Batalha de Sharpsburg ou Antietam - História

Batalha de Sharpsburg ou Antietam - História

Por: Jubal Early

No final da tarde do dia 15, (General Lawton recebeu - uma ordem do General Jackson para mover a divisão na estrada Ford de Boteler, no Potomac abaixo de Sheperdstown, e ele imediatamente colocou sua própria brigada e Trimbles; - que tinha conseguido rações de Harper's Ferry, em movimento, e ordenou que eu seguisse com a minha própria brigada e a de Hays assim que fossem fornecidas da mesma forma pelas provisões do inimigo. Fiquei detido até tarde da noite, antes que os homens das duas brigadas pudessem ser fornecidos , e eu segui o General Lawton, encontrando-o pouco antes da manhã acampado a cerca de 6,5 km de Boteler Ford. O Brigadeiro General Hays, ferido em Port Republic enquanto o Coronel da 7ª Louisiana, havia retornado à brigada no dia 15 após a rendição da Harper's Ferry e assumiu o comando de sua brigada antes de iniciarmos esta marcha.

A divisão mudou na madrugada do dia 16 e, cruzando o Potomac, chegou às proximidades de Sharpsburg no início do dia e empilhou as armas em um pedaço de floresta a cerca de uma milha na parte traseira de Sharsburg, a divisão de Jackson tendo-a precedido, e Hill está sendo deixado para trás para se livrar dos prisioneiros e propriedades em Harper's Ferry.

Depois que as diferentes colunas, que foram enviadas contra o último lugar, se moveram das vizinhanças de Frederick, o resíduo do exército do General Lee se moveu através de South Mountain na direção de Hagerstown e da divisão do General DH Hill e foi deixado para defender Boonsboro Gap contra o Exército Federal, composto pelo exército de Pope e o exército de McClellan combinados, e reforços pesados ​​que chegaram em seu auxílio, agora se aproximando sob o comando do General McClellan. O General Hill havia sido atacado no dia 14 em Boonsboro Gap, pelo corpo principal do exército de McClellan, e, após uma resistência muito obstinada por muitas horas às vastas forças trazidas contra ele, teve, com os reforços enviados em seu auxílio neste último parte do dia, retirou-se tarde da noite para Sharpsburg, no lado oeste do Antietam.

Uma posição havia sido tomada na manhã do dia 15 pela força ao norte do Potomac, composta pela divisão de D. Hill, cinco brigadas; as três brigadas restantes da divisão de Longstreet; Divisão de Hood, duas brigadas; Divisão de D. R. Jones, três brigadas; e a brigada de Evans; quatorze brigadas ao todo, cobrindo Sharpsburg no norte e no leste, com a direita apoiada em Antietam Creek e a esquerda estendendo-se até o pique de Hagerstown; e o inimigo gradualmente moveu todo o seu exército para a frente desta posição. Esta era a condição das coisas quando as duas divisões de Jackson chegaram no dia 16 e, nesse ínterim, houve algumas escaramuças e disparos de artilharia.

Depois de permanecer em posição na retaguarda por algumas horas, o General Lawton foi ordenado a se mover para a direita para cobrir uma ponte sobre o Antietam, mas após o movimento ter começado, foi contra-ordenado e recebeu uma ordem para seguir a divisão de Jackson para a esquerda através campos até chegarmos ao pedágio de Sharps-burg a Hagerstown, e continuando ao longo dele chegamos a um pedaço de floresta a oeste do pique em que havia uma Igreja Dunkard ou Quaker, e encontramos, a alguma distância além da igreja, a divisão de Jackson já postado em uma linha dupla no oeste do pique, e conectando à direita com a esquerda da divisão de Hood. O general Jackson pessoalmente instruiu-me a colocar a minha brigada, que estava à frente da divisão, à esquerda da sua, para proteger o seu flanco, e para comunicar com o brigadeiro-general J. Jones, então no comando dessa divisão.

Estava quase escurecendo e havia uma forte escaramuça entre as tropas de Hood mais à direita e o inimigo, enquanto os projéteis voavam bem densos. Tive alguma dificuldade em encontrar o General Jones ou sua esquerda, mas depois de um tempo consegui fazê-lo, e então postei minha brigada à esquerda da brigada de Starke, constituindo, como fui informado, a esquerda de Jones, que foi formada em o oeste do pique se estendendo para a floresta.

Minha brigada foi postada em uma pequena estrada que corria ao longo da parte de trás da floresta, passando pela esquerda de Starke, e jogada de volta em ângulos retos para sua linha. As brigadas de Lawton e Trimble foram detidas perto da igreja, mas o general Hays, sob as ordens do general Jackson, me reportou com sua brigada, e ela foi postada atrás da minha. Os disparos de artilharia e escaramuças, exceto tiros ocasionais entre os piquetes, foram encerrados pela escuridão, e por volta das dez ou onze horas as brigadas de Lawton e Trimble tomaram o lugar, na linha de frente, das duas brigadas de Hood, que foram retirados para a retaguarda.

Pouco depois do amanhecer da manhã do dia 17, fui pessoalmente ordenado pelo General Jackson a deslocar a minha brigada para a frente e partir, ao longo de uma rota indicada por ele, com o propósito de apoiar algumas peças de artilharia que o General Stuart tinha em posição de operar contra a direita do inimigo, e Hays foi ordenado a apoiar as brigadas de Lawton e Trimble.

Movendo-me ao longo da rota designada pelo General Jackson, descobri um corpo de escaramuçadores do inimigo perto da minha direita avançando como se com o propósito de contornar o flanco esquerdo de nossa linha, e enviei alguns da minha própria brigada para contê-los verifique até que eu passei. Encontrei o General Stuart a cerca de um quilômetro da posição que eu havia movido, com várias peças de artilharia posicionadas em uma colina entre a esquerda da divisão de Jackson e o Potomac que estava engajando algumas das baterias inimigas. Por sugestão dele, formei minha linha na retaguarda desta colina e permaneci lá por cerca de uma hora, quando o General Stuart descobriu um corpo da infantaria do inimigo gradualmente abrindo caminho entre nós

e à esquerda de nossa linha principal, e determinado a mudar sua posição para uma colina mais à direita e um pouco atrás da direção de nossa linha.

Este movimento foi executado passando por uma rota para a retaguarda daquela que eu havia tomado pela manhã, esta última em posse do inimigo, e, enquanto eu formava minha brigada em uma faixa de floresta correndo de volta - em um cotovelo da extremidade norte do corpo de floresta em que a Igreja de Dunkard estava localizada, o general Stuart me informou que o general Lawton havia sido ferido e que o general Jackson mandou que eu retornasse com minha brigada e assumisse o comando da divisão. Saindo do 13º Regimento da Virgínia, com menos de 100 homens, com o General Stuart, movi o resto da brigada através do ângulo feito pelo cotovelo com o corpo principal da floresta, através de um campo até a posição que eu havia começado desde o início a manhã.

A essa altura, o inimigo havia empurrado os escaramuçadores para a extremidade norte ou mais distante desta floresta e estava movendo uma força muito pesada para virar nosso flanco esquerdo. Quando cheguei perto do meu ponto de partida, encontrei o coronel Grigsby do 27º Regimento da Virgínia e Stafford do 9º Louisiana reunindo cerca de duzentos ou trezentos homens da divisão de Jackson no ponto em que a brigada de Starke estivera em posição na noite anterior. Quando subi, parei minha brigada e formei uma linha na retaguarda de Grigsby e Stafford, e eles imediatamente avançaram contra os escaramuçadores do inimigo, que haviam penetrado alguma distância na floresta, empurrando-os para trás.

