The Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, on September 17, 1862, was the tragic culmination of Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North. That one fateful day more than 23,110 men were killed, wounded, or listed as missing. Approximately 4,000 were killed, and in the days that followed, many more died of wounds or disease. The peaceful village of Sharpsburg turned into a huge hospital and burial ground extending for miles in all directions.
Antietam National Cemetery is one of the 130 cemeteries of the National Cemetery System, a system that began during the Civil War. There are 4,776 Union remains (1,836 or 38% are unknown) buried here from the Battle of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, and other action in Maryland. All of the unknowns are marked with small square stones. These stones contain the grave number, and if you look closely on a few stones, a small second number represents how many unknowns are buried in that grave. There are also a few of the larger, traditional stones that mark unknown graves.
In addition, more than 200 non-Civil War dead are also buried here. Veterans and their wives from the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, and Korea were also buried here until the cemetery closed in 1953.
The Cemetery adjoins the Battlefied and information about it can best be obtained at the Park Visitor Center.
The Visitor Center houses the museum, an observation room, a
134-seat theater, bookstore, and research library. During the
summer season scheduled talks are conducted daily by park rangers.
Check at the Visitor Center for a daily schedule.
The best way to view the battlefield is to take the self-guided driving tour. The tour road is 8½ miles long with 11 stops. Most visitors drive the route, but walking and biking are encouraged. Audiotape tours, which enhance the self-guided tour, may be purchased or rented from the bookstore.
During the summer season scheduled talks are conducted daily either by rangers or costumed interpreters. Check at the Visitor Center for a daily schedule.
Traveling east-west on Interstate 70--exit 29 coming west, exit 29A coming east. Route 65 south, ten miles. Traveling north-south on Interstate 81--exit 1, Route 68 east to Route 65. Turn right on Route 65 and travel 5 miles.