On September 17, 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia battled for twelve savage hours on the banks of Antietam Creek in Maryland. When the fighting was over, 23,000 people had been killed, wounded, or declared missing, making that one day the bloodiest in the history of the Civil War.
The Union Army's performance led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, formally alerting the Confederacy of his intention to free enslaved Americans in those states.
Today, Antietam National Battlefield is one of the best-preserved Civil War sites in the country, a place where visitors continue to honor the legacy of the soldiers who fought there. Earlier this month, park officials and partner groups held a four-day commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the battle filled with tours, speakers, ceremonies, family-oriented programs, and living history demonstrations that brought to life what conditions were like for soldiers of that time.
Learn more about this historic battlefield and other major Civil War sites protected by the Park Service. Many Civil War sites remain only partially preserved, and only 28% have national park protections.