The Bloody Lane
On September 12-14, 1997, the 135th Antietam reenactment was held at the Artz Farm about 8 miles north of the actual battlefield and just about 1 mile south of Interstate 70. Battle reenactments can’t be held on National Military Parks because it is considered Hallowed Ground. However, the actual reenactment battle site was huge. At the time I was a member of the 6th Arkansas. None of our members wanted to go to this reenactment, but, since I considered it my battle, I was determined to participate. I found out that the 9th Arkansas was going, so I called Captain David Wilson, the commander, and asked him if I could go with his unit. He allowed me to join them and I promised to meet them on Friday morning, the 12th of September at the reenactment site. The 9th Arkansas was going to be a company in the Texas Brigade.
Let me give you a little background on the Texas Brigade. At Antietam it was know as Hood’s Texas Brigade and was made up of the 1st, 4th and 5th Texas regiments along with the 18th Georgia and the Hampton South Carolina Legion. They had already gotten a reputation as a very hard fighting unit from previous battles. At Antietam they added to that reputation when the 1st Texas lost 82.3% of its members during the morning in “The Cornfield”, which was the site of some of the most ferocious fighting of the Civil War. The Texas Brigade is commanded by General Jack King. I was thrilled beyond words that I was going to be a part of this unit for 135th Antietam.
Nancy and I drove the 1000 miles over two and a half days to Sharpsburg, Maryland the weekend before the reenactment and checked into the Piper House, a Bed & Breakfast, which was run by our friends Regina and Lou Clark on Sunday the 7th of September. We toured the Battle Field for a few days becoming familiar with all the major action of the battle. Nancy had to listen to my description of the Battle for the umpteenth time.
During the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam, our unit portrayed Wright’s Brigade of Anderson’s Division on Sunday. We reinforced Anderson’s Brigade of D. H. Hill’s Division in the Bloody Lane scenario. As we were forced out of the lane by the Union forces, I saw all the reenactors playing dead in the lane and all around the area. It gave me a “period rush”. I was transported back to 1862. It was only momentary, but I have never experienced anything like it. This poem came to me about 3:00 AM after the battle scenario and I wrote it down to get an emotional release from the feelings I still carried from the battle. The poem is a combination of three things: what I experienced at the reenactment; what occurred at the actual battle; and some ideas I got from a song.