Citizens in both the North and South pored over newspapers, anxiously reading casualty lists. In Brooklyn, the poet Walt Whitman anxiously awaited word of his brother George, who had survived unscathed in a New York regiment which attacked the lower bridge. In Irish neighborhoods of New York families began to hear sad news about the fate of many Irish Brigade soldiers who died charging the sunken road. And similar scenes were played out from Maine to Texas.
In the White House, Abraham Lincoln decided that the Union had gained the victory he needed to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.
The Carnage in Western Maryland Resonated in European Capitals
When word of the great battle reached Europe, political leaders in Britain who may have been thinking about offering support to the Confederacy gave up on that idea.
In October 1862, Lincoln traveled from Washington to western Maryland and toured the battlefield. He met with General George McClellan, and was, as usual, troubled by McClellan's attitude. The commanding general seemed to manufacture countless excuses for not crossing the Potomac and battling Lee again. Lincoln had simply lost all confidence in McClellan.
When it was politically convenient, after the Congressional elections in November, Lincoln fired McClellan, and appointed General Ambrose Burnside to replace him as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
Photographs of Antietam Became Iconic
A month after the battle, photographs taken at Antietam by Alexander Gardner, who worked for the photography studio of Matthew Brady, went on display at Brady's gallery in New York City. Gardner's photographs had been taken in the days following the battle, and many of them portrayed soldiers who had perished in the astounding violence of Antietam.
The photos were a sensation, and were written about in the New York Times.
The newspaper said about Brady's display of the photographs of the dead at Antietam: "If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it."