We are a military family and in honor of those who served, Sheila and I have visited several battlefields/military cemeteries in recent years. The 2016 destination? Antietam – a Civil War battlefield in Maryland named after the creek in Sharpsburg.
The night before the Battle of Antietam was to begin in the farming town, soldiers gathered in the woods behind Dunker Church. On September 17, 1862, Generals Robert E. Lee (Confederate) and George McClellan (Union) made their stands, determined to break (or hold) the Union front.
Antietam is remembered not only for its political importance, but also for being the bloodiest single day in American military history. About 23,000 souls (out of combined forces of about 100,000) were either killed, wounded or lost – a quarter of the area soldiers were out of commission, a devastating toll.
A film shown at the Antietam Visitor’s Center revealed that the battle itself was the result of accidentally acquired information about Lee’s plans, but some say that the incredible losses were the result of poorly formed battle strategy on both sides. Communication between the generals was spotty and at times, the enlisted men took things into their own hands after their officers were cut down.
The Sunken Road was the center of intense fighting for several hours and when the outnumbered Confederate forces were finally surrounded and killed, hundreds of bodies lay piled high throughout the length of what came to be called Bloody Lane.
Burnside Bridge changed hands several times during the day. Whoever held the high ground was able to see the enemy approach and could easily pick the soldiers off, one by one.
Eye witness accounts in letters reveal that often, single lines of men walked straight into the fire of the opposition, with little or no cover. Small groups continued to be picked off and there were so many bullets flying that it was hard to keep out of the way.
Nestled in a rolling valley in Maryland, today’s landscape is peaceful, beautiful – devoid of any signs of war except for the occasional statue or monument to the sacrifices of the brave men that lost their lives almost 154 years ago. Those rolling hills created several areas of high ground for the 500 cannons employed effectively by both sides.
That restful view belies the actual aftermath of the Battle. So many men were wounded
that every building for miles around – school, home, business, barn – was used as a hospital. Never before had battlefield medicine been so severely tested. While the U.S. Sanitary Commission had been established the year before to help with distribution of supplies to hospitals, the aide was stretched beyond its limits.
The Sharpsburg region was devastated by the battle, racked by death and disease, stripped of food and supplies by both armies, and transformed forever by the impact of the fighting. Many local civilians lost their homes and farms to the combat and were never compensated by either side for that loss and destruction, despite their loyalty to the cause.
Clara Barton, who would later form the Red Cross, gave aid to soldiers from both sides and eventually organized the practice of giving assistance to civilians after natural disasters.
Neither side was a clear winner at the end of the day, but when the out manned and under supplied Confederates retreated back into Virginia, the Union counted it as a victory and Lincoln was able to use that as a bargaining chip to push the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation forward.
September 18, 1862 was a day that both sides gathered and tried to bury the dead, but
it took days to bury the 3,500 bodies. Union soldiers were re-buried in the area now known as Antietam National Cemetery, while Confederate soldiers were ultimately buried in local graveyards.
For more information about Antietam, the battlefield, and the museum, please visit:
Our visit to Antietam was a sobering experience; the exhibits pointing out so clearly the terrible price that both soldiers and civilians pay for the freedoms we enjoy. If you truly want to understand the importance of what transpired at Antietam on September 17, 1862, read up on it. Better yet, take time to visit the area.
*Photos by Patti Phillips
Traveling during the holidays? We all try to stuff too much into the carry-ons, but there are special rules for what you can and can’t bring with you on the flight.
Just in case this is the first time you’re flying since 2001, when the regulations changed for everyone, here are two of the biggest no-no rules:
Don’t carry knives
Don’t carry guns
There are signs near every single U.S. security check area for carry-on luggage showing you the general list of what CANNOT be brought onto the plane, and some of the baggage check-in counters have physical examples of the no-nos. Here is a partial list of items that the TSA doesn’t want on the planes:
Why do you suppose people want to bring these items onto the plane? Because they are probably trying to avoid the extra baggage fee. Guess what? Nobody wants to sit next to a passenger that stows dynamite under the seat, no matter how much it is needed it for your business. Check with your airline for other no-fly items.
