Saturday, May 12, 2007

Antietam - West Woods

The next loop we made covered much of the West Woods area. We parked near the Visitor's Center and then went north along the Hagerstown Pike towards the Philadelphia Brigade monument. This first picture shows the view looking north from near the VC. The fence line near the center of the photo runs along the Smoketown Road as it angles towards the northeast away from the Dunker Church. The small tree line that runs across the photo is the modern Cornfield Avenue.
The Philadelphia Brigade monument is on the eastern edge of the West Woods just south of Starke Avenue (which is what Cornfield Avenue is called on the western side of the Hagerstown Pike). It is a very tall obelisk, unfortunately all of my pictures of the main monument have a slight tilt to them.
Next we walked into the West Woods, and it right now is woods. Near the modern highway bypass we came upon the 15th Massachusetts monument. They were part of the force that penetrated into the West Woods and then was caught in absolute hell as the Confederates converged on them, plus their escape route was blocked by Union divisions behind them. In 20 minutes 330 men fell, they entered the fight with 606 men. That included 75 killed and 255 wounded. 43 of the wounded would die of those wounds. 54% of the regiment was a casualty that day. Every four seconds another man was killed or wounded. Simply a brutal fight, words cannot express the horror that had to have been. The back of the monument lists the 118 men who were killed or died of wounds. I often stand in awe of what the soldiers suffered through, this is one of those moments.

1 comment:

John Banks said...

Nick: Really interesting stuff on your blog. I own an ambrotype of 15th Mass soldier killed at Antietam: Justus Wellington, a private whose name appears in the lower right of the monument.