the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, writers speculated
that the carnage that occurred might surpass the carnage of another
day known as “the bloodiest day in American history.” What was
that day and where did the carnage occur?
September 17, 1862 at Antietam, Maryland.
Background: In September 1862, the Civil War had been dragging
on for over a year. Confederate General Robert E. Lee wanted a
quick victory for his exhausted soldiers, so he decided to launch
a direct assault on the North, into the heart of the Union. If
successful, he reasoned, this campaign could cause the British
Government to recognize the Confederacy, deeply demoralize the
North, and bring President Lincoln to the table for peace talks.
The campaign began when Lee marched his troops into Maryland,
bypassing more heavily defended Washington, D.C. Since Maryland
was a slave owning state that remained in the Union, Lee figured
that some sections of the local population would assist him.
His hopes were met with disappointment. Most people in Maryland
were not interested in helping him, and the fact that his soldiers
paid for supplies with Confederate money didn’t add to his popularity.
But the most serious problem he faced awaited him at Antietam
creek, near the town of Sharpsburg. When his ill-equipped troops
met the enemy there, Union forces outnumbered them. The Union
soldiers were led by Generals George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside,
who were overly cautious, confused, and in some instances inept.
As a result, both sides suffered heavy losses: nearly 6,000 men
and boys who were alive at dawn on September 17 were dead by nightfall,
more than the confirmed American deaths on D-Day (June 6, 1944)
during World War II, and more than all Americans killed in the
War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Spanish American War combined.
In addition, some 17,000 soldiers lay wounded on the field.
Lee’s Army was beaten but not crushed – thousands managed to join
him as he withdrew to Virginia, and the Civil War dragged on for
another two years and seven months.
time: John Gutzon Borglum is best known for which National Monument?
Where is it located? How big is it and what does it represent?
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