Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Today in History :: The Battle of Antietam

The Cornfield

One hundred fifty-one years ago today, the battle at Antietam occurred near Sharpsburg, Maryland. In the days prior Confederate General Lee is leading his army out of Virginia through Maryland, after the second battle of Manassas/Bull Run, heading towards his supply lines. A Union soldier found Lee's Lost Order, which laid out General Lee's plans for the campaign. This told Union General McClelland key strategy, allowing the Union troops to attack the retreating confederate forces, ultimately leading to the Battle of Antietam.

Monument to the Philadelphia Brigade

The battle began near the Dunker Church, North Woods and the cornfield. Fierce fighting took place, starting in the early morning, with fighting around the church and confederate soldiers hidden by corn.

The Sunken Road, or Bloody Lane

As fighting moved to the south, a small group of Confederate troops held their ground against a much larger Union force, in a sunken farm road. Both sides faced heavy casulaties around the Bloody Lane.

Burnside Bridge

The decisive battle was when Union General Burnside's troops were able to take the now Burnside Bridge, and cross Antietam Creek. However, the union forces were unable to take full advantage of the gained ground, as both sides fought to a stand still by the end of the day. The following evening. General Lee withdrew his armies back into Virginia.

Antietam National Cemetery

Antietam was the bloodiest single day battle of the Civil War with an estimated 22,717 casulaties. More than both battles at Manassas, and a thousand shy of the battle of Shiloh. It provided Lincoln with a needed win to bolster the Emancipation Proclamation, announced the following year. This is also where Clara Barton earned her nickname "The Angel of the Battlefield."

If you find yourself near Maryland, go out and visit the battle field and remember the fallen. You get a three day pass, so you can tour the grounds at your own speed. You can hike trails, or just drive the auto tour, as I did.

Photographs: Sarah Williams (Me!). Antietam National Battlefield
Antietam Battlefield

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