Hoods command was driven back to the West Woods. George S. Greene, detached one brigade to support Williams. Greenes two remaining brigades continued south on Smoketown Road.
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Colonel Lees guns quickly withdrew, and Greene halted on a plateau east of Dunker Church. It was around this time that Hooker received a slight wound in the foot and turned over command 37 As the fighting momentarily paused, McClellan ordered Sumner to send two of his three divisions to support Hooker. Sumner led Sedgwicks and Frenchs divisions across the creek at Prys Mill Ford and headed for the battlefield.
Sumners third division, commanded by Richardson, remained east of the creek guarding artillery. Shortly before Sumners two divisions reached the East Woods.
After a brief halt, the command resumed its advance, which did not progress in a unified manner. Map 8 It split first around Greenes division, which held the open plateau near Dunker Church, with Sedgwicks three brigades moving to Greenes right into the West Woods and Frenchs three brigades moving to Greenes left. Then, within the advance of Sedgwicks division on the West Woods, one of Brig. Willis A. There, it found the th Pennsylvania Infantry, which had become separated from Williams division and had entered the West Woods some time earlier.
Thus, Sumners two divisions did not attack together. Sumner personally led Sedgwicks division to Hagerstown Pike, where the men climbed post-and-rail fences on either side of the road and entered the West Woods. Sedgwicks leading brigade, commanded by Gorman and minus the stray 34th New York Infantry, reached the far side of the woods and quickly opened fire on the remnants of Jacksons command to the west. The other two brigades, commanded by Brig. Napoleon J. Dana and Oliver O.
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Howard, lay down in the woods and awaited orders. As Gormans men appeared at the western edge of the woods, troops from the commands of Lawton and J. Jones opened fire. Gorman later wrote, Instantly my whole brigade became hotly engaged, giving and receiving the most deadly fire it has ever been my lot to witness. Earlys brigade left its position to the west and moved into the West Woods. Earlier in the morning, Pelhams artillery had shifted south from Nicodemus Hill to a position on the heights west of the A.
Poffenberger farm. Lee sent Walkers division from its reserve position south of Sharpsburg and the division of McLaws newly arrived from Harpers Ferry. Joining these divisions was the brigade of Col. George T. Anderson of D. Jones division. These Confederates, almost 8, strong, charged into the West Woods, first overrunning the isolated 34th New York and th Pennsylvania Infantries, then striking the left and rear of Sedgwicks division.
Map 9 Danas and Howards brigades leapt to their feet and tried to meet the attack, but it was too late. Like dominoes, they began to tumble northward with the Confederates in close pursuit. Gormans brigade was also attacked, but it had more time to react and turned to meet the threat. Acting as a rear guard, Gormans command withdrew northward, stopping now and then to fire a volley at its pursuers.
The remnants of Sedgwicks division fled across the Miller farm, where they sought the protection of Hookers I Corps artillery. Williams division in the Cornfield and Union artillery stopped the Confederates and drove them back to the West Woods.
Sumners attack into the West Woods had been a disaster. In less than thirty minutes, Sedgwick had been wounded and more than 40 percent of his division had been either killed or wounded. As Sedgwicks division was collapsing, Frenchs 5,man division, having split to the left of Sedgwicks advance into the West Woods and cheered on by the martial music of regimental bands, crossed the Mumma and Roulette farms and advanced.
Waiting in the road were almost 2, men of D. Hills division. The left of Hills line contained the brigade of Brig. Rodes, which extended from near Hagerstown Pike to the lane leading to the William Roulette home. On Rodes left, connecting with the pike, were remnants of the brigades of Brig.
Roswell S. Ripley, Col. McRae, and Col. Colquitt, which had fought in the Cornfield earlier in the morning. On Rodes right, the brigade of Brig. Anderson continued the line another yards. Hills headquarters was about yards south of the road, at the home of Henry Piper. As Frenchs division approached, the Confederates strengthened their position by piling up fence rails while Hill sent urgent messages to Lee for more troops. When Frenchs men appeared on the high ground above the Sunken Road, the Confederates let loose a volley that staggered and halted the Union line.
Second Battle of Bull Run
Both sides then settled down to pouring volley after volley into each others ranks. Many officers on both sides soon found themselves on foot, their horses killed or wounded. Anderson received a wound in the foot that would lead to his death about one month after the battle. When a regimental commander stepped forward to replace Anderson, he was shot and killed. With casualties mounting on both sides, some of Rodes men left the road several times and charged Frenchs line; but the uncoordinated attacks were driven back.
Responding to Hills pleas for assistance, Lee sent Maj. Richard H. Andersons division, which had arrived from Harpers Ferry that morning. Andersons men advanced rapidly through town and at roughly joined Hills men in the Sunken Road. See Map Shortly afterward, Richardsons division, which McClellan had ordered to march to the battlefield from guarding artillery east of the Antietam, arrived on the left of Frenchs command.
Among the first of Richardsons units to reach the Sunken Road was Brig. Thomas F. On coming into close and fatal contact with the enemy, according to Meagher, the officers and men of the brigade waved their swords and hats and gave three hearty cheers for their general, George McClellan, and the Army of the Potomac. Road then charged up to the road and continued the fight at close range.
Standing in the open, entire ranks of Meaghers men were shot down.
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Meagher, injured when his stricken horse fell on him, was carried from the field. Of the 1, men in Meaghers brigade when it arrived on the field, almost 1, lay dead or wounded. The remainder of Richardsons division soon arrived to join the fray. While Frenchs and Richardsons divisions fought along the Sunken Road, Greenes division charged into the West Woods, driving back elements of Walkers division.
For roughly two hours Greene held his advanced position; but concerned that his command might be surrounded in the woods and not receiving requested support, the division fell back to the East Woods. Upon Greenes retreat, Walkers men quickly reoccupied the West Woods.
Greenes withdrawal also exposed the right flank of Frenchs division, which the 3d Arkansas and 27th North Carolina Infantries, joined by groups from the mixed commands to the left of Rodes brigade, attacked. Map 12 French halted his attack on the Sunken Road and quickly faced westward to meet the threat. His command was soon joined by a portion of Richardsons division. The arrival near the East Woods of Maj. William F.
Smiths division of the IV Corps caused the Confederates to withdraw. A portion of Smiths division pursued them into the West Woods but was driven back.
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Around , suffering from heavy casualties, lack of ammunition, and a misunderstanding of orders, the Confederates in the Sunken Road began to withdraw toward Sharpsburg. As Richardsons command crossed the road, now filled with the bodies of its former defenders, Richardson was mortally wounded by a fragment of shell. The Confederate retreat from the Sunken Road uncovered a great gap in the center of Lees line.
According to Longstreet, after the loss of the Sunken Road, The Confederate army would be cut in two and probably destroyed, for we were already badly whipped and were only holding our ground by sheer force of desperation.