Antietam National Battlefield, along Antietam
Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland, commemorates
the American Civil War Battle of Antietam,
September 17, 1862.
In the Battle of Antietam, General Robert
E. Lee's first invasion of the North was
ended on this battlefield in 1862. 23,000
soldiers were killed, wounded or missing
after twelve hours of savage combat on September
17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the
Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s
first invasion into the North and led to
Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Robert Gould Shaw served as a Captain in
the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry and was wounded
in the Cornfield at Antietam before taking
command of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry
made famous in the movie Glory.
Alexander Gardner's photographs of Antietam
were the first ever images to show dead
soldiers on the field of battle. A New York
Times article about the photographs said
it was if the "dead had been laid at
Antietam Battle Description
The Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg)
on September 17, 1862, climaxed the first
of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's two
attempts to carry the war into the North.
About 40,000 Southerners were pitted against
the 87,000-man Federal Army of the Potomac
under Gen. George B. McClellan. And when
the fighting ended, the course of the American
Civil War had been greatly altered.
After his great victory at Manassas in August,
Lee had marched his Army of Northern Virginia
into Maryland, hoping to find vitally needed
men and supplies. McClellan followed, first
to Frederick (where through rare good fortune
a copy of the Confederate battle plan, Lee's
Special Order No. 191, fell into his hands),
then westward 12 miles to the passes of
South Mountain. There on September 14, at
Turner's, Fox's, and Crampton's gaps, Lee
tried to block the Federals. But because
he had split his army to send troops under
Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
to capture Harpers Ferry, Lee could only
hope to delay the Northerners. McClellan
forced his way through, and by the afternoon
of September 15 both armies had established
new battle lines west and east of Antietam
Creek near the town of Sharpsburg. When
Jackson's troops reached Sharpsburg on the
16th, Harpers Ferry having surrendered the
day before, Lee consolidated his position
along the low ridge that runs north and
south of the town.
The battle opened at dawn on the 17th when
Union Gen. Joseph Hooker's artillery began
a murderous fire on Jackson's men in the
Miller cornfield north of town. "In
the time I am writing," Hooker reported,
"every stalk of corn in the northern
and greater part of the field was cut as
closely as could have been done with a knife,
and the slain lay in rows precisely as they
had stood in their ranks a few moments before."
Hooker's troops advanced, driving the Confederates
before them, and Jackson reported that his
men were "exposed for near an hour
to a terrific storm of shell, canister,
About 7 a.m. Jackson was reinforced and
succeeded in driving the Federals back.
An hour later Union troops under Gen. Joseph
Mansfield counterattacked and by 9 o'clock
had regained some of the lost ground. Then,
in an effort to extricate some of Mansfield's
men from their isolated position near the
Dunker Church, Gen. John Sedgwick's division
of Edwin V. Sumner's corps advanced into
the West Woods. There Confederate troops
struck Sedgwick's men on both flanks, inflicting
Meanwhile, Gen. William H. French's division
of Sumner's corps moved up to support Sedgwick
but veered south into Confederates under
Gen. D. H. Hill posted along an old sunken
road separating the Roulette and Piper farms.
For nearly 4 hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 1
p.m., bitter fighting raged along this road
(afterwards known as Bloody Lane) as French,
supported by Gen. Israel B. Richardson's
division, also of Sumner's corps, sought
to drive the Southerners back. Confusion
and sheer exhaustion finally ended the battle
here and in the northern part of the field
Southeast of town, Union Gen. Ambrose E.
Burnside's troops had been trying to cross
a bridge over Antietam Creek since 9:30
a.m. Some 400 Georgians had driven them
back each time. At 1 p.m. the Federals finally
crossed the bridge (now known as Burnside
Bridge) and, after a 2-hour delay to reform
their lines, advanced up the slope beyond.
By late afternoon they had driven the Georgians
back almost to Sharpsburg, threatening to
cut off the line of retreat for Lee's decimated
Confederates. Then about 4 p.m. Gen. A.
P. Hill's division, left behind by Jackson
at Harpers Ferry to salvage the captured
Federal property, arrived on the field and
immediately entered the fight. Burnside's
troops were driven back to the heights near
the bridge they had earlier taken. The Battle
of Antietam was over. The next day Lee began
withdrawing his army across the Potomac
Could it be that the Civil War's greatest
piece of intelligence, Lee's Special Orders
191, was deliberately passed into Union
Who Lost the Lost Order?
Of any other possible suspects, Henry Kyd
Douglas comes closest to fitting the circumstantial
evidence: he was in a position to act for
Henry Kyd Douglas, the youngest staff officer
for Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
was a native of the Sharpsburg area. His
family home was just 4 miles west of the
Battlefield. His uniform and personal library
are part of the Battlefield collection.