Minha brigada avançou na retaguarda até que chegamos com Grigsby e Stafford, onde formei uma linha na crista de uma pequena crista que corria pela floresta e os direcionei para formarem à minha esquerda. Pesados ​​corpos do inimigo foram agora descobertos no campo além da floresta movendo-se até ele. Deixei minha brigada sob o comando do Coronel William Smith, da 49ª Virgínia, com instruções para resistir ao inimigo a todo custo, e atravessei o pique de Hagerstown para a direita para encontrar as brigadas que haviam sido engajadas no início da manhã, mas Descobri que haviam sido gravemente cortados e ido para a retaguarda, Hood tendo tomado seu lugar com suas duas brigadas. A divisão de Jackson também tinha sido muito mal utilizada, e toda ela, exceto os poucos homens reunidos por Grigsby e Stafford, havia se retirado do campo.

Os fatos foram, como eu subsequentemente apurei dos comandantes de brigada, que, ao amanhecer, após escaramuçar ao longo da frente das barricadas de Lawton e Trimble em um pedaço de floresta ocupado por ele, o inimigo abriu um fogo de enfileiramento muito pesado das baterias em o lado oposto do Antietam, e então avançou muito pesadas colunas de infantaria contra eles, ao mesmo tempo despejando um fogo destrutivo de bombas e projéteis em suas fileiras pela frente. A brigada de Hays tinha ido apoiar os outros e este terrível assalto da frente com o fogo de flanco das baterias através do Antietam, foi resistido por algum tempo com obstinação, até que o General Lawton foi gravemente ferido; Coronel Douglas, comandando sua brigada, morto; O Coronel Walker, comandando a brigada de Trimble, teve seu cavalo morto sob seu comando, e ele mesmo foi incapacitado por uma contusão de um pedaço de concha; todos os comandantes regimentais nas três brigadas, exceto dois, foram mortos ou feridos; e a brigada de Lawton sofreu uma perda de quase metade, a de Hays de mais da metade e a de Trimble de mais de um terço. O general Hood então veio em seu socorro e os restos despedaçados dessas brigadas, com suas munições esgotadas, retiraram-se para a retaguarda.

Nesse ínterim, a divisão de Jackson esteve fortemente envolvida e compartilhou o mesmo destino, tudo o que restou sendo o que eu encontrei Grigsby e Stafford rally, depois que o General Jones se retirou do campo atordoado pela concussão de um projétil estourando perto ele e o general Starke, que o sucedeu, foram mortos.

Depois de ter descoberto que não havia mais nada da divisão no campo para eu comandar, exceto minha própria brigada, e vendo que, o que eu supus que fossem as tropas de Hood, foram muito pressionados e provavelmente teriam que se retirar antes de números esmagadores, eu enviei o major JP Wilson, um ajudante voluntário que estava servindo com os generais Ewell e Lawton, para cuidar das brigadas que tinham ido para a retaguarda, e eu cavalguei para encontrar o general Jackson para informá-lo das condições das coisas na frente também para informá-lo de que uma força muito pesada estava se movendo a oeste do pique contra nosso flanco e retaguarda, confrontada somente por minha brigada e pela pequena força comandada por Grigsby e Stafford.

Encontrei o General em uma colina nos fundos da Igreja de Dunkard, onde algumas baterias foram colocadas, e quando o informei do estado das coisas, ele me orientou a retornar à minha brigada e resistir ao inimigo até que ele pudesse me enviar alguns reforços , o que ele prometeu fazer assim que pudesse obtê-los. Encontrei minha brigada e a força de Grigsby e Stafford no ponto em que os havia deixado, e o movimento do inimigo naquele bairro estava assumindo proporções formidáveis. O bosque em que a Igreja Dunkard estava localizada estendia-se ao longo do pique de Hagerstown no lado oeste por cerca de quatrocentos metros até chegar a um campo do mesmo lado, com cerca de 150 ou 200 metros de largura. Em seguida, a floresta caiu para a esquerda em ângulos retos com a estrada e, em seguida, correu paralela a ela do outro lado do campo por cerca de um quarto de milha adiante, e então virou à esquerda e correu alguma distância para trás , fazendo com que o cotovelo falasse antes.

O campo assim localizado entre o pique e o bosque formava um planalto mais alto do que os bosques adjacentes, e este último inclinava-se em direção a uma pequena estrada na outra borda, que se estendia até o cotovelo, e era onde eu havia sido colocado durante a noite antes, e ao longo da qual passei para o apoio de Stuart no início da manhã. A linha formada por minha brigada estava inteiramente na floresta, com seu flanco direito oposto ao meio do campo ou planalto, e sua direção era um ângulo reto com o pique de Hagerstown. Na floresta havia saliências de calcário que formavam uma cobertura muito boa para as tropas e se estendiam em direção à igreja. Da minha posição, as forças de ambos os exércitos à minha direita, ou melhor, na minha retaguarda, como eu agora enfrentava, estavam totalmente escondidas da vista, já que o planalto à minha direita era consideravelmente mais alto do que o solo em que minha brigada foi formada.

Depois do meu retorno, o inimigo continuou a pressionar em direção à floresta em que eu estava, com uma força muito pesada, e enviei o Major Hale, meu Assistente Geral Adjunto, para informar ao General Jackson que o perigo era iminente, e ele voltou com o informação de que os reforços prometidos seriam enviados imediatamente. Assim que o major Hale voltou, uma bateria foi aberta no pique de Hagerstown, onde o campo, ou planalto, e a floresta se juntavam. Ficava atrás do meu flanco direito e a não mais de duzentos metros dele. Eu estava olhando ansiosamente para a minha frente e flanco esquerdo, sem sonhar que havia qualquer perigo imediato à minha direita, pois tinha visto nossas tropas no lado leste do pique, em uma posição avançada, lutando contra o inimigo, e eu presumiu que se tratava de uma de nossas baterias que se abriram contra o inimigo, mas a atenção do Major Hale foi chamada por um soldado em nossa retaguarda, que estava parado na borda do planalto, e informou-o de que era uma das baterias do inimigo. O próprio Major Hale o examinou e imediatamente me informou do fato, mas duvidei até que cavalguei até a borda da floresta e vi por mim mesmo que era realmente uma das baterias do inimigo, disparando ao longo do pique na direção do Dunkard Igreja.

Enquanto eu estava olhando para ele por um minuto para me satisfazer, vi uma coluna pesada de infantaria mover-se ao lado dele. Esta coluna consistia na divisão de Green do corpo de Mansfield. O fato é que Hood, depois de resistir com grande obstinação a números imensamente superiores, recuou para as vizinhanças da Igreja de Dunkard, e o inimigo avançou para esta posição. Minha posição agora era muito crítica, pois não havia nada entre Hood e eu, deixando assim um intervalo de um quarto a meia milha entre meu comando e o resto do exército. Felizmente, no entanto, minhas tropas foram ocultadas deste corpo do inimigo, ou sua destruição teria sido inevitável, já que era quase entre eles e o resto do exército, e o corpo, movendo-se pela esquerda na minha frente, tinha agora entrou na floresta. Esperando que os reforços prometidos chegassem a tempo, eu silenciosamente joguei para trás meu flanco direito sob a cobertura da floresta para evitar ser levado pela retaguarda.

A situação era mais crítica e a necessidade mais urgente, pois era evidente que se o inimigo tomasse posse dessa floresta, a posse das colinas em sua retaguarda seguiria imediatamente, e então, cruzaria para a nossa retaguarda na estrada que conduzia de volta ao Potomac, teria sido fácil. Na verdade, a posse dessas colinas teria permitido que ele recuasse toda a nossa linha, e uma derrota desastrosa deve ter se seguido. Decidi me segurar até o último momento, e olhei ansiosamente para trás para ver os reforços prometidos chegando, a coluna à minha direita e atrás e aquela vindo na frente, com a qual meus escaramuçadores já estavam engajados, sendo vigiados por o interesse mais intenso.

