Eleven-year-old Rohit said some of his favorite stories have revolved around the work of Clara Barton and the fact that President Abraham Lincoln was moved to issue his Emancipation Proclamation after the Battle of Antietam.
Rohit and his father were among the battlefield visitors as park rangers and others offered “Before the Storm” Saturday and Sunday.
Before the Storm helped tell the story of how local residents prepared for the Battle of Antietam, which on Sept. 17 is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Visitors to the park could visit a handful of farms that were in existence when the battle — which left about 23,000 dead, wounded or missing — occurred. At the farms, living historians re-created life leading up to the battle, like deciding what items to take with them as they fled and how they wrapped up chores before the fighting.
There were also artillery demonstrations and services at Dunker Church, where parishioners gathered just days before the battle and which was the focal point of some attacks during the war.
Ravi Harapanhalli said he and his son have been visiting local parks relating to the Civil War. They have been to Monocacy National Battlefield and are planning to head to Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) National Historical Park next week.
“I figure this is the best way to learn about American history and have fun with it,” Harapanhalli said.
John Wega, who offered the sermons at Dunker Church, said the Dunkers were against war. As visitors walked in and out of the church Sunday, Wega described the simplistic approach of the Dunkers, who used no adornment in the church.
Wega offered a sermon as if the church leaders were pondering heavily the battle that was drawing closer.
“This morning, we must be reliant on God alone,” Wega said.
Jayne Osgood and Carla Thompson, both of Alexandria, Va., stood among a row of cannons near the battlefield’s visitor center.
It was their first visit to Antietam. Osgood said her brother collected stamps when he was young and she remembered him having one commemorating the Battle of Antietam.
Osgood said she has been to other Civil War landmarks and has always wanted to visit Antietam.
“There’s kind of a sacred feel to it, no doubt about it,” Osgood said.