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Bridgeport Connecticut - view of the war Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information



President Roosevelt chose the little village of Sharpsburg, Maryland for the scene of his Constitution Day address. In the South the name carries its own implication. In the North the place is better known by another name — Antietam.
For Sharpsburg, on the banks of Antietam creek was the scene just 75 years ago of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil war — a battle which in the opinion of many historians was the real turning point of the war rather than Gettysburg which came later.

Robert E. Lee was leading his rebel forces on their first invasion of the North. Stonewall Jackson with part of Lee's army was detached from the main force and was engaged in bottling up the Union forces at Harper's Ferry. He effected their capture and was hurrying north to join Lee when the army of the Potomac under General McClellan hurled itself at Lee who had chosen to make a stand at the village of Sharpsburg.

Perhaps "hurled itself" is not the right phrase, for no army led by George B. McClellan ever hurled itself at anything. Individual fragments of the army may have and indeed did hurl themselves with intense courage at the lines of the enemy and sacrificed themselves in doing so but the army as a whole never moved in a body. The timid and incompetent generalship of McClellan nullified the great superiority of his forces.

At Antietam, Lee was just able to hold his own and the timely reinforcement of Stonewall Jackson saved him from destruction. He was glad to move out of Maryland when the battle was over. On paper it was a victory for McClellan but Lincoln did not think so. By all the rules of war McClellan should have completely annihilated Lee's army and killed, wounded or captured every last man in it. Actually he suffered worse losses than he inflicted and was glad to let his wounded foe limp back into the South, damaged but still intact.

Such was the outcome of the bloody battle which ever afterwards was known in the North as Antietam and in the South as Sharpsburg a habit it may be observed which was customary during the Civil war. The North for the most part identified its battlefields by some physical aspect of the country — a river, a mountain or a bridge, whereas the South always identified its battles by the name of the town in which they were fought.

But whether as Sharpsburgh or Antietam the memory of that battle will long loom large in American history. It was one of the decisive battles of the world, and during its progress there were engagements of so fierce a character that human bravery never rose to greater heights on the battlefield.


Bridgeport Telegram

Connecticut Post

The Bridgeport Telegram no longer exists and is now incorporated under Connecticut Post. The article is used with permission


Collection Location:
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.

Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc

Washington County (Md.), 1937.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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