Dead Soldiers Gathered For Interment
The number of casualties at the Battle of Antietam, a.k.a Battle of Sharpsburg, still stand as the highest single-day casualty total in all of American history. Concealing terrain, the number of artillery pieces involved, the desperate nature of General Robert E. Lee’s stand with the Potomac River near his back, and the determination of the Union men of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to destroy Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia before it could escape back into Virginia all contributed to the intense, close-quarter fighting and high casualties of America’s bloodiest day.
Casualty Totals for the Battle of Antietam
Exact casualty totals cannot be determined, but these numbers compiled by The Antietam Battlefield Board show where and when the greatest losses occurred.
Morning Phase: primarily north end of battlefield, Miller’s cornfield, East Woods, West Woods
UNION: Engaged, 23,600; Casualties, 7,280
CONFEDERATE: Engaged, 20,100; Casualties, 6,580
TOTAL: Engaged, 43,700; Casualties, 13,860
Mid-Day Phase: primarily center of field, Sunken Road aka Bloody Lane
UNION: Engaged, 10,000; Casualties, 2,900
CONFEDERATE: Engaged, 6,800; Casualties, 2,600
TOTAL: Engaged, 16,800; Casualties, 5,500
Afternoon Phase: primarily south end of field—Burnside Bridge, A. P. Hill’s counterattack
UNION: Engaged, 13,800; Casualties, 7,150
CONFEDERATE: Engaged, 7,150; Casualties, 1,120
TOTAL: Engaged, 20,950; Casualties, 3,720
Killed, Wounded and Missing at the Battle of Antietam
The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion give these numbers:
Killed: Union, 2,100; Confederate, 1,550
Wounded: Union, 9,550; Confederate, 7,750
Missing or Captured: Union, 750; Confederate, 1,020
Union Total Casualties: 12,400
Confederate Total Casualties: 10,320
Combined Total: 22,720
In addition to these losses, an untold number of civilians died from disease following the battle. Every house, barn and church was turned into a hospital. Dead men and horses lay unburied for days, adding to the unsanitary conditions.
Battle of South Mountain Casualties
Three days prior to the Battle of Antietam, 12,000 Confederates fought a desperate holding action against 38,000 Federals atop South Mountain, buying time for Lee to gather his scattered army. That day’s fighting produced another 2,500 Union and 3,800 Confederate casualties.
Articles Featuring Antietam Casualties From History Net Magazines
They’re Called Killing Grounds for a Reason: February/March 2009A 10-year study of the geomorphology of Civil War battlefields reveal connection between geological features and casualties.
Unraveling the Myths of Burnside BridgeIt is clear that Union general Ambrose Burnside’s failures at Antietam cannot be written off to ineptness or petty insubordination, but what really did happen at "Burnside's Bridge?"
Battle of Antietam: Union Surgeons and Civilian Volunteers Help the WoundedUnion surgeons and civilian volunteers struggled to cope with thousands of Antietam wounded with makeshift hospitals in barns and barnyards, houses and churches, haystacks, pastures and flimsy tents around Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Battle of Antietam: 7th Maine’s Senseless Charge On the Piper FarmIt had no effect on the battle — other than adding to the casualty lists — and there was no good reason for ordering it in the first place. But for the whim of a subpar brigade commander, whose sobriety some held in question, it never would have happened. Yet late on the afternoon of […]
Battle of Antietam: Taking Rohrbach Bridge at Antietam CreekWhile Union commander George McClellan fumed and the Battle of Antietam hung in the balance, a handful of Rebels held off Federal troops at 'Burnside Bridge.'
The Irish Brigade Fought in America’s Civil WarTheir casualties were enormous but their courage and capacity for fun were legendary. General Lee, himself, gave highest praise to these Yankees of the Irish Brigade.
The Truth About Civil War SurgeryUnion Colonel Thomas Reynolds lay in a hospital bed after the July 1864 Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia. Gathered around him, surgeons discussed the possibility of amputating his wounded leg. The Irish-born Reynolds, hoping to sway the debate toward a conservative decision, pointed out that his wasn’t any old leg, but an ‘imported leg.’ Whether […]
Carnage in a Cornfield – September ’98 America’s Civil War FeatureCarnage in a Cornfield By Robert C. Cheeks Mr. Miller’s humble cornfield near Antietam Creek became the unlikely setting for perhaps the worst fighting of the entire Civil War. On Sunday night, September 14, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee issued orders for his much scattered commands to rally at Sharpsburg, Maryland. His ambitious plans […]
The 44th Georgia Suffered Some of the Heaviest Losses – March ’96 America’s Civil War FeatureThe hard-fighting 44th Georgia suffered some of the heaviest losses of any regiment in the Civil War.By Gerald J. Smith On March 10, 1862, companies of Georgians from Henry, Jasper, Clarke, Spalding, Clayton, Putnam, Fayette, Pike, Morgan, Henry and Greene counties all assembled at Camp Stephens, outside Griffin. Responding to Governor Joseph Brown’s mandate to […]
Return To The Killing Ground – November ’97 America’s Civil War FeatureReturn To The Killing Ground By Jeffry D. Wert Brash, bombastic John Pope tempted fate by returning to the old battleground at Manassas. He thought he had caught Robert E. Lee napping. He was wrong. A heavy, soaking rain fell across northern Virginia on the night of August 30-31, 1862. Despite the storm’s intensity, it […]