September 17, 2008

146 Years Ago - The "Bloodiest Day in History"

Events at Antietam (Sharpsburg)

    Sept. 17:

    6 am: Hooker's Federal Corps begins the attack but his left bogs down under artillery fire from Nicodemus Hill.

    7 am: Hood's Confederates counterattack and stop I Corps' advance at the Miller cornfield.

    7:30-9 am: Mansfield's XII Corps attacks to the Dunker Church but fresh Confederate reinforcements drive them back.

    10 am: Sedgwick's division of Sumner's II Corps attacks into the West Woods but is flanked and repulsed with heavy losses.

    1 pm: Richardson's and French's division of Sumner's II Corps capture Bloody lane and breach Lee's center.

    10 am-1 pm: Burnside's IX Corps seize the bridge across the Antietam after repeated attempts to cross.

    1 pm: Rodman's division of IX Corps wades through Snavely's Ford and flanks Toombs' Confederates above the bridge.

    3 pm: Burnside launches a general assault pushing Longstreet's Confederates back to the outskirts of Sharpsburg.

    4 pm: A.P. Hill's Confederate division arrives from Harper's Ferry just in time to cripple Burnside's advance with a counterattack against the Federal left flank.

    From Civil War Home


Army of Northern Virginia.,
Near Frederick Town, 8th September, 1862.


It is right that you should know the purpose that has brought the army under my command within the limits of your State, so far as that purpose concerns yourselves.
The people of the Confederate States have long watched with the deepest sympathy the wrongs and outrages that have been inflicted upon the citizens of a Commonwealth allied to the States of the South by the strongest social, political, and commercial ties.
They have seen with profound indignation their sister-State deprived of every right and reduced to the condition of a conquered province.
Under the pretense of supporting the Constitution, but in violation of its most valuable provisions, your citizens have been arrested and imprisoned upon no charge and contrary to all forms of law; the faithful and manly protest against this outrage made by the venerable and illustrious Marylander to whom in better days no citizen appealed for right in vain was treated with scorn and contempt; the government of your chief city has been usurped by armed strangers; your legislature has been dissolved by the unlawful arrest of its members; freedom of the press and of speech has been suppressed; words have been declared offences by an arbitrary decree of the Federal executive, and citizens ordered to be tried by a military commission for what they may dare to speak.
Believing that the people of Maryland possessed a spirit too lofty to submit to such a government, the people of the South have long wished to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke, to enable you again to enjoy the inalienable rights of freemen and restore independence and sovereignty to your State.
In obedience to this wish our army has come among you, and is prepared to assist you with the power of its arms in regaining the rights of which you have been despoiled.
This, citizens of Maryland, is our mission, so far as you are concerned. No constraint upon your free will is intended ; no intimidation will be allowed. Within the limits of this army at least, Marylanders shall once more enjoy their ancient freedom of thought and speech. We know no enemies among you, and will protect all, of every opinion. It is for you to decide your destiny freely and without constraint.
This army will respect your choice, whatever it may be; and, while the Southern people will rejoice to welcome you to your natural position among them, they will only welcome you when you come of your own free will.

R. E. LEE,
General commanding

Found on Civil War


The Battle of Antietam
September 17, 1862

The date September 17, 1862 will forever be known as the bloodiest day of the Civil War. More than twice as many Americans lost their lives in the Battle of Antietam as fell in combat during the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War combined.
When it was all over, the North had 2,108 men killed, 9,549 wounded, and 753 missing. The South reported 2,700 killed, 9,024 wounded and 2,000 missing.

This tragic confrontation occurred near Antietam Creek outside Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Union army had every reason to predict a successful outcome, for they had determined the tactics of the battle well in advance. In addition, their troops numbered 75,000 to Lee’s 25,000 Confederate soldiers. Unfortunately, General George McClellan did not fully coordinate his attacks. Consequently, Lee took advantage of the Union army’s weaknesses by shifting his men to different positions - thus plugging gaps in his line in the nick of time. He received further reinforcement later in the day when Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill arrived to reinforce Lee’s right flank.

While the fiercely contested battle was inconclusive, the Northern army still outnumbered Lee’s rebels. Yet despite the massive superiority of McClellan’s army, he shocked the Union when he refused to resume the fight the following day and risk further losses. Although success beckoned him, he shied away from it. McClellan’s mismanagement of his army aroused nationwide controversy during the war…and remains the subject of heated arguments among historians to this day.


Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Additional note: Today in 1787, the American Constitution was signed.

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