"WEST WOODS AND THE PHILADELPHIA BRIGADE" Top 5 Page for this destination Antietam Things to Do Tip by mtncorg
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With the I and XI Corps attacking the Rebel left, the original plan had been for Maj. Gen. William Sumner to bring his II Corpsfrom the east to support. Sumner rode with his lead division - Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick - becoming separated from the other two divisions. They attacked through an area on the edge of the East Woods, south of the Cornfield at a time when Confederate Maj. Gen. 'Stonewall' Jackson was reforming his men after the horrific early morning. Sumner's other two divisions veered off to the south to attack the Rebel center - more in the direction of the Visitor Center. This resulted with no support on Sedgwick's left as he advanced into the West Woods. Drawing upon reinforcements, Jackson sent them into Sedgwick's flank - Because of forest cover, Sedgwick and Sumner could not see what was coming. 5500 Federals were involved in the attack and 2200 fell in the first 20 minutes. The survivors were swept back north through the Cornfield, their day done.
The tall monument in the West Woods is dedicated to the Philadelphia Brigade - with the misfortune to be the far left of Sedgwick's division. The Brigade came apart quickly from the unexpected fire on their flank. Consisting of the 69th, 71st, 72nd and 106th Pennsylvania Regiments, the Philadelphia Brigade would go on to write more chapters beyond this day of loss, including on the Third Day of Gettysburg. The 71st has been originally commanded by Colonel Edward Baker, personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and sitting Senator from Oregon. He had been killed several months previously in an action near Leesburg, Virginia, known as Ball's Bluff - more on both battles and the Philadelphia Brigade to come.
Near the Philadelphia Monument is a mortuary cannon dedicated to Confederate Brig. Gen. William Stark who died earlier leading his men from here actions Hooker's earlier attacks. It is interesting to note that there are more trees in the West Woods now than previously, having been planted by survivors of the Philadelphia brigade.