Dunker Church - U.S Civil War - Sharpsburg, MD
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 28.522 W 077° 44.807
18S E 263733 N 4373132
Quick Description: During the battle of Antietam this church was the focal point of a number of Union attacks against the Conf. left flank. Most after action reports by commanders of both sides, including Union Gen. Hooker & Conf. Stonewall Jackson refer to the church.
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 12/11/2011 4:20:54 PM
Waymark Code: WMDA1E
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 6

Long Description:

The DUnker Church is across the street from the Antietam Battlefield visitor center. During the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862, this church bore witness to the horror and reality of the war. Scores of wounded soldiers were taken here for treatment. Amputated limbs were stacked up as surgeons worked feverishly to save lives. Bullet holes made swiss cheese out of the walls and shrapnel made scrapple of the roof.

At one point the church was destroyed, collapsing on itself. As many pieces of the church was salvaged and it was rebuilt down the road a bit. The recreation was true to the original church. The church today is a simple, one room structure. It is very reminiscent of a Quaker Meetinghouse. Even the benches, made of wood, are simple and plain.

On the eve of the Battle of Antietam, the members of the Dunker congregation, as well as their neighbors in the surrounding community, received a portent of things to come. That Sunday, September 14, 1862, the sound of cannons booming at the Battle of South Mountain seven miles to the east was plainly heard as the Dunkers attended church. By September 16 Confederate infantry and artillery was being positioned around the church in anticipation of the battle that was fought the next day.

At battles end the Confederates used the church as a temporary medical aid station. A sketch by well known Civil War artist Alfred Waud depicts a truce between the opposing sides being held in front of the church on September 18, in order to exchange wounded and bury the dead. At least one account states that after the battle the Union Army used the Dunker Church as an embalming station. One tradition persists that Lincoln may have visited the site during his visit to the Army of the Potomac in October 1862.

As for the old church, it was heavily battle scarred with hundreds of marks from bullets in its white washed walls. Likewise artillery had rendered serious damage to the roof and walls. By 1864 the Church was repaired, rededicated and regular services were held there until the turn of the century.


There is also an interpretive out front which reads:

"May it stand as it did in war - as a beacon to guide men searching their way through the darkness. May it stand throughout all ages as a symbol of mercy, peace, and understanding."
Maryland Governor Millard Tawes
Church Rededication Service, September 2, 1962

The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest one-day battle in American History. Yet ironically one of the most noted landmarks on this field of combat is a house of worship associated with peace and love. This historic church was built by local German Baptist Brethren in 1852 on land donated by local farmer Samuel Mumma. The name "Dunker" comes from their practice of full immersion baptism. During its early history the congregation consisted of about a half-dozen farm families from the local area. Although heavily damaged during the battle by rifle and artillery fire, the church survived, only to be blown down by a windstorm in 1921. Rebuilt for the Civil War Centennial, it stands today as not only a step back in time, but also as a solemn reminder of the impact the battle had on the local families.

Dunker Church is among a list of classified structures which contribute to the Antietam National Battlefield Historic District. It is referred to as Structure Number 093. The following comes from the nomination form concerning this contributing structure:

Antietam National Battlefield was listed on the National Register in 1966 to memorialize the Battle of Antietam (September 16-18, 1862). The Dunker Church contributes to the National Register district under Criterion A.

The Dunker Church contributes to the National Register under Criterion A for its association with the Battle of Antietam (September 16-18, 1862).The Church was an objective for Union attacks in its attempts to extricate Confederate troops from the West Woods.

The Dunker Church was built in 1852-53 by the Dunkers, a strict sect of German Baptist Brethren who strived to live a simple and peaceful life. Samuel Mumma was a member of this congregation and donated the land on which the church was built.

During the battle, the Confederate left flank had taken up position in the West Woods, located just north of the Dunker Church. As the Union Army approached from the south to drive the Confederates from the woods, the Dunker Church became the focal point of their attacks. After the battle, the Dunker Church served as a temporary Confederate aid station, and later as a Union embalming station. The Church sustained heavy damage from bullets and artillery shells, but was repaired and rededicated by 1864. Regular services were held at the church until the turn of the nineteenth-century. The original church was destroyed by a wind storm in 1921 and reconstructed in 1961.

The National Park Service acquired the Dunker Church as a gift from the Washington County Historical Society in 1952. It was listed on the National Register on 15 October 1966, with a confirmation National Register form updated and approved by the Keeper on 10 February 1982.

Short Physical Description

The Dunker Church is located on the W side of Old Hagerstown Pk., just S of its intersection with Smoketown Rd/Confederate Ave. The 1.5-story, 3-bay, church rests on a limestone foundation. It is made of common-bond brick, now painted white. The side-gable wood-shingle roof has a central chimney.

Long Physical Description

This building was reconstructed by the National Park Service in 1961.


Dunker Church Road (Across from Visitor Center) Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Name of War: American Civil War - Battle of Antietam

Type of Documentation: Historic Marker/Interpretive

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