Trees and Shrubs
Standing beside the legendary Burnside Bridge is another historic feature known as the "Burnside Sycamore" or "Witness Tree". The Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner captured the tree in photographs only days after the battle. At the time it was only a few years old. Yet it was strong enough to survive the massacre that took place there. Today, one hundred and forty years later, it still remains as a witness to the battle.
Other stands of trees on the Battlefield are of equal historical importance and are known as the North, East and West Woods. In 1862, mature woodlots existed in these areas. Over the years, however, much of the land has been cleared and cultivated, destroying the visual integrity of the Battlefield. Reforestation efforts detailed in the 1992 General Management Plan began in 1996 in an effort to restore this integrity. Planting is completed primarily through volunteer efforts. Since the program began, hundreds of volunteers have been involved in tree planting.
Though the North Woods covered approximately 19 acres at the time of the Battle, it is now limited to a reforested patch of only 6 acres located between Mansfield Avenue and Miller's Cornfield. At this site, a total of 15.1 acres have been slated for planting. Nearly 5 acres of the East Woods stand as one of the park's best representatives of the historical forest structure during the 1800's. Found along the eastern edge of Miller's Cornfield, this 39-acre area will be reforested in the future. Lastly, the 75-acre West Wood area stands just north of Dunker Church between Confederate and Starke Avenues. Though it appears richly vegetated, the West Woods is a site highly threatened by exotic plant species.
Did You Know?
Over 500 cannons participated in the Battle of Antietam, firing over 50,000 rounds of ammunition. The cannonade was so severe that Confederate artillery commander Colonel S.D. Lee described the battle as "artillery hell."