One of the more highly regarded Confederate
memoirs is that by Henry Kyd Douglas (I
RODE WITH STONEWALL), and it is here that
we find one of the more ...
Orders, No. 191
HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
September 9th, 1862
The Army will resume its march
to-morrow, taking the Hagerstown
road. General Jackson's command
will form the advance, and after
passing Middletown, with such portions
as he may select, take the route
toward Sharpsburg, cross the Potomac
at the most convenient point, and
by Friday night take possession
of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,
capture such of the enemy as may
be at Martinsburg, and intercept
such as may attempt to escape from
General Longstreeet's command
will pursue the same road as far
as Boonsboro', where it will halt
with the reserve, supply, and baggage
trains of the army.
General McLaws with his own division
and that of General R.H. Anderson,
will follow General Longstreet;
on reaching Middletown he will take
the route to Harper's Ferry, and
by Friday morning possess himself
of the Maryland Heights and endeavor
to capture the enemy at Harper's
Ferry and vicinity.
General Walker, with his division
after accomplishing the object in
which he is now engaged, will cross
the Potomac at Check's ford, ascend
its right bank to Lovettsville,
take possession of Loudoun Heights,
if practicable, by Friday morning,
Keyes's ford on his left, and the
road between the end of the mountain
and the Potomac on his right. He
will, as far as practicable, cooperate
with General McLaws and General
Jackson in intercepting the retreat
of the enemy.
General D.H. Hill's division will
form the rearguard of the army,
pursuing the road taken by the main
body. The reserve artillery, ordnance,
and supply trains, etc., will precede
General Stuart will detach a squadron
of cavalry to accompany the commands
of Generals Longstreet, Jackson
, and McLaws, and, with the main
body of the cavalry, will cover
the route of the army and bring
up all stragglers that may have
been left behind.
The commands of Generals Jackson,
McLaws, and Walker, after accomplishing
the objects for which they have
been detached, will join the main
body of the army at Boonsboro' or
Each regiment of the march will
habitually carry its axes in the
regimental ordinance-wagons, for
use of the men at their encampments,
to procure wood, etc.
By command of General R.E. Lee.
R. H. Chilton, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Major-General D.H. Hill, Command
The Union Army's discovery of a copy of
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Special
Orders No. 191 near Frederick, Maryland,
on September 13, 1862, outlining the disposition
of his thin and widespread Army of Northern
Virginia, precipitated the Battle of Antietam
four days later. The revelations of the
orders, called the "Lost Order"
in the North and the "Lost Dispatch"
in the South, prompted Union commander Maj.
Gen. George B. McClellan to pursue Lee's
divided army and force that fateful clash
from which the South never fully recovered.
The results of the Union victory at Antietam
reaped political consequences exceeding
this bloody battlefield of the Civil War.
President Abraham Lincoln used the military
success to sign the Emancipation Proclamation,
injecting slavery as an emotional and moral
war issue. Powerful European nations eventually
refused political recognition of the Confederacy
and its military and economic benefits.
Lee withdrew his battered forces back into
Virginia, his first foray into the North
a strategic failure. Antietam thus redirected
the course of the war and ultimately led
to the downfall of the Confederacy.
How No. 191 was lost, and who caused it
to be lost, has remained one of the war's
enduring mysteries. The copy of No. 191
found wrapped around three cigars in a clover
field two miles south of Frederick by members
of the 27th Indiana Infantry, addressed
to Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, was either intentionally
placed or carelessly dropped. The act assured
the Hoosier regiment a place in history,
but its loser has avoided disgrace.
The act of losing S. 0. 191 has evoked
only passing interest from modern historians.
Most have discussed the finding and what
occurred later: when Lee knew about its
disappearance, the battle itself, Lee's
disastrous Maryland Campaign and the repercussions.1
The mystery has been treated as either beyond
solution or too sensitive. This article
scrutinizes a possible circumstance and
those suspected of perpetuating it and concludes,
through circumstantial evidence, what man
allegedly lost it and how.
Some believe it was Henry Kyd Douglas,
Stonewall Jackson's courier. There was no
conspiracy. Chilton handed it to him and
Douglas lost it. Read Wilbur D. Jones excellent
treatment of the subject in "Civil
War Regiments: A Journal of the Civil War,"
Vol. 5, No.3. The case is shut and closed.
Douglas, who smoked cigars, had already
received the order and shoved the extra
in his jacket after wrapping it around his
cigars. It fell out of his pocket near the
railroad tracks near Frederick and the Monococy
More men were killed or wounded at Antietam
on September 17, 1862, than on any other
single day of the Civil War. Federal losses
were 12,410, Confederate losses 10,700.
