Talk:Battle of Antietam

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Good article Battle of Antietam has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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confederate plans[edit]

hi. just wondering, why is there nothing here about the Confederate plans which were accidentally dropped, then captured by Union forces? that seems to be a rather significant part of the battle's events. i would like to add that to this article, but wanted to mention it here first. thanks. --Steve, Sm8900 (talk) 17:23, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

never mind, I found it. sorry. thanks. --Steve, Sm8900 (talk) 17:24, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Good thing, as it is a major part of the battle. :) Jmlk17 08:26, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Initial tie-in to the Emancipation Proclamation.[edit]

The article states: "[Antietam] had unique significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation."

This goes against my understanding of the situation. I have had some limited (but rather stringent) schooling on this period of American history, and have done some heavy reading on the Civil War. My understanding is thus: that Antietam -- with its subsequent horrendous casualties -- was a horrible shock to the American people, who quailed at the ghastly images of row upon row of slaughtered American soldiers, images made possible by the then-new technology of photography. Incidentally, the Emancipation Proclamation was put forth to strengthen the mandate for the war, and to revitalize flagging Northern resolve. In Lincoln's view, it had become expedient to put forth Emancipation as "The Cause"; up to Antietam the main reason had been to maintain the singularity of the United States.

I am not a historian, but this is my understanding, imparted by credible academic sources and texts.

--MacheathWasABadBadMan (talk) 05:09, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Regardless of the importance or motivations of the Emancipation Proclamation, which are presumably covered in its own article, all historians agree that Lincoln was advised not to announce the EP except in the aftermath of a Union victory, because it would otherwise make the EP seem as if it were simply an act of desperation. Lincoln considered that Antietam, despite being essentially a tactical draw, was a sufficient victory to allow him to announce. And that is what this article states. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:59, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
The Battle of Antietam was effectively a draw; technically, it goes down as a "tactical Union victory," but you have to place your tongue firmly in cheek to get the phrase out, and it was not the decisive and glorious victory Lincoln was waiting for. Indeed, it was the hideous carnage that got the public attention, not the "victory," and the publicized slaughterhouse aspect was known to have an attenuating effect on Northern support for the war.
These things, in and of themselves, suggest to me a possible misapprehension -- or a lopsided emphasis -- on the part of "armchair historians" as to the actual perception and tone during the aftermath of Antietam.
It makes me wonder, when I see a "trend" in the related historical documentation across the Internet -- where so many rely on low-budget encyclopedia entries and synthetic articles (as opposed to analytic treatments) in a rush to catalog and publish information -- a trend that differs from what I saw published in certain 300-level college textbooks a decade ago.--MacheathWasABadBadMan (talk) 23:30, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
Armchair historian is a funny term -- perhaps you are thinking of armchair general or armchair quarterback -- because anyone who did not live in the 18th century is probably analyzing this in an armchair. You are placing a large emphasis on what public opinion was at the time, whereas the historians of today consider that only one factor of the importance of a battle and how it affected the war effort. If you have secondary sources to cite that can demonstrate what the long-term negative impact of Antietam was, feel free to edit the article responsibly. Historians such as James McPherson consider Antietam to be a turning point of the war -- allowing the Emancipation Proclamation to be issued, effectively turning off any Confederate hopes of European recognition. The most specific negative outcome that I can recall (and it is positive from one vantage point) is that it induced Lincoln to finally replace McClellan for good. Perhaps it could be tied to the loss of congressional seats in the 1862 election; it would be interesting to see specific secondary source citations about that. Hal Jespersen (talk) 02:53, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Oh, one additional thing. As to the nature of the outcome, this is one of those battles that historians argue about a lot because:
  1. Lee withdrew his army first from the battlefield, therefore is the technical loser of the battle by the standards of the time.
  2. McClellan, although technically the victor, has been widely criticized because he had such a numerical superiority over Lee, he should have been able to destroy Lee's Army.
  3. The battle was a strategic Confederate loss in that it ended Lee's Maryland campaign prematurely.
  4. The unleashing of the Emancipation Proclamation, according to historians such as McPherson, makes it a grand strategic Confederate defeat. Hal Jespersen (talk) 03:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
My problem is with the phrase in the article which reads: "[Antietam] had unique significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation." I suspect it is, at the very least, too superficial and clean-cut an account of the causal relationship between Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation. The phrasing seems awfully curt, trite, and prettied-up for a serious and comprehensive account.
To call Antietam "enough of a victory" for the North ... well, that bugs me, to present it in the context of it being any kind of substantial "victory" that was perceived as such and that freed Lincoln up politically. The battle's outcome was pretty disagreeable from all angles. All the rest is parsing and dancing around the subject. (As for "armchair historian," you don't really need me to elaborate on what I mean by that little bon mot.) With regard to sources, I will see if I can dredge up some of the "high-test" American history books I had studied years ago; they may help amplify and reinforce my contention. Until such time as I can cite sources and offer constructive change or elaboration on the article itself, I will forgo further posts discussing this item.--MacheathWasABadBadMan (talk) 04:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
This is Wikipedia, so you are welcome to edit the article responsibly to satisfy your concerns. Since this is an article that is fully sourced, you will be expected to provide secondary source citations for modifications you introduce. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:04, 16 June 2008 (UTC)


