Question of the Week: 9/12-9/18/22

In your opinion, what are the turning point moments of the Antietam campaign and battle?

14 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/12-9/18/22

  1. The brisk advance of the AoP which Lee did not anticipate and the failure of Stuart to inform Lee of that advance.

    Antietam was the political turning pint of the Civil War, With the announcement of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln took any foreign involvement and intervention by Great Britain right off the table.

    1. I agree with the previous comments but some additional ones are;

      1. Jesse Reno’s death at South Mountain. The 9th Corps would have been in much better position had he been there. Definitely left a leadership vacuum.

      2. Hooker being wounded. Had he not been wounded Sumner’s Corps may have been used more advantageously

      3. AP Hill arriving when he did on the flank of the 9th Corps.

  2. These come to mind as the most important, listed chronologically:

    A. The finding of the Lost Order

    B. Lee’s decision to stand at Sharpsburg

    C. McClellan’s decision to defer an attack on September 18

    1. those are good choices. I’d add the 24 hours of delay in the Army of the Potomac’s attack on September 17.

  3. I’m a big fan of the Lost Order and all the implications it suggests, although I’m not really convinced it was the huge hinge it has become in popular memory. I love the discussions around it, though.

    Instead, I’m going to go with McClellan’s decision not to put in all his reserves. He had the chance to break Lee, although didn’t know it. Had he put in his reserves, what would have happened to the ANV?

    And, of course, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. 100% game changer.

  4. A. Union troopers finding the Lost Order
    B. Ambrose Burnside failing to find an Antietam Creek ford and focusing on that particular bridge instead
    C. George McClellan failing to put in all his reserves when his troops broke the Confederate line at the Sunken Road

  5. Perhaps Hill showing up. But I am reading a book by someone that really knows! “Confederate Tide Rising.” is the first of three volumes that focus on the rise of Lee and the Maryland Campaign, authored by the late historian, Joseph L. Harsh. Splendid writing and analysis!

    1. I just read those for the first time recently! They’re some of my favorite books that I’ve read in the past year.

  6. I’ll go with Lee’s and Davis’s belief that Maryland would rally to the Confederates cause, and them acting on that belief. That set everything else in motion.

  7. The quick surrender of Harper’s Ferry, allowing a “Nick of time” rescue of Lee’s Army by reserves that arrived over a 24 hour period. Otherwise, he’s toast.

  8. Sticking with the battle:

    -Hooker, then Mansfield wounded – Williams and Bull Sumner didn’t have their same oomph that morning
    -McRae’s brigade not really going in – This resulted in the likely clearing of the East Woods and Cornfield by the XII Corps an actuality.
    -Lafayette McLaws’s timely pitching into Sedgwick’s flank.
    -Consequence of the first point – No one bothered to re-enforce Greene in the West Woods.
    -Fighting Dick Richardson’s MW.
    -Edward Ferrero offering whiskey for a bridge
    -A. P. Hill reprising his Cedar Mountain role.

  9. Too many turning points.

    -Lee deciding to invade
    -Lincoln appointing McClellan to put the pep in the Army of the Potomac’s step.
    -McClellan’s alacrity in getting after Lee.

    Out of these three… I will go with Lincoln appointing McClellan to put the pep in the Army of the Potomac’s step. If Lincoln doesn’t do that, there are major command and organizational issues that will retard the Army of the Potomac’s ability to chase down Lee. Pennsylvania probably gets invaded.

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