Key facts about the American Civil War Battle of Antietam.
Also known as:
- Battle of Sharpsburg.
- September 17, 1862.
- Near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek.
Principal Confederate commander:
- General Robert E. Lee.
Principal Union Commander:
- Major General George B. McClellan.
Union forces engaged:
- Army of the Potomac.
Confederate forces engaged:
- Army of Northern Virginia.
Number of Union soldiers engaged:
- Roughly 60,000.
Number of Confederate soldiers engaged:
- Roughly 35,000.
- 12,401 (2,108 killed, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing)
- 10,316 casualties (1,546 killed, 7,752 wounded, and 1,018 missing).
- Tactical draw, strategic Union victory
- More Americans died on September 17, 1862, than on any other day in the nation’s military history.
- Clara Barton cared for wounded soldiers at the Battle of Antietam.
- “The Battle of Antietam was the first major battle of the American Civil War to be fought on Northern soil.
- Photographer Alexander Gardner took the first photos of dead soldiers on an American battlefield after the Battle of Antietam.
- Three Union generals were mortally wounded during the Battle of Antietam: Major General Joseph Mansfield, Major General Israel Richardson, and Brigadier General Isaac Rodman.
- Three Confederate generals were mortally wounded during the Battle of Antietam: Brigadier General William Starke, Brigadier General George Anderson, and Brigadier General Lawrence O. Branch.
- The Battle of Antietam has two names because the Federals frequently named battles for creeks or rivers that played a role in the fighting, while Confederates used the names of nearby towns or cities.
- General Lee’s battle plans at Antietam were known in advance. Two Union soldiers (Corporal Barton W. Mitchell and First Sergeant John M. Bloss of the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry) discovered a mislaid copy of Lee’s detailed battle plans – Special Order 191 – wrapped around three cigars.
- Technically, the Battle of Antietam was a slight tactical victory for the Union because Robert E. Lee withdrew his army from the battle first. More realistically, the battle was a tactical draw, as both armies suffered heavy casualties and neither was a clear victor.
- Strategically, the Battle of Antietam was a Union victory because it forced Robert E. Lee to end his Maryland Campaign and withdraw back to Virginia.
- President Lincoln and Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck were so upset that General McClellan did not pursue Lee’s army during it retreat into Virginia after the Battle of Antietam that Lincoln relieved McClellan of his command on November 7, 1862.
- President Lincoln used the Union’s strategic victory at the Battle of Antietam as an opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.