Gen. David R. Jones, Longstreet's Command
(1) Throughout the early hours of the battle, Confederate Gen. Lee moved soldiers from this part of his line north toward the Cornfield and the West Woods. This shift resulted in one division, numbering about 3,000 men and commanded by Gen. David R. Jones, holding the southern end of Lee's line.
(2) Fewer than 500 Confederate troops, commanded by Gen. Robert Toombs, lined Antietam Creek from this point southward to Snavely Ford. Col. Henry Benning commanded the men that were here guarding the bridge. A Union soldier, who attempted to cross the span, remembered that the Confederates "were snugly ensconced in their rude but substantial breastworks, in quarry holes, behind high ranks of cordwood, logs, stone piles, etc."
(3) At about 9:30 a.m., the first of three major Federal assaults to take the bridge moved forward. The first attack, Toombs reported, "was repulsed with great slaughter and at regular intervals ... other attempts of the same kind, all of which were gallantly met and successfully repulsed..." After defending the area for over three hours, the Confederates began to run low on ammunition.
(4) A Union division, commanded by Gen. Isaac P. Rodman, moved downstream in an attempt to ford the Antietam. The combination of Rodman's troops crossing Snavely Ford on their flank, depleted ammunition, and a third Federal assault toward the bridge, eventually forced Toombs' men from their overlook. At about 1:00 p.m. the Confederates pulled back toward the Harpers Ferry Road to await the final Union attack.
Gen. David R. Jones
This thirty-seven year old graduate of West Point was the division commander responsible for the Confederate right flank. He wrote that "on that morning my entire command of six brigades comprised only 2,430 men, the enormous disparity of force with which I contended can be seen." Jones' soldiers killed his brother-in-law, Col. Henry Kingsbury, who led the first Union attack on the bridge. Jones died four months after the battle from heart disease.
Gen. Robert A. Toombs
Fifty-two year old Toombs was a U.S. Congressman and Senator from Georgia. He served briefly as Confederate Secretary of State before resigning to take a military command. Toombs wrote in his official battle report that "the enemy were compelled to approach mainly by the road which led up the river for near 300 paces, parallel with my line of battle... exposing his flank to a destructive fire for most of that distance."
Col. Henry L. Benning
Nicknamed the "Rock," Benning was a lawyer, legislator, and justice on the Georgia Supreme Court before the war. Forty-eight years old at Antietam, Col. Benning commanded the troops defending the bridge. He stated: "During that long and terrible fire not a man, except a wounded one, fell out and went to the rear - not a man. The loss of the enemy was heavy. Near the bridge they lay in heaps." Fort Benning in Georgia is named for him.
Bridge of Destiny
Approximate Time of Action: 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Approximate Number of Soldiers engaged:
Approximate Number of Casualties for Each Army:
Union Army of the Potomac 500 killed, wounded, missing
Confederate Army of Northern Virginia 120 killed, wounded, missing