Although neither side gained a decisive
victory, Lee's failure to carry the war
effort effectively into the North caused
Great Britain to postpone recognition of
the Confederate government. The battle also
gave President Abraham Lincoln the opportunity
to issue the Emancipation Proclamation,
which, on January 1, 1863, declared free
all slaves in States still in rebellion
against the United States. Now the war had
a dual purpose: to preserve the Union and
Six Brigadier and Major Generals were killed
or mortally wounded during the Battle of
Antietam on September 17, 1862. Of the six
fallen men, three were from the Union army
and three were Confederates. The spot where
each of the following six generals were
killed is marked by a "Mortuary Cannon,"
a cannon tube, muzzle down in a block of
Incredibly, twelve generals were wounded
during the battle - six from each side.
Two other generals were killed at the Battle
of South Mountain, three days earlier -
one Union and one Confederate. The total
for the two battles was 20 Generals killed
or wounded - 10 from each side.
Brig. Gen. George B. Anderson
Born near Hillsboro, North Carolina, Anderson
was 31 years old at Antietam. West Point
graduate, class of 1852, his brigade of
North Carolinians fought desperately in
the Sunken Road. Wounded in the foot, BGen
Anderson was transported to Shepherdstown,
then Staunton, Virginia and eventually to
Raleigh, North Carolina were he died October
Brig. Gen. Lawrence O'Brian Branch
Branch was born in Enfield, North Carolina
in 1820. He graduated from Princeton in
1838, studied law and served in Congress
from 1855 until 1861. Branch commanded a
brigade attached to A.P. Hill's Division
who made the grueling 17 mile march to the
battlefield from Harpers Ferry on the day
of the battle. Arriving on the south end
of the battlefield, Branch and the other
brigades of Hill's division helped turn
back Burnside's attack at the end of the
day. Like George Anderson, Branch was also
buried in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Maj. Gen. Joseph K. F. Mansfield
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield was one of the
oldest officers on the field at age 59.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Mansfield
graduated from West Point in 1822. A professional
soldier, he served in the Army for forty
years, including service in the Mexican
War. Just two days before the battle, he
was given command of the XII Corps. MGen
Mansfield led his men through the East Woods
towards the Cornfield in support of I Corps
already in action. Wounded in the chest
he died the next day. There is a monument
and a mortuary cannon on the battlefield
for MGen Mansfield.
Maj. Gen. Israel B. Richardson
This Vermonter was 46 years old when he
led his division at Antietam. Another West
Pointer, Richardson graduated from the Academy
in 1841 and distinguished himself during
the Mexican War. In 1855 he resigned his
commission and moved to Michigan. Returning
to service during the crisis of 1861, Richardson
led a brigade during the First Battle of
Bull Run and the Peninsula campaign. At
Antietam he commanded a division in the
II Corp that attacked the Sunken Road. Wounded
by artillery while trying to bring up more
guns, MGen Richardson died on November 3,
Brig. Gen. Isaac P. Rodman
Born in Rhode Island, Rodman served in both
houses of the state legislature before the
war. Rodman's middle name was Peace and
he was a Quaker. Imagine his dilemma when
war broke out between his religion and service
to his country. Rodman was a Captain at
First Bull Run and a division commander
here at Antietam. Crossing at Snavely's
Ford on the far south end of the battlefield,
Rodman led his men in the final assault,
only to be turned back by the timely arrival
of A.P. Hill and his men. Mortally wounded,
this Quaker General would die on September
30, 1862 at age 40.
Brig. Gen. William E. Starke
Born in Virginia, Starke was a successful
cotton planter in New Orleans. He served
as the Colonel of the 60th Virginia, then
was promoted to Brigadier on August 6 1862.
When BGen John R. Jones was stunned by an
artillery shell and left the field, Starke
took command of the Stonewall Division.
The onslaught of the Union I Corps' attack
early in the morning began to drive his
men back. Starke would lead a counterattack,
only to be wounded three times, he died
within the hour. His body was returned to
Richmond where he was buried in Hollywood
Cemetery next to his son who had been killed
two months earlier
Wounded at Antietam
September 17, 1862
Army of the Potomac
BGen Samuel W. Crawford
BGen Napoleon J.T. Dana
BGen George L. Hartsuff
MGen Joseph Hooker
BGen John Sedgwick
BGen Max Weber
Army of Northern Virginia
MGen Richard H. Anderson
BGen Maxcy Gregg
BGen John R. Jones
BGen Alexander R. Lawton
BGen Roswell S. Ripley
BGen Ambrose R. Wright
Killed at South Mountain
September 14, 1862
MGen Jesse L. Reno
BGen Samuel Garland
Established as Antietam National Battlefield
Site August 30, 1890, the park was transferred
from the War Department August 10, 1933,
and redesignated November 10, 1978. Along
with all historic areas administerd by the
National Park Service the battlefield was
listed on the National Register of Historic
Places on October 15, 1966.
Ghost of the Battlefield
Antietam National Cemetery, whose 11.36
acres contain 5,032 interments, 1,836 unidentified,
adjoins the park; grave space is not available.
