September 17, 2012

150th Anniversary of Antietam

Today is the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest single day in US history. It was the first major battle of the Civil War to take place in Northern territory. It is the day to remember the 23,000 casualties, many of them new recruits, never having seen action before.

The battle should have been a full Union victory as they had found a lost copy of Lee's battle plans wrapped around some cigars. Unfortunately for both sides, it was nothing but bloodshed. The rocky and hilly terrain made it almost impossible to see what was coming and the area was so small, it was impossible to move without encountering the enemy.  It was the first time many men lost loved ones.

Below is a letter written shortly after the battle: 

"My dear afflicted Sister

It gives me intensest pain to tell you of death of my dear brother, your devoted husband, Andrew. Oh: how desolate is my sad heart at the loss of that brother twice indeared by the hardships and perils we have passed togather. But if my heart is so sad, what must yours be my sister, deprived of a husband and a friend...Our dear one suffered no pain in death for he was shot through the temples. He was killed on yesterday morning at the fight at Sharpsburg. Of the conflict being undesided, his body has not yet been recovered, but Maj. George has promised to attend to his internment. I am too badly wounded to return to look after him...Your sorrowing brother, A. M. Erskine" 

--Wiley, Bell Irvin. The Life of Johnny Reb. Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 1943.  

Take a moment and remember all of the families affected by that day and how much the war really meant to our country. I've included some lesser known photos of the battlefield. 

Here's a link to another soldier's letter from Antietam. 

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