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
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
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
The bloodiest day in U.S. history was over and no ground had
been gained yet
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.