Cornfield Trail Guide-Stop 3

Brigadier General John Bell Hood
Brigadier General John Bell Hood

Library of Congress

Confederate Counterattacks

Fifteen thousand soldiers of the Federal 1st and 12th Corps attacked through the corn and into these open fields. The initial Confederate line crumbled. Three Confederate counterattacks from three different divisions charged through this field turning this peaceful meadow into a smoking cauldron of death and destruction.

In the first of these counterattacks, Brig. Gen. Harry Hays' Brigade of Louisiana soldiers went into battle with 550 men; 323 of them were shot down within about 30 minutes of fighting, including every single regimental commander. Brig. Gen. John Bell Hood's division then drove north from behind the Dunker Church and into the fray. He reported that, "I at once marched out on the field in line of battle and soon became engaged with an immense force of the enemy, consisting of not less than two corps of their army. It was here that I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms, by far, that has occurred during the war. The two little giant brigades of this division wrestled with this mighty force, losing hundreds of their gallant officers and men but driving the enemy from his position and forcing him to abandon his guns on our left. The battle raged with the greatest fury until about 9 o'clock..."

The final counterattack consisted of three brigades from Brig. Gen. Daniel Harvey Hill's division. General Lee himself ordered them north from the center of the field to try to stop the Federal onslaught. Ripley's, Garland's and Colquitt's were almost destroyed by the arrival of the Federal 12th Corps. Another example of the severity of the combat was reported by Brig. Gen. Colquitt who said that he had gone into battle with 10 field officers; 4 were killed, 5 badly wounded, and the tenth had been stunned by a shell.

Walk north on the trail through the East Woods

Last updated: August 12, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 158
Sharpsburg, MD 21782


301 432-5124

Contact Us