September 17, 1862, is regarded as the bloodiest single day of fighting in American military history.
Hoping to break the will of the Federals, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee pushed north of the Potomac River, out of Virginia and into Maryland, thus forcing the first major battle of the Civil War to take place on Union soil.
Now, almost 150 years to the day of the encounter, a roundtable of military historians from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth discuss this seminal struggle in Antietam: The Bloodiest Day on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Panelists include historians Bud Bowie, Greg Hospodor, and Terry Beckenbaugh.
This program is part of the Library's Civil War Sesquicentennial observation.
Lee's northward advance was stopped by the arrival of the Union Army under Gen. George McClelland. The Confederates took up defensive positions along Antietam Creek near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Attacks and counterattacks swept across the fields and woods.
The battle was fought to a standstill, which made it a victory for Lee. The always-cautious McClellan had a larger force and, had he pressed his advantage, might have destroyed the enemy army. Instead Lee was allowed to slowly withdraw back to Virginia.
The number of dead and wounded in the battle staggered the citizens of both the United States and the Confederacy. Nearly 23,000 men were killed, wounded, and reported missing or captured. Those figures represented 25 percent of the Union force and 31 percent of the Confederate.
Though the battle was tactically inconclusive, it provided the Federals new confidence in their fighting ability after numerous defeats in the early months of the war. President Abraham Lincoln viewed it as enough of a victory that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an act that derailed French and British plans to recognize the Confederacy.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.