Contains more than 20 maps, diagrams and illustrations
The Battle of Antietam has been called the bloodiest single day in American History. By the end of the evening, 17 September 1862, an estimated 4,000 American soldiers had been killed and over 18,000 wounded in and around the small farming community of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Emory Upton, then a captain with the Union artillery battery, later wrote, "I have heard of 'the dead lying in heaps,' but never saw it till this battle. Whole ranks fell together." The battle had been a day of confusion, tactical blunders, individual heroics, and the effects of just plain luck. It brought to an end a Confederate campaign to "liberate" the border state of Maryland and possibly take the war into Pennsylvania. A little more than one hundred and forty years later, the Antietam battlefield is one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the National Park System.
Antietam is ideal for a staff ride, since a continuing goal of the National Park Service is to maintain the site in the condition in which it was on the day of the battle. The purpose of any staff ride is to learn from the past by analyzing the battle through the eyes of the men who were there, both leaders and rank-and-file soldiers. Antietam offers many lessons in command and control, communications, intelligence, weapons technology versus tactics, and the ever-present confusion, or "fog" of battle. We hope that these lessons will allow us to gain insights into decision-making and the human condition during combat.