[Epub] ❦ Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam ➜ Stephen W. Sears – Dailytradenews.co.uk

Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam pdf Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, ebook Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, epub Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, doc Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, e-pub Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam 16a6d58538c Combining Brilliant Military Analysis With Rich Narrative History, Landscape Turned Red Is The Definitive Work On The Battle Of AntietamThe Civil War Battle Waged On September At Antietam Creek, Maryland, Was One Of The Bloodiest In The Nation S History On This Single Day, The War Claimed Nearly , Casualties Here Renowned Historian Stephen Sears Draws On A Remarkable Cache Of Diaries, Dispatches, And Letters To Recreate The Vivid Drama Of Antietam As Experienced Not Only By Its Leaders But Also By Its Soldiers, Both Union And Confederate, To Produce What The New York Times Book Review Has Called The Best Account Of The Battle Of Antietam

10 thoughts on “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam

  1. says:

    The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were so sudden, shocking, and horrible that they defied the imagination Words were insufficient to describe the events, and many survivors said of the experience, simply, that it was like a movie To grasp the magnitude of the death and destruction of that day, many attempted to place it within a historical context The search for a historical parallel, a day of equivalent violence, led to another lethal September, this one occurring in 1862 The battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, depending on whether you prefer manmade to geographical landmarks still stands as the deadliest single day in American history, a history rife with deadly days On September 17, 1862, near a small Maryland town, 3,654 Americans Union and Confederate died, and 22,717 were wounded Stephen Sears tells the story of this great civil bloodletting in Landscape Turned Red the title comes from a literary private of the 9th New York, who was reminded of Goethe s description of a battle in the Napoleonic wars, when the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red In 1862, after taking command of the Confederate army following Joe Johnson s wounding , Robert E Lee won two great victories, first knocking George McClellan off the Peninsula aborting McClellan s advance on Richmond , and then thrashing the hapless John Pope at Second Bull Run leading Pope to banishment in Minnesota, and the Sioux Uprising Like a guy who s just won the lottery, and doesn t know what to do with all the money, Lee cast about for his next move Ultimately, instead of opening a night club, he decided to take the offensive and bring the war to the North as Sears points out, this was a break with Confederate strategy, as the South was busily portraying itself as innocent victims of Northern aggression Lee s decision was taken for a number of reasons By moving north, he could relieve pressure on the Virginia frontier, goad the Army of the Potomac onto a battlefield of his choosing, and hopefully demonstrate to the fence sitting nations of Europe that the Confederacy was a viable nation, deserving of formal recognition Convinced of McClellan s timidity and perhaps starting to convince himself of his own infallibility , Lee undertook the risky and militarily unorthodox move of splitting his inferior forces in the face of a superior enemy With his divided army, Lee planned to capture Harper s Ferry, re link his army, and destroy McClellan s army, possibly somewhere in Pennsylvania It is impossible to know how this strategy would have worked in practice While Lee counted on McClellan s cautiousness in splitting his forces, he seems to ignore the fact that McClellan would have been unlikely to give Lee battle on ground of Lee s choosing We can only speculate as to how things might have gone, since McClellan soon received one of the great gifts of the Civil War a copy of Lee s Order 191, which described in detail the division and disposition of Lee s army The orders were found wrapped around three cigars by a corporal of the 27th Indiana Sears gives the fullest possible explanation for the loss of the orders in an appendix The orders made their way to McClellan, who suddenly held in his hands the blueprint to destroying Lee in detail, one small army group at a time McClellan knew this, and boasted to a colleague that if he could not whip Bobby Lee he would be willing to go home Despite this optimism, McClellan acted entirely in character With a slowness that must have had Abe Lincoln stitching McClellan voodoo dolls and jabbing them in the ass with hatpins, McClellan put the Army of the Potomac in motion After fights at Turner s Gap and Crampton s Gap, both pyrrhic Union victories, Lee and around 28,000 of his men arrayed themselves along Antietam Creek, outside Sharpsburg, Maryland McClellan s army, with overwhelming numerical superiority, drew up to fight them And then waited And waited And waited, for a full day, with McClellan deluded by the belief that Lee had 100,000 men waiting for him across that narrow strip of water In the meantime, the fragmented portions of Lee s army was rushing to join him Finally, McClellan launched his attacks, which were uncoordinated and piecemeal One Union commander complained that McClellan sent his men into battle in driblets McClellan s failure to concentrate his forces or to attack both flanks at once allowed Lee to shift men along his interior lines, preventing the Union from flanking his army The battle ended in stalemate The next day, McClellan refused to press his advantage his army stayed in camp as Lee slipped back into Virginia This is the second Civil War battle study I ve read by Stephen Sears, the other being his 600 page tome on Gettysburg The two books, and the two battles, share many similarities Historically speaking, both Antietam and Gettysburg were fought at small, heretofore unknown crossroad towns both were precipitated by Lee s army taking the offensive and both ended with the battlefield in Union hands and the Confederate army fleeing unmolested Literarily speaking, Sears devotes a lot of time in each book to explaining the tactics and troop movements leading up to the final clash of arms In both books he does an admirable job interweaving intimate, firsthand accounts of the fighting with clearly written descriptions of battlefield maneuvers and critical, dispassionate judgments on the choices made by the leadership on both sides.In Landscape Turned Red, though, Sears delivers an