While investigating the activities of the 4th North Carolina at Antietam, I came across Dave Valvo's website with some excellent pictures of the where the 4th NC was positioned in the Sunken Lane. The page I link to below is his interesting description of determining where Gardner had his camera tripod set up to take his famous picture of the dead in the lane. The 4th NC was in G.B. Anderson's brigade, composed of the 2nd NC (300 men), the 14th NC (550 men), the 4th NC (175 men), and the 30th NC (250 men). The second picture on Dave's page is looking north at the intersection of Sunken Lane and the Roulette farm lane. The 2nd North Carolina was stationed in Sunken Lane at this location, extending to the left and the right of Roulette farm lane. About 9:10am, G.B. Anderson and Col Tew of the 2nd NC stood on this hill and watched French's Union division approaching from the north. This picture shows the topography around the Sunken Lane and how the Union troops were surprised when they came over the top of the hill and were met with a few volley's that reports say took down some 25% of their strength. The seventh picture on Dave's page shows where he concludes Gardner had his camera tripod set up to take the picture. This is where John Gordon's 6th Alabama was stationed, adjoining the left of the 2nd NC. It was at this spot where John Gordon told R.E. Lee that he would hold his position until he died or the sunset. This is about the same time that GB Anderson and Tew were on the hill watching the Union troops. Lee rode down the lane with DH Hill encouraging the troops in the lane. The ninth picture on Dave's page is taken looking northwest down the lane toward the Roulette farm lane. It is taken at a ridge...behind the camera the lane slopes back down again. The 4th NC was stationed right at this ridge, one report saying that it straddled this ridge. The ridge prevented sight lines and communication with the 2nd and 14th NC to the northwest of the ridge, and the 4th and 30th NC to the southeast of the ridge. The thirteenth and fifteenth picture on Dave's page look to the southwest and you can see the ridge in the lane in the distance, with the observation tower beyond. Francis Barlow, commanding the combined 61st/64th NY flanked the end of the Sunken Lane where Wright's brigade of RH Anderson's Division was stationed. He marched by the right flank to adjoin the left of the Irish brigade, coming to the top of the rise in the ground at that end...took fire, retreated back over the rise, marched by the left flank, fronted and charged over the rise again. Seeing that he on the flank of the 30th NC, he changed front forward on the first company, fired along the length of the Sunken Lane up to the rise where the 4th NC was stationed, and then charged all the way down the Sunken Lane to the Roulette farm lane. As he charged, Wright's brigade, the 4th and 30th NC, along with several brigades of RH Anderson's division which had stacked into the Sunken Lane as well, all turned and ran. As Barlow continued to move northwest down the Sunken Lane, they topped the rise in the lane and surprised the 2nd and 14th NC, who remained in the lane dealing with a charge by the 24th MA, and were not completely unaware that the rest of the brigade had runaway. Barlow claimed to have captured 300 Confederate soldiers in his charge down the lane. The fifteenth picture shows a view of the ground south of Sunken Lane over which the Confederates retreated, planted in corn, just like it was on September 17, 1862. The Sunken Lane didn't turn out to the best tactical position because after being repulsed, four Union brigades reformed behind the hill (west end) or rise (east end) and ended up laying down at the crest and firing into the lane below. They also had a clear field of fire into the open ground and cornfield beyond the lane. RH Anderson's division suffered heavily as it traversed over that ground and came up behind GB Anderson's brigade at about 10:20-10:30am. The whole group of 5 brigades (four from RH Anderson and one from DH Hill) that retreated from the eastern end of Sunken Lane lost heavily as they ran back across that same ground into the corn and beyond. Most of the officers in GB Anderson's brigade were casualties. The 4th NC was commanded by the Ordinance Sergeant at the end of the day.


  • DaveValvo

    on March 6, 2020

    The above battle summary was written by Scott Parish. Thank you Scott.

  • Peter Potterfield

    on October 16, 2012

    I came across an obscure web search hit of your research on Gardner’s photo of Bloody Lane. Excellent work, thanks for sharing. I am currently on a book tour, and after an event in Rockville last week, finally had half a day to get to Anteitam, after having wanted to go there for decades. I spent most of my time there walking Bloody Lane, and so found your thorough and unbiased research on Gardner’s famous image quite interesting. Here in my snapshot I’m looking back up the hill beyond the intersection with Roulette Farm lane to where you determined Gardner stood. I had the place to myself, but struggled to correctly orient myself to the action of the day. Just imagine. I’ve been around, but this place fascinates me. I can see how people get obsessed by the events of those terrible nine hours at Anteitam Creek. Your research was dogged and unique, I’m glad I stumbled upon it.

    Peter Potterfield

  • Graham J.Morris

    on September 12, 2012

    Great site!
    Please visit my site for Sharpsburg photographs and Gardener's- set-up images

  • Melissa

    on February 11, 2012

    Beautiful pictures - thank you

  • D. Walker

    on January 13, 2012

    Awesome!!! Thank you.

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