"and Spotsylvania Court House.</ref> On the" I think </ref> should be footnote 52. Johndoeemail (talk) 15:55, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for catching! Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:13, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Confederate OOB[edit]

I have the restored the OOB from pre-January 11, 2009, added a few cites, and put Harsh's alternative interpretation in the footnote. The vast preponderance of histories use the two-corps organization shown here, although a few use the more technically correct "Wing" to name the same two organizations. (I would not object to a more prominent usage of the term Wing, although I think it would be confusing to the average reader who is checking the cited references that use Corps, but Harsh's notion of a Center Wing under Hill is too much on the fringe to warrant rewriting the section to conform to it, or even acknowledging it in the main text with a full alternative OOB.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 01:35, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, one has to go no further than of OR's to debunk the "two corps" organisation, for example Jackson states
"My command comprised A. P. Hill's division, consisting of the brigades of Branch, Gregg, Field (Colonel Brockenbrough commanding), Pender, Archer, and Colonel Thomas, with the batteries of the division under Lieut. Col. R. L. Walker; Ewell's division, under Brigadier-General Lawton, consisting of the brigades of Early, Hays (Colonel Strong), Trimble (Colonel Walker), and Lawton (Colonel Douglass), with the artillery under Major [A. R.] Courtney, and Jackson's division, under Brigadier-General Starke, consisting of the brigades of Winder (Colonel Grigsby), Jones (Col. B. T. Johnson), Taliaferro (Colonel Warren), and Starke (Colonel Stafford), with the artillery under Major Shumaker, chief of artillery. "
In an official statement of his command, D.H. Hill's division is not included. This is because he doesn't command D.H. Hill yet. Indeed, SO191 is lost due to this very misconception on Jackson's part. He had used his rank (2nd senior Maj. Gen.) to assume command of D.H. Hill's division for a brief period crossing the Antietam, and thus made an extraneous copy of the order which was later captured.
However, the organisation was more complicated than I portrayed. Longstreet had been relieved of a Division and was a permanent "Wing Commander". Jackson still held his wing, but he had not relieved of his division (and indeed was under a lot of scrutiny and could very well have gone the way of Magruder et. al.). R.H. Anderson has the reserve division.
The remaining three (i.e. what was Magruder's command in the Seven Days) are left at Richmond under D.H. Hill (as senior Maj. Gen., he was 3rd after Ewell was injured). When called forward this wing (D.H. Hill's, McLaws' and Walker's Divisions, and Hampton's cavalry brigade) moves as a single Corps to unite with Lee. Lee then issues his movement orders directly to each division, and chops and changes slightly. The most obvious change is the temporary creation of a 4th Wing (McLaws' and Anderson's divisions) for the siege of Harpers' Ferry.
Thus, leading into Antietam, there are in fact 5 different wings operating. Longstreet's (DR Jones' and Hood's) and Jackson's (Jackson's, Ewell's and AP Hill's) as per, but also D.H. Hill's (DH Hill's and 2 arty res Bns), Walker's (Walker's) and McLaws' (McLaws' and Anderson's). These latter three being technically the center wing, but operating separately. Lee formed his army in the classical sense, with the Left Wing on the left, the Right to the right and D.H. Hill in the centre. However, he bypassed both Jackson and D.H. Hill and gave his orders directly the their Divisions on the day.
Certainly the "two corps" organisation is wrong, that starts literally the day after Antietam with Lee moving his army in two columns. It isn't formalised for several weeks, until Lee's request to assign A.P. Hill (4th senior Maj Gen) to command his 3rd Corps/ Center Wing over D.H. Hill is refused by Richmond.67th Tigers (talk) 14:41, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Further to my last, I think it would be a good idea to have a fairly detailed article on the changes in ANV organisation, including the October-November 62 reorg into 2 Corps. 67th Tigers (talk) 15:31, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

