Voices of the Civil War Episode 8: "Battle of Antietam"


Uploaded by CHWMAAH on 18.09.2012

Transcript:
bjbjOUOU Episode on Battle of Antietam: Stephen W. Sears, author of Landscape Turned Red:
The Battle of Antietam states, Of all the days on all the fields where American soldiers
have fought, the most terrible by almost any measure was September 17, 1862. The battle
waged on that date, close by Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg in western Maryland, took a
human toll never exceeded on any other single day in the nation's history. So intense and
sustained was the violence, a man recalled, that for a moment in his mind's eye the very
landscape around him turned red. In the summer of 1862, General Robert E. Lee s army was
making its way North through Maryland. On September 17, the Union and Confederate forces
met in Sharpsburg, Maryland. The battle opened in Miller s cornfield when Union general Joseph
Hooker began firing on Stonewall Jackson s men. Hooker recalls every stalk in the northern
and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and
the slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few moments before.
It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield (Cannan, 119).
Meanwhile in the Sunken Road Union General William H. French s division battled with
General D.H. Hill s troops. The fighting was so gruesome that the battlefield would later
be known as Bloody Lane. Southeast of Sharpsburg, General Ambrose Burnside was attempting to
cross a narrow bridge over Antietam Creek while facing crossfire from a group of 400
Georgians. The attempt lasted for four hours before the Union troops crossed the bridge
and drove back the Georgians. At the end of the day, nearly 23,000 soldiers had died,
the most casualties of any single day in the war. Federal losses were numbered at 12,410
and Confederate losses numbered at 10,700. Captain Emory Upton of the 2nd U.S. Infantry
states, "I have heard of 'the dead lying in heaps', but never saw it till this battle.
Whole ranks fell together." After the battle, Lee s Army retreated south across the Potomac
and the Confederate s first northern campaign was ended. One enslaved onlooker, Hillary
Watson, recalls the battle first hand. The shells soon begun flying over the house and
around here, and while I was out in the yard there was one that appeared like it went between
our house and the next, and busted. I could see the blue blaze flying, and I jumped as
high as your head. Although the Battle of Antietam was not regarded as a victory for
the Union, it instilled enough confidence in Lincoln to proceed with the unveiling of
a massively important document. On September 22, 1862 Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation
Proclamation, which said, That on the first day of January, in the year of our lord one
thousand eight hundred sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated
part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States
shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free. Despite the fact that the battle was
a draw militarily, the aftermath was a tremendous political victory for the Union. Not only
was Lincoln encouraged to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the single most important
documents in American History, but the Confederates also suffered a substantial political loss.
Because of Lee s failure to invade the north, Great Britain decided to postpone their recognition
of the Confederate Government. If the Rebels had Great Britain as an ally during the war,
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