The battle began early in the morning of September 17 as 8,000+ veteran Union infantry advanced up the Hagerstown turnpike against an approximately equal number of Confederates awaiting them along the post and rail fences and open fields of the farms that lay in the path. Most of the men on both sides were veterans and had proven themselves courageous and deadly many times in the past year. Confederate artillery in front and on the right flank of the Union attack opened fire, as did the massed Union artillery across Antietam Creek. The thunder and lightning of the big guns was both deafening and deadly.
Overview of the Battle of Antietam
The first phase of the battle immortalized places called the Dunker Church, the East Woods, Miller’s Cornfield, and the West Woods. After the two armies exhausted themselves, leaving more than 13,000 men on the ground dead and wounded, including two Union Corps commanders, they shifted the fight to “the Sunken Road” later known as the Bloody Lane. Another six or seven thousand fell here, including several generals. The Confederate line bent but did not break.