This book explains how the Battle of Antietam—a conflict that changed nothing militarily—still played a pivotal role in the Civil War by affording Abraham Lincoln an opportunity to announce the emancipation of slaves in states in rebellion.
The Battle of Antietam occurred on September 17, 1862, near the Antietam Creek in Maryland. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in the American Civil War—one that claimed over 20,000 casualities. The tremendous human cost of this Union victory did directly result in President Lincoln's announcement of emancipation, however.
Antietam 1862: Gateway to Emancipation examines the connections between the Maryland Campaign culminating in the battle of Antietam in 1862 and the drive to emancipate slaves to win the war for the Union. The work's thematic chapters discuss how slaves' resistance to the Confederacy and flight to Union armies influenced Union domestic and diplomatic politics, Confederate military strategy, and above all, the leadership of President Lincoln.
By focusing on the complex topics of antislavery politics, diplomacy, and slaves' resistance rather than the specific occurrences on the battlefield, this book shows how shrewd Abraham Lincoln was in assessing the consequences of fighting a civil war about slavery. The concept that slaves' resistance played a part in Lee and Davis's decision to cross the Potomac and invade Maryland is explored, as is the idea that this strategy delayed and ultimately dashed all of the Confederacy's hopes of help from the British.
Highlights • Weaves the individual events of history together to create a fascinating real-life story that enumerates the deeds of enslaved people, explains the political reactions of Union soldiers and citizens, and spotlights Lincoln's ability to pinpoint the right moment to add emancipation to the goal of preserving the Union • Details how Lee's decision to invade Maryland may have undone the Confederacy's best hope of victory by delaying and ultimately ending hopes of British intervention
T. Stephen Whitman, PhD, writes about slavery and emancipation in 18th- and 19th-century America. He holds his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and taught at Mount St. Mary's University. Whitman is the author of The Price of Freedom: Slavery and Manumission in Baltimore and Early National Maryland and Challenging Slavery in the Chesapeake: Black and White Resistance to Human Bondage, 1775–1865.
Endorsements “In Whitman’s expert telling, Antietam becomes far more than just a clash of armies: it stands as the central moment in an unfolding drama of slavery and freedom.”—Adam Goodheart, Author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening
"This is a story primarily about how emancipation came, and how the war embraced a new birth of freedom as a goal. Like more recent studies, this book argues for considering Antietam as a more pivotal turning point in the war than even Gettysburg because of its centrality to this event. But the focus here is on much more than the battle. The work is indicative of the recent trend that situates battles within their broader political, social, and military contexts. Whitman offers a balanced synthesis of scholarship within an accessible narrative, from which a general audience can gain a greater appreciation for the various factors and agents that helped change the meaning of freedom in this country."—William Blair, Director, Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University
"By turns detailed and sweeping, Antietam 1862 transcends the typical campaign history to become nothing less than a critical survey of the entire war, centered on the battle that most historians consider the true 'high water mark' of the Confederacy. T. Stephen Whitman not only captures the drama of Antietam’s role as the bloodiest single day in the history of American warfare, but also explains the strategic, political, and moral contexts of the battle, particularly Abraham Lincoln’s evolving attitudes toward slavery."—James Marten, Professor of History, Marquette University