The Battle of Antietam

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest wars in all of American history.  Of all the battles fought during the war, the Battle at Antietam was one of the bloodiest battles.

The Battle of Antietam, which is also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, was fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862.  In that one single day in September, almost 23,000 soldiers died, were injured, were captured, or were reported missing.  It was an unforgettable day in American history, as it is remembered as the single most bloody day ever on American soil.

The Battle of Antietam was the first battle fought on Union territory during the Civil War.  Neither the Union nor the Confederate armies are said to have “won” this particular battle, due to the large number of casualties and injuries on both sides.

George B. McClellan was the general that led the Union army at the Battle of Antietam.  After the battle, he was fired by President Lincoln.  Later in life, he became governor of New Jersey.

Robert E. Lee was the general that led the Confederate army at the Battle of Antietam.  Lee’s army was about half the size of McClellan’s army.  General Lee sent his entire army into battle, while General McClellan sent about three-fourths of his army.  This conservative decision on McClellan’s part is what cost him his position with President Lincoln. 

It was during this Battle of Antietam that the “ambulance” system really began to form.  A man named Jonathan Letterman, who was a medical director for the Union army, organized about fifty private wagons to transport soldiers from the battlefield to close-by, temporary hospitals.  This was just the beginning of an ambulance system that allowed patients transportation from a remote location to local hospitals in order to be treated by medical professionals.  It’s a system that is still vital today for optimal medical assistance.

Although there was no clear victory of the Battle of Antietam, the Confederate soldiers were the first to retreat away from the battlefield.  Due to this retreat, it appeared that the Union army was slightly victorious and this particular victory inspired President Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech introducing the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Emancipation Proclamation was announced on September, 22, 1862.  This was just a few days after the Battle of Antietam.  The Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t passed until January of 1863.