Enquanto olhava para fora, vi a coluna à minha direita e atrás mover-se repentinamente para o bosque na direção da parte traseira da igreja. Eu não podia agora ficar parado, e imediatamente coloquei minha brigada em movimento pelo flanco direito em uma linha paralela aos movimentos do inimigo, ordenando que Grigsby e Stafford recuassem na linha, lutando contra o inimigo vindo pela esquerda . As saliências de pedra calcária permitiam que minhas tropas ficassem fora da vista do inimigo movendo-se na floresta à minha direita, e eles se moveram rapidamente para se levantarem com eles. com grande obstinação, um número imensamente superior, recuou para as vizinhanças da Igreja de Dunkard, e o inimigo avançou para esta posição. Ao passar por trás de uma dessas sebes compridas, descobrimos o inimigo movendo-se com os flancos atirados para fora em seu flanco direito. Ordenei ao coronel William Smith, cujo regimento, o 49º Virginia, estava na liderança, abrir fogo sobre os flanqueadores, o que foi prontamente feito, e eles se chocaram contra o corpo principal, que foi pego de surpresa pelo fogo do inesperado trimestre de onde veio.

Eu agora vi duas ou três brigadas movendo-se em linha para nos ajudar, na outra extremidade do bosque, e minha brigada foi virada para a frente assim que toda ela passou por trás da saliência e abriu fogo contra o inimigo , que começou a se retirar em direção ao pique em grande confusão, após desferir um ou dois voleios. Eu não tinha a intenção de ir para a frente em perseguição, pois vi uma brigada de tropas vindo em nossa ajuda movendo-se para a floresta em sua extremidade à minha direita, de modo a chegar ao flanco meu se avançasse, e eu estava, portanto, com medo de que ambos ficassem confusos com a colisão e que a minha ficasse exposta ao fogo um do outro. Além disso, a outra coluna do inimigo avançava à minha esquerda, controlada, entretanto, por Grigsby e Stafford com seus homens, auxiliados pelo 31º Regimento da Virgínia, que estava naquele flanco. A brigada, no entanto, sem esperar ordens, correu atrás da coluna em retirada, expulsando-a inteiramente da floresta e, apesar dos meus esforços para fazê-lo, não consegui detê-la até que seu flanco e retaguarda estivessem expostos ao fogo. da coluna à esquerda.

Eu então vi outras tropas inimigas movendo-se rapidamente através do planalto do pique para a coluna, em oposição a Grigsby e Stafford, e ordenei que minha brigada recuasse por uma curta distância, a fim de mudar de frente e avançar contra o inimigo naquela direção . No momento em que eu estava reformando minha linha para esse propósito, a brigada de Semmes e dois regimentos da brigada de Barksdale, da divisão de McLaws, e a brigada de Anderson da divisão de D. Jones surgiram, e o todo, incluindo o pequeno comando de Grigsby e Stafford, avançou e varreu o inimigo dos bosques para os campos, e o inimigo recuou em grande desordem para outro bosque além daquele de onde havia sido expulso. Assim que o inimigo foi assim repelido, chamei de volta meus regimentos e fiz com que fossem reformados, quando foram novamente postados em sua posição anterior no pequeno cume antes mencionado. Assim que sua infantaria se retirou, o inimigo abriu um tremendo fogo com bombas e granadas sobre a floresta ocupada por nós, o que continuou por algum tempo.

As tropas que se opuseram a nós neste último caso consistiam na divisão de Sedgwik do corpo de Sumner, que não havia sido previamente combatida, apoiada pelo corpo de Mansfield, sob Williams, e que avançou para um novo ataque à nossa extrema esquerda. Durante seu avanço, as colunas inimigas haviam recebido um fogo violento dos canhões comandados pelo General Stuart em uma colina na parte traseira de nossa esquerda, o que contribuiu muito materialmente para o repulsão, e o General Stuart perseguiu a força em retirada em seu flanco por alguma distância, com suas peças de artilharia e o remanescente do 13º Regimento da Virgínia sob o capitão Winston

Minha brigada na época contava com menos de 1.000 oficiais e homens presentes, e Grigsby e Stafford tinham entre duzentos e trezentos; no entanto, com essa pequena força confrontamos, por muito tempo, a coluna formidável de Sumner e a mantivemos sob controle até que os reforços chegassem em nosso auxílio. Se tivéssemos nos retirado por medo de sermos flanqueados ou isolados, o inimigo teria obtido a posse da floresta, onde estávamos, e, como conseqüência necessária, das colinas em sua retaguarda, o que teria resultado em uma derrota decisiva para nós, e uma provável destruição de nosso exército.

Enquanto essas operações em nossa extrema esquerda estavam acontecendo, todas as quais ocorreram na parte da manhã, duas outras divisões do corpo de Sumner, French e Richardson, estavam se movendo contra nosso centro ocupado pelo General D. Hill, e o forçaram a voltar após um luta dura, bem na época em que eu estava lutando com as duas colunas do inimigo na floresta. Uma parte dessa força movendo-se contra Hood perto da Igreja de Dunkard, foi recebida e repelida pelas brigadas de Kershaw 'S e Cobb da divisão de McLaws, a parte da brigada de Barksdale que não veio em meu auxílio e a brigada de Ransom da divisão de Walker, em ao mesmo tempo que a força oposta a mim foi repelida.

Não muito depois de minha brigada ter sido reformada e colocada em sua posição anterior, o coronel Hodges, no comando da brigada de Armistead da divisão de Anderson, subiu e tomou o lugar de minha brigada, que foi então posicionada ao longo da orla de o planalto à direita de Hodges, voltado para o pique de Hagerstown. Posteriormente, o general McLaws colocou a brigada de Barksdale à minha direita e as brigadas de Kershaw e Cobb à esquerda de Hodges. Minha linha foi estabelecida ao longo da borda da floresta e do planalto após a repulsa do inimigo, estendeu-se além de onde a esquerda da divisão de Jackson descansava à luz do dia, e envolveu dentro dela todos os nossos mortos e feridos, e quase todos os de o inimigo, neste último caso à nossa esquerda.

A essa altura, o major Wilson havia retornado com a informação de que só havia conseguido encontrar uma parte da brigada de Hays, que estava sob o comando do general Hays, que estava com o general Hood, e que não estava em condições de prestar qualquer serviço. Afirmou ainda que os remanescentes das outras brigadas tinham ido para a retaguarda com o propósito de reformar e recolher os retardatários, mas que ele não tinha conseguido encontrá-los.

O inimigo continuou a bombardear o bosque em que estivemos por algum tempo, causando, no entanto, pouco ou nenhum dano, pois estávamos protegidos, e seus disparos e granadas passaram por cima de nossas cabeças. Algumas de nossas baterias, que haviam sido trazidas para as colinas em nossa retaguarda, abriram fogo na floresta onde estávamos, em duas ocasiões, com a impressão de que estavam ocupadas pelo inimigo, e eu tive que mandar mandar parar . Algumas peças de nossa artilharia foram movidas para o ângulo do planalto à minha direita e abertas contra o inimigo, mas logo foram obrigadas a recuar pelo metal superior e pelo número de armas opostas a elas.

Permanecemos em posição durante o resto do dia, assim como as tropas à minha esquerda e as imediatamente à minha direita. O inimigo não nos atacou mais nesta parte da linha, mas houve várias manifestações como se para um ataque, e do topo de uma árvore na borda da floresta um vigia relatou três linhas de batalha além do pique com uma linha de escaramuçadores estendendo-se quase até o pique. Houve, no entanto, algumas tentativas contra nossa linha mais à direita, e no final da tarde um ataque violento foi feito à nossa extrema direita pelo corpo de Burnsides, que expulsou algumas de nossas tropas da ponte sobre o Antietam naquele flanco, e estava forçando para trás a nossa direita, quando algumas das brigadas de A. Hill, que estavam chegando de Harper's Ferry, foram em auxílio das tropas engajadas naquele flanco, e o inimigo foi rechaçado em considerável confusão.

Este caso, que terminou pouco antes de escurecer, encerrou a luta no dia 16, e depois de uma luta muito prolongada e desesperada, nosso centro foi forçado a recuar um pouco, mas as posições em nossos flancos foram mantidas.

