Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bloody Lane

  As the fighting raged in the West Woods around the Dunker Church at Antietam Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill had his 2,600 men stack fence rails and prepare for the coming Union attack along the "Sunken Road" as locals called this old farm road before the war. It had been worn down by wagon wheels and rain over the years but became a natural defensive position on September 17, 1862. At 9:30 AM Union General William French attacked the Sunken Road with 5,500 men. From 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM the Confederates successfully held off Union attacks but were eventually overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers. The Confederates had no reserves and it was only Union confusion and exhaustion that saved the Confederates from defeat. Confederate General John B. Gordon was shot five times. One bullet smashing the side of his face. He fell in the road with his face buried in his hat. He would have drowned in his own blood but for a bullet hole in his hat that allowed his blood to drain out on the ground. Both Union and Confederates lost 5,500 casualties in killed and wounded. The Sunken Road was forever known from that day forward as the "Bloody Lane".

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