September 17, 2007

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary of the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, if you prefer), fought this in 1862 in Maryland. It was the single bloodiest day in American history, with a total of over 23,000 killed and wounded.

The battle ended in a strategic victory for the Union, although a frustrating one to me. On the one hand, Gen. George McClellan's Army of the Potomac did stop Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North and forced his Army of Northern Virginia to retreat back across the Potomac. This took some of the political pressure off Lincoln and gave him an occassion to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. It also dampened support for the South in Britain and France.

On the other hand, McClellan's army was nearly twice the size of Lee's. Had McClellan committed his entire force or even a substantial part of it, and had he coordinated his attacks against Lee's lines better, he shoulda-woulda-coulda obliterated the Confederates. Instead, the Union forces went in cautiously and piece-meal, allowing Lee to shift his men around as needed (which he did brilliantly, btw). It was a combination of this hesitancy and his extremely slow pursuit of the Confederates back into Virginia that finally caused a fed-up Lincoln to get rid of McClellan once and for all.

UPDATE: Mr. P marks the date over at Patum Peperium with a confession of a re-enactor past. Go and read.

Posted by Robert at September 17, 2007 10:51 AM | TrackBack

Yeah, the reenactment was this past weekend. No spectators! A friend of ours (still in the hobby, poor man) was all excited about it.


And I agree with Mr. P. I was much more interested in the big picture than my dress, which is why Husband and I get so excited about artillery and who did what where...that kind of stuff.

Posted by: GroovyVic at September 17, 2007 10:51 AM

You fail to mention the "nick of time" arrival of AP Hill's division from Harpers Ferry. That really saved Lee.

Posted by: flashman70 at September 19, 2007 12:41 PM

Naw, I just didn't want to get that deep into play-by-play here. And if McClellan had moved the way he should have, it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at September 19, 2007 02:22 PM