Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield

Activities & Programs

The Memorial Illumination

23,000 Candles - One for Each Soldier Killed, Wounded or Missing at the Battle of Antietam

On Saturday evening December 6, 2008, Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women's Association, will host the 20th Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. In the event of poor weather, the Illumination will be rescheduled for Saturday, December 13, 2008.

The Illumination opens to the public at 6:00 p.m. The main entrance to the event is Richardson Avenue off Maryland Route 34. From Boonsboro, travel west on Route 34 and a line will form on the westbound shoulder for entrance to the Illumination. From Hagerstown or West Virginia, travel to Sharpsburg and head east on Maryland Route 34 and make an appropriate turnaround at some point to access the line on the westbound shoulder of Route 34.

The driving tour through the park is approximately 5 miles long. Vehicles are to use parking lights only, to the extent technology permits this, and continue through the event without stopping. People on foot are highly discouraged from walking the tour route. Event brochures will be distributed at the event entrance and contributions will also be accepted.


Thank you for your interest in Antietam National Battlefield. This overview of the park's educational program and facilities is designed to assist you in planning your visit to the battlefield. You may want to enhance your visit by having your students participate in an activity led by a park ranger. Educational programs are offered year round to school groups, scouts troops, elder hostels, summer camps, ROTC, and other educational groups. Park rangers present the following curriculum based school programs:

1. Cannoneers, To Your Posts: Students will do a Civil War artillery drill with artillery implements using one of the park's cannons. (No actual firing of the cannon.) In case of bad weather, this program cannot be done inside. This program can be modified for more advanced groups such as college students and elder hostel groups. Group size: Up to 40 students. (5th grade and over) Time: 30 - 45 minutes.

2. Flags That Talk Students will be divided into "signal stations," with each station comprising three or four students. Using signal flags and cipher discs, students will send and receive messages the way Civil War armies did. In case of bad weather, smaller groups can do this program inside the Mumma Barn. This program can be modified for more advanced groups such as college students and elder hostel groups. Group size: Up to 40 students. (5th grade and over) Time: 30 - 45 minutes.

3. Civil War Soldier A park ranger will discuss the life and times of a typical Civil War soldier. Clothing, leather gear and other items are passed out for the students to examine. Depending on weather and available staff, this activity may include a black powder musket firing demonstration by one of the park rangers. This has less hands-on experience than in activities #1 and #2, but is a better program for large groups and younger students. In case of bad weather, this program can be done inside (without the firing demonstration). Group size: Up to 100 students. (3rd to 5th grade) Time: 30 minutes.

4. Angels of the Battlefield This is a role-playing activity. Students will re-create the Battle of Antietam. Students will discuss how they would feel before and during the battle, and about the care they received afterwards. They will also dramatize medical care, field hospitals, and Clara Barton's role as a nurse. In case of bad weather, a modified version of this program can be inside the Mumma Barn. Group size: 30 - 100 students. (5th to 8th grade) Time: 45 - 60 minutes.

5. Battlefield in a Box A ranger will lay out a large map on the ground that shows the roads, bridges and other features of the battlefield. Groups of students can be moved around the map to illustrate the movements of troops during the battle. This provides a good overview of the battle. A short version of this program can be done indoors in case of bad weather. This program can be modified for more advanced groups such as college students and elder hostel groups. Group size: Up to 75 students. (6th grade and older) Time: 45 minutes.

6. Mumma Cemetery Exploration A ranger will lead the group to the Mumma Family Cemetery where students will work individually or in pairs to observe the cemetery and tombstones and answer questions on a worksheet. Afterwards the group will discuss what they have learned with the ranger. In case of bad weather this activity cannot be done inside. Group size: Up to 50 students. (5th-8th grade) Time: 30-45 minutes.

7. Sounds of Antietam This activity helps students visualize the events that occurred during many Civil War battles by adding sound effects to a narrative. Students are given "sound" cards, and make those sounds when cued by the ranger or teacher while s/he reads a narrative. This activity can be done inside in case of bad weather. Group size: Up to 50 students. (5th-8th grade) Time: 30 minutes.

