It was 149 years ago this week that the bloodiest battle in American history took place. More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded or missing in action in one day, on Sept. 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland.
The battle was technically a draw. But the leader of the Confederacy’s troops, Robert E. Lee, ordered his forces to retreat from the area, giving President Abraham Lincoln an opportunity to proclaim victory and issue the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Many people today don’t realize that Lincoln’s Proclamation did not grant freedom to any slaves in the North. Instead, it was meant to encourage blacks in the South to rise up against their masters and create a “fifth column” in their regions. This did not happen, and the War Between the States lasted until Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. The aftereffects are still being felt to this day.