It all started with the great victory of Robert Lee at Manassas in August which made him march his Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland in order to obtain quality men for his army as well as supplies. The battle is rather unique as it opened at dawn on the 17th of September and was all over by afternoon. In the dawn of 17th Union General Joseph Hooker’s artillery attacked upon Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson’s men in the Miller cornfield north of the town.
This was the Morning Phase which was spread out from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. By 7 a.m. in the morning of the same day, Jackson was reinforced and succeeded in driving the Federals back. An hour later Union troops under Gen. Joseph Mansfield attacked and by 9 a.m. the troop has recovered some of the lost ground. Then in order to extract some of Mansfield’s men from their positions at the Dunker Church, Gen. John Sedgwick’s division of Edwin V. Sumner’s corps penetrated into the West Woods. Here again the Confederate troops struck Sedgwick’s men resulting in severe casualties. [Overview, 2004]
Around the same time, Gen. William H French’s division of Sumner’s corps joined Sedgwick’s troop but swerved south into Confederates under Gen. D. H. Hill who was posted along an old road which divided the Roulette and Piper farms. The Midday Phase ranged from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. From 9.30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. (nearly 4 hours) there was severe fighting which took place along the road which afterwards came to be known as Bloody Lane as French backed by Gen. Israel B. Richardson’s division along with Sumner’s corps fought to drive the Southerners back.