Antietam National Battlefield | PARK AT A GLANCE

Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield

PARK OVERVIEW

Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland, preserves the September 17, 1862, battlefield on which more people died in a single day than at any other battle during the Civil War. One hundred thousand men participated in the battle. There were 23,000 total casualties (Union and Confederate), with approximately 4,000 killed and the rest wounded or missing. The battle ended Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the northern states.

By September 1862, a year and a half after the Civil War started, the Confederates had the advantage. Lee had just defeated the Union army at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 30th, so he decided to press forward into Union territory to take advantage of the momentum. While camped outside of Frederick, Maryland, Lee decided to split his army in two, sending General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to take control of Harper’s Ferry (in Virginia at the time) and General James Longstreet to Hagerstown, Maryland. The plan was written up in Special Orders No. 191. Seven copies were made and sent out to various Confederate generals, but one was lost. A Union soldier found it along the Georgetown Turnpike south of Frederick and delivered it to Union general George McClellan.

On the way to Hagerstown, Longstreet’s army was intercepted on September 14th at South Mountain by McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. Lee couldn’t understand how McClellan had arrived so quickly. The Union won the battle, and Lee thought of returning to Virginia, but news of Jackson’s success at Harper’s Ferry convinced him to make a stand at Sharpsburg along Antietam Creek on September 17th. While the battled technically ended in a stalemate, Lee decided to retreat back into Virginia, giving the Union bragging rights to the victory.

Upon arrival at Antietam National Battlefield, be sure to first stop at the Visitor Center where you can speak to a Ranger about what there is to see and do at the park, browse through museum exhibits, and watch a short film about the battle. With a basic understanding of the history under your belt, hop into your vehicle and take the 10-stop tour of the battlefield. There are also ten short hiking trails, some that pass historical sites and monuments not accessible by vehicle.

OPERATING HOURS

The Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The park grounds are open year-round from dawn until dusk. All grounds and facilities are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Antietam National Battlefield.

The Pry House Medical Museum is typically open 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays starting June 1st and continuing through the last weekend in October. On Fridays and Sundays during these months, it is open by appointment only. For the current schedule, see the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s Plan Your Visit web page for the Pry House.

The Newcomer House is typically open on weekends from 10 AM to 4 PM during the months of April, May, October, and November, and daily from June through September. It is closed the rest of the year. For the current schedule, see the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area’s Newcomer House web page.

FEES

There is a fee to tour Antietam National Battlefield. A three-day pass is $10 for pedestrians and cyclists and $20 per vehicle (up to 15 people per non-commercial vehicle). Antietam Annual passes and annual National Park passes are accepted. Pay the fee at the Visitor Center or online in advance at Recreation.gov.

There is a fee to visit the Pry House Museum. See the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s Plan Your Visit web page for the current prices.

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Visitor Center
allow up to 30 minutes

Battlefield Tour
allow 3 hours
add 5 hours if you hike the trails at each tour stop

Newcomer House
allow 15 minutes

Pry House Field Hospital Museum
allow 1 hour


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Last updated on September 15, 2023
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