Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry


Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry

A Battlefield Guide

Ethan S. Rafuse
Cartography by Christopher L. Brest

This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields Series

282 pages
49 maps


December 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In September 1862 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac conducted one of the truly great campaigns of the Civil War. At South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam, North and South clashed in engagements whose magnitude and importance would earn this campaign a distinguished place in American military history. The siege of Harpers Ferry produced the largest surrender of U.S. troops in the nation’s history until World War II, while the day-long battle at Antietam on September 17 still holds the distinction of being the single bloodiest day of combat in American history.

This invaluable book provides a clear, convenient, stop-by-stop guide to the sites in Maryland and West Virginia associated with the Antietam campaign, including excursions to Harpers Ferry and South Mountain. Thorough descriptions and analyses, augmented with vignettes and numerous maps, convey the mechanics as well as the human experience of the campaign, making this book the perfect companion for both serious students of the Civil War and casual visitors to its battlefields.

Author Bio

Ethan S. Rafuse is an associate professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author of several books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, and is the coeditor of The Ongoing Civil War: New Versions of Old Stories.


“A refreshing and original study of America’s bloodiest day that is free of the clichés found in some previous works on this subject. Using original sources and consulting the latest scholarship on Antietam, Rafuse has written a superb battle and campaign study.”—Ted Alexander, chief historian of Antietam National Battlefield

"Excellent guides at a reasonable price, written by experts on the battle."—James Durney, Suncoast Civil War Society Newsletter

"A necessary addition to any Antietam library."—James Durney, TOCWOC, A Civil War Blog

"I've often expressed my admiration for Nebraska's This Hallowed Ground series of Civil War battlefield guides, and this latest volume by Ethan Rafuse continues the series's tradition of consistent quality in information and presentation. . . . I would recommend this volume as the best general use touring guide for this campaign."—Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors blog

"Rafuse provides a helpful guidebook dedicated to this single campaign arena. Employing the latest research, he guides the visitor (in person or by armchair) through all the various stops associated with the fighting at South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam."—M. J. Smith Jr., Choice

"Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide is a worthy continuation of the University of Nebraska Press series. . . . Meticulous maps as well as detailed sources and recommendations for further reading add to the experience of reading this volume."—Timothy B. Smith, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Table of Contents



How to Use This Guide


The Road to Antietam

Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center

Stop 1      Battlefield Vista

1a    Lee Arrives, September 15, 1862

1b    Lee Deploys and Plans, September 16, 1862

1c    Lee's Battle Plan, September 17, 1862

Stop 2      Pry House

2a    The Federals Arrive, September 15, 1862

2b    McClellan Deploys His Command, September 16, 1862

2c    McClellan Plans and Manages the Battle, September 17, 1862

Overview of Hooker's Fight, 5:30<EN>9:00 a.m.

Stop 3      North Woods

3a    Hooker Moves into Position, September 16<EN>17, 1862

3b    The I Corps Attacks, 5:00<EN>6:00 a.m.

Stop 4      East Woods

4a    Twilight Skirmish, September 16, 1862, 4:30<EN>7:00 p.m.

4b    Ricketts's Battle, September 17, 1862, 5:00<EN>7:00 a.m.

Stop 5      The Hagerstown Pike

5a    Doubleday's Attack, 6:00<EN>6:30 a.m.

5b    Into the Cornfield, 6:00<EN>7:00 a.m.

Stop 6      The Cornfield

6a    Hood's Counterattack, 6:45<EN>7:15 a.m.

6b    Hood's Repulse, 7:15<EN>7:45 a.m.

6c    Hill Arrives, 7:45<EN>8:30 a.m.

6d    Greene's Advance, 8:15<EN>9:00 a.m.

Overview of Sumner's Fight, 9:00 a.m.<EN>2:00 p.m.

Stop 7      West Woods

7a    Sumner Arrives, 7:00<EN>9:00 a.m.

7b    Into the West Woods, 9:00<EN>9:30 a.m.

7c    McLaws Arrives, 8:00<EN>9:30 a.m.

7d    "We must get out of this," 9:00<EN>10:00 a.m.

7e    Gordon's Charge, 9:45<EN>10:15 a.m.

Stop 8      Dunker Church

8a    Greene Seizes the West Woods, 9:00 a.m.<EN>12:45 p.m.

8b    Franklin's Battle, 1:00<EN>3:00 p.m.

Stop 9      Bloody Lane

9a    French Arrives, 7:30<EN>9:30 a.m.