[I have added indentations above to differentiate trains of comments, in our typical Talk page style.] You obviously know quite a bit about the ANV organization, although I think you are giving more credence to the concept of a column or a separate marching unit than is intended. Simply because organizations are being maneuvered separately does not raise them to the level of the wings or corps that is tracked in the records of the war. The way we make these judgments in Wikipedia is to defer to the authors of the secondary sources, not by the original research of analyzing the primary sources. It is possible that the vast majority of secondary sources (as well as the ORs, a primary source) are incorrect, but it requires authors of other secondary sources to make those judgments, which we then present to ensure a WP:NPOV. Now in this case, you have offered a secondary source -- Harsh -- that does challenge the majority of the other secondary sources and it becomes a collaborative judgment call about how much credence to offer his judgment in comparison to the others. The choices are (1) ignore him as an outlier; (2) relate his minority opinion in the footnote; (3) elevate his opinion to near parity in the main text; (4) acknowledge that he is correct because of new information and use his version as the primary opinion in the main text. Your original edit chose option 4 and I changed it to be 2. I selected that option because I am familiar with the large majority of popular secondary sources and thought it was important to align the article with the terminology used by those sources. I am open to leaning more toward option 3 if the community of editors thinks that is justified. Comments welcome.

As to an article about changes in Army organization, I think that discussion would be perfectly appropriate inside the article Army of Northern Virginia. Hal Jespersen (talk) 18:06, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Thulstrup / Prang lithograph swapped for Kurz and Allison[edit]

I replaced the Kurz and Allison lithograph with the Thulstrup/Prang print. While I like the style of the Kurz and Allison prints, they generally aren't as accurate as the Thulstrup / Prang prints, which also appear more modern and realistic to us. Plus, in this case, the Thulstrup/Prang print shows a very specific event, which was the advance of the Iron Brigade near the Dunker Church.Mtsmallwood (talk) 05:26, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Antietam illustration[edit]

Hi Mtsmallwood - I also enjoy the picture you posted to the Antietam article: the Thulstrupp print. I have a question about your identification of the subject, though. Is there a good source for the idea that it depicts the Iron Brigade? I ask because I think it may actually be Irwin's Brigade of the VI Corps. My reasoning is summarized in an old blog post. Thanks! Brian Downey (talk) 00:03, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Thank you, this is one of my favorite images of the Civil War. I like the Kurz and Alison prints, but they are largely fictional and more folk art than historical protrayals. On what is depicted, I can say that somewhere I saw this identified as the Iron Brigade, of course, I can't remember where that was. I did look into it further however, and I found that I agreed. Here's my explanation. The main authority for everything Iron Brigade is of course Alan T. Nolan, The Iron Brigade: A Military History, ISBN 0-253-34102-7. My own conclusion is based on the following:
  • According to Nolan, two full regiments of the Iron Brigade advanced through the West Woods, the 7th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana, along with 3 companies of the 6th Wisconsin. In the Thulstrup painting, the West Woods are behind the church. These troops would have been out of view from the position, in the East Woods, from which this painting was intended show. One full regiment, the 2nd Wisconsin, and the remaining companies of the 6th Wisconsin advanced through the field just south of the Miller farm and on the east side of the Hagerstown turnpike, which is the precise position of the troops shown in this image.
  • Thulstrup shows two sets of colors in the Union line, both with regimental flags that appear to match the Wisconsin State flag. Since only two regiments were advancing forward, there should be only two sets of colors, as Thulstrup shows (BTW, the Second Wisconsin would be the closest regiment.)
  • The troops are wearing the Hardee hat, standard Iron Brigade issue.

