September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield by Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley

The Dunker Church at Antietam is one of the most famous battlefield church’s in history. Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley have written a history of the church in September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield.

Although I am not normally drawn to histories of churches or buildings, Schmidt and Barkley write in a manner that keeps the reader interested in it. They not only write about the church, but also about the history of the Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) in America. The authors center the history around the pivotal days in September when the Union thwarted the efforts of Lee and the Confederates in their invasion of the North.

Antietam (and almost every battle in the Civil War) has been analyzed and written about ad nauseam. The authors find another angle to look at the Union victory that led to the release of the Emancipation Proclamation. This angle is thought-provoking by looking at the costs of the battle not only on the combat troops that fought, but also on the civilians who were left to pick up the pieces of their shattered homes and lives. The authors pay due respects to the hardy men and women of the Church who cared for the wounded while piecing their lives back together.

The book is an excellent history of the Dunkers and the church that they called home at the Battle of Antietam.

 

September Mourn Book Cover September Mourn
Alann Schmidt, Terry Barkley,
History
Savas Beatie
July 19, 2018

The Dunker Church is one of the most iconic structures of the American Civil War. Surprisingly, 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. September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam by Alann D. Schmidt and Terry W. Barkley rectifies this oversight in the first book-length study of its kind.

On September 17, 1862, two mighty armies grappled across the rolling hills, fields, and woodlots surrounding Sharpsburg, Maryland. The combat left more than 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers killed, wounded, or captured, repulsed Lee's invading Virginia army, and paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation. Ironically, in the epicenter of that bloodiest day in American history stood a small whitewashed building dedicated to peace, equality, and the brotherhood of man.

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.

Schmidt's and Barkley's impressive September Mourn is based upon years of meticulous research from both a Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) and a National Park Service perspective. 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.

The Dunker Church can finally take its place alongside the Alamo and Shiloh churches as one of the most notable houses of worship in American military history. September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam is a must-read for anyone interested in the full story of the monumental battle and the community who lived through it.

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

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