Time has returned Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War, to its tranquil antebellum appearance, with woodlands giving way to sloping cornfields bound by rough-hewn fences. On September 17, 1862, more than 23,000 Union and Confederate troops were killed, wounded, or missing here. The gruesome battle led Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. A self-guided tour by car follows 8½ mi of well-preserved battlefield including Dunkard Church and Bloody Lane. An hour-long documentary is shown at the visitor center at noon each day, and there is an exhibit of Civil War artifacts. You can also hike the battlefields with an audio tour or accompanied by a ranger. Stop at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum (an extension of Frederick's National Museum of Civil War Medicine), where a re-created operating room and implements used to care for the wounded are displayed.
At the historic Newcomer House, The
Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Exhibit and Visitor Center, a new addition to the battlefield site, aims to promote stewardship of historic, cultural, and natural Civil War resources across the region and features interpretive exhibits that play on key themes such as On the Home Front, In the Heat of Battle, and Beyond the Battlefield. Brochures, maps, county visitor guides, and other materials are available, and center volunteers can help visitors tailor their plans for exploring the heritage area. 18422 Shepherdstown Pike, Keedysville, 21756. 301/432–6402. www.heartofthecivilwar.org. Open Sat. and Sun., May–Oct. 11–5; open daily Nov. and Apr. 11–5.