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Battle of Antietam Basic Facts
- The date of the battle was Wednesday, September 17, 1862.
- The battle took place in Maryland near the town of Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek.
- The Union had an overwhelming advantage of 75,500 soldiers facing 38,000 Confederates.
- Antietam was the first major Civil War battle to take place in a Union state.
- The casualties of the battle were a combined 22,717 dead, wounded or missing.
- The leaders of the battle were General Robert E. Lee for the South and General George McClellan for the North.
- Several generals from both sides were killed at Antietam. This includes Union generals Joseph K. Mansfield, Israel B. Richardson and Isaac P. Rodman. Confederate generals who were killed include Lawrence O. Branch and William E. Starke.
Battle of Antietam Timeline
5:30 a.m.The battle begins with a Union attack down the Hagerstown Turnpike led by General Joseph Hooker. The Union goal was to capture a plateau on which sat the Dunker Church. This was a simple church built and used by German Baptists in the area. The position was defended by the legendary Stone Wall Jackson.
7 a.m. - 9 a.m.Having spotted Confederate soldiers in Miller's cornfield near the Dunker Church, the Union artillery opens fire. A bloody artillery barrage by both sides ensues. Attacks and counter attacks take place as the cornfield changes hands numerous times.
9:30 a.m.Over 5,000 Union soldiers move into the West Woods and come under Confederate fire from three different directions. The Northerners suffer over two thousand casualties in less than twenty minutes.
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.Horrific fighting takes place on and near a sunken road near the middle of the Confederate line. This road would later be dubbed "Bloody Lane". The North launched several attacks on the Southern position and eventually gains the upper hand. Firing down into the sunken road leaving piles of dead Southerners filling the road. The Southerners were driven from their position but the North failed to pursue them.
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.Union General Ambrose Burnside orders troops to cross Antietam Creek via Rohrbach's Bridge (now called Burnside's Bridge). The west side is defended by just a few Confederate troops who decimate the Northern soldiers as they attempt to cross. It takes three attempts for the Union to finally make it to the other side.
3 p.m.After finally crossing the bridge over Antietam Creek Union troops start pushing the Confederates towards the town of Sharpsburg.
4 p.m.Confederate reinforcements arrive and stop the Union drive towards Sharpsburg. They stage a counterattack driving the Northern forces back over the bridge they had fought so hard to cross.
5:30 p.m.The battle ends.
Results and Significance of the Battle of Antietam
- The Union won the battle and stopped General Lee's invasion of Maryland. However; despite having a significantly larger force McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army and allowed the Confederates to escape. This enables the South to regroup and fight on for several bloody years.
- The victory gave President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It stated that all slaves in Confederate territory were to be forever free. As the Union gradually took control of the confederate states the slaves in these states were freed.
- The Union victory discouraged the French and British governments from recognizing the Confederacy as a separate country.