The Military History Society of NSW is for those interested in military history from ancient and modern times from NSW, Australia and the globe.

David Cooper on The Battle of Antietam in the American Civil War

The Military History Society of New South Wales Incorporated presents

David Cooper

Committee member of the Civil War Chapter of NSW


The Battle of Antietam in the American Civil War

Why is the one day battle of Antietam fought on 17 September 1862 so famous?

There was no winner or loser in the battle – although Union claimed it as a victory (as was standard in the Civil War) as they finished occupying the battlefield. However, circa 6,500 union and CSA soldiers were killed or mortally wounded in the battle. A further 15,000 were wounded – the standard non fatal wound being a loss of a leg or arm. To put in context, this is more than 4 times the American casualties on D Day. The battlefield deaths exceeded the aggregate of all American soldiers who died in combat in the previous 62 years of the 19th century (pre the Civil War) – this includes the War of 1812 against Britain, and the Mexican American War of 1846. It was significant as was fought in Maryland – a northern state with Lee’s forces threatening Washington. Lee had taken command of what became known as the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862 and, against the odds (and outnumbered), defeated first McLellan in the 7 days battles near Richmond, then Pope at 2nd Manassas in August 1862 and now looked to defeat the Union forces once again and force a negotiated outcome to the Civil War. Further, pre Antietam, both Great Britain and France were close to recognising the CSA. However, post Antietam, all changed, the CSA offensive was ended and Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation – the later effectively ended any hope of European recognition. There were still over 2 ½ brutal years of the Civil War remaining (total Civil War military deaths exceeded 620,000) but Antietam remained the single day’s most significant battle of the Civil War as measured by casualties and arguably as to its impact on the ultimate outcome of the war.

David Cooper is a committee member of the Civil War Chapter of NSW and runs annual American Civil War tours for Australians – separate tours cover the Western and Eastern campaigns. He has visited Antietam on multiple occasions and has a keen interest in all things Civil War.


Saturday, 19 November 2016, 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Anzac Room, 99 York St Conference and Function Centre, Sydney

Entry is free. RSVP is essential by Wednesday 16 November 2016 as numbers are restricted (02) 9660 7225 / 0418 400 825 or email