In What Ways Were the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg Turning Points in the Civil War?

The majority of historians consider the Battle of Gettysburg (July 4, 1863) to be the turning point in the American Civil War. However, the victory consists of many aspects and there were also other battles which were not less important in the course of the conflict. One of them is the Battle of Antietam, which took place on September 17, 1862.

Many people died during these battles, but those numerous victims stopped the Confederate invasion to the Northern part of the country. After the Battle of Antietam, General Robert E. Lee failed to gather new soldiers in Maryland and to unite his forces with the Confederacy. From political point of view, Lincoln used this failure of the enemy to make Emancipation Proclamation, which made an attempt of Britain to proclaim the Confederacy a sovereign state illegitimate.

During the Battle of Gettysburg general Lee suffered the greatest defeat. Southerners lost approximately 27 thousand people in three days and capitulated. 23 of the Union army were killed and that is why General Meade decided not to pursue the enemy. John Vanderslice (1863) writes:

Gettysburg will ever be preeminently the most renowned of all the battles of the war for the Union, not only because of its magnitude and immediate results, but also by reason of the grave consequences dependent upon the issue. It must not be forgotten that while the Army of the Potomac and the other Federal troops operating in Virginia, lost 89,175 killed and wounded and 48,638 missing, they after Gettysburg lost 110,820 killed and wounded and 35,586 missing before the final victory at Appomattox.

General Lee and his troops surrendered on the 9th April in 1865, two years after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. Both the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Gettysburg prevented the Confederation to move to the North, gave an opportunity for the government to proclaim the main democratic principles and seriously weakened the army of General Lee.


Vanderslice, J. M. (1863). Gettysburg: A History of the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association, With an Account of the Battle. (pp. 15-16). Philadelphia: The Memorial association.

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