Sharpsburg in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Most Terrible Clash of Arms
As Union soldiers stepped out of the Cornfield (in front of you) at dawn, September 17, 1862, Confederate troops, aligned in the fields just behind you, unleashed a horrific volley. The single bloodiest day in American History had begun in earnest.
For the next four hours the Cornfield was the center of a storm of lead, iron, and flame as Federal soldiers from the First and Twelfth Corps clashed with Lee’s men. The Cornfield changed hands again and again as both sides attacked and counterattacked. One soldier remembered, “The air seems full of leaden missiles. Rifles are shot to pieces in the hands of soldiers, canteens and haversacks are riddled with bullets, the dead and wounded go down in scores.”
More than 25,000 soldiers fought in and around the Cornfield. By 9:30 a.m. thousands of them lay dead and dying. Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood wrote, “It was here that I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms, by far, that has occurred during the war.” Union Gen. Joseph Hooker remembered that “every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield.”
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 39° 28.857′ N, 77° 44.857′ W. Marker is in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is at the intersection of Cornfield Avenue and Dunker Church Road, on the right when traveling west on Cornfield Avenue. Click for map. Marker is in Antietam National Battlefield at auto tour stop 4. Marker is in this post office area: Sharpsburg MD 21782, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Johnny Cook (here, next to this marker but has been reported missing); A Cornfield Unlike Any Other (here, next to this marker); Second Regiment (within shouting distance of this marker); Hood's Division, Longstreet's Command (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Hood's Division, Longstreet's Command (within shouting distance of this marker); First Army Corps (within shouting distance of this marker); New Jersey State Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Indiana State Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Texas (within shouting distance of this marker); 84th New York (14th Brooklyn) Volunteer Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Sharpsburg.
More about this marker.
Portraits of Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood and Union Gen. John Gibbon appear at the bottom left of the marker. The Hood portrait has a caption of “Gen. John Bell Hood led his division of 2,000 men from behind the Dunker Church and into the Cornfield in a vicious counterattack. Over 1,000 of his soldiers were killed or wounded in about thirty minutes of combat. Gen. Hood lost the use of his arm at Gettysburg, and a leg at Chickamauga, but survived the war and died in 1879.”
The caption under Gibbon reads, “Gen. John Gibbon commanded the Union Iron Brigade, which helped lead the First Corps assault into the Cornfield. Gen. Gibbon was a West Point graduate and a Mexican War veteran. During the fighting in the Cornfield, which he described as the, “hottest of hornets nests,” Gibbon even helped load and fire a cannon that “produced great destruction in the enemy’s ranks.”
Also see . . . Battle of Antietam. National Park website. (Submitted on April 15, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 530 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 8. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. 9, 10. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 11. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.