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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: The Battle of Antietam

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War*. There were more than 23,000 casualties at the Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg). The battle was a Union victory and is considered by many historians to be the turning point of the Civil War, as it spurred Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

*Not to be confused with Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the war, which yielded over 50,000 casualties over the course of three days.

A scene from "The Dead of Antietam". Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on The Battle of Antietam.


Early fighting in the battle centered on Dunker Church, a small church on a plateau defended by Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.


A major skirmish took place on a sunken road, the so-called Bloody Lane. At the Bloody Lane, Confederate troops led by D.H. Hill were attacked by Union forces led by William French, resulting in more than 5000 casualties.


The most devastating fighting in the battle took place at Miller’s Cornfield, which saw more than 13,000 casualties in just a few hours.


Late in the day Union troops led by Ambrose Burnside captured Rohrbach’s Bridge, a stone bridge built by a local farmer. The bridge was then renamed after the Union general.

CIGARS Confederate chances of victory took a severe hit when Union soldiers discovered Confederate battle plans (the so-called Special Order 191) wrapped around a package of three cigars.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* Time called Alexander Gardner’s photography The Dead of Antietam one of the 100 most important photographs of all time. Gardner was an assistant of famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. Read more about the photograph (and see some more images of Antietam) HERE.

* The National Park Service website has a nice timeline of the Civil War to help you put the battles in historical context.

* Read more about the “Lost Orders” that were discovered wrapped around a package of cigars HERE.

* NPR did a feature on Antietam to mark the 150th anniversary of the battle. Listen below:

* Here’s an interesting video about the Battle of Antietam:


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