As this year's theme is American Civil War, here is a quick article on the background and the troops involved, and why Antietam was the turning point of the war and was chosen for the SLW Main theme game. For an indepth look a the battle, see Paul William's article in the programme.
In September 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee was to take the war to the Yankees and make the North fight on their own land for a change. This was to culminate in one of America’s bloodiest battles on its own soil .
The town of Sharpsburg was a modest size in 1862 with fertile Pastures in the surrounding area, where, many small farms dot the landscape, but in September 1862 these quiet settlements were to have 120,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fighting over every fence, every track and every ear of corn .
Why was it a turning point in the struggle of North and South, it was the Unions first major victory to date and with that victory. Shortly after the battle, Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with the rest freed as Union armies advanced. Lincoln then announced that he would issue a formal emancipation of all slaves in any state of the Confederacy that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863.
Antietam also brought the horror of the war to the people in that it was the first time the dead soldiers were photographed.
The two Armies:
General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia’s 55,000 troops were organized into two large infantry corps of ten infantry divisions, made up from forty infantry brigades.
The First Corps, the right wing under the command Major General James Longstreet, consisted of the six divisions:
The Second Corps, the left wing under the command of Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, consisted of the four divisions.
The remaining units were the Cavalry Corps, under Major General J.E.B. Stuart, and the reserve artillery, commanded by Brigadier Gen. William N. Pendleton. The Second Corps was organized with artillery attached to each division, in contrast to the First Corps, which reserved its artillery at the corps level.
The Union’s Army of the Potomac’s 85,000 troops, commanded by Major General George B. McClellan, consisted of six infantry corps, divided up into nineteen divisions, made up from forty six infantry and five cavalry brigades, which also included units absorbed from John Pope's Army of Virginia .