Antietam was where the bloodiest single battle of the American Civil War occurred,with over 22,700 casualties in one day. Confederate General Robert E. Lee led 45,000 troops of the Northern Virginia Army in an attack into Northern territory at Sharpsburg MD, where they fought 87,000 Union troops led by Major General George McClellan. Despite superior numbers, McClellancommitted only a portion of his army to the battle and he failed to take advantage of more than one crucial opportunity during the fight. As the battle progressed the front moved from north of Sharpsburg to the south, along Antietam Creek. The Union’s Major General Burnside fought a heavy battle to cross a stone bridge at AntietamCreek, but he was pushed back by the arrival of Confederate troops from Harpers Ferry. The following day Lee retreated south of the Potomac River and McClellan did not follow. While the battle was considered a draw, President Lincoln chose to call it a “victory” which he marked by issuing his Emancipation Proclamation, 22 September 1862.
On this visit I concentrated on the southern portion of this large battlefield, where the end of the fighting took place. The following map shows the locations of Sharpsburg, the Sherrick and Otto Farmhouses, and the Burnside Bridge (marked by blue circles).
The Sherrick farmhouse and the Otto farmhouse face each other across a small valley. The Burnside Bridge is just a few hundred yards away, so this area saw a tremendous amount of fighting.
The Burnside Bridge crosses Antietam Creek. Seen here from the northern side of the creek, there is a large hill on the south side that dominates the area. Southern troops on that hill caused a great number of Union casualties before the Union could win across.
Monuments have been erected at a number of locations to mark where different regiments fought during this battle. This monument is to a troop from Ohio.
Some monuments are adorned with battles scenes in bronze. This one shows the 11th Connecticut fighting at Burnside Bridge.
Sergeant William McKinley was in charge of the commissary for the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In the middle of heavy fighting around Burnside Bridge, McKinley served hot coffee and warm food to the Union soldiers. McKinley later went on to become a Congressman, twice Governor of Ohio, and he was elected President of the United States twice. McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo NY in 1901. A tall monument to McKinley includes this bronze scene of a commissary wagon adjacent a line of fighting men.
The entire area was farmland at the time of the battle, and it is still farmed today. Here is a nursing calf who was interrupted by a camera-toting visitor.