All in all, the coincidence of the two sets of colors, the similarity to the Wisconsin colors, the Hardee hat, and the position of the troops relative to the church led me to the conclusion that this was intended to show the Iron Brigade. I see the obvious similarities with the print on the linked sight. If that is not itself a depiction of the advance of the 6th and 2nd Wisconsin, I don't know know how to resolve the issue. An interesting question which may take some looking into. I'll post this in the discussion page at the Antietam article, as it may interest others.Mtsmallwood (talk) 01:13, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Here is another, larger illustration of the charge of the 20th New York. It's pretty clear that either Thulstrup used this sketch as a model or this sketch was based on Thustrup. Despite the obvious similarities in composition, I don't think the two images are meant to show the same units. In the sketch, while it is not as clear as one could wish, many of the soldiers are wearing kepis, not the Hardee hat. There also is only one set of colors, which is not dark but lighter. It's not clear to me that this sketch was done from life either, the lines are too well aligned, and no person could have been sketching calmly at that portion of the battlefield.Mtsmallwood (talk) 01:49, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
In the Time-Life book on Antietam (Bailey, Ronald H., and the Editors of Time-Life Books, The Bloodiest Day: The Battle of Antietam, Time-Life Books, 1984, ISBN 0-8094-4740-1, p. 84), a series that usually does an excellent job on documenting its illustrations, the caption for this painting is "Braving a deadly storm of shot and shell, Federal troops from Hooker's I Corps charge toward the Dunker Church during the early morning fighting. The caisson at left, abandon by retreating Confederate artillerymen, marked the approximate apex of Hooker's advance." So this is apparently not the VI corps. However, the analyses of Wikipedia editors about the contents of the illustration are considered original research, which is not allowed. Unless someone can find a reliable secondary source that identifies this specifically as the Iron Brigade--such as a caption in a book about the battle--we will need to remove it from our caption. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:36, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for citing the Time-Life book, I recall now that is where I saw the source. The Time-Life source, on pages 75 to 76, clearly describes in detail the advance of the Iron Brigade across the field towards the church, On page 76: "The 6th Wisconsin was sadly depleted, having lost 152 of its 314 men dead or wounded. Their fallen marked the furthest point of the Federal advance." Since Time-Life describes the painting as showing the I corps troops at the apex of the federal advance, I think the statement in the caption that the painting shows the advance of the Iron Brigade is fully sourced. There is also a map on page 78 of the Time-Life source, which clearly shows Gibbon's command (1st or Iron Brigade) advancing south, and then dividing to advance part through the West Woods and part through the Cornfield and then south towards the Dunker church.Mtsmallwood (talk) 20:02, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Let me see if I undertsand this. You are saying that since Time Life got the attribution incorrect, that you are entitled to perpetutate the error? That is a lot of nonsense. This is not the Iron Brigade, and it is an obvious mistake as pointed out above.

Casualties are wrong![edit]

The casualties that are listed on this page are wrong. The Union's casualties equaled 12,410 and Confederate ones were 13,724. I will be changing it soon, but I wanted to post this to inform you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Valkyrie Red (talkcontribs) 18:52, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I am reverting your change. The article cites the work of James M. McPherson, a noted historian and author. Your figures were from website run by a person identifying himself as "Shotgun". See also the National Park Service website, which has figures nearly identical to those you replaced. We need to use reliable sources, and in this case your source isn't. Sswonk (talk) 19:59, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I have a new source. The casualties of Antietam for the Confederacy are above 13,000. Here's the site: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Valkyrie Red (talkcontribs) 20:40, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

That source is a little more reliable than the previous one since it is from Army Logistician magazine, but you are misquoting it. The page states:

Both the Union and Confederate Armies were able to consolidate their forces near Sharpsburg, Maryland, by the night of 16 September. Thus the stage was set for the 17 September battle that would become the bloodiest day of the Civil War—the Battle of Antietam. Union casualties were 12,400, and Confederate losses were 10,300—a total of 22,700 casualties in 1 day.

Then later states:

However, the Confederates lost 13,000 men during the campaign, including 9 generals.

Note that it doesn't state "over" 13,000 but it does state during the campaign. This refers to Lee's Maryland Campaign which occurred over 17 days, only one day of which involved this article. I assure you the figures in the infobox are as nearly correct as can be determined given the chaos of war and length of time that has passed since the battle. The source given in the lead paragraph of the Battle of Antietam article was written by a highly respected Civil War historian. It is corroborated by the figures at the National Park Service website I linked above, which states "The sources for these figures are The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and the Antietam Battlefield Board." You aren't going to be able to find better authorities than these, and all have figures within a few persons of 12,400 Union and 10,320 Confederate casualties. I hope this satisfies you, because I'm afraid you will be reverted again and be warned for committing vandalism if you change them after reading this explanation. Please also see WP:SIGN which explains how to add an automatic signature after your talk page posts by typing four tildes (~) at the end. Sswonk (talk) 21:49, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Does this site work?

No, it does not. There is no reason to trust that this commercial enterprise used properly researched figures for its promotional website, it is itself unsourced and many other sources with much higher credentials are available and cited in the article. To put it in the form of a leading question, who would you trust more, a Pulitzer Prize winning former president of the American Historical Association (McPherson), or a motel off Route 140 in Westminster, MD ( If you need help, the criteria are explained in the previously linked guideline Wikipedia:Reliable sources and there is a detailed listing of examples at Wikipedia:Reliable_source_examples#History. Sswonk (talk) 05:43, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

BTW- My computer is kinda screwed up with the signature thing. It won't be fixed till some time from now--Red Slayer 01:45, 22 July 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Valkyrie Red (talkcontribs)

