Culture

Tales from the Trail: Bloody Lane Trail

If you're out for a jog through Antietam National Battlefield's Bloody Lane, keep your ears attuned and eyes peeled.

Location: Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD

Trail: Bloody Lane Trail

The 1.5-mile trail is located in the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland where the bloodiest single-day battle in American History took place on September 17, 1862 during the Civil War. After twelve hours of brutal combat, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing.

A majority of the blood bath took place around what was at the time referred to as Sunken Road. There was a clash between two Union army divisions and around 2,300 Confederate soldiers, led by General Ambrose Powell Hill, who had holed up in the entrenched road that separated the properties of two local farmers. Eventually, the Union soldiers overwhelmed Hill’s men and the road became a bloody body pit as Union troops fired down on the road’s defenders. Dead men rapidly began to fill whole stretches of the holloway until it was overflowing with bodies stacked four to five feet deep. Sunken Road became known as Bloody Lane.

More than a few visitors — including hikers, runners, bikers, and birdwatchers — have reported experiencing paranormal activity such as the rattle and fires of guns and sounds of marching drums, chanting, the aroma of gunpowder, and, sometimes, a spectre. According to a Federal Highway Administration profile of Bloody Lane by Rickie Longfellow, one visitor saw several spectres of men in Confederate uniforms walking blood lane. He thought they were reenactors until they vanished into thin air. Longfellow also reported another tale:

A group of Baltimore schoolboys were out walking the trail when they claimed to have heard singing of the “fa-la-la-la-la” melody of Deck the Halls.

“The area was near the observation tower where the Irish Brigade charged the Confederates with a battle cry in Gaelic, which sounded like the Christmas carol,” Longfellow explains. The brigade’s battle cry was “Faugh-a-Balaugh,” Gaelic for “Clear the Way!” and sounded like “Fah-ah-bah-lah.”

So if you’re out for a jog through the once corpse-clogged Bloody Lane, keep your ears attuned and eyes peeled. Regardless of whether you encounter civil war phantoms, you’ll be sure to catch some gloomy vibes, as the violence that erupted that September day seems to linger on the land.