Skip to comments.150th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam
Posted on 08/26/2012 6:52:09 PM PDT by PaulZe
The 150th Antietam-Sharpsburg Reenactment is pleased to announce we will be hosting a Remembrance Illumination scheduled for Saturday evening, September 15th at 7PM. The Antietam Illumination Committee in conjunction with Michael Wicklein will be placing 3654 (Union KIA 2108, Confederate KIA 1546) candles on the reenactment battlefield in remembrance of the number killed in action on September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam. Lasting approximately one hour, the program will include an artillery salute.
(Excerpt) Read more at 150thantietamreenactment.com ...
I visited the battlefield in 2005 and liked it better than Gettysburg, which is strewn with monuments. The corn in the famous corn field was almost ready to be picked.
Although Antietam stopped the Confederate invasion of the North it is generally considered a tie. The Union did suffer greater casualties.
I do know some of the Confederate officers considered it one of the most masterful performances by Lee who was outnumbered, and found himself in a situation where his opponent had possession of his battle plans including where his men would be, how many were there etc.
McClelland upon getting those plans announced he would destroy Lee’s army the next day and he came close to doing it. Lee somehow managed to block every move McClelland made despite his numerical inferiority.
Lee did figure out pretty quickly that McClelland had his plans.
The monuments are one of the best features of Gettysburg. Most were designed and dedicated by the soldiers themselves at around the 25th anniversary of the battle. Each one is a story in and of itself.
My great, great (great?) uncle, who was with a Pennsylvania volunteers infantry company, died there. He was a very unlucky guy, as he was his unit’s only KIA.
Totally agree with your post, except the spelling of General George McClellen’s name. Not trying to be a grammar nazi, it’s an easy mistake.
When blacks want their “reparations” they need to read about this battle (and others) and see the bill fully paid...
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Thanks PaulZe. Antietam was an interesting outcome, perhaps for the first time in history, a Pyrrhic Tie for Lee, and a political and military turning point for the Union. A year later, at Gettysburg, lacking Stonewall, Lee blundered away even the semblance of a tie, losing to one of the great counterpunchers, Meade, who was, not surprisingly, vilified by some press weasels after the war.
You are right. If that is the way he spelled it, then that is the right way. I was fooled because my Niece married one of his descendants and he spells it my way.
Oddly enough he told me that he wasn’t a very good general but the Confederates thought differently. Just about all of them said McClellen was the best they went up against.
Bump for later
While my daughter lived in DC I visited her and we went out and took the tour of this battlefield. A memory I will cherish. We also visited the cemetery that adjoins the battlefield. We found some markers for some Wisconsin solders which surprised me. My great great grandfather Was in the 24th wisonsin, they fought mostly south Ky, aLa, GA
I can understand why the South liked him. All he did was sit on his duff and whine to Lincoln for MORE troops. He got 2 bites at the apple and pretty much marked time in both cases. I think Pres. Lincoln’s opinion should hold sway, and until Grant came along, Lincoln endured one embarassment and disappointment after another. About the only thing that can be said for McClellen is that he cut a dashing figure in a uniform....IMHO.
Neither Lee nor any of his officers knew that the battle plans were lost to Union scouts, he merely had the good fortune to be facing the Demwit George McClellen. Even at that time, any other Union general with that information would have destroyed the divided ANV piecemeal, instead of fretting like a debuttante about the engagement.
Lee’s overall idea of leading an invasion in order to bring about a negotiated separation was the only available move with a possibility of success. It probably wouldn’t have worked even if the battle plans had not been lost and Antietam never fought — eventually there had to be an engagement, and the numbers favoring the Union would have improved on a daily basis. Lee also had to keep his eye on the backdoor, to avoid getting cut off from retreat.
After Gettysburg, the Union forces got larger, continuously, and Lee’s longtime approach of going head-to-head ate up supplies and his army, which was definitely not growing. Between Chancellorsville (Stonewall’s masterpiece) and Cold Harbor, Lee had no victories, and the latter was for the most part due to Grant’s mistake.
