cornfield with soldierNancy and I went back to the old Hagerstown Pike and headed North again.  “The Cornfield” was on our right and, as we came to a point about the middle of the field, there two cannon facing toward “The Cornfield” from a small rise to the left of the Hagerstown Pike.  The historical marker located here indicated this was a section of the 4th U.S. Artillery. During the battle the artillery crews were just about all wounded or killed by the 18th Georgia, Hampton Legion (South Carolina) and the 4th Texas. Infantry men manned the guns and tried to keep up the fire.  General Gibbon, the commander of the Iron Brigade, a premier Union Infantry unit, personally helped load, aim and fire one of the cannons. If you believe war is a glorious, you would not have thought so as a double load of canister hit the 3 above mentioned Confederate units located along “The Cornfield” fence line.  It was stated that arms and legs were blown 30 feet into the air. 


I stood and looked from the cannons toward “The Cornfield” and tried to picture the horrific consequence of the damage. I don’t believe even the graphic description of the outcome of the cannon’s fire can do justice to the soldier’s experience of witnessing what had occurred.



Nancy and I continued north to the D. R. Miller home, which was one of the original structures on the battlefield that is still standing just to the right of the old Hagerstown Pike. It was closed to the public, but we learned later there were plans to bring it back the original façade and interior as was during the 1860’s.


We continued north and the road began to descend while the terrain to the right of the Pike began to rise higher. By the time we got to the northern boundary of the battlefield and turned to the right (east) to follow the paved road, we had to trudge up a steep hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we were in the area of what was the middle of the North Woods.  We turned and looked south toward the Dunker Church. What we saw was awesome and you can only experience it if you are on the battlefield.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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