Thus it seems clear that the Emancipation Proclamation was not an ultimatum at all, but a reformulation of war aims implying a change in strategy. Lincoln had abandoned the hope that a quick series of impressive victories could demoralize the South into negotiation. Instead he was now ready to commit the nation to a war of subjugation, aimed at destroying the South’s ability to resist and uproot up its fundamental institution. In Lincoln’s mind, the Civil War had already passed the point of no return. - Richard Slotkin.
Antietam – Lee takes the initiative, the first major battle fought north of Virginia, the bloodiest single-day in our history, a tactical draw on the battlefield, but a strategic victory for President Lincoln, one he needed to issue his “Emancipation Proclamation.”
Gettysburg will bring more commemorative thunder, but Antietam is right up there in importance and significance. Not sure if I can make it to the reenactment, but now reading a great run-up book, “The Long Road To Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution” by Richard Slotkin.
This is my introduction to the author. He has a great vocabulary and the early pages are turners, as the conflict between Lincoln and McClellan plays out. Everyone knows McClellan had a “case of the slows,” but I did not realize just how much of a political opponent he was to Lincoln, and something beyond even a loose cannon. It’s easy to pick on McClellan but the author gives a balance of criticism.
I don’t know if this book surpasses Stephan Sears highly regarded “Landscape Turned Red,” but it has worked its way up to the Top Ten in Amazon’s charts for Civil War. Slotkin’s strength is he knows exactly where to place the lens. Lincoln had that willingness and flexibility too. What a shame McClellan never did.