Sunday, July 17, 2016


Whichever direction you gaze upon at Antietam Battlefield, there is probably a monument within your sight. Or there is likely one just around the corner.
A portion of my week was speMont within the cultural resource division. I shadowed the Exhibits Specialist, and he started off by informing me about the latest work being done within the Mumma Cemetery. The Mumma’s were a farming family that had their home burnt down by the Confederates before battle. They also were members of the Dunkard Church. Their family’s cemetery lies right outside of the existing farmhouse, which was rebuilt after the battle. The work going on within the cemetery is documentation of each headstone and tree within the space. There are also repairs being made to headstones that need the preservative effort. Repairing massive headstones is careful work, often involving building of custom braces and mixing the correct chemical composition of epoxy for application. Along with the field work going on in the cemetery, he talked about the research process in surfacing more facts about each person and the symbolic ornamentation on their headstones.
Treated Pennsylvania State Seal
Wax Application
               After a good introduction to the kind of work that went on in the division, we geared up and began our project for the week. The project was to treat bronze plating on monuments, in order to withstand oxidation. The process of treatment consisted of heating the bronze plating and once hot enough we applied a coat of wax to the protrusions of symbols, numbers, letters, and animals. A finished treatment included two coats of heat wax, an applied cold wax, and brush buffing. It was a powerful feeling to see the oxidized portion of brass plating being wiped away with a simple brushstroke. One crucial element to the bronze treatment, was being mindful of the expansive properties of the materials while heating them. Needless to say, I’m happy that no stonework was cracked due to poor handling of the propane torch used in treatment...the team had me a little nervous.
               I also rode along with our monument team on a trip to South Mountain State Park. We took the ride to introduce me to and asses Park Service owned monuments that were within the boundary of the state park. I believe I found my favorite Antietam related monument in the War Correspondents Memorial Arch. The texture and angles incorporated in the artist’s work were quite the sight.
               The work this week was quite rewarding. This was partially due to visitors making no effort to hide their appreciation in the preservation of the battlefield monuments. I also just found myself thinking that it was just a great thing to be a part of.

War Correspondents Memorial Arch

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