Union Advance Trail Guide-Stop 5

Stop 5 - The Burnside Bridge

Known as the Rohrbach Bridge before the battle, the Burnside Bridge was one of 14 bridges that Washington County constructed as part of a project that spanned a 40-year period beginning in 1822.

This bridge, designed and built by John Weaver at a cost of $2,300, connected Sharpsburg with Rohresville, the next town to the south. It was completed in 1836 and was actively used for traffic until 1966. In an effort to preserve the bridge, a bypass was built to take cars across a new bridge upstream. At the same time the four monuments that had been mounted on the four corners were removed and relocated to the east bank. The wooden coping was restored and the asphalt removed. Today, visitors can once again quietly stroll across what has become the icon of Antietam Battlefield. The peaceful, bucolic setting belies the terrible struggle that took place here.

One of the soldiers who fought here from Maryland clearly remembered that struggle when he wrote “at this bridge the murderous balls and bursting shells were appalling, destruction hovered in the air, death environed it; the approaches were strewn with dead men. It spanned the Antietam, but all who attempted to cross it had found eternity.”
Historic photograph of the Burnside Bridge
Alexander Gardner captured this view just after the battle.
Early postcard of the Burnside Bridge
This postcard, published around 1900, looks north along the historic Rohrersville Road toward the Burnside Bridge.
Looking south from the Burnside Bridge
In this view the camera points south from the bridge. Notice the 51st Pennsylvania Infantry Monument mounted on the bridge. Before the bridge was restored there were monuments mounted on all four corners.
Cars parked at the Burnside Bridge parking lot in 1961.
Cars parked at the Burnside Bridge parking lot in 1961.

Last updated: February 27, 2021

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P.O. Box 158
Sharpsburg, MD 21782


301 432-5124

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