Wednesday, September 17, 1862. is rightly classed as the bloodiest day in American history. In that 24-hour period, more Americans fell killed, wounded, captured, or missing, than in any like 24-hour period before or since.
This contention rests almost totally on the Battle of Antietam outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, where 23,726 (12,410 US and 10, 316 CS) soldiers fell in essentially 12 hours of combat that day.
But that horrific number does not cover all the losses on September 17.
Let’s not forget the war also occurred elsewhere that day. Dozens of people were lost in small skirmishes at places like Cumberland Gap and elsewhere (to include the high seas). Also, at 6 A.M. (local) that morning, 4,000 US troops surrendered at Munfordville, Kentucky, to Confederates under Braxton Bragg. All these numbers need to be added into the battlefield losses that day; this puts America’s bloodiest day at approximately 28,000 men killed, wounded, missing, and captured for that 24-hour period.
Two other notes about this day might be of interest. September 17, 1862, was the 75th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. The largest airborne operation in history, Operation Market-Garden in Holland, began on the 82d anniversary of this day.