Decisions at Antietam

The Fourteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Battle

  • Author(s): Lang, Michael
  • Series: Command Decisions in America's Civil War
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2021-03-24
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $29.95 | Buy Now
  • Available in PDF: Price $29.95 | Buy Now


The Battle of Antietam has long been known as the bloodiest day in American military history with more than twenty thousand soldiers either dead, wounded, or missing. The Confederacy, emboldened after a conclusive victory at the Battle of Second Manassas, launched the Maryland Campaign and considered a decisive battle on northern soil as a lynchpin to their objectives. As Gen. Robert E. Lee pushed his veteran Army of Northern Virginia deeper into Maryland, Gen. George B. McClellan hastily assembled a refurbished Army of the Potomac. After engagements at South Mountain and Harpers Ferry, Lee concentrated his forces near the small village of Sharpsburg. On September 17, 1862, McClellan attacked at dawn, igniting a battle that raged until sunset. By the end of the following day, Lee’s battered army began its withdrawal. The eventual Confederate retreat provided the Lincoln Administration a much sought after victory. President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation just four days later, dramatically altering the very nature of the war.

Decisions at Antietam introduces readers to critical decisions made by Confederate and Union commanders throughout the battle. Michael S. Lang examines the decisions that prefigured the action and shaped the contest as it unfolded. Rather than a linear history of the battle, Lang’s discussion of the critical decisions presents readers with a vivid blueprint of the battle’s developments. Exploring the critical decisions in this way allows the reader to progress from a sense of what happened in these battles to why they happened as they did

Complete with maps and a guided tour, Decisions at Antietam is an indispensable primer, and readers looking for a concise introduction to the battle can tour this sacred ground—or read about it at their leisure—with key insights into the battle and a deeper understanding of the Civil War itself.

Decisions at Antietam is the ninth in a series of books that will explore the critical decisions of major campaigns and battles of the Civil War.


For 35 years, MICHAEL S. LANG has worked as manager for FedEx, while also becoming a successful photographer.