Civil War interments occurred in 1866. The
cemetery contains only Union soldiers from
the Civil War period. Confederate dead were
interred in the Washington Confederate Cemetery
within Rosehill Cemetery, Hagerstown. The
Antietam National Cemetery was placed under
the War Department on July 14, 1870; it
was transferred to the National Park Service
on August 10, 1933.
Upside down canon barrels mark the spots
on the battlefield where Generals were killed.
There are five in all on the Antietam battlefield.
Ghost Photo sent to us from Belinda Franks.
Strange events have taken place at Bloody
Lane that lead people to believe that it
is haunted. The sounds of gunfire and the
smell of smoke and gunpowder are just some
of the strange happenings there. People
have also seen strange blue lights near
Burnside Bridge where many Federal soldiers
died while trying to cross Antietam Creek.
The Pry House was used as McClellan's headquarters
and is thought to be haunted by General
Richardson's wife Frances, who cared for
him on his deathbed.
The Pry House field Hospital Museum is
open daily June-October; and weekends only
during May and November. Hours of operation
are 11:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Admission is free,
however a $2.00 donation per person is suggested.
For more information call 301-695-1864.
Ghosts have also been seen at the Piper
House, Sherrick House, Otto House and St.
Paul Episcopal Church, which was used, as
a Confederate field hospital following the
Many ghost hunters have investigated Antietam
Battlefield and have come away with paranormal
photos of "orbs" and strange mists.
There certainly appears to be here ample
reason to conduct an investigation of our
Second only to Gettysburg in the annals
of warlike horror is Antietam. On a single
day – September 17, 1862 – the
Union and Confederate Armies clashed in
the corn fields and farmlands surrounding
this little corner of a divided nation.
When the day had ended, 23,000 souls had
been dispatched to the hereafter: this is
more than all the dead of the American Revolutionary
War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican American
and the Spanish American conflicts combined.
Burnside Bridge at the Antietam National
Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This
is taken from the Confederate position where
the Georgians held off the Union troops'
crossing until they were overwhelmed.
Nine months after the battle in June of
1863, Southern soldiers again found themselves
walking upon the old battlefield near Sharpsburg
as they marched north into Pennsylvania.
One soldier, a Confederate private, took
the time to write to his family and describe
what he saw.
"June 15, 1863
Dear Father, Mother, and Family,
I have been this morning over the old Sharpsburg
Battlefield and have witnessed the most
horrible sights that my eyes ever beheld.
I saw the dead in any number just lying
on top of the ground, their bones bleaching
and they by the many hundreds. Oh what a
horrible sight for human beings to look
upon. God grant that the time may speedily
come that the peace may return to our once
happy country and our lives be spared to
meet each other again on earth."
George Harlow, Private,
Company D, 23rd Virginia [O]
Over the years visitors and park rangers
alike have reported strange occurrences
from the now idyllic fields of Antietam.
Like their brothers at Gettysburg, the soldiers
who fell at Antietam still remain as more
Operating Hours & Seasons
Daily, summer: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; daily,
winter: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving,
Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Antietam National Park Home Page
The Battle of Antietam Official Records
and Battle DescriptionThe Battle of Antietam
(The Bloodiest Day of the Civil War)
September 17, 1862
"Baltimore: A House Divided"
Civil War Trail is open.
Cross the Potomac River with Lee. Discover
the "Lost Orders" with McClellan
and fight the battles of South Mountain
as you follow the roads the soldiers used
during the 1862 Antietam Campaign. Trace
the route of John Wilkes Booth's escape
route through southern Maryland after he
shot Abraham Lincoln. Ride with Confederate
Jubal Early as he marched toward Washington
in 1864. Have a look at a prisoner-of-war
camp at Point Lookout. Visit Baltimore's
rich store of Civil War sites and uncover
the secrets of Frederick, Washington, Carroll
and Montgomery counties.
Antietam National Battlefield and South
Mountain State Park in Washington County.
National Battlefield - Antietam National
The National Park Service's official expanded
website of Antietam National Battlefield.
NEW: Combined Virginia/Maryland Civil War
NPS website: Antietam National Battlefield
28 photos of Antietam National Cemetery:
"Sites of Memory"
History of Antietam National Cemetery, including
a descriptive list of all the loyal soldiers
buried therein together with the ceremonies
and address on the occasion of the dedication
of the grounds, September, 17th, 1867, Antietam
National Cemetery, Western Maryland Public
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antietam_National_Battlefield"
ALSO SEE: THE TOP
TEN MOST HAUNTED BATTLEFIELD LIST
the battles have long ago ended and the
sound of cannons and muskets is but a distant
memory, there are some souls who are still
waiting for the call to “Retreat”
– and for them, it may never come!
plans to visit a Haunted Battlefield today!
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