O ataque sob o comando de Jackson na madrugada havia sido feito pelo corpo de Hooker e Mansfield, numerando, de acordo com a declaração de McClellan, 24.982 homens presentes e aptos para o serviço, e esta força foi resistida pela divisão de Jackson e as três brigadas de Ewell, e subsequentemente pelas duas brigadas de Hood, auxiliadas pelas brigadas de D. Hill enviadas para ajudar Hood, até que o corpo de Sumner, numerando 18.813 homens, surgiu por volta das nove da manhã para ajudar os de Hooker e Mansfield. Hood foi então obrigado a retirar-se para a floresta perto da Igreja de Dunkard, e Sumner, agora no comando de toda a ala direita do inimigo, preparou-se para outro ataque com seu corpo apoiado por Hooker e Mansfield. Este ataque foi feito à nossa esquerda pela divisão de Sedgwick apoiada pelo corpo de Mansfield, e no centro pelas divisões de Fench e Richardson apoiados pelo corpo de Hooker, e foi repelido como foi declarado, Hill, entretanto, perdendo terreno no centro até certo ponto. O corpo de Franklin, com 12.300 homens, foi então levado para o apoio de Sumner, chegando um pouco depois do meio-dia, e um novo ataque à floresta em que nossa esquerda descansava foi projetado, mas foi preso por ordens do General Sumner.

Outro ataque, no entanto, foi feito na posição de Hill no centro, que teve algum sucesso em razão da remoção de uma de suas brigadas, por engano, de sua posição, mas o avanço do inimigo foi detido pelas brigadas de Walker e uma parte da A divisão do Anderson, que chegou em seu apoio. O inimigo havia então feito o ataque com o corpo de Burnsides, numerando 13.819, à direita de Longstreet, no Antietam, detido pela divisão de D. Jones, que foi repelido com a chegada das brigadas de Hill como afirmado. O que foi dito acima é um relato condensado das principais características desta batalha, tirado dos relatórios de ambos os lados, e os números relativos à força do corpo de McClellan foram tirados de seu próprio relatório. O corpo de Porter de seu exército, numerando 12.930, foi mantido na reserva.

No final da tarde, depois que ficou claro que nenhum outro ataque à nossa esquerda seria feito, cavalguei para a retaguarda em busca das brigadas desaparecidas e encontrei cerca de cem homens da brigada de Lawton que haviam sido recolhidos pelo major Lowe, o oficial graduado da brigada saiu, e eu os movemos até onde minha própria brigada estava, e colocados à sua direita. Ficamos de braços dados a noite toda e, por volta da luz da manhã do dia 18, o general Hays trouxe cerca de noventa homens de sua brigada, que estavam postados à minha esquerda. Durante a manhã, o Capitão Feagins, o oficial sênior deixou a brigada de Trimble, trouxe cerca de duzentos dessa brigada, e eles foram postados na minha retaguarda.

O inimigo permaneceu na nossa frente durante todo o dia, sem fazer qualquer demonstração de ataque à nossa esquerda, mas houve alguns disparos entre as linhas de combate mais à direita. O inimigo na minha frente imediata mostrou grande ansiedade em se apossar de seus mortos e feridos naquela parte do terreno, e várias bandeiras de trégua se aproximaram de nós, mas, creio eu, sem autoridade da fonte adequada. No entanto, uma espécie de trégua informal prevaleceu por um tempo, e alguns dos mortos e gravemente feridos do inimigo e daquela parte do nosso exército que havia sido engajada pela primeira vez na manhã do dia 17, foram trocados mesmo enquanto os escaramuçadores estavam atirando um no outro à direita. Isso foi finalmente interrompido e o inimigo informou que nenhuma bandeira de trégua poderia ser reconhecida a menos que viesse do quartel-general de seu exército. Permanecemos em posição no dia 18 durante todo o dia, sem qualquer manifestação séria do inimigo em qualquer parte de nossa linha, e depois de escurecer nos retiramos com o propósito de recruzar o Potomac. Eu mantive minha posição até que meus escaramuçadores na frente foram substituídos por uma parte de Fitz. A cavalaria de Lee então se retirou em cumprimento às ordens anteriormente recebidas do General Jackson, levando comigo a brigada de Armistead sob o coronel Hodges, que não havia recebido ordens de seu comandante de divisão, e trazendo, acredito, a retaguarda da infantaria de todo o nosso exército . Encontramos um grande número de carroças e tropas concentradas no Vau de Boteler, e a divisão agora comandada por mim só cruzou depois do nascer do sol. Depois de passar o rio, a divisão formou-se em linha de batalha do lado da Virgínia, sob a direção do General Longstreet, e permaneceu em posição por várias horas, até que o inimigo apareceu na outra margem e abriu sobre nós com artilharia.

Posteriormente, recebi a ordem de deixar a brigada de Lawton, agora aumentada para cerca de quatrocentos homens sob o comando do coronel Lamar do 61º Regimento da Geórgia (que havia retornado após a batalha do dia 17), em Boteler Ford, sob o comando do Brigadeiro General Pendleton, que era encarregado da defesa da travessia, e fui ordenado a deslocar-me com o resto da divisão para Martinsburg.

Todo o nosso exército com seus trens havia sido recruzado com segurança e isso encerrou as operações devidamente conectadas com a batalha de Sharpsburg.

Nessa batalha, a divisão de Ewell perdeu em 119 mortos, em 1.115 feridos e em 38 desaparecidos, sendo uma perda total de 1.352 de menos de 3.400 homens e oficiais levados à ação. A perda em minha própria brigada foi em 18 mortos e 156 feridos, e entre os últimos estavam o coronel Smith e o tenente-coronel Gibson do 49º Regimento da Virgínia, ambos gravemente, e o primeiro recebendo três ferimentos distintos antes do encerramento da luta, no qual ele estava envolvido. A perda em todo o nosso exército foi pesada, mas não tão grande quanto a estimativa feita pelo inimigo.


Guerra civil Americana

Observação: as informações de áudio do vídeo estão incluídas no texto abaixo.

A Batalha de Antietam foi travada em 17 de setembro de 1862 entre a União e a Confederação durante a Guerra Civil. Aconteceu perto de Sharpsburg, Maryland. As forças do sul foram lideradas pelo general Robert E. Lee e as forças do norte foram lideradas pelo general George B. McClellan.


A Batalha de Antietam por Kurz e Allison

General Robert E. Lee vai para a ofensiva

Até a Batalha de Antietam, o exército confederado estivera principalmente na defensiva. Todas as principais batalhas foram travadas em solo sulista. No entanto, após o sucesso da Segunda Batalha de Bull Run, o General Lee decidiu que era hora de partir para a ofensiva.

Em 3 de setembro de 1862, o exército confederado, liderado pelo general Robert E. Lee, entrou no estado de Maryland. Eles esperavam invadir o norte até a Pensilvânia. Tanto o general Lee quanto o presidente confederado Jefferson Davis pensaram que uma invasão bem-sucedida convenceria a França e a Grã-Bretanha a reconhecer oficialmente a Confederação como nação.

A batalha começou na manhã de 17 de setembro de 1862 quando o exército da União, sob o comando do General Joseph Hooker, atacou o exército confederado no flanco esquerdo. Ao longo do dia a batalha continuaria. Primeiro a União atacaria, depois os confederados contra-atacariam. A luta foi feroz e o dia seria um dos mais sangrentos da história americana.

Apesar de estar em desvantagem numérica, o exército confederado continuou a se manter firme ao longo do dia. O general McClellan foi cauteloso e nunca comprometeu toda a sua força, enquanto Robert E. Lee tinha todo o seu exército engajado na batalha para conter os soldados da União.

  1. A Fase da Manhã - A primeira parte da batalha aconteceu nos campos de milho ao norte da cidade quando um grupo de soldados da União conhecido como Brigada de Ferro atacou os confederados.
  2. A fase do meio-dia - Conforme a batalha continuava, a luta mais violenta do meio do dia foi em uma estrada submersa. Tantos homens morreram aqui que a estrada ganhou o apelido de "Pista Sangrenta".
  3. A Fase da Tarde - No período da tarde, os combates mudaram para o sul. Union General Ambrose Burnside and his men charged across a bridge that would become known to history as "Burnside's Bridge."

