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Quick Getaways: Antietam & Gettysburg Battlefield

It's Western Maryland's most visited historical site, bringing in at least one million visitors a year.

ANTIETAM - GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD-  It's a piece of land that transformed American history over the course of eight hours during what would later be known as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.

"It was a tremendous amount of carnage just about every second somebody fell at the Battle of Antietam," says Tom Riford, president and CEO of the Washington County Visitor's Bureau.

The battle fought on grounds of Antietam was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on union soil. Forever scarred by the 23,110 soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on the Antietam Battlefield.

"You can see this battlefield easily in just half a day there were three phases of the battle; the cornfield and the west woods and then you have bloody lane and burnside bridge," says Riford.

And for ambitious visitors, they can also venture to another significant landmark of the Civil War in less than an hour.

"Just 45 minutes away you can see Gettysburg," says Riford.

Unlike Antietam's Battle, the battle of Gettysburg lasted three days and clashed in and around the small town of Gettysburg.

"It was the high point of the confederacy," says Riford. "As far north as the confederates made it and it was sort of the beginning of the end."

The battle of Gettysburg remains the largest battle ever fought in North America, resulting in 51,000 casualties. The battle-scars are deep, in fact the locals say, the small town in South-Central Pennsylvania is forever haunted by soldiers who died that July.

"People should come to Antietam and they should come and see Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry to put the full context of what happened here in a historical sense," says Riford.

But these Civil War battlefields are much more than haunted pieces of land or the scenes of a bloody war.

They are pieces of history that have helped keep a puzzle of American freedoms united.

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