The Battle of Antietam

By | September 17, 2017

[September 17, 2017]  This date in history is well-known in the annals of humankind for September 17th produced a number of life-changing events for Americans and most Western nations.  For example, this was the date in 1787 that the U.S. Constitution was signed, in 1939 the Soviet Union invaded Poland as part of that war’s beginning, and in 1862 the first large-scale battle in the U.S. Civil War occurred at Antietam Creek in Maryland.

The Battle of Antietam witnessed the greatest casualty rate for any U.S. force in its history in a single day.  It marked the peak of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the Northern states.  Strategically, the move of Lee’s forces into Maryland was genius; he was bringing the fight to the enemy.  His operational moves were much better than Federal generals had expected.  Although the results of the tactical battle were mixed, it was to be a strategic victory for U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and the Northern cause.

It was a savage, bloody combat that continued throughout the day as each side maneuvered to gain an advantage.  But by the time the sun went down (which was often associated with a cessation in fighting) both armies still held their ground while the casualties were nearly 23,000 of the 100,000 engaged in combat.1  Nearly 4,000 died that day.  After the terror attacks on U.S. soil on 9/11, the numbers of dead were comparable.

President Lincoln had been waiting for the right time to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, a historic document that turned the Federal effort in the Civil War into a fight for the abolition of slavery.  As I’ve commented before here at, Lincoln’s declaration in this document was one of the single most important strategic moves made by a senior leader during modern times.

It was brilliance at its best and Lincoln clearly understood the implications.  The Confederacy desperately needed allies in its cause against the North; France in particular was looking to assist the South to gain its independence as it did a century earlier in the U.S. Revolutionary War.  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended that possibility and in his memory we should remember what a great leader he was and what he did for us all.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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