NILES - The bloodiest single-day battle in American history, which took place 150 years ago this week, was showcased Saturday in Niles.
The Battle of Antietam commemoration was held at the McKinley Memorial Library and sponsored by the local Civil War 150 Committee.
Hugh Mullen, a committee member who was among those donning outfits from the era, said two historic events from the Civil War were being showcased, the Battle of Antietam and President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
The Battle of Antietam was fought Sept. 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Md., and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign. It was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. By the end of the day, 23,000 were dead.
''We are not only commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam but also the issuing by President Abraham Lincoln emancipating all the slaves on Sept. 22, 1862, which would change the course of the war and eliminate slavery,'' he said.
On Sept. 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by Jan. 1, 1863.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
Joseph Bier, 13, and Noah Allen, 13, both of Niles, look over Civil War items displayed Saturday at the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles. The program was part of the Civil War 150 Committee’s Battle of Antietam commemoration.
The proclamation immediately freed 50,000 slaves, with nearly all the rest freed as Union armies advanced.
Tables were set up showcasing the flags of both the United and Confederate States of America, uniforms, weapons, photos, lists of soldiers in battle, and other items used by the battling soldiers.
Re-enactors dressed at Lincoln, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and activist Clara Barton provided first-person portrayals. Lincoln spoke about the Emancipation Proclamation, and Cortland resident John Caparanis spoke about Gen. Jacob Cox and his role in the war along with Sgt. William McKinley.
Brian Brennan from the Youngstown State University Medical Museum discussed the role of medical teams and ambulance service.
Wendell Lauth, a local historian and committee member who presented a slide show on the Battle of Antietam, said no other battle in such as short time in American history claimed so many lives and had so many wounded.
"It was the bloodiest day in U.S. history,'' Lauth said.
He said other Civil War battles, such as Shiloh, which lasted four days, and Gettysburg, which lasted three days, also had a high number of casualties and injuries.
Joseph Bier, 13, of Niles, was among the many who walked around the displays.
''I wanted to learn more about the Civil War and what happened in this battle,'' he said.
Noah Allen, 13, of Niles, said the displays and speakers added to what he has learned in social studies classes.