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[63]

Antietam: the first to fall. This photograph was taken back of the rail fence on the Hagerstown pike, where “StonewallJackson's men attempted to rally in the face of Hooker's ferocious charge that opened the bloodiest day of the Civil War--September 17, 1862. Hooker, advancing to seize high ground nearly three-quarters of a mile distant, had not gone far before the glint of the rising sun disclosed the bayonet-points of a large Confederate force standing in a cornfield in his immediate front. This was a part of Jackson's Corps which had arrived during the morning of the 16th from the capture of Harper's Ferry and had been posted in this position to surprise Hooker in his advance. The outcome was a terrible surprise to the Confederates. All of Hooker's batteries hurried into action and opened with canister on the cornfield. The Confederates stood bravely up against this fire, and as Hooker's men advanced they made a determined resistance. Back and still farther back were Jackson's men driven across the open field, every stalk of corn in which was cut down by the battle as closely as a knife could have done it. On the ground the slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in ranks. From the cornfield into a small patch of woods (the West Woods) the Confederates were driven, leaving the sad result of the surprise behind them. As the edge of the woods was approached by Hooker's men the resistance became stronger and more stubborn. Nearly all the units of two of Jackson's divisions were now in action, and cavalry and artillery were aiding them. “The two lines,” says General Palfrey, “almost tore each other to pieces.” General Starke and Colonel Douglas on the Confederate side were killed. More than half of Lawton's and Hays' brigades were either killed or wounded. On the Federal side General Ricketts lost a third of his division. The energy of both forces was entirely spent and reinforcements were necessary before the battle could be continued. Many of Jackson's men wore trousers and caps of Federal blue, as did most of the troops which had been engaged with Jackson in the affair at Harper's Ferry. A. P. Hill's men, arriving from Harper's Ferry that same afternoon, were dressed in new Federal uniforms — a part of their booty — and at first were mistaken for Federals by the friends who were anxiously awaiting them.

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