The next day, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan's forces. However, he also began to retreat and by nightfall of the 18th, the Confederate army was leaving Maryland, retreating back to Virginia.

From a military standpoint, neither side was a winner in the Battle of Antietam. The North, however, claimed victory as Lee's army was forced to retreat from Maryland and Union soil. Also, Great Britain and France continued to not recognize the Confederacy as a legal nation. At the same time, Abraham Lincoln was disappointed that General McClellan did not pursue the Confederate army when they were wounded and retreating. More decisive action from McClellan may have ended the Civil War much earlier.

Proclamação de Emancipação

One of the most important results of the battle was that Abraham Lincoln decided to use the victory as an opportunity to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. This document promised freedom for slaves in the South once the Union took back control.


Shortly after routing the Union Army of Virginia under Maj. Gen. John Pope in the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Battle of Manassas) in August, 1862, Lee led his own Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac into Maryland. Reasons for this invasion included taking pressure off the Shenandoah Valley&mdash"The Breadbasket of the Confederacy"&mdashat harvest time encouraging European support for the Confederacy by winning a battle on Northern soil and demoralizing Northerners to reduce their support for the war while encouraging the slave-holding state of Maryland to secede and join the Confederacy.

Believing the routed Union army would require time to rebuild, Lee took the bold step of dividing his own army, sending portions of it to capture various objectives. Primarily, these objectives involved using part of Lieutenant General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson’s corps to capture the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), while the largest corps, that of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, proceeded on the road toward Sharpsburg. Lee informed his commanders of their routes and objectives in Order No. 191 on September 9.

In a series of events too strange to be believable in fiction, a copy of Order No. 191 was used to bundle a few cigars and the bundle was inadvertently dropped in a field on the Best Farm, where it was found by Federal soldiers of the 27th Indiana Regiment. The marching orders were taken to Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who had been recalled from the Virginia peninsula along with the Army of the Potomac (see Seven Days Battle).

Whatever his flaws as a field commander, "Little Mac" was an organizer who had the confidence of his troops. On September 12, the Army of Virginia was disbanded and absorbed into the Army of the Potomac, with McClellan as the commander&mdashJohn Pope was sent to Minnesota to fight Indians&mdash and he had the army ready for action sooner than Lee had anticipated.

The benefits of the intelligence windfall that dropped into McClellan’s hands were blunted, however, because a Southern sympathizer informed Lee that McClellan had a copy of his orders, and because McClellan moved with his typical glacial pace. He allowed 17 hours to pass before marching toward Lee’s force, allowing time for the Confederates to begin regrouping around the town of Sharpsburg at the base of South Mountain.


Burnside's Bridge and the Confederate Retreat

Burnside's Bridge Overlooking Antietam Creek

Toward the later afternoon, the battle moved to the southern end of the battlefield, particularly for control of a bridge spanning Antietam Creek that would come to be known as Burnside's Bridge. Union Major General Ambrose Burnside ordered his soldiers to storm the bridge, where they took heavy fire from Confederate gunners. It took three separate attempts before Union soldiers successfully crossed. While Burnside's men crossed the narrow bridge with their artillery and wagons, General Robert E. Lee took the time to reinforce the right flank of his army. Numerous assaults and repulsions marked the remainder of the afternoon. By 5:30 p.m., it was clear there would be no winner. In total, the two sides suffered almost 23,000 casualties, making it the single bloodiest day in American military history. Although Lee expected another Union assault on the 18th, it never came, and an informal truce was established so each side could collect and tend to the injured and dead. On the night of the 18th, Confederate forces left Sharpsburg, crossing the Potomac River back to Virginia.


Spotlight: Battle of Antietam


On this day in 1862, at about five thirty in the morning and after a long night of light rain and fitful sleep, Confederate artillery opened fire, inaugurating what would become the bloodiest twelve hours in American history: the Battle of Antietam.
Readers of these pages will already be familiar with many of the events that led up to this day: the Union defeat at Second Manassas George B. McClellan& # 8216s return to command Robert E. Lee‘s decision to enter Maryland and then, once he was there, to split his army up the loss by Confederates and then discovery by McClellan’s men of a copy of Special Orders No. 191, detailing Lee’s plan and then the subsequent Battle of South Mountain.
All of which nearly caused Lee to say “never mind” to the whole invading-Maryland thing, but in the end he decided he could make a stand at the little village of Sharpsburg. Which he did, on September 17.
The ensuing battle occurred on what the historian Stephen W. Sears has called “a largely anonymous landscape, except for such casual everyday designations as this farmer’s woodlot or that farmer’s lane or someone else’s cornfield. The war would change all that, imprinting names of its own for the historical record—names like the East Woods, the West Woods, the Cornfield, the Sunken Road.” And don’t forget Dunker Church, which looks peaceful enough now, but was less so in the days following the battle.

And then there was Burnside’s Bridge, one of three bridges across Antietam Creek and where the Union general Ambrose E. Burnside famously attacked sometime between nine and ten in the morning. This is from our entry:

Burnside made several small runs at the 500 Confederates on the west bank of the Antietam, but the bridge—an arched, stone walkway—was too narrow to mount an effective charge. Finally, Burnside sent troops downstream, where they found a place to ford the creek and then came upon the Confederates from behind. At the same time, a small storming party made one last rush on what came to be known as Burnside’s Bridge. One Virginia soldier descrito the fighting as “volumes of musketry and noise of the artillery … mingled in one vast roar that shook the earth.” By one o’clock the crossing was in Union hands.

What might it have been like for Union soldiers wading across the creek? The historians Mark Grimsley (wading) and Brooks Simpson (Yankees cap) demonstrate:

By day’s end, both armies were pretty well spent, but when Lee retreated back to Virginia on the 19th, he conceded victory to McClellan. In other words, as our contributor, Tom Clemens, insists, Antietam was não a draw. It was a Union victory—one that made the Proclamação de Emancipação possible and, for that reason, changed the course of the war. Ironically, it also cost McClellan his job. The conventional wisdom is that McClellan was arrogant and slow, and refused to pursue Lee and destroy the Army of Northern Virginia. In our entry, Clemens offers a different take:

For political reasons, the president was happy to capitalize on the Exército do Potomac‘s success, but he still refused to accord much credit to its leader, whom he viewed as a potential political rival. Even in 1862, it was well established that successful generals became presidents, and the Republicans were not anxious to jeopardize their political control by lionizing McClellan, who was a Democrat.


According to Clemens, McClellan’s army was “exhausted and poorly supplied,” and Lincoln insisted that it should “march overland to Richmond, a strategy the general, and Winfield Scott before him, had long opposed. When McClellan’s rate of advance did not meet Lincoln’s expectations, he was removed from command on November 5. Not coincidentally, this came one day after the midterm elections, when McClellan’s popularity could no longer hurt the administration.”
You can read more about Clemens’s argument that McClellan was “a victim of history” aqui.
One can truly geek out on Guerra civil battles like Antietam. When I was a kid it was my favorite battle to study, although that sounds awfully strange to my ears nowadays: a “favorite” battle? Ask the kid in the photograph at top whether it was seu favorite battle. Alexander Gardner, a Scotsman by birth, took that image, by the way. Then working for Mathew Brady, he and his assistant, John F. Gibson, arrived on the battlefield a day or two after the fighting had stopped and composed ninety-five haunting photographs of the dead. These were later exhibited in Brady’s New York City gallery, prompting a review in the New York Times:

The living that throng Broadway care little perhaps for the Dead at Antietam, but we fancy they would jostle less carelessly down the great thoroughfare, saunter less at their ease, were a few dripping bodies, fresh from the field, laid along the pavement.

