September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield
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- Pub Date:
- July 2018
- Hardcover, 6 x 9
- Images, maps, 168 pp.
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About the Book
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 Battlefield is a must-read for anyone interested in the full story of the monumental battle and the community who lived through it.
“Many books have been written about Antietam, but no book has been devoted to the little white brick church on the battlefield—the sanctuary known as the Dunker Church. Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley have ably filled that void with September Mourn, an outstanding book about a piece of hallowed ground and the dedicated congregation of German Baptist Brethren. For those interested in Antietam, September Mourn is a must.” (John W. Schildt, author of Drums Along the Antietam and September Echoes)
“Few other landmarks of America’s Civil War are as immediately and universally recognized as Antietam’s Dunker Church. On that bloody Wednesday, September 17, 1862, the battle raged with a savage intensity around this modest, whitewashed meetinghouse of the area’s German Baptist Brethren—men and women who, ironically enough, preached and practiced peace and pacifism. In September Mourn, authors Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley tell the fascinating story of this iconic building and those who worshipped there, before, during, and after the sanguinary battle. Written in an engaging style, this informative book is a welcome addition not only to the historiography of the Maryland Campaign and Battle of Antietam, but to the history of the Dunkers and of those who settled western Maryland. This is the definitive account of one of the American Civil War’s most iconic landmarks.” (John D. Hoptak, Civil War historian and author of The Battle of South Mountain, Antietam: September 17, 1862 and Confrontation at Gettysburg)
“September 17, 1862 changed America, opening the door for the Emancipation Proclamation. There are so many stories to tell about the battle, but the story of the Dunker Church had never been fully told until Alann Schmidt made it his personal mission. Thanks to his and Terry Barkley’s tireless and persistent research, the story of the Dunkers, the Mumma Bible, John Lewis, and the resurrection of the little meetinghouse destroyed by a storm and rebuilt, is fully interpreted at the battlefield site.” (Rev. Frank Ramirez, Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) minister and author of The Love Feast and The Meanest Man in Patrick County and Other Unlikely Brethren Heroes)
“Historians Terry Barkley and Alann Schmidt have collaborated to tell the little known journey of the well-known pinnacle of peace on the Antietam battlefield. This small, humble, landmark witnessed the unparalleled horrors of war and the compelling deeds that make men fabled. Their years of research provide us with the complete and truly engaging story of the Dunker Church.” (Nicholas P. Picerno, Chairman, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation)
Alann Schmidt spent fifteen years as a park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield and presented hundreds of programs on the Dunker Church to park visitors, Civil War seminars, community groups, churches, and Brethren Heritage tours. Alann earned degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, Shippensburg University, Shepherd University, and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. While illness forced him into early retirement, he still serves as a pastor for the Churches of God and helps foster pets for rescue groups. He and his wife Tracy (and their many cats) live on their family farm near Fort Littleton, Pennsylvania. Terry Barkley served as archivist and museum curator at Bridgewater College in Virginia, a Brethren-related institution and holds degrees and a graduate certificate from the University of North Alabama, The Citadel, University of Alabama, and Harvard University. He retired in 2012 as director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Illinois. That same year he delivered the 150th anniversary commemorative lecture on the Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield at the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren in St. Louis. Terry has also lectured in the Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield. He is an independent scholar and musician and lives in Lexington, Virginia. This is his fourth book.