Tour Stop 5 - West Woods
Around 9:30 am, Gen. Edwin Sumner's Union soldiers advanced into the West Woods. The combined firepower of Confederate artillery and attacking infantry drove them back. In 20 minutes over 2,200 Union soldiers were killed or wounded.
"The Onward Rush To Victory Or Defeat "
As the battle escalated, Union Gen. Edwin Sumner moved the Second Corps across Antietam Creek and into the battle. The swift waters of the Antietam and the difficult terrain separated the three divisions in Sumner's Corps. One division advanced toward the West Woods, while the remaining two fell behind and later assaulted the Sunken Road.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. Sumner led Gen. John Sedgwick's Division, numbering more than 5,000 men, into the battle. The plan was to drive into the woods and then sweep south, delivering the crushing blow to Lee's left flank. As the Union lines moved through the West Woods, Confederate artillery posted on Hauser Ridge opened fire. Within minutes, bullets flew from three different directions and cut the Federals ranks into pieces.
Gen. Oliver Howard remembered: "We had the enemy's artillery and infantry both pursuing and flanking our broken brigades by rapid and deadly volleys." Confederate re-enforcements from the divisions of Gen. Lafeyette McLaws and Gen. John Walker slammed into the unsuspecting Union flank. Suffering over 2,200 casualties in about twenty minutes, the Federals quickly withdrew from the West Woods.
"Back Boys, For God's Sake Move Back; You Are In A Bad Fix"