One hundred and fifty six years ago on September 17, 1862, along the rolling hills of Western Maryland the Armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia collided outside the hamlet of Sharpsburg along the waters of Antietam Creek. At the end of the day, some 23, 000 soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. It was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.
Among the dead was private Benjamin H. Brantley of Washington County. It was that day and others like it which changed our lives in the early 21st Century. For you see, Private Benjamin Brantley married Elmina Smith when she was 12. Some four years later, Elmina married my great great grandfather, John Arthur Braswell, himself a teen age soldier of the Confederacy. So it was on that sad, sad day that my life became possible. And so may have yours too in the deadly and brutal battles to follow.
By the end of the first full year of the war, General Robert E. Lee summed up the war in a chilling way following another horrific clash. As he looked down from Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg, Virginia with 8,000 dying and wounded Union soldiers below, Lee remarked "It is well that war is so terrible, that we may grow too fond of it."