130 Years Later: A Return to Antietam

The author holding two reunion ribbons in front of the 130th Pennsylvania’s regimental monument along the Sunken Road.

Recently I returned to Antietam with two objects from my personal collection of veteran items. These ribbons were worn by veterans of the 130th Pennsylvania Infantry when they returned to Antietam to reunite and reminisce. I have a familial connection (my 4th-great grandfather) to the 130th Pennsylvania, and I’ve previously written about the regiment’s recruitment, experience at Antietam fighting for the first time and burying the dead, and combat at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Essentially, the newly recruited regiment was thrown into the bloodiest day in American history, marching past the Roulette farm in an attempt to overtake the fortified Sunken Road. These ribbons commemorated later journeys by the former soldiers to a place consecrated by the blood of their comrades. One, extremely ornate, was worn in 1891. The second one, depicting the beloved regimental chaplain who had died that year, was worn in 1904 for the dedication of the regimental monument at the Sunken Road.


The author at the Roulette farm, holding the reunion ribbons as well as an image of the veterans in 1891 wearing the colorful ribbon.
An image from the 130th Pennsylvania’s 1891 reunion, showing them wearing the ribbons at the Roulette farm. Copy courtesy of Stephen Recker, author of Rare Images of Antietam: And the Photographers Who Took Them.

My ancestor was not present at either of these reunions; he died in 1888. Most likely, neither of these ribbons had been back to Antietam in over a century. It has been 117 years since the 1904 ribbon was worn at the monument dedication, and 130 years since the 1891 ribbon was worn at the Roulette farm as veterans recalled their first time under fire. Their brief return 130 years later seems an especially fitting anniversary for the 130th Pennsylvania.

3 Responses to 130 Years Later: A Return to Antietam

  1. Excellent post! Love Antietam, wife’s family were Poffenbargers, who just got off before the shooting started. But I think you meant “overrun” the Sunken Road position, not “overtake”. It would have been cool if Lee had come up with moveable fortifications, redoubts on wheels!

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