Military Monday: The Battle of Antietam 1862

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Battle of Antietam Image
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[From: Wikipedia & The History Channel]
One hundred and sixty-five years ago, today, The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern U.S., occurred September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. It pitted Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia against Union General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and was the culmination of Lee’s attempt to invade the north. The battle’s outcome would be vital to shaping America’s future and it remains the deadliest one-day battle in all American military history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing.

McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland but, Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.

Antietam Bloody Lane Image
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[From: Emerging Civil War…another take…]
Fortunately, for the sake of debate, the outcome of Civil War battles is not as clear-cut as that of a football game, where one can look at the scoreboard at the end of the game and easily determine who won, who lost, or, in some cases, if the outcome was a draw. Historians endlessly debate whether certain battles were overwhelming victories, marginal victories, or draws. Perhaps no other battle’s tactical outcome is more misunderstood than the bloodiest single day battle of the war: Antietam.

No one would doubt Antietam’s significance in the larger picture of the war. However, the common conception of Antietam is that the battle was tactically a draw, with neither side having gained a significant enough of an advantage to have claimed the victory. This article will challenge that commonly held belief, using particular instances from the battle and the Maryland Campaign to demonstrate the Army of the Potomac’s victory at Antietam.

[Had this battle been a Confederate victory, this country might look very, very different. ~Victoria]

4 thoughts on “Military Monday: The Battle of Antietam 1862

    the britchy one said:
    September 17, 2018 at 11:16 PM

    I drive past Antietam and the Mason Dixon Line pretty much every time I come to NC. Gettysburg, Manassas, Spotsylvania.. all such historical places. They never fail to give me chills just driving past the signposts

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      September 17, 2018 at 11:50 PM

      You know, the only one I have ever been to is Appomattox. I really, really need to see the others. Of course, I’ve never been to Hatteras or Biltmore and I’m a native North Carolinian. Kitty Hawk, either… Sad, I know.

        the britchy one said:
        September 18, 2018 at 12:00 AM

        I am an oddity in that I’m one of the few ‘born and bred’ Londoners who have ever taken day trips around the Capital! People rarely visit ‘local’ places of interest. There’s an absolute ton of places in NC I want to see. The only place in NY that I really want to go to and haven’t been yet is Sleepy Hollow.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          September 18, 2018 at 12:46 AM

          When you go, make it a post.

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