Viewpoint: Battle of Antietam vs. the ‘Holy War’


For some, Sept. 17 wasn’t the best choice or time to play the biggest rivalry game in the state. Many fans believed it was too early and made the meeting less important because it wasn’t the last game of the season. Apparently those fans aren’t history buffs.

For those of you who love history like I do, Sept. 17 is the date of the Battle of Antietam, which is also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. Antietam was the first major battle to take place on Northern soil during the American Civil War. But the reason this battle stands out in history is because it was the bloodiest single-day battle in our American history, with more than 20,000 casualties.

[media-credit name=”Luke Hansen” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]
BYU wide receiver McKay Jacobson is tackled by Ute defensive backs Keith McGill (1) and Greg Bird (35) on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Although this battle was nearly 150 years ago, it was somewhat brought back to life on Saturday during the BYU football game. Antietam was a first of some sorts and a brutal, bloody battle that lasted only one day, while the BYU vs. Utah football game was the Cougars’ first home game, the first meeting since BYU went independent and was also quite the bloody battle, so to speak, this year.

No matter where this game is played, every year it is always heated for the players and fans. Even the school’s marching musicians got into it this year with a little “battle of the bands,” with each school playing in the stands during the game as well as one after the other during the halftime show.

Both teams came into this game with a 1-1 record and just coming off a loss from the week before. Both wanted to leave this game with a winning record (a win that would also capture 10 points for the Deseret Duel) and bragging rights for the next year. And Utah will have plenty to brag about for the next year and maybe several years after that.

BYU took the field loud and proud and came out hard. Even the defense seemed to be hitting harder than they have during the first two games. DeVonte Christopher, a Utah wide receiver, received two bulldozer-type hits during the game, both causing him to drop the football and one causing his helmet to fly off. There were also a few Utah players who had to be helped off the field because of injuries, one of which was on the sideline on crutches for the rest of the game.

[media-credit name=”Stephanie Rhodes” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Utah invasion! Ute fans run across campus Friday afternoon to warn Cougars of the next day's game.

But even with all of the emotion and hard hits, it was the Utes who ultimately demolished (and embarrassed) the Cougars on their home field in front of a sold-out crowd.

Usually away teams wear their white jerseys, but for some reason, the Utes took the field in all red — the color of blood, funny enough. And after Saturday’s game, it would seem they left the battle covered in BYU’s blood after they destroyed them by 44 points.

So those of you who didn’t agree with having the game this early in the year, it didn’t change anything. It was still an emotionally charged rivalry game and was in my opinion the perfect day to have it — on the anniversary of a horrific, bloody battle where ironically enough the Northern team won (just like the Civil War). You’d think by now we would’ve learned that history tends to repeat itself.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email