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Battle of Antietam anniversary recalls Civil War's deadliest encounter

Battle of Antietam anniversary will be commemorated on Monday near Washington, D.C. The Battle of Antietam anniversary will remember over 23,000 soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies who were killed, wounded, or reported missing.

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In this Sept. 8, 2012 photo, a Union officer, center, leads his troops during a Civil War re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam in Boonsboro, Md.

Kevin G. Gilbert, The Herald-Mail/AP

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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson leads the lineup of speakers marking the 150th anniversary Monday of the Civil War Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md.

The midday ceremony at the battlefield caps a long weekend of lectures, hikes and other events devoted to the bloodiest day of combat on US soil.

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McPherson has written that Antietam was arguably the most important battle of the war.

More than 23,000 men were reported killed, wounded or missing there on Sept. 17, 1862. Their sacrifices enabled President Abraham Lincoln to announce his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation five days later.

The battle was inconclusive but the Confederates retreated to Virginia the next day. Had the South prevailed, France and England were prepared to recognize the Confederacy as a separate nation.