Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Antietam: America's Bloodiest Day Of Battle

Bloody Lane, Antietam National Battlefield Walking Tour

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, a one-day Civil War clash in the Great Valley of Maryland near the town of Sharpsburg. It was a marginal victory at best for the Union, but it marked an end to Confederate success on the battlefield in the first year of the war. Furthermore, it provided President Abraham Lincoln an opportunity to issue his Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in all the states that had seceded from the Union. The outcome and opportunity at Antietam came at a huge cost as it remains the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. In little more than twelve hours the conflict almost 23,000 participants were dead, wounded or missing. 

Bloody Lane following the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862

There is much to be remembered at this sacred place. Some call the battle a turning point leading to Union victory in the war. Obviously, it is a monumental step in the evolution of human rights in the United States. Sometimes the memories are far more personal. For me, Antietam remains very close to my heart and soul. I was at most six years old when my mother and father took me there to walk among the fields and forests, along the old Sharpsburg Pike and Bloody Lane, and over Burnside Bridge. The old monuments loomed large over a small boy. There's no question that Antietam and a childhood itinerary of other Civil War sites in the region helped shape my future.

Photo Credits:

Walking Tour photo: National Park Service

Historic photo: Alexander Gardner, in The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes: Volume Two, Two Years of Grim War, The Review of Reviews Co., New York. 1911. p. 74.

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