The Battle of Antietam.

Essay by SNOldak924Junior High, 8th grade January 2004

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In the early stages of the war, the Confederate army looked invulnerable, and had many more battles than the Union side. Abraham Lincoln, the president at the time, had appointed George McClellan as the Major General of the Union army. Robert E. Lee, the general of the Confederate force, had led a northward advance, and it seemed doubtful that he could be halted. However, on September 13, 1862, a Union soldier found Lee's abandoned battle plans, wrapped around three cigars. From that point on, the direction of the war took an entirely different turn.

On September 16, 1862, General George B. McClellan met Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. Lee's force was inferior to McClellan's. Lee was facing the battle with the river behind him, and with the danger of losing all of his force if defeated. Lee had planned for a victorious invasion of the North; however, he now realized these dangers and made a plan to retreat into Virginia.

"At dawn September 17, Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank that began the single bloodiest day in American military history."1

Hooker's men fought steadily, driving the Confederates southward onto the high ground. Hooker's men then entered the woods, the east and west wood on either side of them. The losses were heavy and one survivor described the fighting as "Men, I cannot say fell; they were knocked out of ranks by the dozen."2 As the Union soldiers saw Dunker Church, Confederate soldiers emerged from the woods beyond the Church, yelling as they ran. At very close range, the Confederate soldiers pulled up, shot a volley of bullets at the Union ranks, and then charged them again. Those Confederate soldiers who charged were Hood's soldiers who had until then been busy cooking...