Burnside Bridge

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Andy Cardinal

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Here is a good video about it.... It's probably the best answer I have for your question.


I would say 2 reasons off the top of my head:

1. It funnels the attack to a specific, dependable area and creates a bottleneck for the attacking force.

2. Lee didn't really want to fight at Sharpsburg (although he was willing to fight). His purpose was to concentrate his army and then renew his march north.
 

James N.

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was studying this battle and thought i'd ask you experts a simple question.
why didn't the confederates just blow up this bridge before the federals arrived?
Although burning wooden trestle bridges during the war was pretty commonplace, destruction of masonry is altogether a different situation. Remember that WWII-style combat engineers did not exist and the tools and munitions necessary were the province of an engineering department that scarcely existed either. Artillery shells were likely the only available items, and regular field artillery projectiles were too weak to do the job. Solid shot was the preferred projectile for such a task and it doesn't explode - it batters the target into rubble. To do so the Confederate artillery wasn't in position to even hit the bridge, much less destroy it.
 
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redbob

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Welcome to the group from middle Alabama and the question might be why didn't they ford somewhere else or just wade across? Maybe in this case tunnel vision involved a bridge. Never mind, the video answered my questions.
 
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Bruce Vail

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Earlier in the campaign, Confederate troops tried to destroy an aqueduct and locks on the C&O canal, also stone. Couldn't make a dent with the tools and explosives they had with them. If anyone considered blowing the Lower Bridge, they would have quickly discarded the notion.
Earlier in the campaign, Confederate troops tried to destroy an aqueduct and locks on the C&O canal, also stone. Couldn't make a dent with the tools and explosives they had with them. If anyone considered blowing the Lower Bridge, they would have quickly discarded the notion.
Monocacy Aqueduct

During the American Civil War the Union used the canal to transport war materials and troops along the border between Maryland, Virginia, and points west. For this reason the canal as well as the aqueducts were often under Confederate attack. There were many Confederate sympathizers among the canal employees, including Thomas Walter, keeper of Lock 27.[1] Walter loved the South, but he loved the Monocacy Aqueduct more. When he learned that Confederate General D. H. Hill had orders to destroy it in order to halt boat traffic during the Antietam campaign in September 1862, Walter convinced Hill that draining the canal would achieve the same end. Walter saved the Monocacy Aqueduct, only for it to be threatened once again a few days later when another Confederate party attempted to blow up the aqueduct. However, the soldiers were unable to drill enough holes into the hard stone to place enough explosives to breach the structure.

 
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Brian Downey

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It is robust indeed! I don't know if it was major in the sense you mean @Wesley P Ellington , but the Park did a significant restoration of the bridge in 2015-2016. From the Park Service:

In January of 2014 a section of the stone wall on the upstream side of the bridge collapsed into Antietam Creek. Temporary repairs were made and an engineering assessment of the entire structure was undertaken. The investigation revealed substantial deterioration of the walls and significant water infiltration contributing to the structural instability of the bridge.

The bridge was closed in October of 2015 for repairs. Phase I of the project focused on the on the in-stream work, repairing and strengthening the stone piers and arches. Portable dams were installed in the creek that diverted the water while this work was completed. During Phase II the bridge walls were selectively dismantled and rebuilt. Every stone was painstakingly mapped, recorded and replaced as close as possible to its original location. Once the masonry work was complete, the wood coping was completely replaced and the bridge was resurfaced.
 

James N.

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DSC04581.JPG

Burnside’s Bridge is almost 200 years old, and, as far as i know, it has never had any major structural repairs done to it. In the 1950’s and 60’s, people used to drive cars over it. It’s a robust bridge.
It is robust indeed! I don't know if it was major in the sense you mean @Wesley P Ellington , but the Park did a significant restoration of the bridge in 2015-2016. From the Park Service:
Here are a couple of photos of the work in progress.
DSC04582.JPG
 
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Andy Cardinal

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The terrain is eye-opening for sure.... Not only at the bridge itself but also the ground the 9th Corps advanced toward Sharpsburg. I walked the "Snavely Ford" trail and "Final Attack" trail in April.... It gave me a new appreciation for what those guys did.
 
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