This day, September 17, 1862, marks the bloodiest single day in American history. Over 22,720 men were counted as killed, wounded, or missing after 12 hours of brutal fighting along the normally peaceful Antietam Creek in Maryland during the American Civil War.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first offensive ground to a bloody halt as Union General George B. McClellan claimed his only victory of the war, although a very costly one, by forcing the Confederates to retreat back into Virginia.
McClellan was finished, however, as his failure to aggressively pursue the retreating Confederate Army of Northern Virginia cost him his command.
Although battered, exhausted, and bloodied, Robert E. Lee’s army would recover to defend the Confederacy for nearly 3 more years of terrible conflict.