Study Questions

James M. McPherson
Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam

What made the Battle of Antietam (pronounced an-TEE-tam) so horrific? What made it so important?

Identify George B. McClellan. What sort of man and commander was he? What events and battles in the first half of 1862 so encouraged the North and discouraged the South? How did McClellan plan to proceed and what challenges did his army face? Describe the foreign policy goals of the Confederacy and the Union. Identify James Mason and Charles Francis Adams. Why was foreign recognition of the Confederacy such a crucial issue to both sides?

Describe the stakes for both sides in the Seven Days' Battle and the outcome. What accounted for McClellan's popularity among his troops? How did Lincoln act afterwards to revitalize the war effort? How did events affect the attitudes of governments in Europe? What explains the gradual growth of support for emancipation in the North in 1862? What were "contrabands"? How did Lincoln eventually decide to proceed with a proclamation of emancipation?

How did the South regain the offensive in the Western theater in the summer of 1862? How did this affect morale and public opinion North and South? Describe General John Pope's attack during the Second Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas).What difficulties did he face within his own army in fighting the battle? How did McClellan undermine Pope? What did General Robert E. Lee hope to achieve by invading Maryland?

How did Marylanders react to Lee's army? How did his army appear? Nevertheless, how was its morale? What effect did Lee's action have on Northerners? How did McClellan react, and how was his army's morale affected? What made Harpes Ferry a tempting target to Lee? How did McClellan learn of Lee's plans and how did he respond? What did Lee decide to do? What were the weaknesses of McClellan's plan of attack and why did he not follow up his victory on September 17? How was Lee able to respond to the attack and why was he able to escape back to Virginia?

How did the Confederate army and the public react to the battle? How did it affect the Union army and public? How did events in the Western theater magnify Antietam's impact on morale? How did Antietam allow Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation? What was its immediate impact in the North, the South, and in Europe, and how did the impact change with time? What was the battle's impact on politics and the 1862 elections? Describe the reasons that Lincoln finally fired McClellan. What made Antietam so important to people North and South at the time? What makes it important for us today?