Sorry to hear that. You can insert your signature via the "Insert special character" dialog (labeled "Insert") on the drop down menu directly below the "Save page" button and clicking to the right of the text "Sign your posts on talk pages:". You can also insert your signature by using the edit toolbar at the top of the edit box, see the linked page for details. Sswonk (talk) 05:43, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

pronunciation of Antietam[edit]

Can someone put in IPA to show how Antietam is pronounced? I have no idea how it is pronounced. Djwebb1969 (talk) 07:27, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

I can pronounce it, but don't know IPA: "ann TEE tim" Tedickey (talk) 09:09, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
I would say it was "ann TEET um." I'll look into doing the IPA. Hal Jespersen (talk) 14:32, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Added to lead sentence I added the IPA English pronunciation: /ænˈtitəm/, source: Sswonk (talk) 18:30, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

 It's Auntie Emm, silly! SereneRain (talk) 00:40, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Can't Figure Out A Typo[edit]

I can't figure out how to figure out the typo in the location in the box near the top (the "}}"). Can someone fix this or tell me how? --Nogburt (talk) 07:31, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

Can you be more explicit about what the typo is? I can't see one at the top. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:54, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Tactical Victory[edit]

Is there really any need to put in the phrase, "Tactically inconclusive"?--Red Wiki 00:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Hello, Valkyrie Red (talk · contribs), I see your keyboard is still giving you signature problems. The answer is yes, the conclusion of "victory" for either side of this battle is somewhat ambiguous unlike for example the Battle of Chancellorsville. To say Antietam was a Union victory would deny the recorded history found in reliable sources; the phrase "tactically inconclusive" in the infobox is accurate and has been used in the article for 45 months. Given that the article is a Good Article and has a daily readership of at least one thousand, the consensus is that it is a trusted description of the outcome. Further reading on the subject should confirm this conclusion. Sswonk (talk) 03:15, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Sswonk, please define "tactically inconclusive". And just because no one has challenged an alleged fact does not mean there is a consensus. In my research, I have found some historians say "tactically inconclusive", some simply say "Union victory", and I've even found one historian who lists it as "decisive". Also, no one at the time of the battle saw it as anything other than a Union victory, particularly Lincoln. Finally, McPherson writes (Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 557):
Antietam was a victory [notice McPherson does not say it was a draw] and Lincoln intended to warn the rebel states that unless they returned to the Union by January 1 their slaves "shall then be, thenceforward, and forever free." (bold added)
Lee was driven out of Maryland and back to Virginia; Lee didn't just pick up and leave because he got bored. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 14:00, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
I think that Valkyrie is correct. The number od sources I have refer to it as a Strategic Union Victory. Calling it 'inconclusive is wrong.--Jojhutton (talk) 14:31, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
  • My interpretation of the "Result" description is that the fact that Lee was driven out of Maryland is the "strategic Union victory" which you are focusing on. The differing opinions on the superiority of Lee's tactics vs. those of McClellan is the reason for that wording. I have asked for further opinions by posting a request for comments on this topic at the Military History project talk page. Sswonk (talk) 14:51, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
It all comes down to one thing and one thing only. What do the sources say? Most sources say that is was a Union Victory, in one fasion or another.--Jojhutton (talk) 14:59, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
According to Bill above, some sources say "tactically inconclusive". I imagine that is why the phrase was initially added to the infobox 46 months ago. It was unstable before that, see the history of edits from the initial use of the words and before, starting here and working backwards. Sswonk (talk) 15:06, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Let's resolve this by using the text from the cited NPS battle summary. I added the footnote to make the link explicit. Hal Jespersen (talk) 15:28, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

I respectfully reject that resolution. Especially since NPS doesn't define what "tactically inconclusive" and/or "inconclusive" mean? Also, I don't recognize their authority in this matter over other historians (McPherson and Sears come to mind, but others as well). Whether it's "tactically inconclusive", "inconclusive", or "draw", it's a description that simply does not fit the Battle of Antietam. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 15:56, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Hey Hal, The NPS website is a good source, but are there any other sources that also say the same thing? Respectfully, I feel that McPherson and Catton are much better historians to cite, given their vast knowledge of the subject. They both agree that it was a Union Victory, mostly through the fact that Lee failed to accomplish his primary goal of defeating the Union Army north of the Potomac.--Jojhutton (talk) 20:19, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

