436). The most important battle of the Civil War was Antietam because it marked a turning point in the war and gave Lincoln the opening he needed to make the Emancipation Proclamation.
Prior to Antietam, the Confederates carried an aura of invincibility following their victory at the First Battle of Bull Run (Goldfield et al. 431). The Union troops suffered a demoralizing loss at the opening of the war, and further losses could have destroyed the will to fight among Northerners. Prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union also lacked a strong moral imperative for winning the war. The initial reasons for entering the war were merely to preserve the status quo. Although the result of the battle was inconclusive, the Union emerged in a superior position. Antietam boosted morale in the North and allowed Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, giving the Union a principled cause to continue fighting the war to its conclusion. While Antietam wasnt a decisive victory over the Confederacy either on the battlefield or in the war, it marked a decisive change in the fortunes of the Union.
Although Gettysburg and Shermans March to the Sea are often remembered as defining moments in the defeat of the Confederacy, those victories would not have been possible if the Confederacy had won at Antietam and continued the Maryland Campaign. Antietam also allowed Lincoln to make the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the defining moments in the Civil War and American History. A Union victory would have been hollow without the Emancipation Proclamation and the later passage of the 13th Amendment. Antietam not only marked the initial turning point in the war but also a turning point in American History.
Goldfield, David, Carl E. Abbot, Virginia D. Anderson, Jo Ann E. Argersinger, Peter H. Argersinger, , William Barney, and Robert M.