bloody lane at antietam national battlefield irish brigade memorial

The bloodiest site of the bloodiest day in U.S. history

During the American Civil War, Union and Confederate forces clashed in this sunken clay road on September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam. After fighting for nearly 4 hours, more than 5,000 men had lost their lives in this spot alone with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.

In the aftermath of the battle it was said that blood flowed like a river inside the road giving it the name “Bloody Lane.” As one soldier put it, a man could have walked the road from end to end without ever touching ground.

If you look close enough you might notice the soil near the memorial still appears stained over 150 years later. The watchtower seen in the distance on the right side of the photo was built by the War Dept. in 1897 to provide a panoramic view of the land and facilitate study of the battle.

the aftermath at bloody lane by captain james hope

Historic painting by Captain James Hope depicting the end of the day, looking east across Bloody Lane as it appeared following the midday battle. By 1:00 p.m., some 5,000 killed and wounded troops of both sides lay along this farm road. The modern day watchtower was built where the road ends in the distance.

bloody lane from antietam national battlefield observation tower

Modern day Bloody Lane as seen from the Antietam Battlefield Observation Tower, looking to the Northwest. Climbing to nearly sixty feet, this tower gives visitors a better view of the battlefield making it easier to envision the battlefield landscape as a whole.

historic photo of dead soldiers at Bloody Lane

Historic photo of Bloody Lane taken by Alexander Gardner just after the Battle in 1862, looking southeast from the north bank. Noticeable damage to the nearby cornfield and fencing can be seen on the right side of the photo.

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