Yesterday was not only the 150th anniversary of the federal Constitution, but it was also the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, one of the bloodiest and most decisive of the Civil war. It was on the shore of the little Maryland stream of that name that Union and Confederate forces met in the late summer of 1862 at the high point of the Confederate invasion of the north. It was in this sanguinary struggle that the brave old 34th regiment, largely recruited from Herkimer county, under Col. Suiter of Herkimer, received its baptism of fire and its ranks were frightfully decimated. It was from this battle that Little Falls cemeteries received their first consignment of dead heroes who lost their lives in combat with the men of the south.
Congress gave recognition to the anniversary of yesterday, approving a two-weeks commemoration. The full significance of the battle was not fully appreciated at the time, and perhaps is not widely understood today.
At a sacrifice of 23,000 lives, this battle gave Lincoln the victory he had prayed for, and checked Lee's northward march. It gave the president the cue for issuing his emancipation proclamation and perhaps more important than all other results, it prevented recognition of the Confederacy by foreign powers.
It might be said that Antietam was the birth of the United States as a world power. For in turning the tide of the war it ended southern hopes for foreign interference. Not since that time has England attempted to meddle seriously in the affairs of America. The policy of peace between Great Britain and the United States reached full maturity after Antietam.
Just as it was the supreme sacrifice of the south, Antietam was a baptism in blood of the new Union that was to come.
Would that Col. Suiter and a host of other Herkimer county boys who wore the blue were here to accompany that Canajoharie comrade, the only Civil war survivor of the Mohawk valley to attend the ceremonies of yesterday.
Little Falls NY Times
The Evening Times
Little Falls, New York
With permission of the Evening Times, Little Falls, NY.
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc
Washington County (Md.), 1937.