News / USA

Marylanders Recall Bloodiest Day in US History

A Union flag-bearer’s statue and split-rail fence stand next to the sunken road that’s remembered as “Bloody Lane” at the Antietam Battlefield. (Carol M. Highsmith)
A Union flag-bearer’s statue and split-rail fence stand next to the sunken road that’s remembered as “Bloody Lane” at the Antietam Battlefield. (Carol M. Highsmith)
Ted Landphair
Last week on September 11th, people around the world vividly recalled the day 11 years earlier when foreign terrorists piloting hijacked airplanes killed nearly 3,000 Americans and others.

Today, it’s mostly forgotten that 4,000 Americans died, and another 15,000 were wounded, in a single day on U.S. soil - 150 years ago.

That was, and remains, the bloodiest day in U.S. history, and it is being remembered in the Maryland countryside west of Washington, D.C., near a sleepy little town called Sharpsburg.  
Only in America-Bloody Antietam
Only in America-Bloody Antietami
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There, on September 17, 1862, as many as 100,000 Yankee northerners and Rebel southerners, fighting a great civil war, collided on pastureland next to a tiny stream called Antietam Creek in an epic 12-hour battle.
Even though Union commander George McClellan was victorious, President Abraham Lincoln wasn't happy that surviving Confederates escaped back into Virginia, to fight another day. Lincoln traveled to Antietam to tell McClellan so days later. (Library of Congress photo)Even though Union commander George McClellan was victorious, President Abraham Lincoln wasn't happy that surviving Confederates escaped back into Virginia, to fight another day. Lincoln traveled to Antietam to tell McClellan so days later. (Library of Congress photo)
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Even though Union commander George McClellan was victorious, President Abraham Lincoln wasn't happy that surviving Confederates escaped back into Virginia, to fight another day. Lincoln traveled to Antietam to tell McClellan so days later. (Library of Congress photo)
Even though Union commander George McClellan was victorious, President Abraham Lincoln wasn't happy that surviving Confederates escaped back into Virginia, to fight another day. Lincoln traveled to Antietam to tell McClellan so days later. (Library of Congress photo)

Confederate General Robert E. Lee had won victory after victory - but on his own soil in Virginia.  He needed a triumph in northern territory that would persuade France and England to endorse the breakaway Confederacy and provide it with arms to win the war.

Support for President Abraham Lincoln’s war was shaky at the time, and Lee knew that if he won at Antietam Creek and menaced the capital city of Washington, the border state of Maryland might join the Rebel cause, and the North lose its appetite for war.  

In those fields today, you can almost feel and hear the fierce battle that decided it all, especially when you walk down a sunken lane that the locals called “Hog Trough Road” because pigs had worn a depression in the earth going to and from a barn.

But the soldiers who lived to tell about the battle there would soon call the place “Bloody Lane.”

Lee lost one-fourth of his army in and around that trough and was forced to pull his forces back into Virginia.  

But Bloody Antietam had lasting significance because it convinced President Lincoln to transform the war into a crusade against slavery that hastened the day when the nation would no longer be half-slaveholding, half-free.

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by: Dee from: Ocala, FL
September 18, 2012 11:35 AM
He is right the one below who said chickamaunga was much more bloody and had far more casualties. However this is the bloddiest DAY all of these men died on the same day where as that was 2 days. It is important I think that we remember all of the days of the civil war. It is further important that we honor their deaths because they all deserve to be remembered. The civil war is the only war where everyone killed was an american where the enemy was friends and family. There is no war like it in our history. It is sad that the rebel flag cannot wave in their memory without someone calling it a symbol of hate. Considering the numbers of soldiers if it had been a fair fight I believe the confederacy would've won and I wonder would they have turned our flag into a symbol of hate as we have done to thiers?

by: ShawnG from: MA
September 17, 2012 12:49 PM
I hate when my gun gets up by itself and tries to kill me.

by: Dan from: NJ
September 17, 2012 12:00 PM
OK Jeff. See you later. Have fun.

by: Vince Inman from: Tampa FL
September 17, 2012 11:58 AM
Chickamauga was the deadliest battle of the Civil War. 34,000+ casualties in two days of battle.

by: Gerald Allen from: Oklahoma City
September 17, 2012 11:45 AM
With this President we wound not do anything. It is sad that we do forget.

by: Michael from: United States of America
September 17, 2012 11:35 AM
Is it true that more United States citizens have been killed in auto accidents than all US soldiers killed in all of the wars and military actions that the United States has ever fought?

by: Roy Patterson from: Lakeide Arizona
September 17, 2012 10:50 AM
Is it true that more people are killed by guns in the USA each year than died on Sept 11?

by: Mr Jeff Nedelman from: United states of america
September 17, 2012 10:39 AM
Americans have short memories and no sense of history. Can you imagine the outrage today if 4,000 aUS troops were killed in a single day overseas? The Pentagon would be renting every plane possible of carrying people out of the country in a hearbeat.

It is time to go. Not later, but now. And, it is time for the political sniping to end at the water's edge when our troops are in harm's way.

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