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Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam, also called the Battle of Sharpsburg is one of the most famous battles of the American Civil War, also referred to as the bloodiest one-day battle of this conflict.

The Union’s invasion of Richmod via the Virginia Peninsula ended with Seven Days Battles and a Confederate strategic victory. Over the next weeks, General Lee’s army won the Second Battle of Bull Run. Soldiers in gray uniforms believed that they were able to win every fight, especially when commanded by Robert E. Lee.
At the same time, Western powers were thinking for diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy, which would be a great blow to the Union. To speed up this opportunity, while at the same time relieving Virginia, tired of continuous military marches and contributions, General Lee decided to invade the North. With a very low opinion of his opponent – general McClellan, he decided on a very risky maneuver: to divide his army in the face of a larger opponent. By coincidence, one of the Union soldiers found a secret order containing the plans of the Confederates and delivered it to the Union staff. McClellan, however, missed the opportunity to beat the Confederates moving sluggishly. Nevertheless he caught Lee’s smaller army near the city of Sharpsburg, next to the Antietam creek. On the morning of September 17, 1862, Union army with almost double the number of troops, as Confederate, attacked. Gen Lee had the Potomac River behind him, defeat would mean the necessity of evacuation through the only available ford and would end in disaster for his army. The Confederates CinC hoped that the rest of his units, which were marching from Harpers Ferry, mainly the division of General A.P. Hill, will arrive on the battlefield and help to defend against Union assaults. Lincoln on the other hand waited for the victory, to publish Declaration of Emancipation. The stakes were really high.

Antietam is the largest historical battle we’ve played. In total, almost 2,400 miniatures appeared on the table. Setting the terrain on the table alone took 4 hours!

The Union’s task was to conquer 5 or at least 3 strategic points: Burnside Bridge, Corn Field, Sharpsburg, Bloody Lane and Blackford Hill. Confederates had to defend these positions – their defeat would mean pushing them into the river.

Will the Confederates be able to defend themselves? Will the Union gain all strategic points? Will the the battle be bloody? To find out, I invite you to see the photo AAR below. Clicking on the pictures to see them in higher resolution.

The battle was over, Union generals decided that their attacks would not bring further success. A significant obstacle was the area, which hindered the operation of the Union artillery. It was very hard to support the attacks – without it, some strategic points were difficult to get. A crowded battlefield and huge number of troops also hindered the maneuver, although Pleasanton’s cavalry appeared at the Confederate wing at the end of the fight. Stuart and several infantry brigades were in front of Pleasanton’s cavalry, so his action would probably not bring any other results either.

The battle of Antietam was over. The Union achieved a much worse result than in history (it took only 2 strategic points of 5). General McClellan was probably dismissed immediately, and Lincoln did not get a pretext to publish Emancipation Declaration. With this result, would England and France recognize the Richmond government as an existing state?

Many thanks to our players: Duder, Maciek P, Krystian, Wojtek (thanks for coming from Poznań), who commanded the armies, Szymon, who advised them, Dardzin, who provided additional miniatures for Confederates and of course the Bolter store.