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Carl Sandburg

The bloodiest day: The legacy of Antietam

The bloodiest day: The legacy of Antietam

One hundred fifty years ago today, two great armies clashed in a titanic struggle that would decide the fate of a nation. "Around a cornfield and a little white Dunker church, around a stone bridge and in a pasture lane worn by cow paths, surged a human tornado," wrote Carl Sandburg many years later. Never before or since has such a deadly concentration of firepower been unleashed on the American continent.

The Battle of Antietam, waged across a meandering stream called Antietam Creek in Western Maryland near Hagerstown, was the first great turning point of the American Civil War and the bloodiest single day of combat ever waged on U.S. soil. When the guns finally fell...