Antietam National Battlefield: Hiking and History

Moving to Maryland, we were stepping right in the middle of American history. Getting onto the highway by our house there are signs to Gettysburg and Washington D.C.- it's everywhere here. Last weekend, we decided to take advantage of our location and hike the bloodiest battlefield of the Civil War- Antietam National Battlefield. 23,000 soldiers died in one day there in 1862. One day! Of course I didn't know about any of this before I Googled hiking trails... history has never been my strongest suit.

We took advantage of the free film and museum before we set out to give ourselves a brief overview of the events that took place. Then we were off with our lunch and water bottles in tow, ready for the long trek! Even if you're not a history buff, this place has gorgeous views all over.
The park has a driving tour that will take you all around the grounds, but if you're looking for exercise and nature you can get out and take a hike. There are many hiking trails on the grounds that are less than two miles, but we decided to do all of them- we were expecting eight miles! Here is a list of all the trails and a map of the grounds.
All around the grounds are monuments to the fallen soldiers as well as placards explaining a part of the battle. But I didn't seem to need any reading material, I had D to narrate what he thought the soldiers might have said...
And for some reason he loved the "war fencing" as he called it. Wants to put one in our next backyard.
As we were walking, we tried to imagine what be like to see rows of thousands of men with rifles marching towards you.  And 23,000 dead in one day? It's unfathomable in this day and age. I was baffled alone by how you would feed that many people. I guess we could have asked these guys:
No battlefield is complete without it's share of appropriately costumed fans. And did you notice the kid has a Batman costume on? Wrong era there, kiddo.
On the south side of the park, the hiking trails became more wooded as you walk along the river. There were some uphill climbs but for the most part it was easy terrain. We saw some canoes pass by while we were skipping rocks on the river (more like I was trying to skip rocks)- something else to check out!
I was just dying to see some animals all day long. I love seeing animals in the wild (and this includes a bunny in the backyard), I get so excited! All in all I saw 3 deer, a mockingbird, and 4 honey badgers. I mean, groundhogs. Score!
One of the most picturesque spots on the battlefield is the Burnside Bridge. It looks frozen in time. Unfortunately, it happens to be the home of a swarm of bees, so we ran across it. 
By the time we reached this tower, we were at mile 9 of our hike. There was no way I was going to climb those stairs- but it was pretty!
All in all it was a perfect day. The weather couldn't have been better- warm but with a cool breeze. We got great exercise with a 10 mile hike. Yes, TEN miles! If only those dang gnats hadn't been EVERYWHERE! We had to have swallowed/inhaled a hundred of those babies!
This definitely wont be the last time we go hiking- the next place we found has a waterfall! And if you're looking for exercise that isn't boring, get your boots on! We had a blast!

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