Near Sharpsburg in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Destroy the Rebel Army
Two days before the battle, President Abraham Lincoln sent Gen. George B. McClellan a telegram, "God bless you and all with you! Destroy the rebel army, if possible." It was here, on these rolling farm fields, where McClellan and the Army of the Potomac would try.
Gen. Robert E. Lee gathered his Confederate army here and decided to "make a stand." His 40,000 soldiers spread out in a roughly three mile line. You are standing near the center of Lee's men. As you face north, it was primarily Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's soldiers who took position on this end of the battlefield. It was his men who would bear the brunt of McClellan's initial assaults.
The night before the battle was rainy and dreary. Over 15,000 Union soldiers crossed Antietam Creek and moved into position on the far north end of the field. At dawn on September 17, they attacked south twoard the Dunker Church and Jackson's Confederates. For the next four hours, the woods and fields in front of you changed hands countless times in horrendous combat.
"From sunrise to sunset the waves of battle ebbed and flowed...while regiment, brigade and division faded away under a terrible fire, leaving long lines of dead to mark where stood the living. Fields of corn were trampled into shreds, forests were battered and scathed, huge limbs sent crashing
Erected 2009 by Antietam National Battlefield - National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 39° 28.531′ N, 77° 44.802′ W. Marker is near Sharpsburg, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is on Dunker Church Road / Old Hagerstown Pike, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located at stop one of the driving tour of Antietam Battlefield. Marker is in this post office area: Sharpsburg MD 21782, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Beacon of Peace (here, next to this marker); Jackson's Command (within shouting distance of this marker); Twelfth Army Corps (within shouting distance of this marker); Second Army Corps (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Twelfth Army Corps (within shouting distance of this marker); 5th, 7th and 66th Ohio Infantry Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Greene's Division, Twelfth Army Corps Reserve Artillery, Longstreet's Command (within shouting distance of this marker); 59th New York Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); Dunkard Church (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sharpsburg.
More about this marker. In the upper center are portraits of Gens. Lee and Jackson. Lee fought defensively, using terrain to his advantage while shifting his soldiers to face the Union attacks. After the battle, Jackson wrote in his official report that "the carnage on both sides was terrific."
To the right is a portrait of General McClellan, captioned wiht reference points keyed to the map in the right center. In theory McClellan's plan was simple: (1) Attack the Confederate left. (2) Attack the Confederate right. (3) Attack the center "with any reserves I might have on hand." In reality, the Union attacks broke down into a series of uncoordinated assaults because of confusion, difficult terrain, smoke, and noise.
Also see . . .
1. Antietam Battlefield. National Park Service site. (Submitted on July 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Old Marker at this Location. This marker replaced an older one at this location also titled "Destroy the Rebel Army." (Submitted on September 21, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 29, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 909 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 15, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 7. submitted on July 6, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 8. submitted on October 15, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.