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Antietam Exhibits

This section of the site highlights our Featured Exhibits, which are a series of articles with a little more depth and detail about a specific topic or individual involved at Antietam. It also includes eyewitness and official reports, and other primary reference documents.

Since 2012, I've been posting new material of this type over on the blog, so you might like to check there as well.

Featured Exhibits

Kentuckians in Lee's Army at Sharpsburg
The Blackburn Guards
The Blackburn Guards became the only Kentucky unit to serve in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Kentucky Flag
Confederate First National
Military Intelligence During the Maryland Campaign
McClellan, Lee, and the "Lost Order"
How vital military information was collected, analyzed, and acted upon by the two army commanders, Lee and McClellan, on the Maryland Campaign.
JEB Stuart's performance in the Maryland Campaign
2 - 20 September 1862
Major General Stuart's performance in the Maryland Campaign has been described by some historians as lacking in the qualities that Lee would need for his ambitious foray into Maryland ...
JEB Stuart rides around the AoP
JEB Stuart rides
Crampton's Gap
Key Point of the Whole Situation
The September 14th battle at Crampton's Gap, a vital part of the Maryland Campaign of 1862, gets a thorough appraisal in this feature and attached exhibits.
Crampton's Gap

A New View of the Field at Sharpsburg
Confederate Signal Stations on Sneden's Map of "The Battle of Antietam"
Newly available color maps of Antietam by wartime mapmaker and artist Robert Sneden tease reserchers with new information about Confederate Signalling.
R. K. Sneden
R. K. Sneden
Remembering Our Boys
The Historical Tablets at Antietam National Battlefield
The Antietam Battlefield Board wrote the concise history of the military units at Sharpsburg through iron tablets placed as the Park was being created
sample historical tablet
Battlefield Tablet
On the Brink:
The Confederate Center, Boonsboro Turnpike
A detailed look at the sequence of events and an opportunity presented to General McClellan by Sykes' US Regulars at the center of the battle on 17 September.
H. Dryer
H. Dryer
History Lost and Found:
Diary of CDM Broomhall, 124th Pennsylvania
See the Campaign from a soldier's point of view in an excerpt from the recently discovered diary of C.D.M. Broomhall, 1st Sergeant, Company D, 124th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Broomhall Diary Cover
Broomhall Diary Cover
McClellan Reacts to the "Lost Order"
September 13, 1862
An exciting new analysis of how and when General McClellan responded to the information in Lee's Special Orders No. 191 - analysis based on close reexamination of old assumptions.
G. B. McClellan (1862 cdv)
G. B. McClellan (1862 cdv)
The Stalwart Chaplain:
Captain Edward J Willis
Former minister and Chaplain Edward Willis takes command of the decimated 15th Virginia Infantry at Sharpsburg. Confronted with horrific combat, he stands the test.
E. J. Willis (c. 1854)
E. J. Willis
Above and Beyond:
The Medal of Honor on the Maryland Campaign
There were 28 Medals of Honor awarded to Federal soldiers for valor in the Maryland Campaign of 1862. There were also more than 100 other men with the Army of the Potomac that September who had already or would later receive Medals of Honor at other engagements in the War.
The Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor
If we never try ...
Abraham Lincoln Visits Antietam
President Lincoln paid an unexpected visit to Sharpsburg on the First of October, 1862 - to push his General to pursue the Confederate army, battered two weeks earlier at Antietam.
Lincoln visits McClellan
Lincoln visits McClellan
Landscape Turned Red:
A New York Soldier at Antietam
Charge the guns with Private David Thompson and the rest of the Zouaves of the 9th New York Regiment. Get a unique view of combat from one of the common soldiers at the battle from an excellent article he wrote after the war.
Portrait of New York Zouaves
Portrait of New York Zouaves
Artillery Hell:
Colonel S. D. Lee and his Guns at Antietam
Colonel Lee's batteries seemed to be everywhere that day - at the Dunker Church during the early fighting, among the last defenders behind D. H. Hill at the Bloody Lane at mid-day, and later in the defense of Sharpsburg itself from the onslaught of Federal General Burnside's Corps.
S. D. Lee
S. D. Lee
Raise the Colors:
Meagher & the Irish Brigade at Antietam
Be amazed by the dramatic style of Federal General Thomas F. Meagher as he describes the doomed charge of his famous Irish Brigade in selected excerpts from his after-battle report.
Thomas Francis Meagher
Thomas Francis Meagher
The Sun Stood Still:
Colonel John B. Gordon at Antietam
See combat at Sharpsburg through the eyes of Confederate Colonel John B. Gordon, commanding the 6th Alabama Regiment, in a thrilling excerpt from his post-war Reminiscences.
John B. Gordon
John B. Gordon

Reports, Letters, and Documents

After most significant activity, military commanders were required to report the actions of their troops to their superiors. Officers and men also wrote letters and kept journals on campaign. The following exhibits are some of those reports and correspondence, as well as other documents of historical interest.

