There was one day of battle during the Civil War that stands out at the bloodiest day of all. It happened on September 7, 1862. The North called it the Battle of Antietum, the South called it it the Battle of Sharpsburg.
The Texans had just been through months of fierce fighting at Seven Pines, Second Manassas, the Seven Days Battles, and others. Now, a thousand miles from home, camped near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek, they were cooking breakfast on a quiet morning. Suddenly the silence was broken by a Federal attack.
The Texas Brigade quickly marched to the front to launch a counter attack. From the spot called “the Cornfield” the vastly outnumbered Texans pushed back the Yankees and sealed up a gap in the Confederate lines. The 1st Texas Regiment advanced further than any Confederate unit, but at a grisly cost. It lost 82 percent of its men during the battle, the highest casualty rate in one battle of the Civil War.
But they held their ground. As the gun fired was ending, Texas General Hood wrote:
“It was here that I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms, by far, that has occurred during the war. The two little giant brigades of this division wrestled with this mighty force, losing hundreds of their gallant officers and men but driving the enemy from his position and forcing him to abandon his guns on our left. The battle raged with the greatest fury until about 9 o’clock, the enemy being driven from 400 to 500 yards.”
The Brigade Commander Colonel Wofford determined that the brigade “…could neither advance nor hold their position much longer without re-enforcements.”
He ordered his men to pull back under cover of the woods, and later reported:
“This brigade went into the action numbering 854, and lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, 560 – over one-half.”
In the midst of the fighting men was the 1st Texas flag. In the course of the battle, nine brave Texas standard bearers fell carrying this flag.