Click on the TSA link for their list:
The TSA has actually had to confiscate:
Click on the link below for other items that can’t be transported in the passenger section of a plane, and in some cases, not at all:
Suppose all your stuff is legal and you are good to get on the plane. All your shampoos and other liquids are stowed in your checked luggage. But, you still have a lot of carry-on paraphernalia – Laptop, book, coat, food for the plane, presents. Hmmm…
Space on a plane: It’s the time of year when people want to bring back the presents they have been given at their holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, most of them do NOT fit in the space below the seats or in the overhead storage. Those overhead spaces are SHARED space, meaning that you are allowed a space that is about the size of a weekender suitcase on a cross country plane with 100+ passengers.
If you are flying on a regional jet, there is barely enough room for a briefcase or a jacket up there, let alone packages or suitcases. Think kid’s backpack for overhead space size on a regional jet. You may be asked to keep your coat on, rather than stow it and in most cases, you will not be allowed to keep the presents/laptop/iPad in your lap during takeoff or landing. I’ve been on flights that have been delayed while extra items are taken off the passenger part of the plane and checked in with the baggage.
Your solution? Have your friends/family mail the packages to you. It’s cheaper than you think.
Take a look at the photo at the beginning of this article. No matter how much Sheila wanted to bring the Santa, the books and the maracas onto the plane, they did not fit into her carry-on. The bag is the regulation size (12” ruler in front of the bag) that fits under the seat and will fit nicely next to a laptop case in that same space. BUT, it is not big enough for the Santa, etc. We had to ship them back to our house at a cost of about $25.
Connecting flights: Plan ahead for your trip. If you have connections, see if both planes are the same size. Generally, they are not. And the different sized planes have different overhead space and under the seat space. I flew on a plane that had NO overhead space at all. That’s where the life jackets and oxygen masks were kept. Ask ahead, so you won’t be surprised and can pack or ship accordingly.
True story: Back in the 90s, a guy tried to board a plane in the Caribbean with a car door in tow. He needed it as a replacement part. He was given the option to have it placed in the cargo hold. He wouldn’t agree, so he and the door stayed behind. The entire incident defied logic because the door didn’t fit into the seat rows and certainly not in the overhead compartments. Plus, it was heavy! LOL
Have a safe flight and be kind to your fellow passengers and flight attendants! 🙂 That way, the Air Marshals won’t have to get involved. (“What does the TSA really do?)
*photo by Patti Phillips
Dead tired at the end of a long day on the road?
Can’t wait to fall into bed after a completely exhausting day in the sun or at the ball park or the festival?
Before your head hits the pillow in that hotel, remember to check a few things:
Before going to sleep or leaving the room, make sure:
Before opening the hallway door to anyone:
Keep your room key in your pocket/pocketbook while out of the room.
If you are concerned about leaving personal property/electronics/cameras in the room while you are out having fun, remember…
You don’t have to let the housekeeping staff do your room every day. You can place full trash cans in the hallway next to the door, get more towels from the housekeeping staff, and leave the privacy tag on the corridor door. If you don’t need more towels or coffee kits or need the sheets to be changed, then housekeeping will stay out of your room, and lessen the likelihood of strangers having access to your things. Am I paranoid? No, just the victim of theft by the housekeeping staff at two different major resorts. Using the room safe would not have been possible – not big enough.
Fire exits and safety tips
Major hotels display small floor maps on the back of the entrance door to your room. Check out the emergency exit route before you need it.
These days, all hotels (even the local Bed & Breakfasts) should have fire sprinkler systems in place throughout the building in order to receive their permits to operate. Most also have smoke detectors in every room.
But, what do you do if you suspect a fire and no alarm has sounded?
What if you think the fire is right outside your door – raging between you and the exit route?
Be smart about your own security and you’ll have more fun on vacation!
*Photos by Patti Phillips