Battle of Antietam

Antietam campaign

Antietam campaign (ăntē´təm), Sept., 1862, of the Civil War. After the second battle of Bull Run, Gen. Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. At Frederick, Md., he divided (Sept. 10) his army, sending Stonewall Jackson to capture the large Union garrison at Harpers Ferry and thus clear his communications through the Shenandoah valley. With the remainder, Lee marched NW toward Hagerstown. Gen. George B. McClellan learned of this division of forces and moved to attack. In the battle on South Mt. (the Blue Ridge N of the Potomac, 12 mi/19 km W of Frederick) on Sept. 14, 1862, McClellan defeated Lee's rear guard and took the passes of that range. Lee then fell back to Sharpsburg (c.9 mi/14.5 km W of South Mt.), where his position lay behind Antietam Creek. On Sept. 15 the Harpers Ferry garrison capitulated to Jackson, who, with part of his command, joined Lee before McClellan attacked. The battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg) opened on the morning of Sept. 17. Early assaults on Lee's left were bloody but indecisive, and McClellan failed to press the slight Union advantage with his available reserves. In the afternoon Burnside's corps crossed the Antietam over the bridge on Lee's right and drove the Confederates back, but A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and repulsed the attack. The battle was not renewed. On Sept. 18–19, Lee recrossed the Potomac into Virginia unhindered. The fighting at Antietam was so fierce that Sept. 17, 1862, is said to have been the bloodiest single day of the war with some 23,000 dead and wounded, evenly divided between the sides. It was a Union victory only in the sense that Lee's invasion was stopped. McClellan has been blamed for not pursuing Lee with his superior forces. The scene of the battle of Antietam has been set aside as a national battlefield (est. 1890; see National Parks and Monuments, table). The battle influenced Lincoln's decisions to remove McClellan and to deliver a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

See K. P. Williams, Lincoln Finds a General (Vol. II, 1950); J. V. Murfin, The Gleam of Bayonets (1965); W. A. Frassunito, Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day (1978); S. W. Sears, Landscape Turned Red (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Antietam Campaign: August-September 1862
John Cannan.
Combined Books, 1994 (Revised edition)
Death in September: The Antietam Campaign
Perry D. Jamieson.
McWhiney Foundation Press, 1995
Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign
Gary W. Gallagher.
Kent State University Press, 1989
Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862
Joseph L. Harsh.
Kent State University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of the battle of Antietam in multiple chapters
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
James M. McPherson.
Oxford University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of the battle of Antietam begins on p. 535
Turning Points of the Civil War
James A. Rawley.
University of Nebraska Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "Antietam" begins on p. 97
FREE! The Appeal to Arms, 1861-1863
James Kendall Hosmer.
Harper & Brothers, 1907
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Antietam Campaign (September, 1862)"
FREE! American Campaigns
Matthew Forney Steele.
Byron S. Adams, vol.1, 1909
Librarian’s tip: Lecture XIII "The Antietam Campaign"
The American Iliad: The Epic Story of the Civil War as Narrated by Eyewitnesses and Contemporaries
Otto Eisenschiml; Ralph Newman.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1947
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Lee Invades Maryland: The Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg"
George B. McClellan, the Man Who Saved the Union
H. J. Eckenrode; Bryan Conrad.
University of North Carolina Press, 1941
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Thirteen "Sharpsburg, or If You Prefer It, Antietam Creek"
Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War
Howard Jones.
University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Antietam and the Move toward Mediation"
The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns
D. P. Conyngham; Lawrence Frederick Kohl.
Fordham University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Battle of Antietam" begins on p. 296
Bohemian Brigade: Civil War Newsmen in Action
Louis M. Starr.
Knopf, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Man at Antietam"
Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer
Jay Monaghan.
University of Nebraska Press, 1971
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Antietam"
The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln: An Essay
Colin R. Ballard.
World Publishing, 1952
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XI "Antietam"
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