DescriptionOn SR 34/65 at Sharpsburg, Antietam National Battlefield is a more-than-3,000-acre site where the Battle of Antietam, as it was called by the Union, or the Battle of Sharpsburg, as it was referred to by the Confederacy, took place Sept. 17, 1862.
During the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War, 12,410 Union and 10,700 Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded. Gen. George McClellan's 86,000 men met Gen. Robert E. Lee's 40,000 after decisive victories for the South in Virginia. Lee's objective was to invade northern home territory; this was to be his first invasion of the North. Therefore, his forced withdrawal following a tactical draw resulted in a strategic Union victory.
A Confederate victory at Antietam would have been such a blow to the Union that the momentum would have moved to the Confederacy and it probably would have won the war; thus, this victory at Antietam enabled President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and provided for the service of Americans of African descent in the armed forces during the Civil War.
General InformationThe battlefield is marked with historic tablets and monuments, most of which were written and placed by the veterans themselves, commemorating their service and documenting the troop movements on this field. An 8.5-mile driving tour highlights significant areas of the battlefield. Allow 2 hours minimum.
For July 4 celebrations, held in early July, the battlefield draws crowds to its Salute to Independence celebration, which features patriotic music performed by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and fireworks. During the first Saturday evening in December, Memorial Illumination features more than 23,000 luminarias representing the killed, wounded and missing soldiers from the 1862 battle. Visitors can drive a 5-mile route 6 p.m.-midnight to see the lights that are placed throughout the grounds.
The battlefield is open daily dawn-dusk; closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
ADMISSIONADMISSION to the park visitor center (movie, exhibits, ranger-led programs) is $5; free (ages 0-15); $10 (per private vehicle with more than two people).
PETSPETS are allowed on leash, but they are not allowed in buildings or the cemetery.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries to the Superintendent, Antietam National Battlefield, P.O. Box 158, Sharpsburg, MD 21782; phone (301) 432-5124.
Points of Interest
Things to SeeAntietam National Battlefield Visitor Center
GEM DescriptionOn Sept. 17, 1862, more than 126,000 Union and Confederate soldiers clashed at this site at Sharpsburg, resulting in so many casualties that it was the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War.