As reported earlier, the NPS is working with groups such the Save Historic Antietam Foundation and the Boy Scouts to reforest the East and West Woods.
The original woods were cleared in the 1880s to make way for cultivation.
Shortly after the clearing, David Earle (right) of the 15th Massachusetts wrote of a visit to the West Woods in 1886,
"The trees on the ground where the Regiment stood during the battle were cut several years ago, and the ground has been broken for cultivation, but the buildings in front--the house and small barn (1)--still remain, and were at once recognized by the veterans who saw them on the eventful September 17, 1862.
Many interesting relics were found upon the ground where the regiment fought: bullets, Minnie balls, grape, pieces of shells, and fragments of equipments worn by our men who were brought away and were highly prized by the finders as relics found upon the battle-field twenty-four years after the battle."
Photo 1 shows the 15th Massachusetts Monument in 1959. The structure just beyond the monument is part of the old George Poffenberger farmstead.
Photo 2 looks north from the Dunker Church. To the left of the Hagerstown Pike is how the West "Woods" looked in the 1950s. In the left distance is the Philadelphia Brigade Monument.
Photo 3 looks south along the Pike. The house that appears in Photo 1 is adjacent to a stand with a sign advertising "Battlefield Souvenirs." In the distance between the house and first stand of trees, is the 34th NY Monument. (All photos can be enlarged by double clicking on them).
1. These buildings were the Locher Cabin and barn, part of the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead.
2. David M. Earle, History of the Excursion of the Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment and its Friends to the Battle-fields of Gettysburg, Pa., Antietam, Md., Ball's Bluff, and Washington, D.C., May 31-June 12, 1886 (Worcester, Mass.: Press of Charles Hamilton, 1886, pp. 50-51. Quoted in Remembering Antietam: Commemoration and Preservation of a Civil War Battlefield, Susan W. Trail, PhD Dissertation, University of Maryland. at p. 162, note 48.
Battlefield photos from the Antietam National Battlefield archives--thanks to Ranger Alann Schmidt. Photo of David Earle retrieved from the 15th Massachusetts web site--one of the best regimental sites around--at http://www.nextech.de/ma15mvi/ma15mvi-p/index.htm?ssmain=main.htm