This unassuming house of worship was originally built in 1852 on land donated by
Samuel Mumma, a local farmer. Although more commonly known as the German Baptist Brethren, the name
"Dunker" referred to their method of full submersion baptism used by the denomination's founders. Nearly
a decade after its completion during the early morning of September 17, 1862, furious conflicts swirled
here as the Union Army made several attempts to break the Confederate left flank. Union Generals Hooker,
Mansfield, and Sumner would launch successive attacks toward the Confederates positioned on the slight
high ground upon which this church rested. As the morning phase of the battle progressed and with the
other sections of the field silent, General Lee moved troops north to the Confederate left for support.
When the guns fell silent on this part of the field, over 8,000 casualties paid the price for a
costly, bloody stalemate during this first phase of the fighting.
Ironically, the Dunkers espoused
pacifism and would refuse to serve in the military. Although this
simple church survived the battle, a violent windstorm destroyed it in 1921. In the 1950s,
the National Park Service began the work of rebuilding the Dunker Church and, using about 3,000
original bricks, boards, benches, and other original materials, accomplished their task in 1961.
The photograph to your right shows the sanctuary of this very modest 19th Century church.
On September 17, 1862, Union forces of General Joseph Hooker's 1st Corps
would move along the Hagerstown Pike towards this house of worship to find
and engage the Confederates they knew to be in the area. The back and
forth contest that would follow left dead and wounded scattered all over
this formerly peaceful landscape. Soldiers in blue and gray would at times
fire at each other from near point blank range with only a fence to stop
the whistling balls filling the air. In the image below, Confederate dead
cover the western side of the Hagerstown Pike.