On September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg) was fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. It was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern Soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 casualties. The battle was forced into a draw rather than a crippling defeat of the Confederates.
My father has always had an intense interest in the American Civil War. He used to take my family to see all the battlefields and see all the movies and learn all the information through pamphlets and books when I was growing up. Around 1996 or 1997, we visited the site of Antietam and it had a profound impact on me.
I remember standing outside Dunker Church and marveling at it's stoic beauty and wondering what it was like to witness such a siege. I remember walking through the woods where the battle went next and wondering what kind of hindrance or assistance these trees might have offered—and what wounds they might've suffered. And of course sunken road (or bloody lane) was particularly emotional because of the name the images the imagination invokes.
The site of the cornfield was perhaps my favorite part of the battle ground. I remember walking through the stalks of corn and thinking about what it must've been like to use these as cover or run through them away from the enemy. I remember wondering how the yellow muddled by the red would've felt to the farmer who once tended these fields, no doubt with care and love.
In 1997 I wrote this story about Jessie Walker as an assignment for my English class. I will admit that the character of Jessie is largely based on me. I don't remember if I had anyone in mind for the role of Joe McDonald. I remember when I wrote it, I received an excellent grade and outstanding reviews from my parents.
Now, over ten years later, I have revisited the story and decided to rewrite it mostly due to a review someone did of the original story. I think there is more I can do with the story. And I hope that with additional research and patience to write it more detailed, I can make it even better.