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