|Antietam Battlefield - Worst Day's Casualties in U.S. Military History.|
Today in 1862, after 12 hours of combat, with 22,717 dead, wounded, and missing on both sides combined, the Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North.
The Army of the Potomac, under the command of George McClellan, mounted a series of powerful assaults against Robert E. Lee’s forces near Sharpsburg, Maryland, that day.
The morning assault and strong Confederate counterattacks swept back and forth through Miller’s Cornfield and the West Woods. Later, towards the center of the battlefield, Union assaults against the Sunken Road pierced the Confederate center after a terrible struggle.
Late in the day, the third and final major assault by the Union army pushed over a bullet-strewn stone bridge at Antietam Creek. Just as the Federal forces began to collapse the Confederate right, the arrival of A.P. Hill’s division from Harpers Ferry helped to drive the Army of the Potomac back once more. The day was essentially a standoff, a draw.
The fact that the Confederate army retreated first, however, provided an outcome with the aura of “victory” that President Lincoln needed before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. It was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It still remains the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.