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America fought many battles and incurred numerous loses over the course of the Civil War. Nonetheless, the year 1862 is historically estimated as one of the most significant moments of the war since it brought the hope for political freedom to the country. According to a historian James McPherson, the events of September 17th were the turning point. If to take into consideration that one action results in another, then the Battle of Antietam can be recognized as a critical moment that not only determined the sequence of further actions, but also defined the character of the war as well as distinguished its dominant forces.
The Significance of the Battle
The battle took place more than a century ago; however, it is particularly emphasized among other fights in the history of America. With this respect, James McPherson dedicated his book Crossroads of Freedom to the analysis of the chain of events that preceded and followed the battle. It should be mentioned, that the fight is also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. It was a part of the Maryland Campaign undertaken by a Confederate Robert E. Lee for the purpose of defeating the forces of George B. McClellan. The significance of this event is caused by the various ways in which it has shaped the Civil War.
Firstly, the Battle of Antietam resulted in a declared victory of the Union. It should be emphasized that the amount of casualties was comparable for both sides; yet, the percentage of lost soldiers implied the defeat of Lee’s army. The victory was not absolute, but it was declared basing on the termination of the invasion of Maryland. The failure of the camping influenced the Confederacy that was not able to continue its confrontation with the Union on equal terms.
Secondly, after the battle, on the 22nd of September President Abraham Lincoln managed to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. If Lincoln had done this before the battle occurred, the Emancipation Proclamation would have appeared to be an act of desperation. However, after the battle it was publicly perceived as a resolute decision to gain freedom.
Thirdly, the battle changed the public opinion about the war. The results of it helped people to stop recognizing the war as a noble action and a way to solve an issue; hence, the war lost its fictional fascination. It brought more significance to the sacrifices of the people who died for what they believed rather than to the ambitions of those trying to manifest themselves. Photographers Alexander Gardner and James Gibson managed to demonstrate the true reality of war. The pictures of dead soldiers appeared in many magazines and had rather shocking effect, outlining all the pain and agony of the war time.
Finally, America encountered the event that is known to be “the bloodiest day of the war”, and that was the 17th of September 1962. The numbers of casualties still frighten and haunt the United States of America even in the present days. According to the official information, “6,300 to 6,500 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed and mortally wounded” and “another 15,000 men wounded in the Battle of Antietam would recover, but many of them would never again walk on two legs or work with two arms” (McPherson 3). It is evident that apart from all the consequences and the opportunities that the Battle of Antietam had created, it flooded the freedom with blood and took the lives of those who fought for their rights.
A Major “Turning Point” in the War
Many historians, including James McPherson, describe The Battle of Antietam as a major turning point. There are several reasons for such a definition, among which is the fact that the fight signified the end of the Civil War.
Before the Battle of Antietam, the Confederate armies invaded Maryland in order to win the states. I was not claim openly, but the world was going to accept the Confederate independence. The Union was in a state of deprivation of courage and confidence, and it took thousands of lives to the change the situation. In fact, due to the following factors, the battle has changed the course of the Civil War because:
- George B. McClellan ended Robert E. Lee’s campaign;
- the Confederacy lost its advantage;
- the political situation on international stage had shifted;
- the Union was fighting for a war-winning victory.
Thus, this battle defined the character of the war, intending it for the freedom of all. Lincoln managed to emphasize this by the Emancipation Proclamation, after which the foreign policy had changed as well. Britain and France had no other choice rather than supporting the Union, otherwise the counties would have been linked with the idea of the feasible slavery.
During the Civil War, America suffered many battles, but the Battle of Antietam is a significant fight that became a turning point. The battle changed the war and allowed the Union to declare the victory. Furthermore, it became a model for the press and the public perception of the war as well as its price. Thousands of dead, wounded, and destroyed souls shocked the society. Therefore, this event was truly transforming due to its impact on America on its way to freedom.