SHARPSBURG, Md. (AP) — Federal officials are marking 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.

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

Park service Associate Director Stephanie Toothman says the sacrifices Americans made on Sept. 17, 1862, led directly to 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 but the Confederates retreated to Virginia the next day. McPherson says Lincoln considered it a sign of divine approval for preserving the Union and freeing the slaves.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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