Você pode read the rest here. Or, if you have the patience for academics using phrases like “interstitial spaces,” you can watch a lecture on Gardner’s photographs here. And, finally, if you’d like to take a pretty cool virtual tour of the Antietam battlefield, go here.
IMAGES :He sleeps his last sleep. A Confederate soldier who after being wounded had evidently dragged himself to a little ravine on the hillside where he died. Sept. 1862,” Alexander Gardner (Library of Congress) “Dunker Church, Antietam Battlefield, near Sharpsburg, Maryland” by Carol M. Highsmith (Library of Congress) “Between the North Woods and The Cornfield—Antietam Battlefield, MD” by Flikr user Jeff Tsuruoka, May 11, 2008 detail of Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan, October 3, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, by Alexander Gardner (Library of Congress)


Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg

source : ‘the american civil war – the war in the east 1861-may 1863’ essential histories 004, Osprey publishing

The climactic clash came on 17 september at the battle of Antietam (called Sharpsburg by most confederates). Straggling and desertion had reduced Lee’s army to fewer than 40.000 men. McClellan’s army numbered more than 80.000, though a quarter had been in service only a few weeks. The battle unfolded from north to south in three distinct phases. Between about 6 and 9.30 am, federals from three corps pounded the confederate left under Stonewall Jackson. Lee shifted troops from his right, commanded by Longstreet, to shore up his harried left. Particularly vicious action occurred in a 23-acre (9.3ha) cornfield owned by a farmer named David R. Miller. Some 8.000 men, including more than 80 percent of one Texas regiment, fell in the midst of cornstalks cut down by musketry and cannon fire. This part of the fighting ended with the near destruction of a Union division that stumbled into a deadly crossfire in woods near a modest brick church that served a Dunker congregation.

The second phase focused on the middle of Lee’s position and lasted from 9.30 am until about 1 pm. Two confederate brigades situated in a sunken country lane held this section of the line. Together with other units that came to their aid, these brigades beat back a series of Union attacks before being flanked and driven out at great loss. Lee had no reinforcements at hand, and his army teetered on the edge of utter defeat. Union division commander Israel Richardson, whose soldiers had broken the rebel line, pleaded with McClellan to send in reinforcements. Thousands of uncommitted federals stood nearby, but McClellan chose not to send them forward lest he leave himself without a substantial reserve. A staggering opportunity slipped away as action died down along what the soldiers later christened the ‘bloody lane’.

The battle closed on the confederate right, where major-general Ambrose E. Burnside orchestrated an unimpressive tactical offensive against a handful of Southern defenders. Fighting on this part of the field began just as the action in the ‘sunken road’ subsided. Two federal regiments crossed a stone bridge over Antietam creek (later dubbed ‘Burnside’s bridge’) under fire, after which Burnside took his time preparing for a final advance. If successful, Burnside’s soldiers could cut Lee and his army off from the only available ford over the Potomac. By about 3 pm, Union attackers had approached to within 250 yards (230m) of the road to the ford when elements of A.P. Hill’s division slammed into their left flank. A difficult 17-mile (27km) march from Harpers Ferry had carried Hill’s leading brigades to the field just in time to disrupt Burnside’s attacks. The battle closed as the federals fell back towards Antietam creek.

The exhausted armies had waged the costliest single day’s combat in United States history. McClellan’s loss approached 12.500, and Lee’s exceeded 10.300. Another 2.300 federals and 2.700 confederates had fallen at South mountain on 14 september. One Southerner remarked that the ‘sun seemed almost to go backwards’ during the fighting on the 17th. A Union soldier counted himself fortunate that his regiment did not have to view the shattered landscape in full daylight. ‘We were glad to march over the field at night‘, he told his parents, ‘for we could not see the horrible sights so well. Oh what a smell, some of the men vomit as they went along‘.

The army of northern Virginia remained on the field during 18 september, after which McClellan permitted Lee to recross the Potomac unmolested. A federal foray across the river at Shepherdstown late on the 19th promised to disrupt Lee’s withdrawal, but A.P. Hill’s division counterattacked the following day and drove the Northerners back to the left bank of the Potomac. The campaign closed without a determined Union effort to pursue the confederates.

McClellan’s handling of the campaign inspired heated debate. While some applauded his success in stopping Lee’s invasion, others inside the army of the Potomac and behind the lines in the North believed he had lost a tantalizing opportunity. A newspaper correspondent voiced a common criticism in wishing McClellan had attacked again on 18 september: ‘We could have driven them into the river or captured them. … It was one of the supreme moments when by daring something, the destiny of the nation might have been changed‘. No one experienced more bitter disappointment

than Abraham Lincoln. Although he used Lee’s retreat as a pretext to issue a preliminary emancipation proclamation on 22 september, a step that signalled a profound shift in the course of the war, he nevertheless believed his commander had once again shown insufficient aggressiveness.

Thousands of Union soldiers had remained out of the action on 17 september (Lee, in contrast, had committed every available man) and reinforcements had reached the field on the 18th, yet still McClellan refused to advance. He insisted that his men were worn out, too few in number to harass the rebels, and poorly supplied. Secretary of the navy Gideon Welles likely mirrored Lincoln’s attitude when he wrote on 19 september that he had no news from the army, ‘except that, instead of following up the victory, attacking and capturing the rebels‘, McClellan was allowing Lee to escape across the Potomac. An obviously unhappy Welles added: ‘McClellan says they are crossing, and that Pleasonton is after them. Oh dear!‘.

McClellan typically lavished praise on himself. ‘I feel some little pride‘, he wrote to his wife on 20 september, ‘in having, with a beaten and demoralised army, defeated Lee so utterly and saved the North so completely. Well – one of these days history will I trust do me justice in deciding that it was not my fault that the campaign of the peninsula was not successful‘. The next day he complained that Lincoln and the secretary of war had not congratulated him sufficiently. But he assured his wife that a higher power had blessed his work: ‘I have the satisfaction of knowing that god has in his mercy a second time made me the instrument for saving the nation & am content with the honor that has fallen to my lot‘.

If McClellan erred on the side of caution in september 1862, Robert E. Lee might have been too audacious. Thousands of confederates had fallen at Antietam when Lee stood to gain very little either tactically or strategically. The decision to remain on the field on the 18th, with a powerful enemy in his front and just a single ford available to reach Virginia, might have jeopardized his entire army. He had driven his worn army relentlessly, misjudging the men’s physical capacity and watching thousands fall out of the ranks from hunger, debility or a simple unwillingness to be pushed any further. The army had survived, however, and as it lay in camps near Winchester, Lee congratulated the soldiers who had discharged their duty. History offered ‘few examples of greater fortitude and endurance than this army has exhibited‘, he assured them, ‘to your tried valor and patriotism the country looks with confidence for deliverance and safety‘.

Lee did not exaggerate how important his soldiers’ activities would be to future confederate morale. No one could claim a clear-cut success for the army. Marylanders had not rushed to the confederate colors, and the army fell back to Virginia long before Lee had expected. Yet he had accomplished many of his logistical goals by virtue of McClellan’s failure to press him after 17 september. More significantly, between june and september 1862, the army of northern Virginia had crafted spectacular victories that helped cancel the effects of defeats in other theaters. The retreat from Maryland, itself counterbalanced by the capture of thousands of federals at Harpers Ferry and the tidy success at Shepherdstown, did not detract appreciably from laurels won at Richmond and second Manassas. Similarly, the bitter contest at Sharpsburg, seen by most confederates as a bloody drawn battle, confirmed the gallantry of Lee’s soldiers. In the space of less than three months, the confederate people had come to expect good news from Lee and the army of northern Virginia, investing ever more emotional capital in them. That investment led to a belief in possible victory that would be as important as any other factor in lengthening the life of the Confederacy.

