Antietam National Battlefield

On June 21st, all the National Parks are free. With this fact in mind, I went to Antietam National Battlefield.  Even though: I have been there many times, I always find something new.

The battle of Antietam (1862), along with being one of the first, was also one of the bloodiest. Antietam was General E. Lee’s first attempt to take the Civil War onto Union territory. There were errors made by both the Union and Confederate armies.

On this particular visit I went to Burnside Bridge. The bridge is named after a Union General, Ambrose E. Burnside. Generals Burnside and Jacob Cox sat with 12,500 men at the bridge for most of the morning of August 17th. Major General George McClellan ordered Burnside to attack the Confederate right across the bridge simultaneously with General Hooker’s attack on the Confederate left. Burnside said he never received that order. Five hours after the battle began, General McClellan’s courier reached the two General with an order to storm the bridge. One big error the Union made was not bothering to reconnoiter the terrain around the bridge. The Confederate army disappeared in the woods. As a result, the Union army came under Confederate gun fire. After a few hours, the Burnside’s army sorted out and was able to drive the Confederates back. However, this was not before many lives were lost.

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