Iron Brigade & Beyond: 150 Years After Antietam

Sep 17, 2012

One hundred and fifty years ago to this day, Union and Confederate soldiers met up near Sharpsburg, Maryland - by Antietam Creek. The ensuing battle would be a turning point in the American Civil War - and some say, a point of no return that committed the country to a prolonged and deadly conflict.

The infamous, deadly "Bloody Lane" at the Antietam battlefield
Credit Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Battle of Antietam was the first major fight to be fought on Union soil - on one of the smallest battlefields of the war, and the savagery of the fighting would become legend. At this very hour on that day, the fight at the infamous "Bloody Lane" was taking place - Confederate soldiers attacked advancing Union troops along a sunken farm wagon path, who, in turn, rushed the Confederates. After four hours of fighting, five thousand men were killed or wounded along this narrow strip of road.

In all, the fights at Antietam caused 23,000 casualties on both sides, cementing the battle's legacy as the single bloodiest day of war in American history. And in the middle of the carnage, were the Wisconsin soldiers of the Iron Brigade. Historian and author Thomas Martin Sobottke, the voice of our "Iron Brigade and Beyond" series, brings us the story of these soldiers at Antietam.

Soldiers and wagons crossing the Antietam Bridge after the battle.
Credit Photo by Alexander Gardner, courtesy of LOC

Pewaukee resident and teacher Sobottke is also the author of the book, Across That Dark River: The Civil War Memory, published by Moving Train Books LLC. Our Civil War series is produced by Stephanie Lecci.

You can also read accounts from Union and Confederate soldiers (including Wisconsinites) about Antietam here.