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Frequently Asked Questions


Below are the most common specific questions we get about the site and the battle. The answers are also included, for your convenience. By the way, most people who contact us ask basic questions whose answers are already here on the site, so take a moment and look around!

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Questions & Answers

Q1 Why is the battle of Antietam important? What was it's significance?
A1 This question is answered is some detail in my article on the subject. Here are some highlights: Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and the Federal war aims widened; the Confederates returned to Virginia, but the war would continue; potential foreign support to the South largely evaporated; Americans saw first-hand the true and horrible nature of actual war (Gardner/Brady photographs); thousands of families lost fathers, sons, and brothers; and General McClellan lost his job.

Q2 Who was the winner of the battle?
A2 This one's something of a toss-up. Very briefly, here are the two sides: (1) General Lee could rightfully claim at least a moral victory. As late as the evening of September 18, 1862, he was still in possession of the field. (2) On the other hand, General McClellan could claim the ultimate prize. He had badly damaged the Confederate Army and they were forced to abandon the invasion. He had 'saved' the nation.
To me, the key is that President Lincoln thought it victory enough to issue his Emancipation Proclamation from a position of strength. For more fine grain, read the significance article cited in A1 above.

Q3 How many troops were involved in the battle? How many killed and wounded?
A3 In round numbers, about 56,000 Federal troops fought about 37,400 Confederates. The Federal force present on or near the battlefield was considerably larger than 56,000 but not all units were engaged in the fight. The Confederate number does represent just about every man available. For a breakdown by battle sector, and associated casualties, see the Statistics Chart.

Q4 I'm interested in finding more about an ancestor who fought at the battle. What do you know about him?
A4 If your ancestor was a major figure, a Regimental Commander or greater, we have him in our database, certainly. But we also have thousands of individual soldiers here. The People page is the place to look first. If you can't find him there, contact me - we're always expanding the database - so we may have something in the works, or we can take information you have to get him setup.

Q5 Who are you, Mr Webmaster, and what are your qualifications?
A5 Thanks for asking, it is wise to question things you find on the Web. Please see the "About" piece for more about the site and my reasons for being here.

Q6 Compare and Contrast the leadership roles and tactical strengths of Generals Lee and McClellan vis-a-vis the political limits and industrial infrastructure ... blah blah ...
A6 Dang. Please don't ask me to do homework or write research papers or answer test questions! If you have looked about the site a bit, and don't see what you need in the way of basic information, give me a shout.

Q7 How big is Burnside's Bridge? How deep is the creek there?
A7 The roadbed of the stone arched bridge is 12 feet wide and 125 feet long. The top of the center arch is about 15 feet above the creekbed. The Bridge is of locally quarried limestone construction, and was about 25 years old at the battle, having been built in 1836. The bridge still stands today. It was known as the Lower or Rohrback's Bridge before the Federal General came along. The creek is usually 2-4 feet deep in the vicinity of the bridge. It was reported at just about 4 feet on the day of the battle. See water depth now.