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Last Updated October 1, 2012


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   In September, 1862, Robert E. Lee moved north into Maryland General Robert E. Leewhere he might supply his Army of Northern Virginia and maintain the Confederate momentum resulting from his recent victory at Battle of Second Manassas. Realizing the threat posed by the invading southern forces Union General George B. McClellan, with an army of about 75,000, was quick to confront them. Soon, both armies were arrayed along Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, MD.

     General George McClellanThe Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, would be remembered as the bloodiest single day in American history and end up a stalemate. But it would have huge impact on future events.

     From the North Woods early that morning, Union General Joseph Hooker’s artillery opens murderous fire upon Jackson’s troops in the Cornfield where the horrendous warfare rages for hours, leaving behind a field “cut as closely as could have been General Joseph Hookerdone with a knife”. The attacks there are fierce but outnumbered Confederate forces repulse Union advances and fighting surges into the West Woods toward Dunker Church. Fighting reaches a climax around an old sunken road near the Roulette Farm where thousands of Federal troops are shot down while assaulting the entrenched Confederates. This area of the battlefield would from that day forward be known as "Bloody Lane".

     Meanwhile, Lower Bridge (Burnside Bridge)Union General Burnside receives orders to secure a stone bridge over the shallow Antietam. His bridge assault falls under heavy fire and repeated attempts result in heavy Union casualties. Eventually, the Union advance at Burnside Bridge is thrown back by late-arriving troops under Confederate General A.P. Hill.

     The bloodiest day in U.S. history was over and no ground had been gained yet Antietam Casualtiesthe results were catastrophic. Left behind were over 3,600 dead and 17,000 wounded. Had McClellan renewed the attack the next morning he may have destroyed Lee’s army. Instead, he chose to wait for reinforcements and Lee slipped back across the Potomac. Another opportunity lost. Claiming a strategic victory for the Union, Lincoln soon issues his Emancipation Proclamation and later relieves McClellan permanently.

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