The Battle of Antietam was started by the Union Army under the leadership of Major General George B. McClellan against the Confederate army under the leadership of General Lee in an attempt to stop Lee’s invasion of Maryland. The Union army wanted to stop the Confederate’s invasion of Maryland and other territories claimed by the Union. The battle was very significant to the American Civil War as a whole because it enabled President Abraham Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation (Morris and Kearns 57).
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This battle discouraged the French and British governments from recognizing the Confederacy’s legitimacy within the country. It emphasized the legitimacy of the Union forces in the country. This is so because although the Confederate Army won the battle, they were forced to retreat away from Maryland, which was militarily considered a loss (Alexander 34).
To gain a tactical advantage over each other, the warring parties employed different technologies when engaging in the war. In what Sears described as ‘artillery hell’ both armies were keen to use modern tools of war to achieve success (71). The confederate armies used horse artillery batteries to gain an advantage over the Union forces. On the other hand, the Union forces used nine batteries on the ridge.
Intelligence played a significant role in this battle. General McClellan was able to get hold of the military plan that his enemy, General Lee, wanted use and how he intended to strike the Union forces. However, McClellan failed to make use of this intelligence effectively, making it impossible to defeat the Confederate forces. However, the intelligence helped the Union forces to prepare for the assault planned by the Confederate army (Jucar 61).
The terrain of the battlefield provided an excellent cover for Lee’s forces. The low ridge offered a perfect defensive position for the Confederate forces which were outnumbered. They were able to hold their ground and fight the enemy despite the numerical strength that the union forces had. The terrain made it easy to launch an offensive without suffering major casualties. The priest says that the terrain favored the Confederate forces, and that’s why the Union forces were unable to take advantage of their numerical strength effectively (44).
On the battleground, the Confederate army won the war. They were able to defeat the attempt of the Union forces to drive them out of Maryland using military force. They were able to hold their ground well despite their numerical disadvantage. However, in military terms, it is the union forces that won the battle because the Confederate army, even after showing brilliance at war, still left Maryland as per the desires of the Union forces. It meant that the Union forces achieved their primary aim of going to war.
As mentioned in the section above, the glory of the victory was celebrated by the Union forces, but the military battle was won by the Confederate forces. There were several tactical failures on the side of the Union forces that made it easy for it to win this war. The first tactical failure on the side of the Union forces was the ill-coordination of McClellan’s plans. The Union forces were unable to ensure that all their attacks were properly coordinated. McPherson notes that the execution of the plans was also poor, making it easy for the Confederate forces to stop the attack (21).
Alexander, Ted. The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day. Charleston: History Press, 2011. Print.
Jucar, Jowati. Military Academy of Malaysia Compared with West Point: Learning Environments and New Technology. New York: Dissertation Com, 2013. Print.
McPherson, James. Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
Morris, James, and Patricia Kearns. Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2011. Print.
Priest, John. Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle. Shippensburg: White Mane Pub. Co, 2009. Print.
Sears, Stephen. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam. New York: Cengage, 2011. Print.