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Monday, June 6, 2011
Behind the Piper farm there is a sunken road, worn by the years of wagon wheel traffic and erosion. Beyond that is a field and woods in the fertile, green rolling hills of Maryland. The Mumma farm is out there a few miles, and their farmhouse was the only one burned down. The Confederate troops were fearful that this was too good a rallying point for Union soldiers who may seek refuge at a later point. And because it was the Confederates who destroyed this property, they were never reimbursed for it. The guarantee was given that if any property was lost because of Union soldiers' occupation, they may file a claim and be reimbursed. But there was no such provision if it was damage caused by the Confederates.
General Hill deployed his troops along this sunken road, since it formed a natural trench from which his men could fire at the enemy while relatively under cover. Just before the Union advance, General Robert E. Lee rode by, encouraging his men.
A Frederick Hitchcock remembered How "reaching the top of the knoll we were met by a terrific volley from the rebels in the sunken road down the other side, not more than one hundred yards away....The air was full of whizzing, singing, buzzing bullets." Another soldier's recollection was "a savage continual thunder that cannot compare to any sound I ever heard." Colonel Parker reported that the Confederate volleys "brought down the enemy like grain falls before the reaper."
For more than three hours these combatants fired at one another at point blank range until the Confederate line was broken and the southerners were driven toward the Piper Farm.
About 5,500 soldiers were killed or wounded during the fighting in and around the Sunken Road, today known as Bloody Lane.