The Antietam is a river near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, United States. It is the site of a battlefield and was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War between the North and South in the United States. Today, the landscape near Sharpsburg is beautiful and peaceful and only the white stone monument and a few cannons from that distant time, remind us of the decisive battle on September 17, 1862 that changed the course of U.S. history.
The leader of the Confederate troops in the South was General Robert E. Lee. He advanced on Maryland, hoping to win the people of that state to his side. The commander of the Union army is Major General George B. McClennan, who was to attack Confederate forces to prevent them from approaching Washington. The fighting began early on the morning of September 17. McClennan's army was outnumbered but poorly coordinated during the eight-hour attacks. About 25 thousand men were killed, with the majority of the dead being Union Army. The battle continued after the arrival of reinforcements for Major General Ambrose Burnside's Union Army, which sought to seize the stone bridge over the river now bearing his name. General Lee withdraws his troops across the Potomac River and returns to Virginia. Although the Confederate forces have withdrawn, McClennan's actions are judged to be weak and he is relieved of command of the Union troops because of this.
But the Battle of Antietam was pivotal, as it deterred the Confederacy's first attempt to take territory in the North. So did President Abraham Lincoln issue his Emancipation Proclamation and set the Civil War on a new course.