Before dawn on September 17, 1862…. Maj. General Joseph Hooker’s men waited pensively in the woods North of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Neither Hooker nor his troops knew what awaited them on the other side of the Miller cornfield. Through the pre-dawn mist, Hooker could barely make out a small white building, that would be their target. Hooker was on his own that morning, tactics were left to his discretion; his commander was nearly three miles away, on the other side of the Antietam creek. Hooker’s men crossed the cornfield with military precision and entered a maelstrom.
“At daylight Gibbon’s and Hartsuff’s brigades were thrown forward, supported with the brigades of their respective divisions, while Meade followed them up in the center, instructed to spring to the assistance of either, as circumstances might require. We had not proceeded far before I discovered that a heavy force of the enemy had taken possession of a corn-field (I have since learned about a thirty-acre field) in my immediate front, and from the sun’s rays falling on their bayonets projecting above the corn could see that the field was filled with the enemy, with arms in their hands, standing apparently at “support arms.” Instructions were immediately given for the assemblage of all of my spare batteries, near at hand, of which I think there were five or six, to spring into battery, on the right of his field, and to open with canister at once. In the time I am writing every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battle-field” Maj. General Joseph Hooker, Commanding, First Army Corps
The day had just started…..