John McKnight Bloss, now 81, had just parked his RV at a campground when he tried to sum up what this gathering of his clan was about. He's been researching his namesake great-grandfather, who was wounded four times during Civil War battles, including the epic fight along meandering Antietam Creek 150 years ago — and he wanted the younger generation to "understand the sacrifices that were made."
Robert Mitchell Menuet spoke proudly of Barton Mitchell, his ancestor who served alongside John Bloss in the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and suffered a life-shortening wound at Antietam — one of the 23,000 casualties that made the battle on Sept. 17, 1862, the single bloodiest day in U.S. history.
But something more particular drew the descendants to Maryland.
They cheered the opening last month of an exhibit in nearby Frederick showcasing a simple action their forebears took that helped change the course of the war — and with it, perhaps, the course of America's history as one nation, indivisible.
Image: This July 21, 2012 photo shows a cannon in front of the "Best" farm outside of Frederick, Md. where Gen. Robert E. Lee drafted orders detailing his plans for the Sept. 1862 Confederate invasion of Maryland. A misplaced copy of the document was found near this site by a Union soldier and passed up the chain of command, helping to set the stage for the pivotal Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.
Images: AP/Wikipedia Text: AP