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3318Re: [TalkAntietam] Who won the battle of Antietam

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  • Joyce A. Mader
    Feb 15, 2007
      I didn't say that Antietam was a tactical draw. I said, even assuming a best case scenario (from a CS perspective) that it was a tactical draw, it was still a strategic Union victory. I personally believe that Antietam was also a Union tactical victory. In my reading on battles through history, I have noticed that commentators seem to take the position if the defenders remain in possession of their positions, the defenders are often considered the "winners". We all know that it is much more complicated than that.

      At Antietam, McClellan did attack with much success. However, when the fighting ended, Lee was still on the field and McClellan did not resume the attack. Lee left. As we have discussed, the abandonment of his northern strategy in 1862 gave the strategic victory to the North.

      At Gettysburg, Lee was the attacker. He failed to dislodge Meade and he failed in his strategy. Even Meade's half hearted pursuit of Lee was a pursuit. So not only was the defender not driven from his position but he pursued when the attacker left the field. I know there are many more nuances and people with much more detailed knowledge than I can analyze this to death. I am just commenting on the possible distinctions. Personally, I think both Antietam and Gettysburg were Union victories.


      Thomas Clemens <clemenst@...> wrote: OK, Joyce, but why is that distinction not made at Gettysburg? What did Meade do to "win?" He held his position, yet made no attacks at all. McClellan attacked what he believed to be a superior army, and drove it back on nearly all fronts. Lee's army withdrew to a new position on the evening of the 17th. So why is that a tactical draw and Gettysburg a victory?
      I'm not trying to take direct issue with you, but with the argument that has been around forever.
      I think the answer has more to do with politics that tactics.

      Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
      Professor of History
      Hagerstown Community College

      >>> "Joyce A. Mader" <jam22205@...> 02/14/07 4:20 PM >>>

      I recall once in a discussion about the battle of Monocacy the point was made that it was a tactical Confederate victory but a Union strategic victory which was ultimately more important. Perhaps that framework should be applied to Antietam also. Using that framework, it was clearly a strategic Union victory because it stopped Lee's plan to bring the war north and all of the benefits he hoped to derive from it (and had political and diplomatic benefits for the North as well). At best (from a CS viewpoint) it was a tactical draw. Therefore, overall it was a union victory evening assuming a tactical draw.

      Joyce Mader

      Thomas Clemens <clemenst@...> wrote: Exactly the point Joe harsh has made for years. If Meade "won"
      Gettysburg then McClellan "won" Antietam. Again at gettysburg Lee left
      with a lot of supplies, etc. but in both campaigns that was far from
      his primary objective. In both instances that objective was not
      fulfilled, and Meade?McClellan's was. That is a loss, any way you want
      to slice it.

      Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
      Professor of History
      Hagerstown Community College

      >>> Stephen Recker <recker@...> 02/14/07 10:12 AM >>>
      Just got back from taking a tour of Gettysburg with a licensed guide.
      He was very talented, but I noticed that up there they like to say that
      Lee arrived in Pennsylvania with a record of 7-0-1. If Lee can be said
      to have 'lost' Gettysburg, what makes Sharpsburg a draw?

      Gallagher makes a good case for it being a strategic victory for Lee,
      as he left with a lot of supplies and managed to keep the AOP out of
      Virginia for so long. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks.


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