Battle of Antietam Second Deadliest Day in American History!

“Battle of Antietam – Army of the Potomac, General George B. McClellan, Commander, September 17, 1862”, color lithograph, artist unknown, 1888, Kurtz & Allison, published by Art Publishers, Chicago. (VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)
His 3,650 died on September 17, 1862, making the day the deadliest day in U.S. military history, second only to the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the second highest in U.S. history. It was the second deadliest day. The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, turned the tide of the Civil War. This is partly due to the horrific death toll, and partly thanks to new photographic technology that conveyed the horrors of the battlefield to newspapers around the world. world. Country. The Battle of Antietam was a pivotal moment in the Civil War, but it was also an event of lost opportunity.

Both sides needed victory

The Union thought defeating the Confederates would be quick and easy, but by the summer of 1862 it was clear that the Southern states were a formidable foe. It’s becoming Following the defeat of Maj. Gen. John Pope and the Union army at the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Confederates destroyed the stronghold. President Abraham Lincoln had already prepared the Emancipation Proclamation, but he knew it would be far more important if it was announced shortly after the decisive Union victory.

To make matters worse, Lincoln faced midterm elections that threatened to shift control of Congress from Lincoln’s Republicans to the anti-war Democrats. Of course, Confederate General Robert E. Lee knows this all too well, and a few more Union defeats could shift the midterm election stage to the Democrats and rob Lincoln of congressional support. I expected.

General George B. McClellan, A Questionable Leader

For General George B. McClellan, the Battle of Antietam was of great importance. Union generals planned to attack the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia last summer, only to meet Lee’s counterattack. derail. Sensing an opportunity to crush the Union forces on the ground, Lee planned to move his army north into Maryland and capture the city of Frederick, where he would push the army into the Northern Territories and divide the army in two. . to capture Hagerstown. , Maryland and Martinsburg, West Virginia. He named his plan “Special Order 191.”

But when Lee’s men left Frederick’s camp, someone made a grave mistake. General McClellan’s troops find the Confederate camp empty, Sergeant John M. Bross and Private Barton W. Mitchell on the ground with three loosely wrapped cigars wrapped in paper. found the When they quickly realized that the paper contained Special Order 191, they probably expected nothing but delicious tobacco. An ecstatic McClellan soon began strategizing to thwart Lee’s battle plans, but Lee also realized that his plans were in jeopardy. He missed so he hastily rallied his army. .

Prelude to Battle
On September 14, Confederate Generals DH Hill and James Longstreet and their men attacked the Union forces near South Mountain outside Sharpsburg, suffering surprisingly heavy casualties. I put it out. Upon hearing this, Lee initially ordered a retreat to Virginia, but changed his mind when he learned that Confederate General Stonewall Jackson had captured Harpers Ferry. Armed with this information, Lee ordered his army to regroup at Sharpsburg on a small river called Antietam Creek.

As the sun rose over the farms on either side of Antietam Creek on the morning of September 17, Generals Hill and Longstreet lined up their men on the west side of the creek while the rest of the Confederate forces took up positions on the left. I took it and watched it. When General McClellan’s major force converged on the east bank. Union troops fired the first shots to start the carnage, and farmer David Miller’s 30-acre cornfield turned into a puddle of carnage.

Bloody Road

General Hill, with a force of about 2,600 men, dug a hole in one of the embankments of a small country road known as Sunken Road, and over 5,500 men under the command of Major General William H. Prepared to engage Union troops. . French. After three hours of intense hand-to-hand combat, the Sunken Road was red with the blood of the dead. About 5,000 people were killed or injured in this small street, later named “Bloody Lane”.

Elsewhere nearby, a small force of 500 Confederate soldiers under the command of Union General Ambrose Burnside held back wave after wave of IX Corps attacks. After three hours of fighting, Burnside and his men finally reached the bridge, but were repulsed by timely arriving Confederate reinforcements.

After 12 hours of heavy fighting, night fell on the bloody farmlands of Antietam, and the commanders of both armies carried a staggering 23,000 wounded to makeshift hospitals on the battlefield to reorganize their remaining forces. withdrew to

The Dead at Antietam by Alexander Gardner. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

Aftermath of the Battle of Antietam

The day after the Battle of Antietam, General Lee mobilizes his men and retreats to Virginia, while General McClellan is a battered and limping Southerner. decided not to attack Even if it could annihilate the Confederacy completely. Although he later defended his actions (or omissions), claiming that he had accomplished his mission to drive the Confederates out of Maryland and prevent a Union victory on the homeland, President McClellan missed an ideal opportunity. I was furious that I was judged to have done so. to finish them off. . Lincoln formally relieved McClellan of command on November 5, 1862.

Historically, the Battle of Antietam was a draw with no clear winner, but Lincoln used the battle as a rallying point, claiming that Union soldiers stopped the Confederate advance north. Confident of victory, he announced his Emancipation Proclamation five days later, and the Republicans maintained their majority in Congress after the midterm elections.

Two days after the battle, photographer Alexander Gardner took a series of 70 photographs of the dead and unburied soldiers at Antietam. In 1862, photography was still a relatively new technology, and the photographs taken were the first to capture such detail of an American battlefield. The black-and-white footage shocked audiences with its vivid portrayal of the horrors of war and the tragic victims of the Battle of Antietam.