September 17, 2012
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. This battle marks the bloodiest single day of the entire Civil War; around 26,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. This was one of the first battlefields of the Civil War to be photographed, and civilians were shocked and saddened to see those horrific images from the day's events.
Union Maj. Gen. George McClellan commanded the Army of the Potomac, and Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan had recently been appointed to command all forces near Washington, D.C. However, he failed to take advantage of the Confederates' disorganization and weakness as they withdrew across the Potomac, and he did not attack immediately when he had the opportunity to do so. President Lincoln was disgusted by McClellan's inability to prevail in this battle, and McClellan was relieved of his command in November.
This battle was a major turning point in the Civil War, and it gave Lincoln the opportunity to announce his Emancipation Proclamation. Therefore, the focus of the war was changed from merely preserving the Union to also expanding human freedom in our country. Whether you are a Union man or a Confederate sympathizer, the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam is a date to remember.
North Oak Branch