14 Gruesome Photos from America’s Bloodiest Battle

Exactly 153 years ago today, the first Civil War battle took place on Union Soil. On September 17, 1862, at approximately 5:30 AM, The Battle of Antietam began.

In a short 12 hours, the fighting ended and the total number of casualties was 22,717. On the Union’s side, 12,401 suffered, leaving 2,108 dead and on the Confederate’s side, 10,318 suffered, leaving 1,546 dead. Never in American history did such a huge number of men die in battle, so it has since been deemed as America’s bloodiest one-day battle.

Photographer Alexander Gardner came to Antietam two days after the battle and took photos of the tragedy. He displayed his photos in a New York gallery exhibition titled, “The Dead of Antietam,” and it had a powerful effect on many.

These photos have been around for over 150 years now and serve as a strong reminder of American history and the roots of its birthing pains.

Warning: The photos within the slideshow are graphic and show real Civil War battlefield casualties.

Photos: National Park Service