The Civil War, Day by Day

Jackson at Antietam (Sharpsburg)


The Battle of Antietam

When it was all over, the North had 2,108 men killed, 9,549 wounded, and 753 missing. The South reported 2,700 killed, 9,024 wounded and 2,000 missing.

This tragic confrontation occurred near Antietam Creek outside Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Union army had every reason to predict a successful outcome, for they had determined the tactics of the battle well in advance. In addition, their troops numbered 75,000 to Lee’s 25,000 Confederate soldiers. Unfortunately, General George McClellan did not fully coordinate his attacks. Consequently, Lee took advantage of the Union army’s weaknesses by shifting his men to different positions - thus plugging gaps in his line in the nick of time. He received further reinforcement later in the day when Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill arrived to reinforce Lee’s right flank.

While the fiercely contested battle was inconclusive, the Northern army still outnumbered Lee’s rebels. Yet despite the massive superiority of McClellan’s army, he shocked the Union when he refused to resume the fight the following day and risk further losses. Although success beckoned him, he shied away from it. McClellan’s mismanagement of his army aroused nationwide controversy during the war…and remains the subject of heated arguments among historians to this day.





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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.