Robert E Lee, 1864, Portrait

The Battle of Antietam ended Lee’s first invasion of the North. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Battle of Antietam Facts, Details, and Timeline

September 17, 1862

Facts about the Battle of Antietam, including dates, casualties, participants, who won, and more interesting details you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the battle and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

Advertisement

Definition

The Battle of Antietam was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America on September 17, 1862, during the American Civil War.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: The Battle of Antietam is also called the “Battle of Sharpsburg.”
  • Date Started: The Battle of Antietam started on Wednesday, September 17, 1862.
  • Date Ended: The fighting ended on September 17, 1862.
  • Location: The battle took place near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek.
  • Who Won: The battle was a tactical draw, but a strategic victory for the United States of America.
  • Civil War Campaign: The Battle of Antietam was part of the Maryland Campaign.

Battle of Antietam, Union Soldiers Marching into Battle, Painting

This painting depicts Union soldiers marching into battle at Antietam. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Interesting Facts

  • 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.

Commanders and Forces Involved

Principal Union Generals

Principal Confederate Generals

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Potomac

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of Northern Virginia

Casualties and Statistics

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 60,000.

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 35,000.

Union Casualties

  • 12,401 (2,108 killed, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing)

Confederate Casualties

  • 10,316 casualties (1,546 killed, 7,752 wounded, and 1,018 missing)

Results of the Battle of Antietam

  • The outcome of the battle was a tactical draw on the field, but a strategic victory for the Union.
  • President Lincoln and Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck were so upset that General McClellan did not pursue Lee’s army during its retreat into Virginia after the battle that Lincoln relieved McClellan of his command on November 7, 1862.
  • President Lincoln used the Union’s strategic victory at Antietam as an opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.

Timeline of the Battle of Antietam

This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the Battle of Antietam, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Maryland Campaign.

Advertisement

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Antietam Facts, Details, and Timeline
  • Coverage September 17, 1862
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Antietam, Civil War Facts for Kids, Social Studies Resources, APUSH Study Material
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date September 24, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 18, 2022