Antietam | East Woods | Sep 17, 1862 | 5:30 - 6:00 am

Sharpsburg, Md.

As the sun rose on September 17, 1862, Major General Joseph Hooker and his I Corps initiated the opening act on what became America's bloodiest single day. General George G. Meade's division of Pennsylvania Reserves pressed south into the East Woods, and toward David Miller's "Cornfield." The Federals were met by Confederate artillery and infantry commanded by General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and Col. Stephen D. Lee. More Federals commanded Gen. James Ricketts joined the fray, as Jackson began to shift troops toward the front. The 13th Pennsylvania Reserves, known as the "Bucktails," engaged with the 31st Georgia near a property soon to known as the "Epicenter." By 6 am, the Battle of Antietam was raging in the fields and woods north of the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland.

The battle been raging for nearly two hours on the morning of September 17, 1862, when the Confederate brigades of Gen. Rosewell S. Ripley and Col. James A. Walker slammed into the Cornfield and East Woods. This fierce counterattack met the fourth major Union assault in this sector thus far, now consisting of elements of two Federal corps. Federals were sent reeling back through the Miller Cornfield, and the East Woods. The brief success was short-lived and came at a heavy cost. Two more Union assaults drove for into the Cornfield, the East Woods, and eventually toward the northern boundary of the West Woods. By the end of the morning, both Ripley and Walker lay wounded on the field, alongside eleven of the fifteen regimental commanders of Brig. Gen. Alexander R. Lawton's Confederate division. Lawton, too, lay wounded on the field. An astounding one out of every two soldiers in Lawton's division was listed among the casualty rolls the next day, and the fighting in this sector was far from over.