" Bloody Lane "
During the battle of Antietam, in September of 1862, Southern forces had taken up a defensive position in this little lane known as the Sunken Road…
Between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM fierce fighting took place in this area. From the slight angle in the road to the left and to the right, Confederate troops held off three attacks from the Union troops. Finally, as a brigade of Union forces advanced around the right flank of the defenders, about 350 men saw a weak point in the Southern line and from a knoll, commanding a position straight down the lane, they opened up such a deadly fire directly into the defenders position that they eventually broke the defensive position and forced the Confederate forces to retreat.
During this three and a half hour battle over 5600 combined forces were killed or wounded. Such a carnage took place that this area was known thereafter as “Bloody lane”.
What is interesting is that there were 3000 Union casualties and only 2600 Confederate casualties. However, confusion in the Southern ranks, and the flanking fire directly down the lane from the Union forces atop the knoll, is what caused the Confederate forces to retreat.
This photo shows basically the view from the knoll that the Union soldiers had in firing straight down the lane into the Confederate forces. Flanking fire such as this is quite effective and firing from this position is what caused most of the casualties suffered by the Confederate forces in the Sunken Road.
The battle at the Sunken Lane was one of three that took place that day at Antietam and the casualties, such as occurred at Bloody Lane, contributed to Antietam being the bloodies single day battle of the entire Civil War, also known as the War Between the States…