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September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest single day in American history.
Antietam was a pivotal battle in the Civil War; critical victory for the Union.
The outcome came from circumstances of misjudgment, valor and coincidence.
The Southern losses at Antietam squashed any hopes they had of European intervention on their behalf.
Southern casualties were tremendous. One week after the battle, in an area of 75 square miles “wounded and dying soldiers were in every neighborhood and nearly every house.” This actually accounts for both sides.
The Pedulum of War
Karl Marx from London wrote that Antietam “has decided the fate of the American Civil War.” Many others agreed.
General McClellan was a big problem for President Lincoln. McClellan always worried about being outnumbered, as a result didn’t act at very opportune times.
Lincoln questioned McClellan’s moral courage.
The South was forced to yield a very important naval yard to the North. The CSS Virginia was scuttled.
The South negotiated with Europe for aid to, among other things, help unblock the harbors, which stopped the export of cotton.
The North was negotiating with Europe for aid as well.
Taking Off The Kid Gloves
Southern General Joseph Johnston was wounded and replaced by Robert E. Lee. Lee attacked the North right away which caused McClellan to retreated. This was beginning of the 7 Days Battles.
Lincoln sought to beef up the Union army by bringing generals from the western campaigns to the east.
Lincoln also called for 300,000 new volunteers; the state militia was called to serve in the Union army.
The South’s successes in these battles renewed European interest in aiding the South.
Taking Off The Kid Gloves
Foreign opinions on anti-slavery pressured Lincoln to call for emancipation. Up until now the war was not about slavery.
Slave labor was very important to the Southern army by way of support services. Many of them ran away to the Union armies for refuge, and then became an important part of the support services there.
The Northern General in Chief gave an order to General Grant to take southern property used in war against the North. This included slaves, and became part of the new policy for “hard war.”
Lincoln was advised to hold off on the emancipation proclamation lest it be seen as the last shriek on the retreat. Lincoln decided to wait for a Union victory.