Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Day in History

The Battle of Antietam was fought today, 146 years ago, on September 17, 1862. It was the bloodiest battle of not only the American Civil War, but the bloodiest day in American history, with 23,000 men lost. It was the first major battle of the Civil War to occur on Northern soil. Confedrate General Robert E. Lee and his troops had made their way from Virginia to Sharpsburg, Maryland, where they engaged Union troops led by General George B. McClellan. 86,000 Union troops battled 45,000 Confederates back and forth across corn fields and although outnumbered 2 to 1, the Confederates battled the Union forces to a stalemate. Lee withdrew to Virginia and shortly thereafter, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. That announcement led France and England to abandon plans to recognize the Confederacy.

The picture above is an 1888 lithograph by Kurz & Allison that shows the clash of forces at the stone bridge at Antietam. The photograph below was made by an army soldier and is part of the collection of the U.S. Army Military History Institute. It shows President Abraham Lincoln joining his generals shortly after the battle.

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