2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Antietam - Wednesday, September 17, 1862
The Impact of Terrain

The only known image believed to be from the day of battle at Antietam

The terrain of the battlefield.

The rolling, undulating terrain contributed greatly to the tragic bloodbath that was the Battle of Antietam. Both Union and Confederate troops could move from one section of the battlefield to another at times with little opportunity of viewing the grounds and hidden dangers immediately in their front. The picture to your left shows the grounds of the Mumma and Roulette farms along with the terrain that hid the Confederates in the Sunken Road from Union Major General William Franklin's Division as it moved directly into their front. Once they reached the small crest of the rise directly to the east of the Sunken Road, they were faced with rows of well protected Southern troops who successfully held them at bay for hours.

The rise to the east of the Sunken Road.This second picture, also taken from the Sunken Road, shows the terrain as it would have been viewed by the awaiting Southern soldiers. The rise over which the blue coats came is clearly visible in the mid-ground. Once visible, the Union men found themselves easy targets for the Confederates who sent them a withering hailstorm of bullets. The sheltered butternuts would mow down the Federals who had no protection from the deadly missiles which filled the air. Later in the day when the men in blue would flank this protective depression, they would return the favor and slaughter countless men in gray. The link beneath the picture to your left shows the Sunken Road shortly after the battle and clearly shows why it earned the sobriquet Bloody Lane. Please be careful as this image is graphic in nature but documents the brutality of so-called glorious war.

The 14th Connecticut Monument.Along with terrain, the unpredictable contingencies of battle and the demands of officers added to the mayhem and confusion. The inscription on the monument to the 14th Connecticut offers a small glimpse into the experiences encountered by the men who fought here. (Click on the picture to your right and then on the link on the page that opens to read the inscription.) Exhausted troops moved from one end of the field to another as the dynamic, pulsating battlefield changed and shifted with each gain, loss, movement, and counter movement by the participants. War was rarely organized rows of men moving in an orderly fashion against and equally meticulously arranged foe.