The Battle of Antietam, called Sharpsburg by the Confederate Forces, would go down in history as the heaviest in casualties of any war — not World War I, not World War II, not any of our conflicts or fights in Korea, VietNam or even in today’s history with Iraq and Afghanistan —- Antietam stands alone.
As one author says, “McClellan seems to have planned an attack to s trike at both of Lee’s flanks, then attack the center with his reserves. However, when it came on September 17, the attacke as an uncoordinated series of piecemeal assaults…David Harvey Hill’s and James Longstreet’s Rebels joined the battle in the East and West Woods, in Farmer Miller’s cornfield, and around a church belonging to a German pacifist sect called the Dunkards.” [ these were probably forerunners of the Baptists, who also baptized by immersion.]
I’ve walked Antietam/Sharpsburg and seen the sunken road known thereafter as “Bloody Lane” and it’s no stretch of the imagination to realize the massacre that occurred there. Union General Burnside was determined to cross a bridge and stream, and was forced back several times but succeeded in breaking through the Confederate line……only to be faced by a surprise counterattack by A.P. Hill, who had just arrived there with his troops from Harpers Ferry. The result was the Union troops being forced back — a terrible cost for the bridge which bears Burnside’s name.
The Federals outnumbered the Rebels, and while the battle is considered a tactical draw, the Rebels were driven back to the outskirts of Sharpsburg.
The actual count has never been accurate, but the best efforts say that the Union had 75,316 troops; of these, 2,108 were killed, 9,549 were wounded and 753 were listed as missing. On the Confederate side, there were 51.844 troops; of these, 2,700 were killed, 9,024 wounded, and approximately 2,000 missing.
Say a prayer today for those who lost their lives that September 17 long ago.