Battle of Antietam

Susannah J. Ural

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI:
Battle of Antietam

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The Battle of Antietam—or Sharpsburg, as it was known in the Confederacy—took place on 17 September 1862. On this single day, the bloodiest in US history, 23,000 men (10,500 Confederate and 12,500 Union), were killed, wounded, or reported missing. In addition to its tragic human cost, Antietam marked Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion of the North. While Union forces failed to destroy Lee’s army, they did manage to stop his invasion, which gave US President Abraham Lincoln enough of a victory to announce the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation five days later. Lincoln’s decision made the abolition of slavery a primary wartime objective for the first time in the conflict, linking emancipation with the preservation of the Union. This, along with Lee’s defeat, also created enough concern in Europe to cause British and French diplomats to pause their plans to recognize the Confederacy. On the home front, the photographs taken in the days that followed the battle would shape civilian understandings of the war and become some of the most famous images in American military history. They captured the destruction wreaked in places that would be immortalized as The Cornfield, Bloody Lane, and Burnside’s Bridge, and underscored the overwhelming task faced by medical officials including then relatively unknown Clara Barton. Recognized by many scholars as one of the greatest turning points in the Civil War, Antietam and the larger Maryland Campaign of 1862 are essential to any understanding of America’s bloodiest conflict.

Article.  4835 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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