The value of using the NPS for these summaries is that a committee of Civil War historians (the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission) did a survey of 300+ battles and came up with a consistent set of terminology applied across all of them. Using their terminology relieves us of the burden of arguing about each and every battle based on the hundreds of secondary sources available with their variable terminologies. Both McPherson and Catton say that is a Union victory, although you would have to provide more context to understand whether they were differentiating between a strategic victory and a tactical victory. I strongly suspect that they would agree with the NPS judgment "strategic Union victory." (For example, McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, page 545, says "History can at least record Antietam as a strategic Union success.") The simplest course of action here is not to argue, as we have been doing endlessly in Gettysburg, about how many historians use one word or another, but to rely on the rather dispassionate overall classification that the American Battlefield Protection Program has published. Hal Jespersen (talk) 23:11, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree Hal, I hate squabbling over the wording of an article too. Yet I don't see where it says that a survey was done to come up with that particular terminology, but I'm not doubting that there was one. I'm not trying to be stubborn, but I just need some clarification that the wording in the NPS article has the support of a good number of prominant historians before I commit to the addition in the article. As far as catton and McPherson go, whether or not they would agree with the wording or not is not the issue. All we can cite is what they have said and writtn, not what we think they might agrre with.--Jojhutton (talk) 23:49, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

There is some overview information about the American Battlefield Protection Program and the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission at . However, there is a lot more background in the book that was based on their work,

  • Kennedy, Frances H., ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.

Appendix 2 lists the commissioners, which includes James M. McPherson and Ed Bearss (the overall technical advisor to the program). It does not detail the methodology used for establishing a common vocabulary of results, but one has to assume that a compilation of this type, published by the government, had such a methodology. All bureaucratic endeavors do.

You are a relative newcomer to this argument, so let me repeat the background. The primary focus of my concern is the summary box on an article, where I think it is important to include only NPOV information, rather than selecting one popular POV and being forced to footnote the alternative viewpoints. (There appear to be many people who get no farther than the summary box in these articles, including some of the people editing recently, and I have lots of anecdotal evidence that most of those people do not read the footnotes.) There is ample room in the Aftermath section of a battle article to describe all of the different POVs. In the case of Antietam, there is no overwhelming consensus from historians that it was a Union tactical victory, despite a quote from one historian or another. At the time, the Confederates thought they actually won the victory and there remains some sentiment today to support this view. There is however, in my experience, an overwhelming modern consensus that Antietam had a much larger consequence -- call it a strategic victory, a turning point, whatever. Therefore, the conveniently consistent CWSAC judgment of Inconclusive (NPOV) plus strategic victory (overwhelming consensus of POVs) works just fine for the box, as it has had for a number of years. Hal Jespersen (talk) 15:52, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Hal, please define "tactically inconclusive" as used in this article. (talk) 22:22, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

The article currently does not state "tactically inconclusive" because that is not what the NPS summary says. However, tactically is an adjective relating to the specific conduct of this battle (usually used to contrast against strategic, which addresses the broader subjects of the conduct of campaigns and sometimes of the war itself) and inconclusive means that historians do not agree which side won a (in this case) tactical victory, if either did. We almost never say tactical victory, because that is implied, preferring simple "victory." Hal Jespersen (talk) 00:45, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

The commenter is probably referring to the last sentence of the lead section, which does use the phrase. I thought of removing the word "tactically", but it actually makes sense given summaries in the sentences leading up to it. Sswonk (talk) 01:08, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
For the purposes of my argument, it doesn't matter whether it says "tactically inconclusive" (which is what it said until very recently) or simply "inconclusive". The question still remains. What does "inconclusive" mean?
Also, you (Hal) said:
The primary focus of my concern is the summary box on an article, where I think it is important to include only NPOV information, rather than selecting one popular POV and being forced to footnote the alternative viewpoints.
Yes, I agree. That is why I maintain that the only results that should be listed in summary boxes are "Union victory", "Confederate victory", or "(tactically) inconclusive", with any decisive or strategic elements relegated to the body of the article. And in the case of the Battle of Antietam, the summary box should be "Union victory", because there is no way that this battle can be considered inconclusive; since the ANV was wounded in both "body and spirit", Lee was compelled to retreat. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 01:54, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

