Plate 20. Burnside Bridge, Across Antietam Creek

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Alexander Gardner, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
One mile below Sharpsburg on Antietam Creek, a stone structure, known as the "Burnside Bridge," crosses the stream. Bold bluffs, crowned with oaks and fringed with tangled bushes, form a most delightful valley, through which the miniature river, broken here and there by tiny cascades, hurries down to the Potomac.
It was at this point that some of the most desperate fighting of the battle of Antietam occurred. The right of the Federal line was several miles above, and with the centre hotly engaged, the Confederates slowly forcing them back, while General Burnside, commanding the Ninth Corps, was ordered to carry this point and turn the enemy's right. As is partially shown by the photograph, the banks of the stream were very steep, and well defended by rifle pits which were covered by the guns of the Confederates on the ridge in the back-ground. The assaulting column suffered heavily as it approached the bridge, and, in crossing, was exposed to a murderous fire, through which it rapidly pressed, breaking over the lines of the enemy like a resistless wave, and sweeping him from the hillside. Here our troops again formed under a heavy artillery fire, and pushed forward into the standing corn, out of which a second line of Confederates suddenly arose and renewed the contest, which lasted for many hours, finally resulting in our victory. At the close of the fight the dead and wounded on the field here presented seemed countless. The Confederates were buried where they fell, and our own dead carefully interred in groups, which were enclosed with the material of fences overthrown in the struggle. The stone wall extending from the bridge still bears evidences of the battle, and is the only monument of many gallant men who sleep in the mea low [sic] at its side.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
date made
Gardner, Alexander
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 6 3/4 in x 9 1/16 in; 17.145 cm x 23.07158 cm
place made
United States: Antietam Creek
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Gardner's Sketchbook
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.