National Park Service officials have recommended changes which, if adopted, could alter the purpose and character of Antietam National Battlefield. They want to restore the Western Maryland site near Sharpsburg to the way it was before the Civil War's bloodiest battle took place. But the Park Service must take care to adhere to the original reason for establishing the park.
Congress approved the project in 1890 to commemorate Antietam as a national site, to be kept in its authentic state to honor the 23,100 Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed and wounded there on Sept. 17, 1862. Some preservationists favor a plan that keeps park management and development as it is, with no expansion or changes. They worry about residential growth and commercialism linked to any park improvements undertaken to attract more tourists.
Others, though, agree with the Park Service that some expansion of the Antietam boundaries is necessary. The Park Service also wants to reduce the number of paved roads in the park and upgrade the visitors center.