Located on the far western edge of Maryland is the Antietam Battlefield, which can be found just outside of the small town of Sharpsburg. This former battlefield is perhaps the best preserved of all of the areas that have been turned into National Park Battlefields, looking much as it did at the time of the battle in 1862. On a clear day, when the crisp wind is blowing across the grass, you can almost imagine yourself in another time. You feel that if you looked up, you might actually catch a glimpse of a weary soldier, trudging on toward either death or victory. Of course, some people claim to have done more than just imagined this....
The Battle of Antietam took place in September 1862, during some of the most brutal days of the war. The Antietam battlefield withstood the bloodiest one day battle in American History. 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Those who have spent time at the area known as Burnside Bridge on the battlefield, especially those park rangers and Civil War re-enactors who have been at the location after dark, say that there are strange things going on there as well. Historians and experts report that the fighting which took place here in 1862 left a number of fallen soldiers behind and many of them were hastily buried in unknown locations near the bridge. Could these restless souls be haunting the area? Visitors to the bridge at night have reported visions of blue balls of light moving about in the darkness and the sound of a phantom drum that beats out a cadence and then fades away.
Another piece of reported phenomena is that of phantom footsteps that have been heard going up and down the staircase. Could they have belonged to worried generals, pacing up and down in anticipation of battle? Or perhaps to Fannie Richardson as she climbed the stairs to check on her dying husband? No one knows for sure -- but those who have heard them are convinced they are not just the sounds of the old house settling.