Sacred Ground-Part 21

Dunker Church old picAfter resting we left the Visitor’s Center and walked to the Maryland Monument. It is a small domed structure fashioned like a gazebo that listed all the infantry, artillery and cavalry units that fought for both the North and the South during the battle.

It is a very beautiful structure that is set in an area with a few large trees giving shade to all who come to view its information. The sadness of the monument is almost palpable. Maryland was a border state during the Civil War and supplied soldiers for both North and South. In some cases brother fought against brother.

(Little did I know what one of the inscriptions would later mean to me.)

We continued across the Hagerstown Pike to the Dunker Church and walked on a paved road beside the Dunker Church west up to the top of a small hill. During the battle this whole area was the West Woods, but some of the area had been cleared for the planting of crops. This was the scene of the weirdest and most serendipitous occurrence during the battle.

General Sedgwick, commander of the 2nd Division of the Union 2nd Corps, along with Corp Commander General Sumner advanced 3 brigades just to the north of this position into the West Woods. General Robert E. Lee sent two Divisions to this area to strengthen this part of the Confederate Line. The terrain is such that the Union soldiers never saw the two Confederate Divisions until they were attacked in the flank and rear. They gave way and beat a hasty retreat to the north leaving 2200 of their 5000 soldiers as either killed, wounded or captured.

The Confederate attack just happened to catch the Union Lines by surprise. The Confederates were just as surprised as the Union soldiers that they were so successful.

At this time I asked Nancy if she could take some special pictures for me and she consented.


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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