17 Sep 2018

On this Day in 1862: The Battle of Antietam Is Raging

On this Day in 1862: The Battle of Antietam Is Raging

The battle begins at first light of morning with an attack from General Joseph Hooker's Union First Corps, heading south against Lee's left flank toward the Dunker Church. The troops face heavy resistance from General "Stonewall" Jackson's forces. Just as Union troops begin to make progress, they're driven back by General John Bell Hood's powerful counterattack. Assisted by Twelfth Corps reinforcements, Union forces finally make it to the Dunker Church and hold a position deep within Confederate lines, but a Confederate counterattack in the West Woods and other factors convince McClellan to stand firm where he is.

It's mid-morning and fighting has shifted south, where veteran Confederate troops under General D.H. Hill hold a defensive position in a sunken road. When Union soldiers under General William "Blinky" French attack, 1,700 of them are killed and wounded before reinforcements arrive. At 10:30 am, French's division is reinforced by General Israel Richardson, and Lee sends the last of his local reserves under General Richard H. Anderson.

Amid the chaos and bloodshed, Union forces gain a position that allows them to shoot down the sunken road. An officer accidentally shouts, "about face" and the Confederates begin to fall back, weakening Lee's center. With horrendous Union casualties, small but desperate Confederate counterattacks and the wounding of General Richardson, Union troops are on the defensive here as well.  Some 5,600 men have been killed, wounded, or captured at what will come to be known as the Bloody Lane.

By 1:30 pm, the battle has claimed 17,500 casualties. But it's not over...

This is part 2 in a 3-part series on Antietam. Look for part 3 of the battle in your inbox this afternoon.

Your Antietam Pocket Tour Guide

The Antietam Battle App® is the perfect touring partner for your exploration of the Antietam battlefield. Our GPS-enabled application will guide you to all the historic spots on this 1862 Civil War battlefield. Onboard historian videos, audio accounts of soldiers from the battle, photos, orders of battle, chronologies, key facts, and more are just a click away.

Video: Antietam and the 1862 Maryland Campaign

Want the really short version? The Trust's own Garry Adelman provides an overview of the 1862 Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam - the bloodiest single day of the war - in just a little over two minutes.

Greene's Brave Moment at Dunker Church

For nearly two hours, two brigades of General George S. Greene's division held a salient deep within the Confederate lines at Sharpsburg, Md. Unfortunately, the soldiers' sacrifice was for naught. Read a play-by-play of the Federal attack that almost broke Lee's left flank on the morning of the Battle of Antietam.

Civil War In4: Civil War Battlefield Preservation

How did battlefields like Antietam get so well-preserved? Timothy B. Smith, an author and professor at the University of Tennessee, gives a brief overview of the history of preserving Civil War history and battlefields.

American Battlefield Trust

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