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The autumn of 1862 was a momentous season for Americans in the North and South. Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched an invasion of the North, hoping a decisive victory on northern soil would win his fledgling nation international recognition. Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln had suffered a series of losses and needed a victory of his own to issue his planned Emancipation Proclamation.

On September 14, 1862, Lee’s men surrounded Harpers Ferry while also fending off an unusually aggressive Union army at South Mountain, setting the stage for Battle of Antietam on September 17—the bloodiest single day in American history. The Federals pursued Lee, meeting again at Shepherdstown. When it was over, Lee’s men fought valiantly but failed to land a decisive blow. Though the Yankees failed to achieve a clear victory, they had thwarted the Confederate invasion, and Lincoln used the partial success to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

The Civil War Trust is currently working to save 84 acres at the Antietam, South Mountain, and Shepherdstown battlefields. These target properties sit at heart of each battlefield, including a 9-acre tract adjacent to the famous Dunker Church at Antietam. By saving this ground, you are preserving the memory of the nearly 28,000 Americans who became casualties in the struggle to define our nation.

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