Battle of Antietam: Summary

  • At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's (Union) corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's (Confederate) left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church.

  • Indescribable destruction in a massive cornfield stalemate battle.

  • Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right.

  • At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle.

  • Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill.

  • Lee's invasion of Maryland was ended, and he was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference.

  • The battle was over by 5:30 p.m.

  • Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, it had significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from potential plans for recognition of the Confederacy.

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