Antietam | The Final Assault | Sep 17, 1862
Once Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps captured the lower bridge (today known as the Burnside Bridge), his men took nearly two hours to cross it and form for an attack against the final Confederate line. Finally, at about 3:00 pm, a mile-wide battle line of Union soldiers swept forward across the rolling terrain. About 2,500 Confederate soldiers with artillery awaited them on the high ridge south of Sharpsburg. The fighting was intense as Burnside’s men neared the road to Boteler’s Ford in Lee’s rear. The 9th New York Infantry, also known as “Hawkins’ Zouaves,” suffered 63% casualties on the outskirts of Sharpsburg. Just then, exhausted after marching 17 miles from Harpers Ferry, Gen. A.P. Hill's Confederate "Light Division" slammed into the exposed Union left flank and drove the Federals back. The brand new 16th Connecticut Infantry, barely two weeks old, bore the brunt of Hill’s attack, some of them had not learned how to load their muskets until the day before. Divisions of the V Corps remained in reserve and were not moved forward to support Burnside. The timely arrival of Hill, and the failure of McClellan to support Burnside's final assault ultimately saved General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia.
Today, we are fighting — harder than we have ever had to fight before — a new series of relentless, multi-front battles throughout Virginia for the...