still a bit sore.
We hated to part ways, but it was time for us to drive back to Antietam so Eric could get on the way to Ohio, and I had to get back home as well. My wife had to drive to Pittsburgh that evening to help our daughter move to her college apartment, so I needed to be back by 9:00 pm. We said our goodbyes, knowing we had capped off another great time with great friends (and making some new ones!).
Thank you Mannie, for a terrific time on the field, and great meeting you, Dimitri – I look forward to the next time.