Antietam National Battlefield

Burnside Bridge

Below are photographs of the Rohrbach Bridge, later named Burnside Bridge after the battle.

Burnside Bridge, from southwest side (32K)

Image 1: Burnside Bridge, from southwest side. This is a shot of Burnside Bridge, taken from the south west side. It was across this bridge that Burnside's men tried, 3 times, to cross the Antietam Creek in the morning and afternoon of September 17, 1862. You can see from the supports under the bridge that it isn't very wide and created a natural choke point. The tall tree in the background is the Burnside Sycamore (more on this, below).

Burnside Bridge, from northeast side (24K)

Image 2: Burnside Bridge from northeast side. This view is from the opposite direction from the first view. Union soldiers rushing the bridge may have seen this same sight as they took fire before reaching the bridge. The high ground beyond the bridge slopes toward the left. The bridge is open for the public to cross.

The tree in the foreground is known as the "Burnside Sycamore" or the "Witness Tree". At the time of the battle the tree was only a few years old, yet it survived the battle and is still faring well over 140 years later. The tree can be seen in photographs by Alexander Gardner taken a few days after the battle. For more information, check out the National Park Service's Antietam site. I would like to thank Brian Morris for pointing out the significance of the Burnside Sycamore.

Burnside Bridge, from southeast side (25K)

Image 3: Burnside Bridge, from southeast side. This view, from the south east, shows the high ground above the bridge more dramatically. It also gives an idea of just how narrow a strip of land there was beyond the bridge for Burnside's regiments to form up and prepare to climb the hill.

Burnside Bride, through foliage, on the hill overlooking the bridge (30K)

Image 4: Burnside Bridge, from the hill. Although the bridge is obscured through the plants from the hill overlooking the bridge, this picture gives an idea of the commanding position the Confederates held. During the battle, there was less foliage. From this shot, the flat plain beyond the bridge is visible. While this would have given Burnside a lot of room to line up his men, there was little cover as they advanced on the bridge.

These photographs were taken with a Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR, using a Nikkor 24mm - 50mm f2.8 wide angle zoom lens. The images were captured on Kodak Royal Gold 100 film.