No, he wasn't, and I'd be surprised if you could find a secondary source that makes that claim. Lee stayed at Sharpsburg for another full day, waiting for McClellan to resume the attack. He then withdrew on his own schedule when he realized Little Mac was paralyzed. Very few authors credit McClellan with a clear tactical victory at Antietam. I think that if you want to create a mechanical solution to the contents of these boxes -- choose only from the following list of acceptable choices -- then using the NPS result is an excellent, NPOV method. Otherwise, we will have a number of arguments about important battles, often based on a less than comprehensive understanding of the historiography. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:09, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Very correctly put. My reading of the term "inconclusive" is that when the battle—at the end of September 17, 1862—was over, neither side was said to have "won". There was no conclusive victory for either side that day. The non-POV method of using the interpretation of the NPS, which is guided by many sources and discussions of history, is the proper one. To leave a portion of the NPS summary out would constitute a judgment and the resulting infobox text could be assailed as original research. Sswonk (talk) 17:40, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
Not really. If you want to know what "inconclusive" means, then just take a look at the Battle of the Wilderness. In short, both sides did not retreat from the battlefield; both simply maneuvered some 10 miles south and began the Battle of Spotsylvania. Now THAT is what inconclusive means. Turning tail and running back to Virginia, as Lee did right after the Battle of Antietam, is NOT why I would call "inconclusive". Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 10:15, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, he was, and I've got the (multiple) sources to prove it. So prepare to be "surprised". Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 10:15, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I'd support using the NPS result as the default entry, subject to talk page consensus. BusterD (talk) 18:08, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
I can't possibly support the NPS website result without knowing which well respected historian came up with the wording.--Jojhutton (talk) 18:48, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Earlier in this discussion I gave you the names of two of them. And the point of this is not that a single well-respected historian came up with a judgment--because I am sure that you can find others with different or ambiguously stated views--but that a group of historians came up with a consensus opinion that was published by the government body responsible for preserving and interpreting the American Civil War. Hal Jespersen (talk) 19:30, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Frankly Hal, I also cannot support the NPS Web site. Why? Because I don't trust any Web site who a few weeks ago listed the Battle of Antietam as "Tactically Inconclusive", but has now been recently changed to read merely "Inconclusive" (with strategic victory in parentheses) just after this debate began. Interesting coincidence at the very least. Consequently, I seriously doubt whether any well-respected historian had much input in summarizing this battle on that NPS site. I'll also have more to say about the battle summary in the next week or so; I just don't have too much time on my hands at the moment. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 10:15, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

McClellan did not manage to dislodge the Conferderate Army from its positions at Sharpsburg. Insofar the battle itself was at least inconclusive if not a Southern tactical victory. Because of his losses Lee had to abandon his Maryland Campaign which made no sense anyway anymore because of the presence of McClellan. Both sides did not consider the battle a defeat, but it was neither considered a great victory so tactically inconclusive sums it up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

I still think that casualties are wrong[edit]

There are many internet sources that state that the Confederacy suffered a little over 13,000 casualties, yet on this Wikipedia article, editors are continuing to use the word of one historian.

My suggestion for determining the casualties of the battle is that Wikipedia editors get at least 3 historians before making any final changes.--Red Wiki 16:03, 24 October 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Valkyrie Red (talkcontribs)

Valkyrie Red, we already had this discussion above in the section you started, "Casualties are wrong!" Well, here you are the one that's "wrong". The footnote to the casualty figures in the infobox, linked here, already reports the source for those numbers and also fully details three other sets of numbers and sources, making four sources in total. That is not using "the word of one historian." The information is completely verifiable, uses reliable sources and frankly is not worth discussing further. Read the footnote, my responses to your previous post, and please stop trolling about this fact. Sswonk (talk) 17:03, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

I really don't see how I'm trolling, but whatever....................Rebel. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Valkyrie Red (talkcontribs) 17:42, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

edits of June 16, 2010[edit]

I have reverted the edits on June 16 because they are sprinkling factual details throughout the article without providing proper citations. If the anonymous editor who is adding the details (as he or she is doing to a number of other articles) cannot figure out how Wikipedia footnotes work, I would be happy if the edits simply included the citations in plain text within brackets and I can edit them into the appropriate format. My apologies to someone who seems to know Civil War history pretty well, but it is a lot harder for me to find citations for someone else's work than it would be for that person to provide the required information in the first place. Hal Jespersen (talk) 23:34, 17 June 2010 (UTC)


I would like anyone to explain what exactly in my edits constituted "historical fiction". (talk) 00:22, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

If you address the other editor's concerns, it's likely that in the process the style of your edits won't resemble a novel. Tedickey (talk) 00:25, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
I think that Tedickey is confusing you by using the terms fiction or novel. He is not suggesting that the information is fictional, but is written in a manner similar to that found in a novel, adjective-laden descriptions that are more florid than an encyclopedia would use. However, although some of your edits in other articles have had this problem, in this case I do not agree with him. There may be a few words here and there, but those are easy to correct and not worth wholesale reversion. My reasons for reversion, based on the lack of citations, stand. I am more than willing to work with you cooperatively, but we need to balance out the workload and not leave me with the responsibility for re-doing the research that you have already done, apparently. Hal Jespersen (talk) 15:21, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

"Present for Duty" & "Engaged"[edit]

