Battle of Antietam

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<p>The Battle of Antietam was the climax of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion of the NorthUnion. </p><p>Following the Battle of Second Bull Run, General Robert E. Lee, the Army of Northern Virginia's commander, took his force into the NorthUnion. He hoped to win a decisive victory and Confederate independence.</p>
<p>The Battle of Antietam occurred near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. On September 16, 1862, Lee positioned his army on a ridge of hills on the outskirts of town. At this point, Lee commanded thirty thousand men. A significant portion of his army, under General Thomas &quot;Stonewall&quot; Jackson, was at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. Confederate forces had seized the city the day before. On the evening of September 16, the Union Army of the Potomac, under General George McClellan's command, arrived on the field. McClellan had twice as many men as his opponent.</p>
<p>The battle began on September 17. The Union began an artillery barrage on the center of the Confederates' position. Northern Union soldiers then advanced towards the Confederates' left flank. As the Federals Union soldiers crossed a cornfield, Confederate infantry rose up and surprised the NorthernersUnion soldiers. McClellan ordered his infantry to withdraw and directed the Northern Union artillery to fire on the cornfield. The Union infantry advanced again, but the attack was repulsed. &quot;Stonewall&quot; Jackson had arrived on the battlefield but a significant number of his men had not. The struggle for the cornfield continued for the rest of the morning. Accounts vary, but in all likelihood, control of this area changed at least one dozen times in the course of the morning. While the struggle for the cornfield was occurring, Union General John Sedgwick led his division against the Confederate left flank. The Southerners Confederates launched a counterattack. Sedgwick's men suffered a fifty percent casualty rate in this assault.</p><p>While Sedgwick's division was attempting to turn the Confederate left flank, Union General William French led his division against the center of the Southerners' Confederate position. Confederates, under the command of General D.H. Hill, had taken a position along a sunken road. Years of use by farmers and their wagons had caused the road to be several feet lower than the surrounding terrain. The Southerners also placed fence rails along one side of the road to provide additional cover from Union fire. Between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM, Northern Union soldiers attacked this position four times. Each time the Southerners Confederates stopped the attack. Shortly before 1:00 PM, two Union regiments captured a hill at the end of the sunken road (renamed Bloody Lane by the soldiers). From this position, the Northern Union soldiers were able to fire into the heart of the road. The Confederates quickly withdrew. By the time that the fighting was completed in this part of the battlefield, approximately 5,600 Northern Union and Southern Confederate soldiers lay dead or dying along the sunken road.</p><p>The Confederates began to retreat towards Sharpsburg. After the fierce fighting earlier in the day, McClellan did not order his men to pursue the SouthernersConfederates. Some historians believe that Robert E. Lee might have had to surrender his entire army if McClellan had continued his attack.</p><p>Fighting also was raging along the Confederate right flank. General Ambrose Burnside led twelve thousand Union soldiers against this portion of the Southern Confederate line. The Northerners Union soldiers had to cross Antietam Creek. A group of 450 Confederates defended the bridge across the creek. Despite having more men, the Union force did not succeed in crossing the bridge until nearly 1:00 PM. The Northerners Union soldiers then rested for two hours. Around 3:00 PM, Burnside ordered his men to pursue the Confederates into Sharpsburg. Confederate General A.P. Hill's division arrived at approximately the same time from Harper's Ferry. With these reinforcements, the Confederates were able to drive Burnside's force back to the bridge. The Battle of Antietam drew to a close.</p>
<p>On September 18, both armies remained on the battlefield. They negotiated a temporary truce, allowing each side to remove its wounded from the battlefield. On the evening of September 18, the Confederates began their retreat. McClellan did not immediately pursue the Army of Northern Virginia.</p>
<p>The Battle of Antietam was a Northern Union victory. The Union lost approximately 12,400 men to the SouthConfederacy's 10,700, but the North Union had driven the Confederates from the field and ended the Southern Confederate invasion. The battle was Ohioan George McClellan's greatest success during the American Civil War. Nevertheless, President Abraham Lincoln removed McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac for not pursuing the Confederates immediately. </p><p>This Northern Union victory also affected the Northern Union war effort in another important way. Saving the Union had been the North's initial motivation for pursuing the war with the SouthConfederacy, but on September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that slavery would end in all states still rebelling against the Union on January 1, 1863. Lincoln and several members of his cabinet were cautious as to the timing of the announcement of the Proclamation. If the president moved to end slavery before a Northern Union victory was won, Europeans, SouthernersConfederates, and some Northerners people in the Union might view this action as a desperate attempt to win support for the Union war effort. The Northern Union victory at Antietam allowed the president to link slavery's demise with the preservation of the Union. </p><p>The Battle of Antietam and the resulting Emancipation Proclamation caused both anxiety and hope among Ohioans. Many Ohioans worried that Northern a Union victory in the war was further off than they hoped with Lee's invasion. Other Ohioans welcomed the Emancipation Proclamation and celebrated that slavery's demise was now a Northern Union war aim. Other Ohioans feared a surge in black African American migrants to the state if the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced.</p>
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