Hello Blogland!!! today I am going to refresh our memories with a little historical background about Antietam/Sharpsburg during the Civil War. This will be the Readers Digest Condensed Version!
Maryland was a border state. The population was divided between Unionists(North) and Secessionists(South). Robert E. Lee thought that he could garner new troops and support by invading Maryland. Lee divided his army-sending Stonewall Jackson to Harper’s Ferry to secure the Union Arsenal. The other half marched into Maryland.
The Confederate troops came into Frederick, Maryland. They would travel westward over South Mountain. The battle of South Mountain occurred on September 14th. The locals in Sharpsburg could hear the battle and many fled in fear.
Both army’s settled into position on September 15th and 16th. There were approximately 87,000 Union soldiers and 45,000 Confederate soldiers. They would meet in battle at dawn on September 17th in a cornfield north of Sharpsburg.
The battle raged all day long. By evening, a total of more than 23,000 men laid dead or wounded on the battlefield. This is the bloodiest one day in American history.
While the Battle of Antietam is considered a draw from a military point of view, Abraham Lincoln and the Union claimed victory. This hard-fought battle, which drove Lee’s forces from Maryland, would give Lincoln the “victory” that he needed before delivering the Emancipation Proclamation — a document that would forever change the geopolitical course of the American Civil War.
Antietam Battlefield is considered to be the most pristine Civil War battlefield. When you look out from different points, the landscape looks the same as what the soldier’s would’ve seen 150 years ago.
Although Gettysburg is the more “popular” battlefield, Antietam is the most revered. Because they are still finding remains of the dead to this day, all of the battlefield is considered hallowed ground and is treated as such. Antietam was the second battlefield to be named a National Park in 1890.
Stop by tomorrow and see pictures from the battlefield tour with photo’s taken in the same locations after the battle. Please feel free to leave questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them for you!