High-Tech Plane Scouts Civil War Battlefields

Article excerpt

An airplane fitted with equipment invented for spy planes and satellites flew over Antietam and Manassas battlefields on a hunt for unmarked graves and hidden Civil War artifacts.

Last week's flight allowed the National Park Service, which oversees the battlefields, to scan hundreds of acres quickly and cheaply.

The haste of combat resulted in dozens of unmarked graves at the two battlefields. The air search may help guide Park Service workers to those graves before they are found by looters in search of Civil War relics.

"We're going to find some (graves) on the (Antietam) battlefield itself, no question about it," said Stephen R. Potter, regional archaeologist for the Park Service. He says that dozens of undiscovered burial areas - particularly of Confederate soldiers - could exist at Antietam. The Maryland battlefield was the site of the bloodiest day in U.S. combat history, Sept. 17, 1862, when 23,110 men were killed, wounded or never found.h

The flight was donated to the Park Service by the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, a private, nonprofit laboratory that owns the plane and wants to expand its civilian uses. …