A word of caution - any personal account should be used carefully. Some of the writers were not strictly objective. Many have personal axes to grind, and some may have been confused by the chaos of combat or had a limited view of the situation. Even so, first-hand accounts often are the best way to get a feel for the action.

Official Reports (ORs):

MGen McClellan's Official Reports
for the Campaign
Official reports of the Commander of the Federal Army of the Potomac. There are three here - two 'preliminary' (the first a very brief summary of casualties) dated September and October 1862, and the final and official report of August 1863. [A large report - may take a moment to load]
G. B. McClellan
G. B. McClellan
Gen Robert E. Lee's Official Report
Operations in Maryland (1862)
Report of the Maryland Campaign by General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. This is a long report, covering all of the Maryland campaign, the skirmish at Shepherdstown, and operations leading to the Battle of Fredricksburg
Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee

There are 339 more of these reports available here!
See the OR Index for reports from many of the other officers present at the battle.

Correspondence and other Documents:

My Dear Sister ...
Trooper Munnerlyn, Stuart's Cavalry at Frederick
James K. Munnerlyn, a trooper in the Jeff Davis Legion of Stuart's Confederate Cavalry, writes of his experience at Frederick and Boonsboro in the days immediately before the battle at Sharpsburg.
J.K. Munnerlyn
J.K. Munnerlyn
Narrow Escape at South Mountain
Diary of Capt James A Blackshear
Captain Blackshear writes of his battery on campaign in Maryland in 1862 in his personal diary

An Account of the Battle
Diary of Charles S. Buell, 8th Connecticut
Selections from the combat diary of Charles S. Buell, Private, Company E, 8th Connecticut Volunteers, describing his experiences from September 11 to October 7, when his unit broke camp to leave the Sharpsburg area.

"Of our sick and wounded men it may be said their name is Legion"
Isabella Fogg and the aftermath of Battle
Volunteer Isabella Fogg describes the horrible conditions she found when caring for sick and wounded soldiers in Maryland in November 1862.
I. M. Fogg
I. M. Fogg
September 1862:
White's Ford to Sharpsburg
General Lee's campaign into Maryland required the capture of the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry and defense of the Gaps in South Mountain - the Union forces' route of pursuit.

Lee's Letter to President Davis on Moving into Maryland
September 3, 1862
Mr. PRESIDENT: The present seems to be the most propitious time since the commencement of the war for the Confederate Army to enter Maryland ...
President J. Davis
President J. Davis
Lee's Special Orders No. 191
"The Lost Orders"
Gen Lee writing to his Corps and Division leaders concerning their orders on the campaign. These are the (in)famous Special Orders No. 191, which soon after fell into Union hands at Frederick, MD.

The Emancipation Proclamation
September 1862
President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 22 September 1862, issued only five days after the battle.

Summer 1862:
Reversal of Confederate Fortunes Leads to the Maryland Campaign
In the early Summer of 1862 the Confederacy was in serious trouble. Union General McClellan was executing his plan to capture the Confederate capital by invasion up the Virginia peninsula, and was at 'gates of Richmond'. General John Pope and his Federal Army of Virginia were also a major threat. These armies were both in Virginia, and each greatly outnumbered the forces defending Richmond; the fall of that place seemed almost inevitable ...

Battle Casualties at Antietam
Summary Statistics
Table of casualty statistics for the battle on Sept 17

Lt. Henry Ropes
Letters from the Maryland Campaign
The text of four letters from Lt. Henry Ropes, 20th Mass Infantry, to his parents. These contain his immediate observations on the Antietam Campaign .

Analysis, Opinion, &etc.

This last section of Exhibits are the most distant from "facts" (as much as any history can be factual). These are our analyses and opinions about the battle.

Special Order 191 - Perhaps The Greatest "What If" Of American Military History
A discussion of Special Order 191 begs many questions, not the least of which is "Would the CSA have won the war had 191 not been found?"
The Significance of the Battle of Antietam
What was the significance of the Battle? What were the results and long-term outcomes: just what did the battle accomplish?
Why did Lee Enter Maryland?
A discussion of some of the pros and cons facing General Robert E. Lee at the end of the Summer of '62.

Also ...

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