Unfurl Those Colors: McClellan, Sumner, and the Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign

Sumner's rationale for the movement configuration of Sedgwick's division was logical and in consort with his understanding of McClellan's orders. When the attack disintegrates, Sumner is instrumental in quickly recognizing the disaster and leading the shattered division away from further damage

Antietam Battle
Sharpsburg Maryland

American Civil War
September 16-18, 1862

On September 16, Major General George B. McClellan confronted General Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn September 17, Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank that began the single bloodiest day in American military history.

United States Army Battle Summary

Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign

The children, women, and men living in the village of Sharpsburg and on surrounding farms. The dramatic experiences of these Maryland citizens, stories that have never been told, and also examines the political web holding together Unionists and Secessionists, many of whom lived under the same roofs

Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. Late in the day, Burnside's corps finally got into action, crossing the stone bridge over Antietam Creek and rolling up the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and counterattacked, driving back Burnside and saving the day.

Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout the 18th, while removing his wounded south of the river. McClellan did not renew the assaults. After dark, Lee ordered the battered Army of Northern Virginia to withdraw across the Potomac into the Shenandoah Valley.

September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest day of the Civil War. Federal losses totaled 12,410 and the Confederates lost 10,700 men. Although neither side won a decisive victory, General Robert E. Lee's failure to carry the war into the north was significant to the outcome of the war. The battle also gave President Lincoln the opportunity to issue the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, which on January 1, 1863, declared free all slaves in States still in rebellion against the United States.

Estimated Casualties: 23,100 total
Union Losses: 12,410
Confederate Losses: 10,700

Kindle Available
Long Road to Antietam
The Long Road To Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution

In the summer of 1862, after a year of protracted fighting, Abraham Lincoln decided on a radical change of strategy—one that abandoned hope for a compromise peace and committed the nation to all-out war.

Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom
Lincoln and Lee at Antietam covers the entire struggle of the Antietam Campaign. The political concept about why Lincoln needed a Union victory and Lee's need to take the war north were covered as well as the battle. DVD
Ballon observing the battle
Observation Ballon at the battle of Antietam
Click to enlarge


Sectors of General Lee's Antietam Operations and Topography Maps


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Detailed Document Review and Analysis of General Lee's Special Order
Youtube Channel JoeRyanCivilWar

Antietam September 17, 1862  Battle Map
Maryland Voices of the Civil War
Maryland Voices of the Civil War

This book draws upon hundreds of letters, diaries, and period newspapers to portray the passions of a wide variety of people -- merchants, slaves, soldiers, politicians, freedmen, women, clergy, slave owners, civic leaders, and children caught in the emotional vise of war.
  Union Troops Battling Their Way across Burnside Bridge in the Battle of Antietam
Union Troops Battling Their Way across Burnside Bridge in the Battle of Antietam
24 in. x 18 in.
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Framed   Mounted


  State Park Battlefield Map

Original Works

What is
Special Order 191

Was there more to this encounter?

What was Lee's plan?

Antietam Battlewalk

View of Harper's Ferry from the Maryland side of the Potomac
showing the destruction of the railroad bridge following Lee's Antietam Campaign
Harpers Ferry after Antietam

The Gleam Of Bayonets: The Battle Of Antietam And Robert E. Lee's Maryland Campaign, September, 1862
Antietam turned the tide of the Civil War in favor of the North and delivered the first major defeat to Robert E. Lee's Confederate army. The gentleness and patience of Lincoln, the vacillations of McClellan, and the grandeur of Lee—all unfold before the reader

Antietam Battle Field
antietam battle field

Battle of Antietam, looking north; showing dash of 7th Maine into the Piper cornfield, Cemetery Hill & Sharpsburg.
Photograph of sketch made on the field by Capt. James Hope, Co. B, 2nd Vermont Inf.
Battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg Maryland American Civil War

Kindle Available
Civil War Firearms

Standard Catalog of
Civil War Firearms

Over 700 photographs and a rarity scale for each gun, this comprehensive guide to the thousands of weapons used by Billy Yank and Johnny Reb will be indispensable for historians and collectors.
More on Antietam
Civil War Exhibits
Women in the War
State Battle Maps
Civil War Pictures
Civil War Timeline
Ships and Naval Battles
Battles by Campaign
Civil War Submarines
Civil War Cooking

Arms and Equipment of the Civil War

Marvelous illustrations, the text describes what materiel was available to the armies and navies of both sides. Iron-clad gunboats, submarine torpedoes, and military balloons to pontoon bridges, percussion grenades, and siege artillery

United States Army Antietam Sharpsburg Battle Summary


For the North, the fight along Antietam Creek became known as the Battle of Antietam. In the South, it became known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. Of the nearly 70,000 Federal troops actually engaged in the battle, nearly 13,000 were killed, wounded, or missing; the approximately 35,000 Confederates engaged lost almost as many.

