Antietam Midterm
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  • 1. Holly B. Hampton History 141 TTH Mid-term project
  • 2. The eleven states of the Confederacy established a functioning government at Richmond in May 1861 with its armies in control of virtually all of the 750,000 square miles that constituted its natural territory. To win the war the South only needed to defend what it already possessed. President Abraham Lincoln wished to achieve his war aims of preserving the United States as a whole nation- a union of all states.
  • 3. After the defeat at Bull Run, Lincoln had called 34 year old McClellan to take command of the army of the Potomac. The political leaders and press called him, “The Young Napoleon.” McClellan wrote, “I am fighting to preserve the integrity of the Union.” Unlike McClellan, who had known nothing but success in his life and was afraid to risk failure, Grants experience of failure before the war made him willing to take risks.
  • 4. The first cloud on the horizon of the Union military success in 1862 appeared in the Shenandoah Valley. The Union commander was General Banks, appointed because of his political influence. To Banks misfortune, he faced Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson who succeeded so brilliantly that he became the most renowned commander in the South.
  • 5. During the weeks surrounding the Seven Days, Lincoln took several actions to revitalize the Union war effort, in the long run these changes changed the course of the war. On June 17th the president summoned General John Pope from the war to take command of the newly designed army of Virginia. Pope was to cooperate with McClellan against the Confederate. Pope and McClellan did not get along at all.
  • 6. Little good news for the Union came out of the western theatre to offset bad news in Virginia during July and August. Northern solders tried to dig a bypass canal of range of Vicksburg’s batteries, but low water in the Mississippi flooded their efforts. The men fell sick with several dying every day. Meanwhile Buell failed in liberating East Tennesee.
  • 7. Lees’ victorious but worn-out army should have gone into camp for rest and refitting after Second Manassas. They had been marching or fighting with out cessation for 10 weeks. He had the initiative and was loath to give it up. Lee believed that in a long war the greater numbers, resources and industrial capacity of the North Would prevail.
  • 8. Walter Taylor declared on September 7th that, “Now is the time for Maryland or never.” The wish soon became fact, as viewed from Richmond with optimistic reports that large number of Maryland men were joining Lees’ army. But the reality was quite different. The outward appearance of solders in the Army of Northern Virginia did not inspire confidence among Marylanders. They were unwashed, unshaven and hungry.
  • 9. On September 14th Jackson tightened the noose around Harper Ferry and Confederate artillery began firing at the garrison trapped like fish in a barrel. The next morning Harpers Ferry surrendered. Miles’s was mortally wounded and would never have to answer to the charge of suspicion of treason. Messages went out to Lees’ scattered units to march to Sharpsburg. McClellan got the victory at Antietam and was irritated by the lack of praise or recognition from Washington.
  • 10. The Army of Northern Virginia was not destroyed at Antietam, as Lincoln had hoped, nor was it beaten utterly as McClellan claimed. But it was hurt badly. The army indeed did not exhibit its former temper for some time after Antietam. A Georgia captain wrote on September 23rd, “We lost more than we gained in it.”
  • 11. To the end of his life McClellan believed that Antietam was his finest hour, when he saved the Union and earned the gratitude of the republic. McClellan was also involved in two pivotal moments in the Civil War. One more punch by him and he might have knocked the Confederacy out of the war. No other campaign and battle in the war had such momentous, multiple consequences as Antietam.