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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Sharpsburg in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

History or Memory?

Antietam Battlefield's Monuments and their Meanings

 
 
History or Memory? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
1. History or Memory? Marker
Inscription.  Antietam Battlefield's monuments and their meanings Veterans, state organizations, and individuals have placed 97 monuments at Antietam. Most of them are Union monuments constructed during the first twenty years after Congress established the battlefield in 1890. Each monument represents the perspective of those who built it and the historic moment in which it was created.

The National Park Service's mission is to preserve and protect cultural and natural resources that comprise the battlefield, including monuments and their historical narratives. The challenge for the National Park Service and for our nation—is how to interpret these monuments when they mean different things to different people and may even express conflicting ideas.

The current National Park Service policy on monuments states that:

“Unless directed by legislation, it is the policy of the National Park Service that these works and their inscriptions will not be altered, relocated, obscured, or removed even when they are deemed inaccurate or incompatible with prevailing present-day values”

Lee Monument
History or Memory? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
2. History or Memory? Marker
at the Newcomer Farm


A private citizen erected this monument to Robert E. Lee in 2003. At that time the Newcomer Farm was not owned by the National Park Service. Eventually, the National Park Service acquired the farm along with the monument.

The Lost Cause

After the war many Southerners attempted to come to grips with why their attempt to secede from the Union failed. Southern women's groups and former Confederate generals spread the myth that the Confederacy was not defeated but overwhelmed from the start by insurmountable odds in its fight for states' rights. Many denied that slavery was a primary cause of the war, contradicting their stated reasons for secession. These views soon spread to a large segment of the white population and became known as the Lost Cause.

Questions for Reflection

What is the purpose of monuments on a battlefield? Are they memorials to those who fought, or attempts to teach history in a particular way?

Do monuments reflect what actually happened, or how a person or group interpreted those events and what they chose to set in stone?

Does the Lee Monument reinforce the myth of the Lost Cause?

 
Erected by National Park Service.
 
Location. 39° 27.865′ 
Monuments at Antietam by Year Dedicated image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
3. Monuments at Antietam by Year Dedicated
Close-up of chart on marker
N, 77° 43.681′ W. Marker is in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Shepherdstown Pike. This marker is on the Newcomer Farm, just east of the Robert E. Lee Monument. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 18422 Shepherdstown Pike, Sharpsburg MD 21782, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA (a few steps from this marker); Third Indiana Cavalry (within shouting distance of this marker); Antietam National Battlefield (within shouting distance of this marker); Gettysburg Campaign (within shouting distance of this marker); 1862 Antietam Campaign (within shouting distance of this marker); Early's Washington Raid (within shouting distance of this marker); Colonel James H. Childs (within shouting distance of this marker); The Newcomer House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sharpsburg.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
The Maryland Monument image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
4. The Maryland Monument
Close-up of photo on marker
Robert E. Lee image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
5. Robert E. Lee
2003 equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee by Ron Moore.
Texas Monument and Massachusetts Infantry Monument image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 19, 2019
6. Texas Monument and Massachusetts Infantry Monument
Close-up of photos on marker
 

More. Search the internet for History or Memory?.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 62 times since then and 5 times this year. Last updated on October 22, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 20, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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