Antietam Trip Report from March 25, 2007
by Tom Shay (Cressona, PA)
EMAIL: rotebaron@comcast.net

Today the Antietam NPS Rangers scheduled a hike onto ground that is outside
park boundaries and hence is seldom visited: Nicodemus Heights!

The weather was bright sun and decently warm. One week ago we had a foot of snow
in Cressona, which made today so enjoyable. Admittedly, I did get a nasty sunburn.

This was my first hike up Nicodemus Heights. My opinion on this ground has varied over the
years, as it's often been heralded as the Little Round Top of Antietam. Other opinions seem to limit the
heights to being key ground until about 7 AM, then it's importance seems to diminish.

For a good understanding of the action on this part of the field, I recommend "Defending Lee's Flank:
J.E.B. Stuart, John Pelham, and Confederate Artillery on Nicodemus Heights" by Robert E. L. Krick,
which is an essay that appears in THE ANTIETAM CAMPAIGN by Gary Gallagher.

NEWS:
There are two new trail brochures that should become available soon:
(1)West Woods and (2) Union Approach to Burnside Bridge. Current park efforts have focused
on creating waysides, as federal funding for this effort needs to be utilized by October.
One such wayside will be the "Rock Ledge" which is west of the Hagerstown Pike.

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Our tour was led by Ranger Brian Baracz, who is a great tour guide and overall super host for us
Antietam amateur historians. We met at the North Woods at 1:15 PM for a general review of the
terrain and viewing Nicodemus Heights from that position.


ABOVE:  Handout map of our tour route.
 


ABOVE:  Handout showing range for guns on Nicodemus Heights.
 


ABOVE: View of Nicodemus Farm from North Woods.
The barn (at right rear) is original, but houses at center and lower right are not.
The heights which Rebel artillery was positioned are at upper right.


ABOVE:  Brian leading our group towards the farm.
 


ABOVE:  We discuss farm's history.
Stephen Recker has camera at left. David Lutton is at far right.


ABOVE:  Metal post at lower right denotes northwest corner of original farmhouse.


ABOVE:  Leaving the farmstead, we headed west to ascend the heights (in the distance).
There was a large herd of cows around us for much of this walk.


ABOVE:  A look back towards east  as we get near the top of the heights.
Poffenberger Farm is at top left (rust red roof). Miller Farm is at top right.


ABOVE:  Brian discusses Pelham's enfilade fire at Iron Brigade as they advanced
from North Woods onto Miller Farm and into Miller's Cornfield.


ABOVE:  View towards south from the heights.


ABOVE:  View to the north.
The ground at left center (in distance) is where Pelham fired upon Federal batteries later in day during attempt to
attain the Union's right flank. John Pelham laughingly stated: "Oh, we must stir them up a little and then slip away."
Captain Poague reported: "And so we did stir them up and with a vengeance they soon stirred us out."


ABOVE:  View to the west, where Rebel artillerists camped and limber chests were set up.

 

My report and photos from full day hike on May 1, 2005 at Antietam
Photos from re-dedication ceremonies at Antietam
 Photos of 90th PA Monument at Antietam
 Photos from my walk to Roulette Farm and Sunken Road at Antietam
 The Rock Ledge at Antietam: key terrain that is rarely visited