Sunday, September 16, 2012

A landscape turned red

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the battle of Antietam. Geoffrey Norman, in The Weekly Standard:
More were killed or mortally wounded here, that day, than on September 11 or on D-Day. Casualties, according to official records, totaled 22,719 in both armies. Twenty-five percent of the Union forces. Over 30 percent of the Confederates. There were 1,546 Confederate dead, 2,108 Union. Many of the 1,771 missing were dead, and many of the wounded would die. It was, in the minds of many who survived the battle and, then, the entire war, the worst day they ever experienced. “Beyond words,” they would almost invariably write. ....

...Antietam was an unusually—even epically—tragic battle. Not least, of course, for the casualties but also because, if things had gone just a little differently, if mortals had behaved with just slightly less imperfection, those two and a half years could have been avoided and the war could have been won, completely, that day. ....
Iron Brigade soldiers

It was just three days earlier that the Iron Brigade got its name, during the Battle of South Mountain:
.... The attack on Turner’s Gap—the day’s larger movement—was a tough fight with heavy casualties on both sides, including Union general Jesse Reno. The final assault that carried the pass was the work of General John Gibbon’s Black Hats, who became the Iron Brigade that day when McClellan, watching the assault, called them the best soldiers in his army and said, “They must be made of iron.” ....
One of the most famous units in the Union Army was the Iron Brigade consisting at that time of the 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, 7th Wisconsin and 19th Indiana. The 24th Michigan would later become part of this famous brigade.

The Iron Brigade saw heavy fighting in the cornfield and suffered heavy losses. The Brigade began the battle with 800 men and lost 350 of them with the 6th Wisconsin losing over 150. ....
The Iron Brigade had the highest percentage of casualties of any brigade in that war.

Norman describes the battle.

The War’s Worst Day | The Weekly Standard, Remembering Our Bloodiest Day « Stuff That Interests Me