This video from the USA is about the battle of Antietam.
By Tom Mackaman in the USA:
Prelude to the Emancipation Proclamation
150 years since the Battle of Antietam
17 September 2012
One hundred fifty years ago, on September 17, 1862, in the second year of the American Civil War, the armies of the Union and the Confederacy met by Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The battle that ensued remains the bloodiest single day for US troops in American military history. In one day of fighting there were some 23,000 casualties, with nearly 3,700 soldiers killed.
Yet the significance of the Battle of Antietam goes far beyond its casualty toll. The strategic union victory—resulting in the expulsion of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from Maryland and the North—had immense ramifications. Most importantly, it set the stage for President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the executive order that led to the freeing of the slaves.
Lincoln abhorred slavery. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong,” he had said. But until 1862 he had articulated a position that would have restored the Union to its state prior to the war, with slavery permitted where it already existed but blocked from expanding to new territories.
The first year of the Civil War had changed Lincoln’s thinking. Southern success and Northern futility in the field had convinced him that it was not possible to achieve the aim of preserving the Union without aiming a death blow against the entire social order in the South. Slavery had to be destroyed.
“This government cannot much longer play a game in which it stakes all, and its enemies stake nothing,” he said. Emancipation was “a military necessity, absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves or ourselves be subdued.”
This effectively transformed the war into a social transformation—the second American revolution.
In July 1862, Lincoln told his cabinet, to their astonishment, that he intended to issue an executive order of emancipation. Frustrated with the lack of support for even modest anti-slavery measures from the slaveholding border states still in the Union, Lincoln had determined to bypass Congress by invoking his military power as commander-in-chief. But on the suggestion of his secretary of state, William Seward, Lincoln agreed to wait for some success on the battlefield before making public the proclamation. That success turned out to be the Battle of Antietam.
The leaders of the South were making their own calculations. If the Army of Northern Virginia could follow up its successes in the late summer of 1862 with an invasion of the North—simultaneous invasions of Kentucky and Union-held parts of Mississippi were to be launched from the western theater— it would take the burden off the ravaged Virginia countryside, deliver a blow to Northern morale and, most important, make more probable diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy by Great Britain and France, and perhaps their intervention in the war.
It was with these goals in mind that Robert E. Lee, fresh from his victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862, took the Confederate Army across the Potomac.
There was no doubting the numerical and material superiority of the Union army. But Lee had taken the measure of his opponent, General George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Experience had taught that McClellan would not engage his entire army in a battle, that he would not concentrate his forces for an attack, and that he would not pursue the Confederates even when he had achieved a tactical victory.
For a year, McClellan had resisted Lincoln’s entreaties to press the attack in Virginia. From his telegrams, diaries and letters, historians have found that McClellan overestimated two- or three-fold the size of the Confederate forces he faced. Objects that McClellan thought to be massive cannons turned out to be logs. The Army of the Potomac, for one reason or another, was never ready to attack. “All Quiet on the Potomac,” the northern press mocked.
But McClellan was not a fool. From an elite Philadelphia family, McClellan was a master organizer—a skill much appreciated by Lincoln after “the boy general” was elevated to commander in the wake of the humiliating Union defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run at the war’s beginning. He was also, prior to Antietam, much loved by the rank-and-file soldiers of the Army of the Potomac. These factors prevented Lincoln from dumping McClellan. “I will hold his horse,” Lincoln told an exasperated secretary, “if he will bring us success.”
McClellan’s blunders and unwillingness to commit to a fight grew out of his political position. He did not oppose slavery, and he neither sought nor desired a total defeat of the South. A northern Democrat, McClellan hoped to maneuver the Army of the Potomac to confront Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, in such a way as to force a negotiated settlement and a return to the status quo ante: the restoration of the southern states to the Union with slavery intact.
150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation: here.