Writing to his wife, McClellan said, "Those in whose judgment I rely tell me that I fought the battle splendidly and that is was a masterpiece of art. "In truth, however, McClellan missed a series of opportunities. By failing to commit his forces to battle on 15 and 16 September, McClellan squandered a chance to exploit his numerical superiority. On 17 September McClellan's piecemeal commitment of only a portion of his command during the battle-"in driblets," as General Sumner later described it failed to deliver a knockout blow to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan's decision not to renew the battle on 18 September, with the same if not greater opportunity of success as the previous day, as well as his failure to energetically pursue the Confederate army on 19 September, allowed Lee to withdraw to the safety of the Virginia shore.

Lee, like McClellan, generally believed that the role of an army commander was to bring his army to the battlefield and allow his subordinates to handle the tactical details. But the desperate situation on 17 September forced Lee to become actively involved in the battle, despite injuries to both his hands. He spent most of the day on the heights in the area of the present day National Cemetery, where he watched the progress of the battle and personally dispatched various units to endangered portions of the field. He sent the commands of Walker, McLaws, and G. T. Anderson just in time to halt Sedgwick's advance on the Confederate left flank; rushed R. H. Anderson to support D. H. Hill's defense of the Confederate center; and, when A. P. Hill's division began arriving at Sharpsburg in the afternoon, hurried Hill's command to save the Confederate right flank.

Although the Confederates had been forced out of Maryland, Lee's campaign had been a partial success. Jackson's capture of Harper's Ferry provided the Confederates with a large amount of supplies, including clothing, shoes, thousands of small arms and ammunition, and over seventy pieces of artillery. In addition, another major Federal offensive in Virginia had been delayed, albeit only briefly. In mid-December Burnside, now commanding The Army of the Potomac, attempted to interpose his command between Lee and Richmond. The maneuver culminated in a Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Although Antietam was not the decisive Union victory for which Lincoln had hoped, it did give the president an opportunity to strike at the Confederacy politically, psychologically, and economically. On 22 September Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that the Federal government would after 1 January 1863 consider slaves in any state in rebellion against the Federal government to be free. The proclamation had no immediate effect behind Confederate lines, nor did it free any slaves in states still in the Union. Nevertheless, Lincoln's proclamation would be the Federal government's first official step toward the abolition of human slavery.

Shortly after the battle, McClellan wrote that Confederate dreams of invading Pennsylvania had dissipated forever. During the coming months, however, Lee would wait for another opportunity to cross his army north of the Potomac. The summer of 1863 would find the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, the latter commanded by the recently promoted Maj. Gen. George Meade, confronting each other at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.

Antietam Battle Details

Antietam Reading
The Gleam Of Bayonets: The Battle Of Antietam And Robert E. Lee's Maryland Campaign, September, 1862

Antietam turned the tide of the Civil War in favor of the North and delivered the first major defeat to Robert E. Lee's Confederate army. The gentleness and patience of Lincoln, the vacillations of McClellan, and the grandeur of Lee—all unfold before the reader

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam

James M. McPherson states in his concise chronicle, it may well have been the pivotal moment of the war . The South had reversed the war's momentum during the summer, and was on not only on the "brink of military victory" but about to achieve diplomatic recognition by European nations
Kindle Version

Antietam The Soldiers Battle

In "Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle," author John Michael Priest tells the story of the American Civil War's bloodiest day using a compilation of eyewitness accounts. The book also includes 72 sketch maps of the battle. Between the plentiful maps and the chronologically-arranged accounts, the reader can follow the battle.

