Old portraits I found while browsing in an antique store in Pennsylvania.
These photos were taken by Cindie Harper during her most recent trip to Antietam Battlefield. Photos are copyrighted.
The Battle of Antietam /ænˈtiːtəm/, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, was fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first field army-level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil and is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.
After pursuing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Union Army launched attacks against Lee’s army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller’s Cornfield, and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.
Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan’s attacks failed to achieve force concentration, which allowed Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving interior lines to meet each challenge. Therefore, despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee’s army.
McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, making it, in military terms, a Union victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.
I should have known when I called this lodge to reserve a room for the weekend and didn’t get an answer for two days, it would be a bad sign. On the third day, I finally got someone on the phone. They confirmed our reservation and explained that they were very busy and also short-staffed. However, this place seemed ideal due to the indoor waterpark and lodge being connected. I booked the room over the phone.
We arrived early in the day as planned since we wanted to enjoy as much time as possible at the waterpark to celebrate my child’s birthday. We drove three hours to visit this location and it was hot July weather so I asked the water park front desk staff if we could keep the birthday cake in the refrigerator until we could check in to our room. They said no. So this meant that we had to leave the cake in the hot vehicle for several hours until check in. We spent a few hours at the waterpark, which was much smaller than expected and also had very high prices to rent a locker (almost $20 dollars for one day).
There was a large bar and adult beverage area for adults but the bar area was not being used at all. It was completely empty. The waterpark area felt a bit cramped and the humidity and noise made it much more difficult to enjoy. The adults in our party went outside to the hot tub and outdoor area to soak up some sun and get away from the noise. The hot tub was hot and the jets did not work so that was a bummer.
Around check in time, I went over to the front desk at Cherry Valley Lodge to check us in and get our room settled. I stood in line for two hours at the front desk to check in because it was apparent that the lodge staff was having major problems with room reservations and all sorts of issues. While I stood there waiting for my turn to check in, every single person who checked in before me, came back with complaints about the rooms already being occupied, the rooms not being what they reserved, the rooms being dirty and so forth and so on. By now, we were cutting in to our dinner reservation time for the birthday dinner and we still had not been assigned to a room.
Finally we were assigned to a room. It had taken so long that the rest of our party had joined me in line as we were all anxious to get a shower and get dinner. We went to the room that we were assigned and it was a disgrace. It was dirty and there was only one bed for two adults and two teenagers. It was definitely not what we reserved and paid for so we all gathered our belongings and headed back down to the front desk. The search for another room for me began and took another 30 minutes. This time we were sent to an “executive suite.” When we entered the room, it smelled like mildew and mold and had stains and other unidentified filth all over the sofa, chairs, and floor. Please see my blog and photos for these.
By this time, the cake was ruined. We were tired, hungry and still didn’t have a room. Three hours in to this fiasco of checking in, my patience was thinning and I asked to speak to a manager. I was told there isn’t a manager on site at night. While I was standing at the front desk waiting for another room, one of the other patrons who had been checked in right before us came back to the front desk looking appalled. She said, “You gave me the keys to an occupied room and I walked in on people and I am so embarrassed. This is horrible.” Then she looked at me and said, “Are you STILL waiting for your room?”
Another half an hour later, we were assigned to another room. On our way to the room, we passed housekeeping staff. The housekeeper seemed to be frustrated and overheard me talking about how horrible this experience had been thus far. She interrupted our conversation and explained that they were short staffed and that she was expected to clean three times the amount of rooms as she would normally be assigned. She explained that she was thinking of quitting because this had become a regular thing. She also told us that the front desk staff was not very good at communicating with the housekeeping staff and that caused a lot of trouble with check-ins and such.
When we entered the room, there were only two clean towels and a light bulb in the bathroom area was blown out. This made it difficult to see.
There were stains and some type of sticky looking substance on the walls and cobwebs all over the place in the room. (Please see the photos on my blog for more detail).
Basically, this weekend birthday trip had turned into a fiasco of uncomfortable inconvenience. We would have had a much better time if we had stayed home. The birthday cake was ruined and we ended up having to cut the cake and eat that before we went to dinner because we were so hungry and still had to wait for towels to be brought to our room before the other half of our party could take showers.
We ended up finally getting to go to dinner around 9pm which was really late for dinner but we were absolutely starving. It started pouring down the rain so walking through the dimly lit parking lot in the pouring rain was not a fun event. We had to park pretty far away since no maps were provided to us to show us where our rooms were located in regards to the parking lot. Some of the entrance doors were locked. The entire trip seemed like a disaster. It was far from relaxing on any level. We were very disappointed.
Upon check out, I voiced my disappointment and dissatisfaction to the front desk staff who seemed genuinely polite but not surprised at all. Apparently this is nothing new for this location. The grounds had a lot of potential as they were very pretty. However, the courtyard view was nothing to write home about. It was, for the most part, mud and a bit of grass around a small insect infested pond.
The highlight of our stay at Cherry Valley Lodge was the unexpected wildlife coming to our door that opened into the courtyard.
The waterpark and lodge have a lot of potential if anyone would ever care to pay attention to cleanliness. Proper lighting and fresh towels are essential and it would be more enjoyable if the reservation system actually worked and a manager was available on site. The lobby area and outdoor area beside the lobby were the nicest but they certainly aren’t an accurate representation of the rest of the lodge and waterpark.
It was certainly not relaxing and we weren’t going to find any relaxation at the spa on site either because it wasn’t open during the weekend at all.
At least we made some new friends.