Gettysburg Trip Day Two: Searching for Booth, a Visit to Antietam

The one thing I wanted to buy more than anything else on this trip is a bobblehead doll of John Wilkes Booth. Sure, I could purchase this novelty on Ebay, but I wanted to get it here because of the special location. There was much controversy surrounding the sale of these dolls, which I wrote about several months ago, and it seems that they are nearly impossible to get here. Most of these stores are selling the dolls of Grant, Lee, and Lincoln, and when I ask about Booth, they seem to get very narrow-eyed: “Oh…yeah…that. We used to sell ’em. Not anymore, though. Sorry.” As I browsed around more and more, I was met with someone who said, “I wish we could sell those! You’re the third person who came in today asking about it.” Even one of the stores that boasts selling more than 200 different bobbleheads, including many in the same set as Booth, does not carry the item, the worker telling me, “We used to sell Aaron Burr, and nobody saw a problem with that. But this Booth one, after that newspaper article came out, there was such an uproar that most stores yanked them.” Poor Alexander Hamilton…what a schmuck! He then eluded that there may be one store in town that carries it, but did not say where, or with any confidence. I will continue tomorrow before we leave to spend a few days in Lancaster.

Before the fruitless search, we headed about an hour south to Sharpsburg, Maryland for my second visit to the Antietam battlefield, with the Burnside’s Bridge area being one of the most scenic of any battlefield in the country. The weather was a lot warmer than yesterday, but still very nice. I lit a cigar in the General’s honor, and took a few pictures of the beautiful creek that flows beneath it. There were not many people around our 8.8 mile drive through the site of America’s bloodiest day, except for a few tour buses, and it was extremely quiet, the perfect atmosphere to stand on the edge of the Miller Cornfield and picture Hood’s Texas boys engaging Hooker’s men in some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

At night, we ate dinner at O’Rorke’s for the first time and experienced some of their famous apple fritters, which are worth whatever praise they are given—probably the best I have ever had. The chicken Caesar wrap was also very good. I just wish we were eating there two weeks from now, so I could have joined the very lively bar crowd with a nice pint of Guinness. After that, I headed over to Stoneham’s Armory, wanting to add to my replica gun collection, and purchased the Booth derringer, which was $20 more expensive just a few stores down (see what I said about needing to look around multiple places before buying anything?). Now, why purchase this? Well, for starters, it is the only gun that would fit in the room I have left on my gun shelf, and also because when I teach the Lincoln assassination, I want to be able to have this gun in my hand, so I can show people how small this history-changing gun really is. Anyway, that’s all for now. It’s been a good trip so far, and we are heading for Amish Country tomorrow, a family tradition, though admittedly not as exciting.

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