8. Mumma & Roulette Farms Trail: This hiking trail combines social studies and science. Topics include the aftermath of the battle of Antietam, slavery, soil formation, elements of the ecosystem, water cycle, food chains, decomposition, succession, watershed, riparian restoration, battlefield preservation, and many more topics. Teachers can choose what topics to cover with students. This trail is designed as a teacher led activity. (Depending on group size and staffing, rangers may be available to lead this activity). Teachers are provided with an easy to use trail guide, map, laminated photos, and other teaching aids. The trail is about one mile long and is not wheelchair accessible. Students are encouraged to wear sturdy walking shoes and to dress for the weather. Group size: Up to 30 students per group. (Larger groups can be divided into smaller groups for walking the trail as long as there are at least two adults per group). (5th grade and over) Time: 1 to 1 ½ hours.


1. Antietam National Battlefield Mumma Farm Education Center: All education programs take place at this facility located at the historic Mumma Farm. The classroom is available for watching the video, "Antietam Visit", a 26-minute film on the battle. For students above 7th grade the one hour "Antietam Documentary" is also available.

2. Battlefield Tour: A nine-mile, bus accessible, tour road with eleven stops takes you through the battlefield. The park will provide you with a map of the battlefield. When doing the tour on your own ask for the "People and Places of Antietam" handout. This includes stories specific to each stop on the route and is especially suitable for school groups.

Another teacher-led activity that can be done while on the tour is "Interview a Monument". For this activity, students work in pairs or small groups to study a monument and answer the questions on a worksheet. Please ask the ranger for the worksheet when you make reservations. A good place for this activity is stop number 4 on the driving tour.

3. Visitor Center: This facility includes a museum, a bookstore, movie theatre, and restrooms.

Activities in the visitor center and on the battlefield tour are designed for you to do on your own. The battlefield tour will probably take about an hour and a half, giving students time to walk Bloody Lane and to Burnside Bridge.

Planning Your Visit:
When planning your trip, please keep in mind: 1) there are no soda machines or snack bars at the battlefield; 2) you may picnic on the grass, but there are no formal picnic facilities; please bring your own trash bags; 3) in case of bad weather, some programs can be modified and presented in the Mumma Barn; 4) there are rest-rooms at the Mumma Farm Education Center; 5) for groups who stop at the park visitor center, please make sure your groups are properly chaperoned. Please make sure large groups are divided into smaller groups and rotated through the visitor center.

Reservations are required for visits by school groups participating in ranger-led activities. Spring trips need to be scheduled as early as possible. Staff cannot accommodate groups of less than 15. Please contact Park Ranger Christie Stanczak or Park Ranger Gordie Thorpe at (301) 432-4567 for reservations or for more information about your visit or you can e-mail us.

Fee Waiver:
Educational groups are entitled to a waiver of the park entrance fees if they are making an educational visit to the battlefield. In order to qualify for a fee waiver your organization must be officially recognized as an educational institution by a government entity and the purpose of your visit must be educational and related directly to a course of study. In order for the park to waive entrance fees for your group, you must submit a written request for a fee waiver on your school's official letterhead in advance of your visit. This letter should include a written statement of educational purpose for your visit, the time and date of your visit, and the number of people in your group.

Please send your fee waiver request to Mr. John Howard, Superintendent, Antietam National Battlefield, P.O. Box 158, Sharpsburg, MD 21782-0158. Or you may fax Mr. Howard at
(301) 432-4590. Please be sure to include your fax number.

Please remember that Antietam National Battlefield is a place of reflection. It is important that students maintain good behavior appropriate for a solemn place. We look forward to seeing you at Antietam National Battlefield.

Salute to Independence

Fireworks at approximately 9:45 p.m.

There is a minimum one hour to ninety minute traffic delay when leaving the event so be patient.

Be sure to bring a blanket, plenty of water or soft drinks, and a flashlight. Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service sells food and drinks at the event.

Be prepared for large crowds of up to 30,000 people.

Limited parking is available in the park and additional parking can be found on Rt. 65 and Rt. 34 bordering the park.

You have to walk to get into and out of the event.

Please no pets and NO SOLICITING.

Tarps cannot be placed before 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 5, 2008, and the maximum size tarp or reserved area per group is 10 feet x 10 feet. Tarps placed prior to this time will be removed and those not occupied by 7:00 p.m. on the evening of the concert will also be removed. We suggest labelling property with a name.

A shuttle bus is available to bring you closer to the event from Rt. 34, but there is still a 300 yard walk.

Outdoor Activities

Bicycling is permitted on paved park tour roads and parking lots. Riding is prohibited on all sidewalks, agricultural land, and the Snavely's Ford Trail. Maryland law requires riders under the age of 16 to wear an approved D.O.T. helmet. Cyclists are subject to Maryland Traffic Law.

