Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. Late in the day, Burnside's corps finally got into action, crossing the stone bridge over Antietam Creek and rolling up the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and counterattacked, driving back Burnside and saving the day.
Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout the 18th, while removing his wounded south of the river. McClellan did not renew the assaults. After dark, Lee ordered the battered Army of Northern Virginia to withdraw across the Potomac into the Shenandoah Valley.
September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest day of the Civil War. Federal losses totaled 12,410 and the Confederates lost 10,700 men. Although neither side won a decisive victory, General Robert E. Lee's failure to carry the war into the north was significant to the outcome of the war. The battle also gave President Lincoln the opportunity to issue the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, which on January 1, 1863, declared free all slaves in States still in rebellion against the United States.
-- Sources: National Park Service, Library of Congress, Unites States Army
Battlefields, Antietam Creek ( Sharpsburg, Md.) Bloody Lane, No.7
donated by Mrs. Lee Nusbaum 5/1939
Print and Picture Collection