The Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam is the bloodiest, single day battle in American history. There were approximately 23,000 casualties. Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, it was fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first major battle in the Civil War to take place on northern soil. This battle was fought between the Union Army, led by Major General George B. McClellan, and the Confederate Army, led by General Robert E. Lee.
The causes of this battle stemmed from Gen. Lee invading Maryland hoping to score a decisive victory on Northern soil against the Army of the Potomac and gain a strategic advantage. Maj. Gen. McClellan, commander of the Northern army, discovered Gen. Lee’s movements and discovered that Gen. Lee’s army was divided. Maj. Gen. McClellan hoped to attack and destroy the separate units of Gen. Lee’s army individually. He moved too slowly and Gen. Lee was able to reunite his scattered forces. By the time the two armies met at Antietam Creek, Maj. Gen. McClellan was still hoping to destroy Gen. Lee, but Gen. Lee was just hoping for a defensive victory that might turn to his advantage.
McClellan launched attacks against Lee’s army, in defensive positions behind Antietam creek, after pursuing Lee into Maryland. On the early morning of September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s I Corps, of the Union, mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank. There was major fighting across Miller’s cornfield and around Dunker Church. Assaults by the Union against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the advances of the Union were not followed up. By afternoon hours, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps entered the battle, securing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry, at a crucial moment, and...