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Civil War digest: This week, 150 years ago

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday Sept. 17, 1862


This September day along Antietam Creek in Maryland was the bloodiest day in American history. Badly outnumbered, Confederate General Robert E. Lee made his stand against Federal Major General George B. McClellan. At first light, the fight raged on the Confederate left in the woods, the cornfield, Bloody Lane and the Dunkard Church. Federal gains were small and costly. By that afternoon, the battle moved south. Federal Major General Ambrose Burnside drove against the Confederate right at what became known as Burnside's Bridge. His troops crossed the bridge under heavy fire and headed into the nearby town of Sharpsburg. Confederate Major General Ambrose Powell Hill's "Light Division" arrived after a hurried march from Harper's Ferry, and the Federal advance was halted. Federal losses were at 2,010 killed,

9,416 wounded, and 1,043 missing for a total of 12,469 out of approximately 75,000 troops engaged. Confederates lost approximately 2,700 killed, 9,024 wounded and 2,000 missing for a total of

13,724 of 38,000 engaged. General Lee's Maryland Campaign was halted.

Thursday Sept. 18, 1862

Confederate officers advised General Robert E. Lee to withdraw across the Potomac River on the night of the 17th, but he remained at Sharpsburg, finally pulling out of Maryland the night of Sept. 18-19, at Blackford's Ford. McClellan, despite the arrival of

12,000 men plus 24,000 others who had seen little or no action, allowed the day to pass without attack. Even with his superior numbers, McClellan feared the consequences of defeat.

At Glasgow, Ky., General Braxton Bragg proclaimed that his Confederate army had come to Kentucky to free the people from tyranny and not as conquerors and despoilers.

Friday Sept. 19, 1862


Confederates had been attempting to prevent the Federals, under Major General Ulysses Grant from reinforcing Major General Don Carlos Buell, who was opposing Confederate General Braxton Bragg in Kentucky. Grant brought two armies - Major General William Rosecrans Army of the Mississippi and three divisions of his own Army of the Tennessee, led by Major General O.C. Ord, in a double envelopment move against Confederate Major General Sterling Price, who was located at Iuka. The engagement began when Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Little's division struck Colonel John Sanborn's brigade on the Mill Road at 4:30 p.m. The Confederates tried three times to drive the Federals from the Mill Road and succeeded in capturing all six of the Federal artillery pieces. They were unable to take advantage of them because all of the horses were killed in the fighting. During the night, the Confederates abandoned Iuka. Federal forces lost

144 killed, 598 wounded and

40 missing for a total loss of

790, while the Confederates lost 263 killed, 692 wounded and

561 missing totaling 1,516 casualties, including Brigadier General Little who was shot in the eye and killed.

Saturday Sept. 20, 1862

Federal Major General George B.

McClellan sent two divisions across the Potomac River in a mild pursuit of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Opposed by Major General Ambrose Powell Hill, the Federals fell back and Lee's army withdrew to Opequon Creek. The active part of the campaign ended with fighting near Shepherdstown, Hagerstown, Williamsport and Ashby's Gap.

At the White House, President Abraham Lincoln made preparations for the delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation, long discussed by the president and his cabinet.

Sunday Sept. 21, 1862

In Kentucky, Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Confederates marched to Bardstown in order to make connection with Major General E. Kirby Smith's command, but the move left the road open for Federal Major General Don Carlos Buell to beat the Confederates to Louisville. Federal troops reoccupied Munfordville, Ky.

Citizens of San Francisco contributed $100,000 for relief of Federal sick and wounded.

Monday Sept. 22, 1862


After long contemplation and awaiting a military victory, President Abraham Lincoln decided the Antietam victory was cause enough to announce his Emancipation Proclamation. "That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves, within any state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free," the president wrote. He also called for restoration of the Union and congressional approval of compensated emancipation. The door was at least partially opened for the final constitutional moves to eradicate slavery.

Federal troops reoccupied Harper's Ferry, which had been evacuated by the Confederates. There was also a skirmish at Ashby's Gap.

Tuesday Sept. 23, 1862


The final battle of the U.S.-Dakota War also ensued on this day in Yellow Medicine County, Minn., when Dakota Chief Little Crow led his approximately 738 warriors and they left their camps below Lac qui Parle, though only

300 engaged in the surprise ambush against Colonel Henry Hasting Sibley's 2,000 troops. Soldiers of the 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry were ambushed while attempting to obtain supplies. They, along with the

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, skirmished with the Indians. Casualties were light, with Sibley's troops sustaining four casualties with Little Crow's warriors losing 16. Ultimately Little Crow's forces faced the stark realization that they must either surrender or flee onto the western prairies.

Word of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was spreading over the North and would soon penetrate the South as well.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of Sept. 17-23, 1862

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Antietam and withdrew to Bolivar Heights as part of the Antietam campaign.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Marched to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Braxton Bragg.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Wood Lake. A detachment marched to relieve Fort Abercrombie, and later rejoined the regiment at Camp Release.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Iuka, Miss.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Companies B, C and D remained in Minnesota and Dakota Territory on garrison duty. A detachment of Company C moved from Fort Ridgely to Fort Ripley. The remaining companies participated in the battle of

Iuka, Miss.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Wood Lake and then rejoined other regiments at Camp Release.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Wood Lake and then joined other regiments at Camp Release.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - Participated in the Battle of Wood Lake and then joined other regiments at Camp Release. Some of the companies were stationed at various outposts.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - A detachment of Company I participated in the Battle of Wood Lake.

Brackett's Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry - On duty at Clarksville, Tenn.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery - On garrison duty at Corinth, Miss.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - March to Louisville, Ky., in pursuit of Braxton Bragg.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A - Participated in the Battle of Antietam. On duty near Sharpsburg, Md., following the battle.