Abraham Lincoln lost all patience with McClellan in the wake of Antietam. The outspoken general reiterated his opposition to emancipation, angering republican politicians already eager to see him relieved. The principal problem from Lincoln’s standpoint lay in McClellan’s refusal to mount a new campaign into Virginia. In mid-october, an exasperated Lincoln asked whether his general was ‘over-cautious when you assume that you can not do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?‘. McClellan finally began crossing the Potomac on 26 october. His army took six days to make the passage (Lee’s had done it in one night after Antietam) and then marched slowly towards Warrenton. Nearly seven weeks had elapsed since Lee’s retreat, and Lincoln had reached his breaking point. On 5 november, the day after the northern off-year elections (elections held in between presidential elections), Lincoln issued orders replacing McClellan with Ambrose E. Burnside. Little Mac received the orders late in the evening on 7 november. He took an emotional leave from the army three days later, having played his final scene in the war’s military drama.


Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, 17 September 1862

American Civil War battle that ended Robert E. Lee&rsquos first invasion of the north. After victory at Second Bull Run or Manassas (29-30 August), Lee was convinced that the best chance of Confederate victory was an invasion of the north. At best, a major Confederate victory on northern soil might convince foreign governments to recognise the independence of the south, and perhaps persuade Maryland to join the rebels, a step that might even result in the capture of Washington.

However, Lee&rsquos move north was very poorly handled. At this point he seems to have held the Union army, and its commanders, almost in contempt. In order to capture Harpers Ferry, he split his army into five segments, on the assumption that by the time news of this reached Union ears, his army would be back together again.

This was improbable to say the least. McClellan was receiving a great deal of accurate intelligence about Lee&rsquos movements now he was in Maryland, but on 13 September he received a stroke of luck that should have allowed him to roll up Lee&rsquos entire army. A copy of Lee&rsquos Special Order 191, detailing his plan for the attack on Harpers Ferry, was found by two Union solders. Worse, the copy was written in handwriting that was recognised as belonging to Lee&rsquos assistant adjutant-general. The order was genuine, and McClellan accepted it as such.

Even with this information, McClellan still proved incapable of moving quickly. On 14 September he managed to force his way through the mountain passes north of Harpers Ferry, but then halted again. Harpers Ferry did not fall to the Confederates until the following day, 15 September. On that same day, Lee decided to move his part of the army, some 15,000 men, south to Sharpsburg, with Antietam Creek running south to north just to his east. The first Federal units reached the east bank of the creek at noon on the same day.

This was McClellan&rsquos great chance. The bulk of his army was no more than half a days march away. On 15 September he could have attacked Lee&rsquos 15,000-20,000 men with most of his 80,000. The following day part of the Harpers Ferry force reached Lee, but even at the end of the day he only had 25,000 men. Still McClellan did not attack.

Finally, on 17 September McClellan attacked. The resulting Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg saw a series of determined but uncoordinated Union attacks that came close to breaking Lee&rsquos line on several occasions. On each occasion, McClellan failed to support the attack, and convinced that he was still outnumbered never used his reserves. Antietam saw the highest casualty figures of any single days fighting in the entire war. Lee lost 2,700 dead, 9,024 wounded and 2,000 missing out of a total force of 40,000. Union losses were 2,108 killed, 9,549 wound and 753 missing out, similar total numbers out of a much larger army.

McClellan was given yet another chance on 18 September. Lee remained in his lines all day, with his forces down to at most 30,000 men. McClellan had nearly that many fresh soldiers who had taken no part in the fighting on the previous day, but was still convinced that Lee had massive reserves, and did not attack. Finally, during the evening of 18 September Lee withdrew across the Potomac back into Virginia.

Antietam was McClellan&rsquos last great chance to defeat Lee. On 7 November he was finally replaced as commander of the Army of the Potomac. He persisted in claiming Antietam as a military masterpiece. Although it was far from that, it did have long reaching effects. For some time Lincoln had been waiting for a victory before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam was enough of a victory. The Proclamation helped change the nature of the war, giving the Union cause a great moral advantage. Antietam also discouraged any thoughts the British government might have had about recognising the Confederacy. Lee&rsquos gamble had failed.


Battle of Sharpsburg or Antietam - History


Antietam Then

It did not provide Abraham Lincoln with a reason to promote General Grant from the western theatre, even though his displeasure after the battle of Antietam would lead to his final removal of Union General George McClellan from commander of the army and spur his election rival in the presidential election of 1864. There would be several commanders in between before the ascension of Grant after Vicksburg. What made Antietam important, beyond the terrible fighting that occurred all over its cornfields, sunken roads, fords, bridges, woods, and hillsides, was the rationale. The northern victory at Antietam, no matter how marginal it may have been, gave President Abraham Lincoln the right time to announce to all nations on earth that the rationale for this war was finally going to change. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation in response to the Union victory on these Maryland fields, changing forever the idea that the Civil War was mostly about states rights, and yes, the idea about whether new states entering into the Union would be free or slave. It changed the rationale to that of a war that was about human dignity, and whether slavery should end, at some time in the future, altogether. Once the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, even before its enactment the next year, and in years to come, it would predominantly halt the idea in the European capitals of London and Paris that recognition of the Confederacy would come, once a victory on northern soil was achieved. They were not hesitant to be seen as backers of a fight for slavery. Once General Robert E. Lee would finally move into northern territory again in June of 1863, he had lost one main rationale for northern victory. Antietam had cost him that.

The day of September 17, 1862, was an infamous day. The armies of both North and South had gathered on these verdant farm fields of Maryland over the several days before. Fighting had begun on the north end of the field the day before, but it had been nothing like the terrible slaughter that was about to begin. It was a foggy and damp morning as the troops began to mass for battle. For twelve hours they would fight, from the initial section of the battle in the north with Union General Hooker advancing into the Cornfield, East, and West Woods. As the day advanced, fighting continued around the Dunker Church (historic photo left with battle damage, by Alexander Gardner, September 1862, courtesy LOC), then into the center of the battlefield at the Sunken Road, and later at Burnside Bridge, where General Ambrose Burnside's men would attack the Confederate right. The small force of Confederates on the steep hillside above the bridge would hold steady for three hours, before finally relenting at 1:00 p.m. At that point, the Union army was winning the day, despite its terrible toll in men, but a delay by Burnside to continue pushing the battle allowed Confederate troops approaching the Harpers Ferry to get into position, and stem the advance of the Union army.

One day later, the Confederate army retreated, allowing the Union to claim victory, and Lincoln to have a victory that would allow the Proclamation to emancipate. Antietam, the creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland, and the battlefield that would forever hold its name, would now take its place in American history as one of the most important landscapes, a symbol of the day that would change the face of the the United States forever.

Dunker Church - The small white church was the site of a good part of the major fighting and sustained damage from the shot and shells of the troops.

The Cornfield - The bloody sight of a massive conflict between Union and Confederate troops that saw waves and men within its stalks cut down with one hour. This was the site of most of the heavy casualties of the day, 23,000 killed, wounded, and missing, making this the bloodiest day in Civil War history.

The Sunken Road - As the battle of September 17 moved forward into the central part of the day, this central area was defined by a sunken farm road, six to eight feet below the surface of the fields. Confederate troops massed there in defense of the middle section of their line. Their fire into approaching Union soldiers was a heinous example of Civil War fighting. Eventually, Union soldiers overtook the Sunken Road. Scores of bodies were strewn along the fence work and depression.

Burnside Bridge - On the southern end of the field, northern troops were massed in a valley beside Antietam Creek. To join the day's fighting, they were ordered to cross the Burnside Bridge spanning the water and take the hillside filled with Confederate soldiers. This narrow bridge was crossed, and the hill taken, but many casualties ensued.

Photo above: Dunker Church and the Maryland Monument on Antietam National Battlefield. Below: Sunken Road in the center of the Antietam Battlefield.



Antietam Now

Antietam and Sharpsburg Today - One of the best examples of an intact battlefield and growing through the last decade and today due to extensive preservation efforts, the almost pristine landscape allows the Civil War visitor to get a sense of the scope of battle and its landscape as well as any of the preserved battlefields across the Virginia theatre. Most of the major sites are intact, including Dunker Church, the Cornfield, the Sunken Road, Burnside Bridge, as well as the Pry House, which served as General McClellan's headquarters.


Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg

The climactic clash came on 17 september at the battle of Antietam (called Sharpsburg by most confederates). Straggling and desertion had reduced Lee’s army to fewer than 40.000 men. McClellan’s army numbered more than 80.000, though a quarter had been in service only a few weeks. The battle unfolded from north to south in three distinct phases. Between about 6 and 9.30 am, federals from three corps pounded the confederate left under Stonewall Jackson. Lee shifted troops from his right, commanded by Longstreet, to shore up his harried left. Particularly vicious action occurred in a 23-acre (9.3ha) cornfield owned by a farmer named David R. Miller. Some 8.000 men, including more than 80 percent of one Texas regiment, fell in the midst of cornstalks cut down by musketry and cannon fire. This part of the fighting ended with the near destruction of a Union division that stumbled into a deadly crossfire in woods near a modest brick church that served a Dunker congregation.

The second phase focused on the middle of Lee’s position and lasted from 9.30 am until about 1 pm. Two confederate brigades situated in a sunken country lane held this section of the line. Together with other units that came to their aid, these brigades beat back a series of Union attacks before being flanked and driven out at great loss. Lee had no reinforcements at hand, and his army teetered on the edge of utter defeat. Union division commander Israel Richardson, whose soldiers had broken the rebel line, pleaded with McClellan to send in reinforcements. Thousands of uncommitted federals stood nearby, but McClellan chose not to send them forward lest he leave himself without a substantial reserve. A staggering opportunity slipped away as action died down along what the soldiers later christened the ‘bloody lane’.

The battle closed on the confederate right, where major-general Ambrose E. Burnside orchestrated an unimpressive tactical offensive against a handful of Southern defenders. Fighting on this part of the field began just as the action in the ‘sunken road’ subsided. Two federal regiments crossed a stone bridge over Antietam creek (later dubbed ‘Burnside’s bridge’) under fire, after which Burnside took his time preparing for a final advance. If successful, Burnside’s soldiers could cut Lee and his army off from the only available ford over the Potomac. By about 3 pm, Union attackers had approached to within 250 yards (230m) of the road to the ford when elements of A.P. Hill’s division slammed into their left flank. A difficult 17-mile (27km) march from Harpers Ferry had carried Hill’s leading brigades to the field just in time to disrupt Burnside’s attacks. The battle closed as the federals fell back towards Antietam creek.

The exhausted armies had waged the costliest single day’s combat in United States history. McClellan’s loss approached 12.500, and Lee’s exceeded 10.300. Another 2.300 federals and 2.700 confederates had fallen at South mountain on 14 september. One Southerner remarked that the ‘sun seemed almost to go backwards’ during the fighting on the 17th. A Union soldier counted himself fortunate that his regiment did not have to view the shattered landscape in full daylight. ‘We were glad to march over the field at night‘, he told his parents, ‘for we could not see the horrible sights so well. Oh what a smell, some of the men vomit as they went along‘.

The army of northern Virginia remained on the field during 18 september, after which McClellan permitted Lee to recross the Potomac unmolested. A federal foray across the river at Shepherdstown late on the 19th promised to disrupt Lee’s withdrawal, but A.P. Hill’s division counterattacked the following day and drove the Northerners back to the left bank of the Potomac. The campaign closed without a determined Union effort to pursue the confederates.

McClellan’s handling of the campaign inspired heated debate. While some applauded his success in stopping Lee’s invasion, others inside the army of the Potomac and behind the lines in the North believed he had lost a tantalizing opportunity. A newspaper correspondent voiced a common criticism in wishing McClellan had attacked again on 18 september: ‘We could have driven them into the river or captured them. … It was one of the supreme moments when by daring something, the destiny of the nation might have been changed‘. No one experienced more bitter disappointment

than Abraham Lincoln. Although he used Lee’s retreat as a pretext to issue a preliminary emancipation proclamation on 22 september, a step that signalled a profound shift in the course of the war, he nevertheless believed his commander had once again shown insufficient aggressiveness.

Thousands of Union soldiers had remained out of the action on 17 september (Lee, in contrast, had committed every available man) and reinforcements had reached the field on the 18th, yet still McClellan refused to advance. He insisted that his men were worn out, too few in number to harass the rebels, and poorly supplied. Secretary of the navy Gideon Welles likely mirrored Lincoln’s attitude when he wrote on 19 september that he had no news from the army, ‘except that, instead of following up the victory, attacking and capturing the rebels‘, McClellan was allowing Lee to escape across the Potomac. An obviously unhappy Welles added: ‘McClellan says they are crossing, and that Pleasonton is after them. Oh dear!‘.

McClellan typically lavished praise on himself. ‘I feel some little pride‘, he wrote to his wife on 20 september, ‘in having, with a beaten and demoralised army, defeated Lee so utterly and saved the North so completely. Well – one of these days history will I trust do me justice in deciding that it was not my fault that the campaign of the peninsula was not successful‘. The next day he complained that Lincoln and the secretary of war had not congratulated him sufficiently. But he assured his wife that a higher power had blessed his work: ‘I have the satisfaction of knowing that god has in his mercy a second time made me the instrument for saving the nation & am content with the honor that has fallen to my lot‘.

If McClellan erred on the side of caution in september 1862, Robert E. Lee might have been too audacious. Thousands of confederates had fallen at Antietam when Lee stood to gain very little either tactically or strategically. The decision to remain on the field on the 18th, with a powerful enemy in his front and just a single ford available to reach Virginia, might have jeopardized his entire army. He had driven his worn army relentlessly, misjudging the men’s physical capacity and watching thousands fall out of the ranks from hunger, debility or a simple unwillingness to be pushed any further. The army had survived, however, and as it lay in camps near Winchester, Lee congratulated the soldiers who had discharged their duty. History offered ‘few examples of greater fortitude and endurance than this army has exhibited‘, he assured them, ‘to your tried valor and patriotism the country looks with confidence for deliverance and safety‘.

Lee did not exaggerate how important his soldiers’ activities would be to future confederate morale. No one could claim a clear-cut success for the army. Marylanders had not rushed to the confederate colors, and the army fell back to Virginia long before Lee had expected. Yet he had accomplished many of his logistical goals by virtue of McClellan’s failure to press him after 17 september. More significantly, between june and september 1862, the army of northern Virginia had crafted spectacular victories that helped cancel the effects of defeats in other theaters. The retreat from Maryland, itself counterbalanced by the capture of thousands of federals at Harpers Ferry and the tidy success at Shepherdstown, did not detract appreciably from laurels won at Richmond and second Manassas. Similarly, the bitter contest at Sharpsburg, seen by most confederates as a bloody drawn battle, confirmed the gallantry of Lee’s soldiers. In the space of less than three months, the confederate people had come to expect good news from Lee and the army of northern Virginia, investing ever more emotional capital in them. That investment led to a belief in possible victory that would be as important as any other factor in lengthening the life of the Confederacy.

Abraham Lincoln lost all patience with McClellan in the wake of Antietam. The outspoken general reiterated his opposition to emancipation, angering republican politicians already eager to see him relieved. The principal problem from Lincoln’s standpoint lay in McClellan’s refusal to mount a new campaign into Virginia. In mid-october, an exasperated Lincoln asked whether his general was ‘over-cautious when you assume that you can not do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?‘. McClellan finally began crossing the Potomac on 26 october. His army took six days to make the passage (Lee’s had done it in one night after Antietam) and then marched slowly towards Warrenton. Nearly seven weeks had elapsed since Lee’s retreat, and Lincoln had reached his breaking point. On 5 november, the day after the northern off-year elections (elections held in between presidential elections), Lincoln issued orders replacing McClellan with Ambrose E. Burnside. Little Mac received the orders late in the evening on 7 november. He took an emotional leave from the army three days later, having played his final scene in the war’s military drama.