Bridge on the Boonsboro Pike; Middle Bridge - Antietam, MD

November 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

We are remembering the Battle of Antietam, on September 17th, 1862. Whereas, studies show that commuters using the 5 Freeway in California have the worst commute to work, it can be argued that General Ambrose Burnside had it worse. His orders were to cross the river and fight Lee's men. Burnside led his men to what is today known as "Burnsides' Bridge". On the opposite side of the river the Confederates waited on a bluff 100 feet high overlooking the bridge. The road leading to the bridge was parallel to the river and allowed the Confederates to begin targeting the Union troops.


It took repeated assaults for Burnside’s men to capture the bridge. The Union troops suffered more than 500 casualties compared to less than 160 Confederates. The Confederates were so well fortified that they were only driven off by running out of ammunition. Once the bridge was captured it presented its own set of problems. At only 12 feet wide it was a bottleneck for thousands of troops trying to cross and greatly slowed the army. Afterwards, Burnside had to replenish his ammunition before getting to his job site - the battlefield.

00271 - Bridge on the Boonsboro Pike; Middle Bridge - Antietam, MD, 1862 (LC-DIG-cwpb-00271)00271 - Bridge on the Boonsboro Pike; Middle Bridge - Antietam, MD, 1862 (LC-DIG-cwpb-00271)"Remember, General, I command the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic." General Fitz John Porter of V Corp.


On September 17, 1862, during the Battle of Antietam, a misunderstanding of orders resulted in the Confederate line being overrun at the Sunken Road. "In this road lay so many dead rebels that they formed a line which one might have walked upon as far as I could see," a New Hampshire soldier wrote.


General McClellan witnessed the Sunken Road fighting. He was less than a mile away at the headquarters of Fitz John Porter's V Corps, which were being held in reserve, close to Middle Bridge. Instead of seeing an opportunity to attack and destroy Lee's army, McClellan decides to consolidate his forces against an enemy he believes has a considerable numeric advantage.


In this image, Alexander Gardner captures the Newcomer Farm and Mill along with the Middle Bridge. As a result of the Battle of Antietam:


· Newcomer was unable to financially recover from the damage to his property, which he sold.

· McClellan lost his job commanding the Army of the Potomac.


· The Union lost the best opportunity to defeat General Lee until Appomattox.

· General Lee lost the offensive into the North.


· Over 22,000 Americans lost their lives, were wounded or missing after the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.


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