The Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam

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  • September 17, 1862 23,000 total casualties  North-13,000 South-10,000
  • Battle of Antietam 
  • Who
  • Why
  • The Battle of Antietam was known as the bloodiest day in American history. The battle was on September 17, 1862 and lasted about 12 hours. The Confederates lost 1500 men in the first half hour. A person could not walk from one end of the field to the other without stepping on a dead body. There were 23,000 total casualties.
  • What
  • For the North, General George B. McClellan. McClellan was a brilliant organizer and was very loyal to his men but he lacked killer instinct and suffered from a God complex. For the South, General Robert E. Lee. Lee was a brilliant defensive strategist and was loved by his men but many people thought he was too old to fight.
  • Where
  • The Union army was ready to go into disaster mode due to poor leadership. The Confederate army was one victory away from seeming invincible and they wear expecting great success under General Grant. Because most of the war had been fought mostly in Virginia Lee thought that by fighting in Maryland, he could win the support of the people and feed his troops with food from Maryland farms.
  • Results
  • There would be fifteen combined charges between the two sides and the fighting was bloody and pointless. Lee only had 18,000 men and another 20,000 on the way, but McClellan had more than 100,000 but he didn't attack, fearing a trap.  Fighting at the sunken road would soon end because the soldiers could no longer advance due to how many bodies there were in the road. Union general Ambrose Burnside is ordered to cross  Rohrbach Bridge but the bridge is too narrow and the creek is too deep. Confederate sharpshooters overlooking the hill pick off any soldiers that cross.
  • The Battle of Antietam was fought in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Fighting took place at Antietam Creek, Bloody Lane, the Dunker Church, and near Millar Cornfield. At Antietam Creek a sergeant from BK got 500 men to volunteer to cross the bridge with him by offering free rum. At Bloody Lane McClellan sends the III corps to take a sunken farm road but Lee moves his men to meet them and arrives first and the Union is easily picked off as they have to march uphill. At Dunker Church Sumner’s men move toward the church and are caught in a crossfire between Jackson’s troops and Howard’s troops. 
  • The Battle of Antietam was considered a Union victory because they held the field and forced Lee to withdraw. If the Union attacked, the war could have been over. After twelve hours of fighting 23,000 people died. Lincoln said he would free the slaves after a victory so after Antietam he announced his Emancipation Proclamation to become effective January 1, 1863. 
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