Friday, July 13, 2018

Booknotes: September Mourn

New Arrival:
September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam by Alann D. Schmidt & Terry W. Barkley (Savas Beatie, 2018).

In the ranks of nondescript buildings that famous Civil War battles turned into legendary historical landmarks, Antietam's Dunker Church surely ranks near the top. However, according to Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley's September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam, "few people know much if anything about its fascinating story or the role it played within the community of Sharpsburg and its importance during and after the Battle of Antietam."

"(B)ased upon years of meticulous research from both a Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) and a National Park Service perspective," their book is an attempt to tell the meetinghouse's full story. "The authors establish the importance of the structure to Sharpsburg and its citizens, its role during the battle and its aftermath, and how it helped establish tourism and education for future generations of Americans." Schmidt was an Antietam park ranger for 15 years and Barkley is an archivist and museum specialist.

More from the description: "The German Baptist Brethren, or Dunkers (Dunkards) as they were colloquially known, built the Mumma Church of the Manor congregation in 1853 just nine years before Antietam. In addition to being a house of worship with important ties to the local community, the history of the Dunker Church is interwoven with such notable figures as Stonewall Jackson, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, and even Mark Twain. The structure was heavily damaged during the battle, housed torn bodies as a hospital in its aftermath, and suffered a complete collapse before undergoing the long and arduous process of being rebuilt."

The rebuilding and rededication process is recounted at length near the end of the book. The volume is well illustrated, and in an appendix Antietam historian Ted Alexander offers a "tactical overview" of the fighting that swirled around the church on September 17.

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