Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Civil War Battlefield, Antietam, MD.

Battle of Antietam Sept. 17, 1862

On Sept. 15, 1862, Confederate Gen. Robt. E. Lee positioned his army along a ridge west of Antietam Creek. Confederate Gen. James Longstreet commanded the line's center & right, and Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson held it's left. Behind them a Potomac River ford allowed retreat to VA. On Sept. 15 & 16 Union Gen. George McClellan deployed his forces east of the creek. His plan: attack Lee's left and when "matters looked favorably" attack the Confederate right. Succeeding in either he hoped to strike Lee's center. His plan was good but his instructions to commanders ambiguous.

The 12 hour battle began at dawn, Sept. 17. Three morning Union attacks struck the Confederate left, north to south. Gen. Hooker's 1st Corps made the initial assault, followed by Gen. Mansfield's 12th Corps. Part of Gen. Summer's 2nd Corps made the final attack. McClellan's battle plan broke down in uncoordinated advances.

From 6AM until 10AM savage combat raged across the Cornfield,

East Wood, West Woods
And around the Dunker Church

By late morning fighting shifted toward the Confederate center(Sunken Road) in the 3-hour stalemate that left the road forever known as "Bloody Lane".
Most contested of the 3 bridges Union forces used to cross Antietam Creek was the lower. At 10:30 AM Union Gen. Burnside's 9th Corps assaulted the Lower Bridge and at 1PM made it across. Burnside then halted for 2 hours to replenish ammunition, still deploying men across the bridge. The delay proved critical.

When he again advanced on the Confederate right, Gen A.P.Hill's reinforcements, arriving in the late afternoon from Harper's Ferry stopped him. The battle ended about 6PM. The lines of the battle had not shifted significantly from that morning.

Of nearly 100,000 soldiers engaged in battle, about 23,000 were killed, wounded, or missing. Late on Sept. 18, Lee forded the Potomac to Virginia. The Union Army held the field.

1 comment:

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