Antietam

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Antietam

Sharpsburg

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The Army of the Potomac, under the command of Maj. Gen. George McClellan, mounted a series of powerful assaults against General Robert E. Lee’s forces along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17th, 1862.  The morning attacks by the Union First and Twelfth Corps on the Confederate left flank, and vicious Confederate counterattacks by Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's brigades swept back and forth through Miller’s Cornfield, across the Hagerstown Turnpike and into the West Woods. Later, towards the center of the battlefield, Union Second Corps assaults against the Sunken Road pierced the Confederate center after a terrible struggle but failed to capitalize on their breakthrough there. In the afternoon, the third and final major assault by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside's Ninth Corps pushed over a bullet-strewn stone bridge at Antietam Creek that now bears his name. Just as Burnside's forces began to collapse the Confederate right, the timely arrival of Gen. A.P. Hill’s division from Harpers Ferry helped to drive the Army of the Potomac back once more. On the 18th, both sides remained in place, too bloodied to advance. Late that evening and on the 19th, Lee withdrew from the battlefield and slipped back across the Potomac into Virginia. The bloodiest single day in American military history ended in a draw, but the Confederate retreat gave President Abraham Lincoln the “victory” he desired before issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation five days later.

Battle Facts

Result

Inconclusive
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
132,000

Union

87,000

Confederate

45,000
Total Estimated Casualties
22,717

Union

12,401
2,108
killed
9,540
wounded
753
missing & captured

Confederate

10,316
1,546
killed
7,752
wounded
1,018
missing & captured