Was Antietam more significant than Gettysburg?

Jun 2006
165
celtman
#1
A lot of the talk of the Civil War is about Gettysburg... but shouldn't there be more emphasis placed on Antietam. It was the bloodiest day in American history with a total of over 23,000 Americans killed. Was this a more critical battle than Gettysburg? Why or why not?
 

Lord_Cronus

Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
1,047
Georgia
#2
The battle was not only critical from a military standpoint, being nearly every battle before hand a Union defeat. Although it was classified as a draw, Lee was forced to leave Maryland and it was then considered a victory. This is what Lincoln needed to issue the Emancipation Proclemation and ultimately keep England out of the war.
 
Jul 2006
1,315
Hellas
#3
Lord_Cronus said:
The battle was not only critical from a military standpoint, being nearly every battle before hand a Union defeat. Although it was classified as a draw, Lee was forced to leave Maryland and it was then considered a victory. This is what Lincoln needed to issue the Emancipation Proclemation and ultimately keep England out of the war.
I will agree with that, Antietam was a big battle and stopped Lee's 1st invasion but Gettysburg was the turning point of the war, Lee suffered casualties not only numerical but also in quality, he lost most of his Virginia infantry, casualties that he could not replace, so no more offense and initiative, from this point and after South was forced to observe and defend against a Union that go stronger and stronger as the time past.
 

Commander

Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
1,362
Jacksonville, FL
#4
From what I've read, Lincoln was disappointed in McClellan's performance on the battle field. He wanted a victory, not a draw. Lincoln wanted him to pursue Lee into the south and crush him. Can anyone expand on this?
 
Jul 2006
1,315
Hellas
#5
Maybe Lincoln had right, he was a great man cause he knew when to put in side his feelings and act, if McLelan followed Lee, maybe, he would end the war, the retreat route was blocked and Lee's man exhausted and disappointed with no moral, 14 miles streched the caravan with the wounded, so the casualties where not only the 26.000 Southerners suffered in battle but the wounded to, i calculate tht Lee from 77.000 army had no more 20.000 effective (and in bad shape) after the battle. But how can you order a General that see that battle and suffered with his man?
Maybe McLellan overrespected Lee and feared a trap or simply he was satisified with his great victory, or maybe all the above.
 
Jul 2006
173
Vancouver Washington
#6
Little Mac was a hack. He had Lee handed to him! He had Lee's order telling exactly what Lee was up to. When he did finally move against the ANV he moved piecemeal and haphazardly. Mac had his entire Army up against only part of Lee's. If Lee would have gone up an even half assed commander, Hooker for example, Lee's army would have faced disaster. Mac didnt even deploy the 5th or 6th Corps!
 

Lord_Cronus

Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
1,047
Georgia
#8
This was the very battle. Special Orders 191 was the written orders to all of Lee's Lieutenant field officers with the description of movements of each of his corps. It was found by a soldier in the 27th Indiana Infantry wrapped around three cigars. The belief is it was D.H. Hill's copy of the order that was found. Augustus is right Maclellan had the war in his hand and failed to act. He thought the note was some kind of trickery, maybe something to throw them off. This was the best chance the north had to end the war before Gettysburg. But I still believe the turning point was the loss of Chatanooga and the Mississippi River.

Here is a link on Special Orders 191.
http://www.geocities.com/pentagon/barracks/3627/lostorder.html

Something else that's interesting to note. After Gettysburg, when Lee was in retreat to the Potomac River, Meade intercepted a "pretended" deserter and reported that Lee's army was in fine shape and was eager for another fight and had massed in Williamsport waiting for the Meade to attack. Only partially true, the Confederates had mad fortifications in preparation for an attack. Mead gave Lee a two day head start after the battle due to rain. Meade's telegraph to Washington on 12 July was that he had intended "to attack them tomorrow, unless something intervenes." Lincoln's reply was, "They will be ready to fight a magnificant battle when there is no enemy there to fight." Meade held council of war and with the news from the "deserter" it was decided not to attack on the 13th. When Meade finally got up the nerve to lurch the army forward, all they found was a rear guard and that Lee had slipped away during the night. Needless to say Lincoln was a bit animated.
 
Jul 2006
173
Vancouver Washington
#9
Pssssst It was the 27th Indiana. ;)

After the battle of Antietam Lil Macs troops were in no condition to follow Lee. In the few cases he did (Again haphazardly) they ended up like the 119th PA. If Mac had a chance to defeat Lee, and he did, it was on the field at Antietam.

Mac was sacked by Lincoln soon after the battle.