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Previously Unknown Map Showing Engagement's Aftermath Amounts To A 'Rosetta Stone' For Battle Of Antietam

Previously Unknown Map Showing Engagement's Aftermath Amounts To A 'Rosetta Stone' For Battle Of Antietam

Previously Unknown Map Showing Engagement's Aftermath Amounts To A 'Rosetta Stone' For Battle Of Antietam

PR Newswire

S.G. Elliott Burial Map, recently uncovered by American Battlefield Trust and Adams County Historical Society, demonstrates the truth in the phrase "hallowed ground" by indicating where more than 5,800 Americans once rested in temporary graves

SHARPSBURG, Md., June 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Without a doubt, the Antietam Battlefield, site of the September 17, 1862, clash that still represents the bloodiest day in American history and provided Abraham Lincoln the victory necessary to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, is hallowed ground. Now, a period map, recently uncovered by happenstance, is shedding new light on the human toll of war by showing the temporary burial locations of thousands of Americans killed in the battle. Like the Rosetta Stone, it combines with existing historic resources to unlock new mysteries.

Although residing in the collection of the New York Public Library and digitized nearly two years ago, this map was wholly unknown to experts in the field, including the National Park Service staff at Antietam National Battlefield, until this spring, when researchers from the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) in Gettysburg, Pa., happened upon it. They were looking for information on mapmaker, Simon G. Elliott, who is renowned in Civil War history circles for a similarly detailed study of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The Antietam Elliott Map, like its Gettysburg counterpart, shows significant detail about how the battlefield appeared in the aftermath of fighting. The Battle of Antietam saw some 23,000 total casualties, with the National Park Service interpreting that between 4,000-5,000 individuals died on the day of the battle. Although historians are still performing analysis of the map, more than 5,800 soldier burials appear to be individually recorded, typically grouped by regiment. Since field burials often occurred very close to where individuals fell, the map confirms locations where units were engaged on the field. The map becomes even more powerful when paired with other documentation of the battle, like diary entries describing the work of burial crews and the aftermath photographs taken by Alexander Gardner. Although the number of burials made at Antietam National Cemetery demonstrates the vast majority of internments reflected on the Elloitt Burial Map have been moved off the field, occasional discoveries of human remains do occur at Antietam and other sites.

"It is the loss of American life that hallows the ground of a battlefield," said American Battlefield Trust President Jim Lighthizer. "The map is a visual representation of the human toll of war — each hatch mark represents a soldier who did not return home to loved ones. It is deeply humbling to see the more than 600 burials on the 461 acres that the Trust has preserved and underlines the importance of this work."

A full version of this news release is available here.

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America's hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today.  The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 50,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.


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SOURCE American Battlefield Trust