The Cornfield

Antietam's Bloody Turning Point

David A Welker

A new and comprehensive history of the action in the Cornfield during the battle of Antietam, 1862.
Date Published :
February 2020
Publisher :
Illustration :
20 maps, 20 illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612008325
Pages : 384
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636242163
Pages : 384
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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"The extensive use of primary sources makes this book of interest to all Civil War enthusiasts." — Library Journal

Antietam. For generations of Americans this word—the name of a bucolic stream in western Maryland—held the same sense of horror and carnage that the simple date 9/11 does for modern America. But Antietam eclipses even this modern tragedy as America's single bloodiest day, on which 22,000 men became casualties in a war to determine our nation’s future.

Antietam is forever burned into the American psyche, a battle bathed in blood that served no military purpose, brought no decisive victory. This much Americans know. What they didn't know is why this is so—until now. The Cornfield: Antietam's Bloody Turning Point tells for the first time the full story of the exciting struggle to control “the Cornfield,” the action on which the costly battle of Antietam turned, in a thorough yet readable narrative. It explains what happened in Antietam’s Cornfield and why. Because Federal and Confederate forces repeatedly traded control of the spot, the fight for the Cornfield is a story of human struggle against fearful odds, of men seeking to do their duty, of simply trying to survive. Many of the included firsthand accounts have never been revealed to modern readers and never have they been assembled in such a comprehensive, readable form.

At the same time, The Cornfield offers fresh views of the battle as a whole, arguing that it turned on events in the Cornfield because of two central facts — Union General George McClellan’s linear thinking demanded that the Cornfield must be taken and, because of this, the repeated failure by the generals McClellan charged with fulfilling this task created a self-reinforcing cycle of disaster that doomed the Union's prospects for success—at the cost of thousands of lives.

The Cornfield offers new perspectives that may be controversial—particularly to those who accept unchallenged the views of the battle's first historians and its generals, who too often sought to shape our understanding for their own purposes—but which are certain to change modern understanding of how the battle of Antietam was fought and its role in American history.

About The Author

David Welker is a professional historian and military analyst for the Federal Government. He holds a master's degree in International Affairs from American University and a bachelor's in History and Political Science from Westminster College.


Chapter 1. Planting the Seed of a Campaign
Chapter 2. The Road to Antietam: September 4–15, 1862
Chapter 3. Emerging from the Fog: September 16
Chapter 4. America's Bloodiest Day Dawns: Midnight to Sunrise
Chapter 5. The Cornfield: Ricketts' Division Opens the Ball
Chapter 6. The Cornfield: Doubleday's Attack
Chapter 7. The Cornfield: Hood's Division Counterstrikes
Chapter 8. The Cornfield: Mansfield Wrests Order from Chaos
Chapter 9. The Cornfield: Williams Turns the Tide
Chapter 10. The Cornfield: Union Success Weighs in the Balance
Chapter 11. The Cornfield's Influence: Sumner Takes Command
Chapter 12.The Cornfield's Influence: The West Woods Fight
Chapter 13. The Cornfield's Influence: Greene's Division Takes the West Woods
Chapter 14. The Cornfield's Influence: Franklin's Moment and the VI Corps Arrive
Chapter 15. The Cornfield's Influence: The South Seeks the Offensive
Chapter 16. "How Did They Remain and Live so Long?"


"The extensive use of primary sources makes this book of interest to all Civil War enthusiasts."

- Library Journal

"Welker brings the intense combat and tragedy of the Cornfield to a personal level by interspersing the text with various human interest stories...Students of the battle will want to pick up a copy for Welker’s analysis alone."

- Emerging Civil War

"The book is one that should be on every shelf of anyone who has interest in the military history of the Civil War. The continual ebb and flow of both sides over the remnants of the bloody cornfield are of epic proportion."

- A Wargamers Needful Things

"The morning action is described through a combination of gripping personal accounts, many of which are published for the first time...a tantalizing narrative that sheds new light on the famous battle that became known as the single bloodiest day in the American Civil War."

- Military Heritage Magazine

"Welker's scholarship provides an important contribution to the study of the battle of Antietam that complements an important body of work as well as enhances our understanding of the fighting in The Cornfield. It is a valuable addition to the genre."

- Civil War News

"Heavily annotated with endnotes, this fine work stands out as one of the best new books on Antietam in the past decade."

- York Daily Record

‘’Author David A. Welker ...has written a carefully researched, very detailed - but also very readable - account of this part of the Battle of Antietam to bring clarity to chaos and help readers understand the succession of events in the Cornfield... He is to be commended for skilfully structuring a narrative that will appeal to both general readers and military historians. The book benefits from an unusually lavish provision of twenty six, specially drawn maps’’

- Miniature Wargames

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