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Battle of Antietam

The climax of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North during the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam took place along the banks of Antietam Creek in western Maryland on September 17, 1862. Fighting raged in the Cornfield, a sunken road that later became known as Bloody Lane, and at Burnside Bridge, leaving nearly 23,000 dead and wounded as Antietam became the single bloodiest day in American history. The Battle of Antietam is also well known for several other reasons. Despite confronting a much larger force, Lee divided his army, sending General Stonewall Jackson to reduce the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, and survived as General A.P. Hill’s Light Division made a 17-mile forced march to reach the battlefield just in time to save the day. Despite possessing overwhelming numerical superiority, General George B. McClellan, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, committed his forces piecemeal and failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to destroy Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Although Antietam was a hollow victory for the Union, it gave President Abraham Lincoln enough political capital to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

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