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Rare Antietam Postcard, dated 1909

$55.00 $40.00
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Product Description

This is a very rare 1905 dated postcard from the Antietam Battlefield. It shows the famous DunkardChurch as it appeared after the battle. On the side of the card is a little history on the church and “O.T. Reilly, Publisher / Sharpsburg, MD. / Copyr’td 1905”.


Born March 11, 1857 in Keedysville, Maryland (next to Antietam Battlefield), Oliver Thomas Reilly was one of 10 children born to Edward Reilly and Mariah Lantz Reilly. At the age of 5, O.T. Reilly stood in the midst of both armies during the retreat from SouthMountain of the Confederates and the advance of the Union Army. He was an eyewitness to the Battle of Antietam from the Union Signal Station on nearby Elk Ridge. The memory of that single event made such a profound impression on the boy that it shaped his entire life.


A battlefield guide from age 15, Reilly declared on his calling card, "Get O.T. Reilly, the best guide, nearly 65 years experience … has been over the battlefield with many high ranked officers of both armies [Gens. Hooker, Burnside, Franklin, and Longstreet included] and thousands of men who fought in the battles."


He moved to Sharpsburg in November 1890 and opened a confectionary, grocery and novelty store at the corner of Main and Hall Streets. His “novelties” were mainly battlefield relics. As his family grew he moved to a large stone house near the square, where he set up a candy store on the ground floor and sold his relics and antiques out of the basement.


He had in his old collection of relics, two wagon loads of the wood from the old roof of the Dunkard Church; a long well-made pine bench from the Smoketown Hospital used by wounded soldiers after the Battle of Antietam; about 25 kinds of shot and shell and 8 John Brown pikes or spears.


Local historian Earl Roulette tells of a local boy who found a cannonball in a stone fence as he ran after a foul ball during a baseball game. The whole team ran into town to sell the relic to O.T. Legend has it that, as such exchanges were going on upstairs, other children would sometimes slip downstairs and steal relics that they would sell back to Reilly at a later date.


Still a fighter at 79, Reilly watched the approach of the battle's 75th anniversary with characteristic energy: “I want to get older. I want to be here to see the great gathering next year. I am living on borrowed time”. He would, in fact, live, and write, into the next decade.


This postcard was never used and remains in great condition with no bends or tears. This is truly a rare piece and being sold by O.T. Reilly, makes it a great addition to any Antietam collection.

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