Camping at the Rohrbach Group Campground requires a permit. Only organized groups (such as Boy Scouts, Church, and School Groups) are permitted to camp. Applications are available at the Visitor Center. Camping in other park areas is prohibited. Fires are prohibited in all park areas except for the Rohrbach Campground and areas approved for use by NPS living history employees and volunteers.

Horseback riding, in groups of five or less, is permitted on all paved roads and the Snavely Ford Trail. Riding on paved foot trails, parking areas, or on agricultural lands is prohibited. Groups of six horses or more must obtain a Special Use Permit. Horse trailers must park in the field south of the Dunker Church. For more information click here for a copy of the park's Horse Riding Policy.

Fishing is allowed on the Antietam Creek with a valid Maryland Fishing License. Fishing from or within 500 feet of the Burnside Bridge is prohibited.

Hunting and/or harassing wildlife is prohibited. Firearms and other devices capable of launching a projectile are prohibited. Discharging any weapon from private land onto the park is forbidden. Possession of an edged-weapon which exceeds six inches in length is prohibited. Trained and inspected National Park Service living history volunteers may possess firearms and edged-weapons in accordance with park regulations.

Picnicking is prohibited in the Antietam National Cemetery, Mumma Cemetery, inside the Dunker Church, inside the Observation Tower, on the Burnside Bridge, and on any monument.

Boating or tubing on the Antietam Creek is permitted. Docking, removing or putting in a boat or tube, or loading a person within 500 feet of the Burnside Bridge is prohibited.

Relic hunting and/or the use or possession of a metal detector is prohibited. Federal law prohibits the theft of artifacts. Fines can reach $250,000 and/or 5 years in jail and may include the confiscation of materials used.

Because of the historic nature of the battlefield, the following activities are prohibited: kite flying, ball games, sunbathing, model airplane or rocket flying, and frisbee. Permitted campers may conduct these activities at the Rohrbach Group Campground.

Hiking the Battlefield

The podcasts are located on our partner's website. There you will find detailed instructions and a battlefield map to accompany the audio tour. Your tour guide for the Cornfield is Park Ranger Keith Snyder. This tour has not been scripted. You are listening to real time interpretation on the battlefield.

Go to Civil War Traveler's Podcast Page.

Cornfield Trail Guide. The Cornfield Trail is 1.6 miles in length and starts at Auto Tour Stop 2. A 16-page full color trail guide is available in our bookstore and on-line.

The West Woods Trail now weaves through the historic woodlot. Start at the park Visitor Center to take this 1.5 mile trail.  This quarter-mile paved trail starts and ends at the park visitor center. The newest trail at Antietam is the Union Advance Trail. It is about a mile and starts and ends at the Burnside Bridge parking area, auto tour stop 9.

Explore the final hours of the Battle of Antietam by walking the Final Attack Trail. It is 1.7 miles long and starts and ends at the Burnside Bridge parking area, auto tour stop 9. A 16-page full color trail guide is available in our bookstore and on-line.

Things To Do

Audiovisual Program: "Antietam Visit," an award-winning film, is shown on the hour. This 26-minute movie recreates the battle as well as President Abraham Lincoln's visit to the Union commander General George B. McClellan. Every day at 12:00 noon a new one hour documentary about the battle of Antietam narrated by James Earl Jones is shown in the visitor center theater.

Tours: The best way to view the battlefield is to take the self-guided driving tour. The tour road is 8½ miles long with 11 stops. Most visitors drive the route, but walking and biking are encouraged. Audiotape or CD programs, which enhance the self-guided tour, may be purchased from the bookstore.

For persons wishing a personalized tour, our non-profit partners, the Antietam Battlefield Guides, will provide you with a guide who will drive your personal vehicle around the park. Our guides have been tested and are experienced and knowledgeable; they also serve as park volunteers. The standard tour lasts two hours, but many individuals and groups hire guides for longer periods of time. In addition, guides can provide specialty tours. These include tours on particular units or certain areas of the battlefield, as well as other facets of the Maryland Campaign, such as the Siege of Harpers Ferry and the Battles of South Mountain. Tour rates vary depending upon the length of the tour and the size of the group. For more information, please visit

Interpretive Programs: Talks are conducted daily by park rangers. During the summer season Ranger programs are expanded and scheduled more often. Check at the Visitor Center for a daily schedule.

Be sure to visit the new Pry House Field Hospital Museum. This new museum is located in the historic Pry House which served as Union Commander General George B. McClellan's headquarters during the battle. The museum is sponsored by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.