Landscape Turned Red: the Bloody Lane

During the battle of Antietam, the Sunken Road became the Bloody Lane.

In mid morning, the fighting moved away from the Dunker Church to the area to the southeast known as the Sunken Road. The Sunken Road is a road that bisects two farm fields and as the name implies, runs below the land that flanks it; like a riverbed without the water. This road was worn down over time because of heavy wagon traffic.

This location was the setting of some of the fiercest fighting in a battle known for it’s fierce fighting. This is where the center of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac came together.

Here, in the Sunken Road, the Confederates under General D. H. Hill placed this division of 2,600 soldiers along this road. Union General William French attacked this position leading to a savagely bloody conflict that lasted for almost four hours. During this battle 5,500 soliders, on both sides, where either killer or wounded. Thus the Sunken Road became the Bloody Lane.

Soldiers who were involved in the conflict later describe the Sunken Road as the “road of death” and a “ghastly flooring”.

On my visit, I placed myself about half way down the Bloody Lane and I sketched looking toward the 132nd Pennsylvania Monument and the observation tower that was built in 1896 by the War Department. Starting out early had it’s benefits because I had the Bloody Lane to myself.

After my field sketch, I headed over to the 60 foot tall observation tower to get a 360 degree view of the battlefield and the receding view of the Bloody Lane. Again, the tower was all mine.

A photo taken from the observation tower, looking down the Bloody Lane. My sketching position was where the green turns to brown, just under an oak.

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