Antietam National Battlefield | FINAL ATTACK

Final Attack stop on the Antietam National Battlefield Tour

Final Attack stop on the Antietam National Battlefield Tour

ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD TOUR

STOP 9:  FINAL ATTACK

Allow 5 minutes for a visit

The ninth stop on the Antietam National Battlefield Tour is called the Final Attack. Located on the southern end of the battlefield, this is where Union general Ambrose Burnside’s 9th Corps attacked the Confederate right flank after crossing Antietam Creek via the Rohrbach Bridge (aka Burnside Bridge). On the verge of success, Confederate general Ambrose P. Hill’s Light Division arrived from Harper’s Ferry and managed to drive Burnside back to where he started. With night falling, the fighting ceased, presumably to be continued the next day. However, General Robert E. Lee decided with withdraw back to Virginia, and in doing so gave the Union bragging rights to victory at Antietam.

The cannon on display at this stop on the tour represent one of many positions taken up by Confederate artillerists during the fighting at the Rohrbach Bridge and the Union’s subsequent final attack. The cannon are aiming southeast towards the bridge where Burnside’s men were positioned. During the fighting at the bridge, an artillery battery—Brown’s Battery commanded by Captain James S. Brown—began on a ridge to the west of the tour stop (behind) and by noon was on the ridge to the east (in front). When the 9th Corps took control of the bridge, the battery moved to this ridge. When the Union soldiers got within 100 yards, Brown moved back to the original ridge to the west. Now take a look at the terrain in front and behind you. I get tired just thinking about walking between these ridges, let alone dragging a cannon with me.

Confederate cannon aims towards Union soldiers at the Burnside Bridge, Antietam National Battlefield

Confederate cannon aims towards Union soldiers at the Burnside Bridge, Antietam National Battlefield

When the Rohrbach Bridge was taken around 1 PM, there were only 2,500 Confederates with 40 cannon remaining to cover a battle line that stretched from near today’s Antietam National Cemetery to Miller’s Sawmill Road, a distance of a little over a mile. Burnside had roughly 11,000 men, but he had some very difficult terrain to march across to reach the Confederates. In fact, it took two hours just to get everyone over the bridge to the west side of Antietam Creek.

Eight thousand of Burnside’s men advanced to a ridge 300 yards to the east of the Final Attack tour stop, while General Isaac P. Rodman’s division advanced to a ridge 400 yards west (Rodman was wounded and died two days later). The battle began around 3 PM, and the Union troops soon drove the Confederates back towards the town of Sharpsburg. But as mentioned, A. P. Hill’s Light Division arrived just in time (around 4 PM) and was positioned to attack Rodman’s exposed left flank. This caused panic among the Union troops, and by 5:30 PM they were running back towards Antietam Creek. And thus ended the Battle of Antietam on the evening of September 12, 1862.

Final Attack Battle Map

Final Attack Battle Map


Stop 10: Antietam National Cemetery | Stop 8: Burnside Bridge | Battlefield Tour Home Page


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Last updated on May 23, 2023
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