Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Antietam National Battlefield
Sunday - July 26, 2009
Today I spent several hours driving around the hallowed ground of the Antietam National Battlefield. Here on September 17, 1862, over 22,700 men died in the worst day of fighting in America's history. The vast majority where cut down by the artillery scattered around the farms and natural high ground. The battle was Lee's first attempt at bringing the war to the people of the North. He hoped that if enough men died, and the local farm lands stripped of food and livestock maybe the citizens of the north would cry for an early end of the Civil War.
Beginning in the morning around 6:00am the battle commenced near the north woods. They began to move south towards Stonewall Jackson's line through rows of corn fields. For three hours the battle continued and thousands of men died in these fields.
After a lull for reinforcements the battle picked up again as the union troops moved toward the west woods where Jackson's artillery was waiting for the union troops as they advanced. Future Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes served with distinction during this portion of the battle.
These battles ended in stalemates or retreats for the Confederate troops.
The next big battle of the day took place along the Sunken Road. This road was a natural trench that was lined with 4 regiments of North Carolina troops to hold the road against the Union troops. This natural trench provided cover the the North Carolina regulars and not until the union troops could attack the trench from the side did the Union make headway against this death trap. After several hours of battle over 5600 men on both sides perished.
The final attack of the day was along Antietam Creek by General Burnsides. The battle that took place along this bridge was long and deadly. After this battle Lee retreated back into Virginia. The Commanding General of the Army of the Potomac, General George McClellan failed to pursue Lee into Virginia and the Army of the Confederacy was able to regroup and continue the fight. After this battle President Lincoln removed Gen. McClellan from command and he also wrote the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the Slaves held in the states who where at war with the United States.
New York Monument
Hills of the final battle of Antietam.