Alexander Gardner / National Park Service

The Ghosts of Bloody Lane

October 31, 2018

Phil Briggs /

The crisp autumn wind blows across the cut corn fields near Antietam National Battlefield’s Sunken Road.   The sound conjures an ominous feeling in the pit of your stomach when you consider that since September of 1862 it’s been known as “Bloody Lane”.

“There are times it’s eerie to be at the battlefield,” explained Park Ranger Brian Baracz.  “I’ve never seen anything, but it’s more of a feeling because some terrible things happened here.”

The Antietam battlefield withstood the bloodiest one day battle in American History with 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat.

The "Sunken Road" separated the properties of two local farmers, but on September 17th it served as a rifle pit for 2 Confederate Brigades.

Alexander Gardner / National Park Service

Above: This is one of several historic photographs taken by Alexander Gardner just after the battle. (Gardner/National Park Service) 

According to, “The road was ordered held at all costs. The Federals tried numerous times to overrun the road, unit after unit falling back under the rain of fire from the Confederate position. Finally, a vantage point was reached where the Union troops could fire down upon the road's defenders. It became like shooting animals in a slaughter pen and "Bloody Lane" soon filled with bodies, stacked four and five feet deep.”

Over the years, Bloody Lane and the fields that surround it, have become one of the creepiest places on the battlefield. 

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