First Minnesota Infantry at Antietam

The farthest point of advance of the 1st Minnesota

The farthest point of advance of the 1st Minnesota

The First Minnesota Infantry was the first state infantry regiment accepted into Federal service at the beginning of the Civil War.  This veteran outfit fought at First Manassas and the Peninsula Campaign, its soldiers toughened by eighteen months of war.  On September 17, 1862, the First Minnesota was the regiment on the right flank of Gorman’s brigade leading Sedgwick’s division in the advance toward the West Woods.  It was the First Minnesota that Major General Edwin Sumner was addressing when he ordered them to “Unfurl Those Colors!” as they began their push into the West Woods

Col. Sully Alfred

Col. Sully Alfred

During this 2.2 mile tour/hike of two hours we will advance with the First Minnesota in front of John Sedgwick’s crack division from the East Woods across the Bloody Cornfield deep into the West Woods.   We will witness the ferocious attack on Sedgwick’s left flank and follow the First Minnesota and its intrepid commander Alfred Sully as they mount a stubborn defense retreating to the north and slowing McLaw’s surging troops.

I, Jim Rosebrock, will use maps and images to aid describe troop deployments and to identify commanders.

We will follow this route and outline:

–        Meet at the Visitor Center and summarize the battle prior to the fighting in the West Woods.

–        Walk from the Visitor’s Center up the Smoketown Road to the East Woods discussing the organization and leadership of the First Minnesota Infantry and its position in the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.

–        Move from the East Woods across the Cornfield (east to west) following the advance of the First Minnesota. We will analyze the terrain along the route of march and its effect upon the fighting

–        Enter the West Woods following the First Minnesota’s track and describe McLaw’s assault to the far left on Sedgwick’s exposed flank.

–        Explain Alfred Sully’s reaction and his fighting retreat northward to the North Woods.

–        Walk back to the Visitor’s Center.

This hike originated from a talk that I gave at the Minnesota Historical Society in 2012 and a follow on video that I assisted in producing.  See the video here.

If you would like more information regarding this tour, please contact me at

To book this tour, contact the Antietam Battlefield Visitor Center bookstore at 301-432-4329.


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