The battle of the Wilderness can be considered a Confederate victory, except this time around Grant didn’t retreat back to DC like the generals before him. He side stepped and went south. Spotsylvania Court House could also be considered a Confederate Victory, and Cold Harbor obviously.
My great great grandfather was in the 124th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Within 30 days of enlisting he was charging across that cornfield...
I’ve read that too. I think McClellen was highly intelligent and was superb at creating an army out of a mob, which is what the Army of the Potomac was before he was given command.
His strategy and plan of attack were well thought out, he was a master of logistics, and used sound military tactics in his planning. His problem was in the field. If something happened he didn’t plan on he just stopped rather than adapt to it. He also tended to way-over estimate the enemy numerically.
As one critic said, he was more worried about not losing a battle than winning it.
Lee counted on McClellen’s hesitancy in the field to off-set McClellen’s numerical superiority.
At Antietam, McClellen did initially take advantage of Lee’s documents that fell into his lap. He knew when and where Lee’s forces were supposed to be, and he knew approximately how many men Lee had. That was a huge advantage in favor of McClellen. He had Lee on the ropes, but unfortunately for him (and the Union), he didn’t press on to finish Lee off.
Antietam, as you know, was a horrendous battle in regard to the loss of life and casualties - second only to Gettysburg. I just feel that McClellen did not have ths stomache for the kind of fighting it was going to take to subdue the Confederacy. Grant didn’t have McClellen’s finess, but he knew he had the numbers and that if he just kept grinding down on Lee that sooner or later something would have to give.
I haven’t been to Antietam battlefield, but I’m sure it is a somber reminder of the bravery shown on both sides. I have been to Manassas battlefield, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg (as well as a little known battlefield that took place in Glorieta, New Mexico).
I think I liked Manassas battlefied the best as it seems the most preserved. I remember walking across the very same field that Stonewall Jackson and his men charged to help win the day. As I crossed that place that I had read so much about, I experienced such mixed emotions of awe and melancholy for what happened there.
That is very interesting about your niece and her being married to one of McClellen’s descendants. I bet there are some really good stories passed down in the family.
The first delay (some 11 hours) in the Union assault was caused by McClellan himself, when he had Franklin wait until the next morning before preparing and moving his men. The second delay came the next day, when Franklin's men finally arrived at Burkittsville, he paused for three hours while under artillery fire to assemble his men into three columns. This delay allowed General Cobb to rush his men into position alongside the Virginians.
When the attack finally started, the Confederates (2100 men) were able to hold the high ground for nearly three hours against the VI Corps (12,500 men) before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. It was after 6pm by the time the Federal troops advanced beyond the gap, so Franklin gave the order to set up camp. Harper's Ferry surrendered the next morning, while Franklin's men sat around their campfires, cooking breakfast.
The Union Army suffered 533 casualties at Crampton's Gap (115 killed, 416 wounded, 2 missing) to the Confederates' 887 casualties (130 killed and 757 wounded). While it was a tactical victory for the Union, in that they had driven the Confederates from the field; it was a strategic victory for the Confederates in that they held off the VI Corps long enough to ensure the capture of Harper's Ferry and its warehouses full of weapons, equipment, and supplies.
On a personal note; one of the Confederate soldiers killed at Crampton's Gap, Private Stephen Treadwell of the 16th Georgia Infantry's Company F, is my great-great-great uncle.
That's because he never went into battle without being fully staffed, fully prepared, fully... The man was brilliant, but unsure. And this was a good trait for a Union General to have if you were part of the Confederacy.
As Lincoln once said "If he can't fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight." And Grant: "McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war."
He ran against Lincoln in the 1864 election and lost. But much of that had to do with the war taking a decidedly favorable turn just before the election. What outlasted his battlefield accomplishments was the saddle named after him, that was used for decades by the cavalry.
I read that this was the battle that doomed the south—because of it Europe didn’t recognize the CSA and Lincoln could write the great proclamation that made slavery the reason for the war. If Lee had won—things might have gone very differently.
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