23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of Savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Anteitem ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
The battle began at dawn on September 17, 1862, when Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker began the Union artillery bombardment of the Confederate positions of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in the Miller cornfield. Hooker’s troops advanced behind the falling shells and drove the Confederates from their positions. Around 7 AM Jackson reinforced his troops and pushed the Union troops back. Union Maj. Gen. Joseph K. Mansfield sent his men into the fray and regained some of the ground lost to the Confederates.
As the fighting in the cornfield was coming to a close, Maj. Gen. William H. French was moving his Federals forward to support Maj. Gen. John Sedgewick and veered into Confederate Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill’s troops posted in the Sunken Road. Fierce fighting continued here for four hours before the Union troops finally took the road.
On the southeast side of town Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s XI Corps had been trying to cross Anteitem Creek since mid-morning, being held up by only 500 Georgia sharpshooters. Around 1 PM, they finally crossed Burnside’s Bridge and took the heights. After a two hour lull to reform the Union lines, they advanced up the hill, driving the Confederates back towards Sharpsburg. But for the timely arrival of Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s division from Harper’s Ferry. Burnside would have entered Sharpsburg. In stead the Union troops were driven back to the heights above the bridge.
The battle was over with the Union sitting on three sides waiting for the next day. During the night of the 18th, General Lee pulled his troops back across the Potomac Rivers. leaving the battle and the town to General McCleelan.
The visitor center is open daily from 9 – 5. Entrance fee: $5 per person or $10 per family.