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Antietam 150th prompts reflection on loss, freedom

Federal officials have marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg with cannon fire, patriotic music and reflection on the bloodiest day of combat on U.S. soil.

Ranking representatives from the Pentagon and the National Park Service joined Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson on Mondat at a commemoration ceremony on the battlefield.

Park service Associate Director Stephanie Toothman said the sacrifices Americans made on Sept. 17, 1862, led directly to then-President Abraham Lincoln issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation five days later.

More than 23,000 men were reported killed, wounded or missing at Antietam. The battle was inconclusive though Confederate forces retreated to Virginia the day after the battle. McPherson said Lincoln considered that a sign of divine approval for preserving the Union and freeing slaves.

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