Sixth in our Civil War Battlefield series
Ticket price includes round trip chartered coach from the DC area, free all-day parking at pickup site, complimentary cold drinks and snacks served aboard, boxed lunch (vegetarian option available). Limited to 1 Guest per Member.
Departure Location: Westfield Montgomery Mall, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817 (Parking Map)
Due to popular demand, the Cornell and Columbia Clubs of Washington present an all-day guided bus trip to the Antietam National Battlefield for a second time. Our guide will again be Cornell Professor David Silbey, a Cornell alumnus and military historian who has published widely on modern warfare and has long experience walking the Antietam battlefield.
"On December 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln wrote an annual message to Congress, a state of the disunion, if you will. He finished with these words:
'The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.'
It is hard to imagine that when Lincoln wrote of the 'fiery trial' he did not think of the Battle of Antietam. Antietam remains the bloodiest single day in American history, worse than Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor, D-Day or 9/11. But it was also the start of a turn in the war. From Antietam in 1862 to Gettysburg in 1863, the war was won and lost. Antietam, as Churchill said about another war, was not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.
We will go to Sharpsburg, MD to understand why and how the battle was so important, so bloody, and so near-run. It was Robert E. Lee's greatest battle; it was his worst. It was George McClellan's biggest failure and also his redemption. Most importantly, it was the battle for which Abraham Lincoln had been waiting, impatiently. To find out why, we have to and will walk the battlefield and see the battle as the soldiers and generals saw it.”
1. Bus to South Mountain Battlefield State Park
2. McClellan’s Headquarters, Boonsboro Pike
3. The Cornfield and Bloody Lane, north of town.
4. Burnside Bridge, south of town.
5. Antietam National Cemetery, middle of town.
David Silbey is a Professor of History at Cornell University and Associate Director of Cornell in Washington. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla conflicts, and the role of popular will in waging war. Silbey received his BA from Cornell and his PhD from Duke University.
His first book, The British Working Class and Enthusiasm for War, 1914-1916 was published by Taylor & Francis in 2005. His second book, A War of Empire and Frontier: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902 was published by Hill & Wang in Spring 2007. His third book, The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China, 1900 was published by Hill & Wang in March 2012.
Professor Silbey is the resident historian and chaperone extraordinaire for our very popular Columbia-Cornell Civil War History tours.
Please note: Seats are limited; tour of battlefield includes riding bus and substantial walking on uneven ground and climbing stairs.