Military Mondays

The Battle of Antietam: September 17, 1862

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Battle of Antietam Image
Photo Credit: emergingcivilwar.com

[From: Wikipedia & The History Channel]
One hundred and sixty-five years ago, today, The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern U.S., occurred September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. It pitted Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia against Union General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and was the culmination of Lee’s attempt to invade the north. The battle’s outcome would be vital to shaping America’s future and it remains the deadliest one-day battle in all American military history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing.

McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland but, Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.

Antietam Bloody Lane Image
Photo Credit: loc.gov

[From: Emerging Civil War…another take…]
Fortunately, for the sake of debate, the outcome of Civil War battles is not as clear-cut as that of a football game, where one can look at the scoreboard at the end of the game and easily determine who won, who lost, or, in some cases, if the outcome was a draw. Historians endlessly debate whether certain battles were overwhelming victories, marginal victories, or draws. Perhaps no other battle’s tactical outcome is more misunderstood than the bloodiest single day battle of the war: Antietam.

No one would doubt Antietam’s significance in the larger picture of the war. However, the common conception of Antietam is that the battle was tactically a draw, with neither side having gained a significant enough of an advantage to have claimed the victory. This article will challenge that commonly held belief, using particular instances from the battle and the Maryland Campaign to demonstrate the Army of the Potomac’s victory at Antietam.

[Had this battle been a Confederate victory, this country might look very, very different. ~Victoria]

Opha May Johnson: First Woman Marine

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Opha May Johnson Photo
Photo Credit: worldwar1centennial.org

One hundred years ago, today, August 13, 1918, Opha May (Jacob) Johnson, born May 4, 1879, enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I. She just happened to be the first one in line with 300+ other women behind her.

From the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission:

At the onset and throughout the First World War, women in the United States were still denied the same basic rights and privileges as male citizens, including the right to vote. Suffragists would continue to battle on through this time, but their efforts would not culminate into a constitutional revision until 1920. Not only was the political arena considered off-limits for women, but military service was also denied to them. Though legends of women dressing as males to fight for the United States had been spoken of since the Revolution, women were not allowed to legally enlist in the armed services, the Marine Corps being no exception. By the summer of 1918 however, the Corps was in need of more soldiers, many of whom occupied vital administrative and clerical positions throughout the war department at the time. The idea was circulated and eventually approved to allow women into the marines to fill these non-combat positions, relieving this men to head for the front. From Kokomo, Indiana, Opha May Johnson was first in line when the recruiting station in Washington D.C. opened its doors to women and would become a legend as the first woman Marine.

She passed away August 11, 1955 but, her funeral services were held on August 13, 1955…37 years to the day that she first stood in line.

Semper Fi, Opha!