On Saturday, March 3, Antietam guide chief Jim Rosebrock led a group of guides, candidates and other enthusiasts on an informal training hike to a corner of the battlefield rarely visited by the public. This area of the field on the northern point of the West Woods marks the location where the First Minnesota of the Second Corps advanced furthest west before being forced to withdraw north by advancing Confederates of General Lafayette McClaws’s veteran division. Far from other hiking trails and auto stops, treks to this and other areas less traveled are a major component of our guide program. Before the busy tour season begins, our guides keep the blade sharp by hiking the field individually or in small groups to continually reinforce our knowledge and expertise. This weekend’s group included four veteran guides and a number of guide candidates. Future hikes include following the path of Hood’s Texans, a likely return to the West Woods for another look at the First Minnesota, and much more. This continued study allows Antietam’s Battlefield Guides to offer something you can’t get anywhere else unless you are on the field with a ranger. Antietam Guides offer an extremely detailed knowledge of the topography, vegetation, structures, and stories of the fighting regiments on the grounds of America’s bloodiest day.
Looking east toward the northern part of the West Woods, the First Minnesota Infantry emerged from the tree line into what was then a cornfield. They were blasted by Confederate artillery on this high ground and musket fire from the 13th Virginia Infantry.