Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam Battlefield - West Woods

Modern photo of the West Woods
West Woods
Civil War Trust

Quick Facts

Location:
Sharpsburg, MD
Significance:
Scene, on the north end of the battlefield, of opening attacks in the Battle of Antietam
Designation:
National Park, National Register of Historic Places

A mile north of Sharpsburg was a heavy patch of trees known as West Woods; it was about 300 yards wide at its southern limits, tapering to 200 yards or less as it stretched away northwest from the Hagerstown Turnpike.

During the morning of September 17, 1862, West Woods was the scene of some of the opening fighting of the Battle of Antietam and some of the heaviest fighting of the entire war. Around 9:30 a.m., General Edwin Sumner's Union Second Corps advanced into the West Woods. The combined firepower of Confederate artillery and attacking infantry drove them back. Union General John Sedgwick's division lost more than 2,200 men in less than 30 minutes in their ill-fated charges against Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's troops.

Today, Antietam National Battlefield is reforesting its historic woodlots to their wartime appearance, including the West Woods. Since March 1995, volunteers have come to the park every spring and fall season with the mission of planting hardwood seedlings to bring the West and North Woods to their September 1862 appearance. Over an eleven year period, 10,110 volunteers including Boy/Girl Scout troops, school groups, church groups, individuals and families, have contributed over 20,000 hours planting 18,132 seedlings and 306 balled and burlapped trees over a 15 acre area known as the West and North Woods.