Hal, these descriptions do not belong in the summary box. Those phrases should only be used in the body of an article and/or in footnotes. I honestly don't see how using such terms in a summary box clarifies anything. A summary box is just that; a summary, which is why I removed them in the first place. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 21:55, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Also, look at the summary box for the Battle of Gettysburg. That's how it should be done, IMO. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 22:24, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Kyd Douglas quote[edit]

  • Not sure that Douglas would have been considered a reliable source by his peers; see this. Not saying the content of the quote is wrong. Just wondering if a better source is available. • Ling.Nut (talk) 16:39, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Since the opinion of Douglas is identified as such (described as "derision"), it is pretty clear that this is not represented as the judgment of a professional historian, as would usually be required when we are seeking reliable sources. The quotation is there to provide backup for the claim that Burnside's actions were controversial at the time, as well as to provide some rhetorical color to the article. Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:43, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

confusion about Parrotts[edit]

The rating for 200 would be Parrott Rifle for a large fixed position or naval artillery. Field artillery used much smaller ranges, and the source appears to have said 20 pounds. TEDickey (talk) 23:22, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

On this day, Sep 17, 2012[edit]

It's too bad this article wasn't listed on the September 17, 2012 "On This Day," as it was the 150th anniversary. --Rajah (talk) 14:54, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Number Of Casualties[edit]

I apologise, as I was attempting to enter my comments I accidentally hit the wrong button and submitted early. However, I get to explain at greater length here. An encyclopaedic resource must have internal consistency, at least within a single article. If the casualty reports on the sidebar are definitively stated at 22,717, then it's unprofessional and unacademic to say, in the opening paragraphs, that casualties were "about 23,000." It's simply sloppy and unprofessional writing, both in the fact that that it quotes a different number than given elsewhere in the article, as well as in the use of words of approximation.

And this does not feed in to the debate I see over the accurate number of casualties. I'm merely stating that, whatever the number of casualties is finally settled on, that number must be applied consistently and unapproximately.

I am thankful that we have vigilant people ensuring that we are professional and academic. The reason the article was written with "about 23,000" was that the lead section of a Wikipedia article is typically not footnoted, acting primarily as a summary of the following article, relying on the citations in the main portion of the article. And despite what it says in the information box and the Aftermath section, the figure of 22,717 is merely an estimate, which is quite apparent when you read the footnote associated with it. So although the lead section should probably have said "over 22,000," it was merely an attempt to avoid jumping into the details too early in the article. It would actually be more correct to use about/over in the box and Aftermath than to propagate the precise estimate into the lead, but that is something Wikipedia editors generally do not like to do – they prefer to simulate precision. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:32, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

So, why didn't Lincoln give an address commemorating Antietam?[edit]

Given everything the article says about the significance of the battle, why didn't Lincoln speak to dedicate it and not Gettysburg? - (talk) 05:34, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk pages are meant for discussions of the content of the article, not general speculative topics of this type. However, the Gettysburg address was delivered at the occasion of the dedication of the national cemetery there. The Antietam Cemetery was not established until 1865. Also, one might argue that the Emancipation Proclamation itself was more important than a speech. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:54, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Charles S. Wainwright[edit]

Col. Charles S. Wainwright was not at the battle of South Mt. or Antietam. In his diary, he states that he was in Middletown, MD. On the morning of the Sept. 18th, he had left Middletown and was headed for Hooker's headquarters, arriving there on the afternoon of the Sept. 18. A Diary of a Battle, Col. The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, pgs. 100-101 submitted by Keith Foote — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:49, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Since Wainwright is not mentioned in this article, your comment, which appears to be confirmed by another source, would be better placed on the talk page for the article on Charles S. Wainwright. That article should be revised by deleting the mention of Antietam. Donner60 (talk) 07:45, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Rufus R. Dawes[edit]

Dawes can be linked as Rufus Dawes. Thanks, (talk) 04:38, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done. Mojoworker (talk) 06:34, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you kindly. (talk) 07:15, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Very well-done article[edit]

Thorough and with good sourcing. Since they seem unnecessary by comparison, I'll just leave these—

—here on the talk page for the sake of completeness, for those curious what they had say about the battle. (In the case of the EB9, not much since it didn't register as terribly important to the Brits in the immediate aftermath. The EB11 eventually gave it fuller treatment with America's continued growth and increased importance to the encyclopedia's sales.) — LlywelynII 09:57, 27 July 2015 (UTC)


I have been watching an episode from Battlefield Detectives recently and it suggests that, with some wounded soldiers dying of their wounds after Antietam, the number of killed was nearly 8,000. (talk) 17:18, 14 November 2015 (UTC)