Bullets, Shrapnel, Case, and Canister: Archeology and GIS at the Piper Farm (Recording Unavailable)
Union and Confederate forces fought at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American military history with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded, and missing. Some of the fiercest fighting occurred around the Sunken Road -- the northern boundary of the Henry Piper farm. Over four field seasons, archaeologists conducted systematic metal-detector surveys of the Piper Orchard, site of the Confederates’ retreat from the Sunken Road and their stand to hold the center, Caldwell’s Union advance, and the senseless charge of the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment. A combination of GIS analysis, 3-D terrain modeling, viewshed analysis, and a review of the historical record, resulted in the identification of unit positions and movements derived from an examination of 2,033 military artifacts. This study provides a more detailed understanding of the events at Piper Farm and demonstrates potential applications to other battlefield landscapes.