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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Battle of Antietam: Selected full-text books and articles

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam By James M. McPherson Oxford University Press, 2004
"Poor Burn?" the Antietam Conspiracy That Wasn't By Rafuse, Ethan S Civil War History, Vol. 54, No. 2, June 2008
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
"Truthful as the Record of Heaven": The Battle of Antietam and the Birth of Photojournalism By Harris, John M Southern Cultures, Vol. 19, No. 3, Fall 2013
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Counter-Thrust: From the Peninsula to the Antietam By Benjamin Franklin Cooling University of Nebraska Press, 2007
The Antietam Campaign: August-September 1862 By John Cannan Combined Books, 1994 (Revised edition)
Death in September: The Antietam Campaign By Perry D. Jamieson McWhiney Foundation Press, 1995
Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign By Gary W. Gallagher Kent State University Press, 1989
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era By 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 By James A. Rawley University of Nebraska Press, 1989
Librarian's tip: "Antietam" begins on p. 97
Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War By Howard Jones University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Antietam and the Move toward Mediation"
Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 By Joseph L. Harsh Kent State University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Includes discussion of the battle of Antietam in multiple chapters
Bohemian Brigade: Civil War Newsmen in Action By Louis M. Starr Knopf, 1954
Librarian's tip: Chap. VI "Man at Antietam"
Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer By Jay Monaghan University of Nebraska Press, 1971
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Antietam"
The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln: An Essay By Colin R. Ballard World Publishing, 1952
Librarian's tip: Chap. XI "Antietam"
Antietam at 150 By Brown, John S Army, Vol. 62, No. 9, September 2012
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