I dreamed of Antietam

When I was in my mid 20’s I had a very vivid dream.  Let me clarify by saying I have pretty vivid dreams all the time, they are almost like movies, I even know how to “Lucid dream” where you can control what happens in a dream, I can rewind and start over, do things differently and end up with many different  outcomes.  But I digress, lucid dreaming can and will be a post all on it’s own.  The dream I am going to tell you about I had 20 some odd years ago was so detailed and vivid that I never forgot it, I even wrote down the details in a journal because I didn’t understand at the time what it meant or what it was about.  It was not a recurrent dream, I only had it the one time.

In this dream, I was running down a beautiful lush green hill, I felt I was running for my life.  My heart was racing and I felt an extreme rush of adrenaline.  I seemed to be in a small group of men, there were just a scattered few of us running down this hill and I could see them running too in front and on the sides of me.  The thing I remembered most of all was how amazingly GREEN the trees and grass were, I even had that thought as I was running even though I was terrified.  “My god, everything is so green!” At one point, I looked over my shoulder and saw a group of men in dark blue uniforms coming after me/us.   Just after I turned my head to the front again,  I felt an extremely hot feeling in my upper right shoulder-blade.  All of the sudden I had the realization, I had been shot.  I remember thinking first “oh my god I’ve been shot” and then “this really doesn’t hurt that much, it’s just really hot, I thought it would hurt more than this” and that is the last thing I remember, I woke up. 

At that point in my life, I really didn’t know much about history at all, it was a subject I cared little for in school and became interested in much later on.  It may have even been this dream that started my interest.  I am ashamed to admit that at that age I couldn’t have even told you what years the civil war occurred during and I believed it was only about slavery.  I found out years later that it was originally about taxation and then slavery.  Fast forward some years, I kept thinking about this dream off and on and had even told friends about it mainly because it was so realistic and with such vivid detail.  One day, I was reading something about the civil war and read that the uniform colors were dark blue for the union (known at the time as the Federals) and grey for the confederacy.  So this made me think the dream had to do with the civil war since the men chasing me down the hill were wearing union colors.  Some more years later, I was doing some internet searching about civil war and saw some pictures online of Antietam.  What I recognized in the pictures were the lush green hills leading down to a bridge.  That green again, just like my dream.  I started reading about the battle.  The more I read the more fascinated and drawn to this story I became.  I learned that the Battle of Antietam, which is named for the creek that crosses the 8 + mile battlefield area, is really in Sharpsburg, MD and took place 9-17-1862.  It was and still is to this very day the deadliest day in US history with more American deaths than even 9-11-2001 or D-day in 1941.  There were a total of 3,654 men killed that day with another 19,063 wounded, captured or missing between both sides. Source:   http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam.html?tab=facts

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.  With a friend I know actor James Eadline with whom I was visiting for the weekend which I had done before and he graciously drove me to the battlefield park so I could finally see it in person . When I arrived there I had a feeling in my chest that was heavy and made it hard to breathe.  Driving along the modern road that takes visitors through the park I was awestruck at the beauty of the area.  There I saw the rolling verdant green hills and trees from my dream.  The main thing I wanted to see in this park was Burnside’s Bridge and the area around it.  As I got closer to that particular area, I felt much calmer.  I decided I would just walk wherever I felt guided to.  I began on the hill above the bridge. 

notice the shades of green

notice the shades of green


I walked the length of the hill and kept looking over my shoulder, it was just what I felt drawn to do.  Suddenly, there was a view behind me that looked familiar.  I know this sounds crazy even to me but I felt that I recognized that view so at that point I started down the hill toward the road and the bridge.  It was an extremely hot day that day in July but I felt compelled to walk that distance down the hill.  There was a particular area that stopped me in my tracks.  At that spot I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness and I don’t know why.  This is a picture of that area:

this is the sadness spot

this is the sadness spot

Then I continued down the hill to the bridge.  It was amazingly beautiful and green  exactly like my dream.  I walked all around and over the bridge, I took a bunch of pictures of the hill above it,

the hill above the bridge, the Union side

the hill above the bridge, the Union side

the hill as seen from the confederate side of the bridge

the hill as seen from the confederate side of the bridge

Burnside's Bridge

Burnside’s Bridge

This was where the Federals (Union) were, the confederates were on the other side of it.  Later I read that there were 5 attempts made at crossing that bridge by the Union Army, 4 times, the 400 or so soldiers of the Georgia 2nd and 20th regiments fought them off, and there were thousands of them, finally on the 5th try the 51st of NY and PA made it across and took the bridge.  The Georgians had finally been beaten and had to start walking away toward the next battle location.  I can’t explain my feelings about this area or why I would have had a dream about a war I knew nothing about.  It’s interesting enough to me to keep researching.  I am currently reading (almost finished with) a great book called Burnside’s Bridge; the climactic struggle of the 2nd and 20th Georgia at Antietam by Phillip Thomas Tucker, (it can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Burnsides-Bridge-Climactic-Struggle-Antietam/dp/0811728161 )  it’s the only book I have found that focuses on the southern perspective of that war.  Most of the information out there is severely skewed toward the Union, I am a born Yankee but can appreciate that there were definitely 2 sides of that story and they both deserve to be told.  I have more to say but I am going to break this up into installments and hope that there are some history buffs like me out there. 

As always thanks for reading and if anyone has any thoughts or information about this please share!


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