West Woods Trail - Stop 1

Portrait of Gen. Edwin V. Sumner
Born in 1797, Gen. Edwin Vose Sumner had served over 40 years in the Army when he led the 2nd Corps across Antietam Creek and into battle.

Stop 1 - Sumner Attacks

By 8:45 a.m. on the morning of the battle, the fields on the north end of the battlefield were already covered with the wreckage of a titanic struggle. Discarded weapons, accouterments, and the bodies of thousands of killed and wounded littered the field. At about 9:00 a.m., another attempt to crush Lee’s left began to form.

Gen. Edwin V. Sumner’s 2nd Corps started the day on the east side of Antietam Creek, near the Pry House. As the battle unfolded, Sumner and his men were ordered to the field to add support to the earlier Union attacks. There were three divisions in the 2nd Corps, each numbering about 5,000 men. After Gen. John Sedgwick’s Division crossed the Antietam, they were rushed into the battle towards the West Woods. The remaining two divisions, after they waded the Antietam, turned south and drove toward the Sunken Road.

At about the same time that Sedgwick’s forces moved out of the East Woods and drove west, Confederate soldiers commanded by Gen. LaFayette McLaws and Col. George T. Anderson, were ordered north from Sharpsburg to shore up Jackson’s thin line of gray. Unknown to either side, they were all headed toward a deadly, lopsided struggle in the West Woods.

Look out across the fields and over to the woods to the east. This is where John Sedgewick’s division of Sumner’s Second Corps was around 9:15 when they got the order to fall in and attack toward our position. Sumner organized Sedgwick’s men into lines of brigades meaning each brigade was in one long line, two ranks deep. As they entered the West Woods, these men met with the remnants of the Confederate troops who had fought in the woods earlier in the day.
Map of the fighting in the West Woods at Antietam
General Sumner's three US Divisions attacked one at a time, separated by time, distance and terrain.

Last updated: November 24, 2021

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