9 Apr 2015

Unprotected Land at the Heart of Antietam

As the sun rose on September 17, 1862, Union troops attacked the Confederate line near Sharpsburg, Maryland, beginning what would become the single bloodiest day in American history. Over eleven hours, brutal combat raged across the countryside, resulting in some 23,000 casualties. At the epicenter of the battlefield, men fell at an alarming rate. "They were knocked out of the ranks by dozens," wrote Major Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin, but still they maintained "a reckless disregard of life, of everything but victory." That victory ultimately fell, at least tactically, to the Union, but only at the cost of thousands of young lives from both sides. Immediately afterward, Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, fundamentally shifting the course of the war. This combination of unprecedented loss and radical policy shift made Antietam one of the most pivotal conflicts not only of the Civil War, but in all of American history.

Today, 44 acres at epicenter of the battlefield, bordered by such iconic landmarks as the Cornfield, the Dunker Church, and the East and West Woods, remain privately owned and unprotected. For $575,000, the Civil War Trust can purchase and restore this land, preserving the epicenter of Antietam forever. Several of the Trust’s top supporters and Trustees have already made pledges, and we hope to receive a total of $460,000 from these folks, but we need your help to raise the final $115,000 in the next 90 days. Help ensure that this crucial ground, which historian Dennis Frye has called "the bloodiest ground of the bloodiest day in American history," is saved forever.

American Battlefield Trust

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