Antietam Expedition Guide

Indespensible asset for understanding the battle that resulted in America's bloodiest day. The automated and time-scaled troup movement maps helps to grasp the scope and scale of the conflict

American Civil War Book Club Selected Title

The Antietam Campaign

The Antietam Campaign
The Maryland campaign of September 1862 ranks among the most important military operations of the American Civil War. Crucial political, diplomatic, and military issues were at stake as Robert E. Lee and George B. McClellan maneuvered and fought in the western part of the state. The clash came on September 17 at the battle of Antietam, where more than 23,000 men fell in the single bloodiest day of the war.

Approaching topics related to Lee's and McClellan's operations from a variety of perspectives, contributors to this volume explore questions regarding military leadership, strategy, and tactics, the impact of the fighting on officers and soldiers in both armies, and the ways in which participants and people behind the lines interpreted and remembered the campaign. They also discuss the performance of untried military units and offer a look at how the United States Army used the Antietam battlefield as an outdoor classroom for its officers in the early twentieth century


American Civil War Book Titles

George B. Mcclellan: The Young Napoleon

By age 35, General George B. McClellan (1826–1885), designated the "Young Napoleon," was the commander of all the Northern armies. He forged the Army of the Potomac into a formidable battlefield foe, and fought the longest and largest campaign of the time as well as the single bloodiest battle in the nation's history

Maryland In The Civil War

After Fort Sumter, the Lincoln administration could ill afford to lose Maryland, especially its principal city Baltimore, site of the first blood spilled when a mob attacked the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment. Maryland was the site of the greatest single day's carnage in American
Maryland Cavalry
First and Second Maryland Cavalry C.S.A

An indepth look at Maryland and her divided loyalties during the Civil War. Brother against brother epitomizes the state of affairs in Maryland. Men, loyal to the South, crossed the Potomac river at great personal peril to join Confederate ranks.

A Maryland Boy in Lee's Army: Personal Reminiscences of a Maryland Soldier in the War between the States, 1861-1865

Young George Wilson Booth followed the call of the Confederacy and served four years in the Army of Virginia. During the days of the successes at Manassas battles and in the Peninsula to the Valley

A southern star for Maryland
Maryland and the secession crisis, 1860-61

Maryland did not freely choose to remain in the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, this book argues: the state was held by brute force. A colorful account of the dilemmas faced by Marylanders in the crisis as seen from the Southern point of view.

Lee Vs. McClellan: The First Campaign

An interesting account of the struggle for western Virginia in 1861. It follows that year's rolls of Generals McClellan and Lee; the former using the successes of the campaign to further his reputation and career, and the latter struggling to straighten out a quagmire and failing to do so

George B. McClellan and Civil War History
In the Shadow of Grant and Sherman

The complex general who, though gifted with administrative and organizational skills, was unable and unwilling to fight with the splendid army he had created. In this book, Rowland presents a framework in which early Civil War command can be viewed without direct comparison to the final two years of the war

Trench Warfare under Grant and Lee
Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign

Narrative history of military operations in the Overland Campaign of May and June, 1864: the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. Describes Union and Confederate earthworks and how Grant and Lee used them in this new era of field entrenchments.

Young Reader Book Titles
Kindle Available

The Civil War for Kids
History explodes in this activity guide spanning the turmoil preceding secession, the first shots fired at Fort Sumter, the fierce battles on land and sea, and finally the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Making butternut dye for a Rebel uniform, learning drills and signals with flags, decoding wigwag, baking hardtack, reenacting battles, and making a medicine kit bring this pivotal period in our nation's history to life.

Behind the Blue and Gray
The Soldier's Life in the Civil War

Civil War reading can be very dry, but not this book. Delia Ray takes us on a soldiers journey beginning with enlistment and ending with a soldiers life after the war, using quotes from actual letters and diaries strategically placed throughout the book.

Eye Witness Civil War

Eyewitness Civil War includes everything from the issues that divided the country, to the battles that shaped the conflict, to the birth of the reunited states. Rich, full-color photographs of rare documents, powerful weapons, and priceless artifacts plus stunning images of legendary commanders, unsung heroes, and memorable heroines
Kindle Available
The Civil War

The Civil War
Introduces young readers to the harrowing true story of the American Civil War and its immediate aftermath. A surprisingly detailed battle-by-battle account of America's deadliest conflict ensues, culminating in the restoration of the Union followed by the tragic assassination of President Lincoln

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