The Photo. I shot this photo of the Joseph Poffenberger Farm on September 22, 2016, as the sun sank quickly in the west. Although it might appear as if the setting sun is reflecting off a window, I’m actually facing west and the sun is shining straight through windows that are perfectly aligned across from one another. The orange glow appears to fill the house, especially the back addition. The large room on the first floor that seems almost to be on fire is the kitchen.

A Ghost? Nice photo, but the attic windows kept drawing my eye. What was going on in the window to the left? I zoomed in and found what looks to be someone peering out the window at me. Is that a nun in a habit? And is there a misty fog in that window or did the camera pick up sun reflecting off the dust on the glass?

Now, the lighting was strange with lots of glare and shadows, but the effect is pretty intriguing. Looking at photos I took before and after this shot didn’t clear things up too much. The same figure appears to be there in one but not others. The sun was dropping fast, though, so you’d expect small details in the windows to change. What do you think? I personally can’t wait to go back and determine if there is or isn’t an old curtain hanging in that window that might explain the image.

The Battle. For those not familiar with Antietam National Battlefield, the Joseph Poffenberger House and outbuildings existed at the time of the Battle of Antietam, which took place September 17, 1862. The First Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac camped on the property immediately surrounding the Poffenberger House the night before the battle. General Joseph Hooker, the commander of the First Corps, used the house as his headquarters. The fighting on this north end of the battlefield occurred mostly south of the Poffenberger Farm on the adjoining Miller property. Waves of Union troops marched through a woodlot (dubbed the “North Woods”) just south of the Poffenberger place, over a plowed field, through an orchard, and on to Miller’s cornfield, thereafter known as “The Bloody Cornfield”. The battle on this part of the field consisted of a series of brutal attacks and counterattacks lasting from just before daybreak until about 9:30 in the morning.

The Outcome. Union troops eventually prevailed on this end of the battlefield, in terms of moving south through Miller’s cornfield, but were unable to press forward farther and break the Confederate lines due to both the loss of key Union leaders early in the battle and the ability of Confederate leadership to move men and artillery from other parts of the field. By late morning, the battle here stalled and fighting shifted south, away from the Poffenberger House, which was then used as a Union hospital.

More, Please. I mention the Poffenberger Farm in Giving Voice to Dawn. So as not to ruin the read for you, I won’t tell you in what regard! You might also be interested in an annotated gallery of photos I created to follow the footsteps of my ancestors with the 36th Ohio Infantry at Antietam. They fought on the south end of the field, miles from the Poffenberger Farm, and likely never saw this property, instead charging into battle over the famous Burnside Bridge.

Linda Gribko is an avid gardener, naturalist, author, artist, and photographer living just outside Morgantown, West Virginia, on a one-acre property she calls Yellow Bird's Rest. She's been gardening since the age of three, when she was put to work plucking rocks from the family vegetable patch, and was gifted her first growlight set-up at the age of eight. Linda is best known for her wildflower photography and the digital mandala art she creates from her nature photos, but is also a mixed media artist and published author. Her quirky first novel, "Giving Voice to Dawn", was published in November 2016 and was followed up with "The Lion's Apprentice" in June 2020. The series follows the magical romp of a woman plucked by the Universe from the cubicles of Corporate America and dropped into the crease between "this world and that" where Spirit Animals carry messages, disembodied voices spout wisdom, and you never know who might show up to walk you back home.

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