Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 3: Natural Resources And Artillery Weekend At Antietam National Battlefield

Travis and I have been very busy down here at Anti. After our orientation week, we were put to work. This past week I spent my time with the Natural Resources Division. The week before we helped out with trail maintenance but this week was a different challenge. Near the historic Poffenberger Farm, we had an invasion of epic proportion. An invasion of noxious weeds and plant matter.

Included in these noxious weeds are Johnson Grass and Ailanthus trees, aka Tree of Heaven. They are considered noxious because they are not native to Maryland and more important they were not present during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. The mission here at the park is to preserve and protect. t our duty to preserve the battlefield so a visitor will see it the same way a Civil War soldier would of seen it all those years ago.

After a morning of hard work, we successfully cleaned up this problem spot. Unfortunately, this field has been overrun. In order to to get the land usable for farm use, like it would of been back in 1862, we had more work to do. We spent the rest of the work week cleaning up the invasives in this farmland.

This week ended with quite the bang! It was one of the artillery weekends here at Anti. One of the most popular programs of the year, men from Civil War Living History Groups come to put on a show. They fire cannons and explain how the canons worked and were used during the Civil War Era. The men of the Baltimore Light Artillery Group came to give the demonstration.

On a hot friday afternoon, I spent time making artillery rounds for the show. For obvious safety reasons, we make use real canon rounds. As a substitute, we make rounds out of aluminum foil, tape, peat moss, and one pound of black explosive powder.

Here I am fulling a round peat moss and to the right is Ranger Christy molding rounds for me to fill.

I am now molding the round so it can be used for the artillery weekend. After we fill a round with peat moss, we then make another round and fill it black powder. We then put the peat moss round inside the black powder round and mold the whole thing together to make it look like an authentic civil war artillery round.

Of course, this is very dirty work.

But it was well worth it in the end because I got to fire a real civil war canon! KaBoom!

Till Next Time!


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