Guide The Greatest Battles in History: Antietam and the Maryland Campaign of 1862

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  1. Battle of Antietam
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  3. The Civil War’s bloodiest day
  4. Library of Virginia : Civil War Research Guide - Battles

Battle of Antietam

Volume two will cover the Battle of Antietam, the aftermath of the battle and the end of the campaign up to Union commander General George B. I chose to end To Antietam Creek on the night before Antietam partly because it was a good point to end the narrative, but also because that night was in some sense the end of an America that had been and the beginning of an America that would be, because the battle the next day unleashed forces that eventually led to the end of slavery and permanent change in the social landscape of the country.

Digging deep on a historical subject reveals things that are often not apparent on the surface. It can also uncover complexities that were simplified or modified either to shield a reputation or shape a certain narrative. For example, I discovered the latter with Confederate numbers in the campaign.

Confederate veterans and post-war writers sought to portray the Army of Northern Virginia as David facing a Goliath in the Army of the Potomac. This fed the Lost Cause narrative that the North had only won the war through overwhelming numbers. That these 40, were tough is without question, but why was nearly half the army absent when they were most needed? This was the real question that needed to be answered.

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The answer, it seems, is sheer physical exhaustion. He had been without rest for an extended period. Lee reacted to the change. In a series of attempted turning movements, Lee tried to cut the Federals off from their new base and destroy them. On July 1, Lee assaulted the strong Union position on Malvern Hill but was repulsed with staggering losses. During the Seven Days, Lee incurred some 20, casualties while inflicting nearly 16, on the Army of the Potomac. Although Lee only achieved a single tactical victory during the Seven Days, he scored a strategic victory because McClellan chose to withdraw from the Peninsula, ending the proximate threat to Richmond.

Lee learned many lessons from the operation. His plans were too intricate and depended on the initiative of too many subordinates. He subsequently reorganized the army into two corps, one commanded by Longstreet, the other by Jackson. Remaining on the Peninsula with Longstreet to ensure that McClellan was indeed withdrawing, Lee took the initiative, dispatching Jackson north to deal with Pope. In early August, Jackson attacked an isolated Union corps under Maj.

The Civil War’s bloodiest day

Nathaniel Banks at Cedar Mountain. For two weeks in July and early August, Lee and Pope maneuvered along the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers, each trying to get the advantage over the other. For three days, Pope tried without success to locate Jackson. At PM, Pope launched another attack against Jackson that was bloodily repulsed. For the next two days Lee pursued Pope as the latter retreated towards Washington. On September 1, Jackson clashed with the Union rearguard at Chantilly, but the Federals escaped in the midst of a torrential thunderstorm.

Lee suffered 9, casualties while inflicting 16, on Pope. Lee had shattered a Union army but had not quite annihilated it. Lee now saw an opportunity to deliver a knockout punch to the Union by invading Maryland in order to lure McClellan into a battle in which Lee would accomplish what he had almost realized at Second Manassas: the destruction of a major Union army, this time on Union soil.

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Most historians have seen the Maryland campaign as a full-scale invasion of the North intended to reach the banks of the Susquehanna. Its goals included relieving Virginia from the scourge of foraging armies by subsisting for as long as possible off enemy resources; enticing Maryland into secession; strengthening the Northern peace party in the upcoming congressional elections; and encouraging recognition by Great Britain and France.

Others have demurred, claiming the entire campaign was always intended to be a raid. He aimed for nothing less than changing the character of the war. Thus as suggested at the outset, the Maryland incursion can be seen as the third phase of a unified campaign that began on the banks of the Chickahominy on June Meanwhile, Confederate armies in the West were on the move toward the Ohio. As Joseph Harsh remarks, the Confederacy was indeed at flood tide. Without success, the tide would only recede. From the 14th onward, however, his unrelenting demands blunted the weapon in his hands and reduced its power.

Meanwhile, he sent Longstreet to Boonsboro to guard against what he expected to be a characteristically cautious approach by McClellan. But the importance of S.

Additionally, S. Lee struggled to reunite his army before McClellan arrived. Even as late as the early afternoon of September 16, Lee fully intended to renew his offensive by drawing McClellan to the west where he could gain an advantage by maneuver. Thousands of thirsty men put strains on a community's water supply.

Jackson's Valley Campaign 1862

Outbreaks ofdiarrhea and dysentery among the soldiers created a "sanitation nightmare for landowners" After assisting soldiers of one side they suffered punishment from soldiers of the other side. They buried, then dug up, then reburied family valuables. In the town of KeedysviUe, "residents carefully hung Confederate flags while Lee's army trooped through, then later flew Union flags for theYankees, avoiding trouble and striving for neutraUty" Many were in direct danger from shells and bullets.

When the town of Sharpsburg came under heavy fire one soldier described the "uproar and confusion" as women ran "through the streets literaUy dragging their children after them" and "crying, and screaming so loud their combined voices could be heard above the roaring battle" Many people huddled in their cellars as the shells exploded. Others, overcome by curiosity more than fear, climbed onto barn roofs or hilltops to view the action. In the aftermath of Antietam civilians helped tend the seventeen thousand wounded, bury thousands of corpses, and dispose of dead horses.

Library of Virginia : Civil War Research Guide - Battles

For years after the battle, farmers encountered human bones in their fields and children were killed by shells they found. Ernst's book should appeal to a wide audience, particularly general readers. The writing is vivid, skillfully blending military and social history. The only major shortcoming is the absence of a good map of the area.