Virginia Pioneers


Battle of Antietam: September 17, 1862


Antietam

The battlefield area still looks much as it did in September of 1862. The Confederates crossed the Potomac into Maryland on September 17th of 1862 with several objectives. General Robert E. Lee wanted to shift the war out of Virginia to give the country time to recover. Also, as was typical, the war had to be temporarily interrupted to harvest crops. The armies clashed in the tilled fields, the meadows and wood lots of the valley. The armies pushed into the area of Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Though McClellan failed toutlilize his numerical superiority to crush the army of General Lee, he was able to prevent the Confederate forces from advancing further into the north. The Union Army had suffered a number of defeats by General Lee, yet the victory of is said to be a tactical maneuver which provided Abraham Lincoln the political cover he needed to issue his Emancipation Proclamation. Although the final result of the battle was inconclusive, it remains the bloodiest single day in American history, with more than 22,000 casualties.