9b    French's Attack, 9:30<EN>11:00 a.m.

9c    The Union Breakthrough, 11:00 a.m.<EN>1:30 p.m.

Overview of Burnside's Fight, 10:00 a.m.<EN>6:00 p.m.

Stop 10     Burnside Bridge

10a   "A Difficult Task," 9:00<EN>11:15 a.m.

10b   The Federal Success, 11:15 a.m.<EN>1:30 p.m.

Stop 11     The IX Corps Attacks

11a   The Federals Deploy, 1:00<EN>3:00 p.m.

11b   Christ's and Welsh's Advance, 3:15<EN>4:30 p.m.

11c   Rodman's Attack, 3:15<EN>4:30 p.m.

Stop 12     Otto Cornfield

12a   A. P. Hill Arrives, 3:00<EN>4:15 p.m.

12b   The 16th Connecticut, 3:45<EN>4:30 p.m.

12c   The Federals Hold the Bridge, 4:30<EN>6:00 p.m.

Stop 13     Lee's Headquarters

13a   Lee's Council of War, September 17, 1862

13b   The Day After, September 18, 1862

Stop 14     National Cemetery

14a   Lee Retreats, September 18<EN>21, 1862

14b   Antietam National Cemetery

Optional Excursion 1    Bloody Lane

Stop A      Hill's Defense, 9:30 a.m.

Stop B      Weber's and Morris's Attacks, 9:30<EN>10:00 a.m.

Stop C      Kimball's Attack, 10:00<EN>10:15 a.m.

Stop D      Anderson and Richardson Arrive, 10:00<EN>11:15 a.m.

Stop E      The Irish Brigade Attacks, 11:15<EN>11:45 a.m.

Stop F      The Sunken Road Is Captured, 11:45 a.m.<EN>12:15 p.m.

Stop G      The Union Attack Stalls, 12:15<EN>2:00 p.m.

Optional Excursion 2    Burnside Bridge

Stop A      Toombs's Position, 7:30<EN>10:00 a.m.

Stop B      The First Federal Assault, 10:00<EN>10:30 a.m.

Stop C      Nagle's Attack, 10:45<EN>11:15 a.m.

Stop D      The Federals Capture the Bridge, noon<EN>1:00 p.m.

Stop E      The Union Bridgehead, 1:00<EN>3:00 p.m.

Stop F      Rodman's March and Crossing, 10:30 a.m.<EN>1:15 p.m.

Stop G      The Federal Pause, 1:00<EN>3:00 p.m.

Optional Excursion 3    Boteler's Ford

Stop A      Recrossing the Potomac, September 18<EN>19, 1862

Stop B      The Battle of Shepherdstown, September 19<EN>20, 1862

South Mountain

Overview of the Battle of South Mountain, September 14, 1862

Stop 1      Fox's Gap

1a    Cox's Attack, 5:00 a.m.<EN>noon

1b    Union Victory, noon<EN>10:00 p.m.

Stop 2      Mt. Tabor Cemetery

2a    Meade's Assault and Rodes's Defense, 4:30<EN>6:00 p.m.

2b    Hatch's Assault, 4:30<EN>10:00 p.m.

Stop 3      Mountain House

3a    Gibbon's Attack, 5:00<EN>9:00 p.m.

Stop 4      Burkittsville

4a    Franklin's Assignment, 5:00 a.m.<EN>noon

4b    The Federal Attack, noon<EN>5:45 p.m.

Stop 5      Gathland State Park

5a    Cobb's Defense, 5:45<EN>6:00 p.m.

5b    Last Stand at Crampton's Gap, 6:00<EN>7:00 p.m.

5c    Franklin Moves into Pleasant Valley, September 15, 1862

Harpers Ferry

Overview of the Siege of Harpers Ferry, September 13<EN>15, 1862

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Visitor Center

Stop 1      Harpers Ferry

1a    Strategic Point and Deathtrap

1b    The Confederates Converge on Harpers Ferry, September 10<EN>13, 1862

1c    The Hapless Defenders, September 10<EN>13, 1862

Stop 2      Bolivar Heights

2a    The Noose Is Closed, September 13, 1862

2b    Confederate Bombardment, September 14<EN>15, 1862

2c    Harpers Ferry Falls, September 14<EN>15, 1862

After Antietam

Appendix A  Orders of Battle

Appendix B  Organization, Weapons, and Tactics


For Further Reading

Also of Interest