overall livelier narrative than in Gettysburg He does not aspire to be Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton, but his style is engaging and, at times, evocative Before the armies came, Sharpsburg was a quiet place, an entirely ordinary little rural community where the roads came together In September 1862 it was just a year short of being a century old, having been founded a dozen years before the Revolution and named in honor of Maryland colonial governor Horatio Sharpe Its main street was called Main Street, and there was the usual proportion of churches and taverns and stores, with the 1,300 residents living in unprepossessing frame houses scattered along side streets and lanes Some of them worked on the nearby Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or at the ironworks a few miles away at the mouth of Antietam Cree, but mostly they made their living as shopkeepers and blacksmiths and gristmill hands serving the farming trade A good many of the local farmers were of sturdy German stock, with names like Rohrbach and Mumma and Otto and Poffenberger, and they had made the land bloom In neatly fenced fields the corn stood tall, the orchards were heavy with fruit, and the haylofts in the big barns were full Life in Sharpsburg might have continued on its pleasant, uneventful way, unremarked by history like a thousand other little towns dotting the American landscape, except for that suddenly all important fact that it was the place where the roads came together Antietam is a difficult battle to describe than Gettysburg At Gettysburg, the troops were spread about on a wide front, angling for well defined geographic points The geography defined the strategy, and in that sense, all the maneuvering takes on logical sense it s always hard for a layperson, such as myself, to look at ground as a soldier looks at ground For instance, it is relatively easy to follow the route of Pickett s charge the Confederates go one way for awhile, and then they turn around and go the other way, with a bit speed This is not the case at Antietam Here, much of the battle took place in small, deadly spaces, with various bodies of troops charging, colliding, retreating, and then charging again, all on the same patch of earth At the Cornfield, for instance it s odd how a deadly battle can give immortality to something as benign as a farmer s square of corn , so many different troops engaged each other at so many different times that any attempt to plot the movements on a map turns out looking like a child scribbling on a placemat at an International House of Pancakes The maps that are included are helpful, and quite detailed, and even go so far as to tell you what crop was planted in each field Despite the confused unfolding of the battle, caused mainly by McClellan s distant, hands off approach to generalship, Sears doesn t let you get lost or rather, you won t be lost for very long He helps the reader maintain his bearings by keeping the various generals internal logic at the fore It s one thing to say that the objective of Company A is this hill or that forest it s another thing to explain to the reader why that hill or forest is important the dangers presented in the approach and the functional difficulties presented in trying to move large bodies of men from one spot to another while remaining in formation The one thing I missed in Landscape Turned Red, which was present in Gettysburg, is the focus on the human factors involved in each of the decisions made during the battle Don t get me wrong This element is certainly present However, it tends to recede a bit into the background, especially when it comes to the Confederate viewpoint Lee and his lieutenants Longstreet, Jackson, Hill nearly disappear for long stretches of this book This is in sharp contrast to Sears s handling of Gettysburg, where he alternates viewpoints throughout I realize this might be partly due to the fact that Lee didn t have as much to do at Antietam as at other battles, since he didn t have enough men to move onto the offensive In Sears s telling, the outcome of Antietam was less the result of Lee s generalship, and the fault of the Army of the Potomac s commanders, specifically McClellan Even some of the Union commanders could have used a bit analyzing For instance, there is the enigma of the beautifully whiskered Ambrose Burnside, a portly, genial man, who well understood his own glaring limitations Burnside was a favorite of his contemporaries, had a penchant for great personal courage, and yet tended to fall into deep, childish sulks when he didn t get his way At Petersburg, for example, he spearheaded the ingenious plan to tunnel beneath the Confederate works and blow a hole in their trenches He then chose and specially trained a black division to lead the assault When Meade and Grant balked at sending blacks in first, Burnside s psyche collapsed, and he chose the black division s replacement by having three division commanders draw lots The winning commander was a drunk, and the ensuing Battle of the Crater a bloody, wasted opportunity At Antietam, Burnside was chafing under a personal slight from McClellan Meanwhile, coincidentally or not, Burnside s attack on Lee s right flank over the bridge that would later bear his name was very slow in developing I would have like Sears to have spent a bit time probing the recesses of Burnside s mind on that day however, to be fair to Sears, he does include a discussion of Burnside s actions in an appendix.The man at the center of Landscape Turned Red, the general who receives all the attention usually allotted to Robert E Lee, is General George Brinton McClellan, the Young Napoleon, the commander of the Army of the Potomac Sears is something of a McClellan expert who has written a biography of the man, as well as editing a collection of his letters McClellan has come down to us through history as a master planner, organizer, and inspirer The only thing he lacked, the thing that kept him from greatness, was guts In a way, he is something of a sympathetic character He was too young, too inexperienced for the position in which he was placed He built up his great Army of the Republic, came to love his men, and when the time came to risk their lives, he flinched Unfortunately, his virtues as a human are vices for a general, and his risk averseness and notions of limited war ultimately extended the duration of the Civil War and cost far for men than saved by his caution Of course, whatever sympathy you might gain for McClellan are lost the instant he refers to Lincoln as a Gorilla For whatever reason, possibly as a psychological shield to cover his own insecurities, McClellan exhibited various mental health symptoms, including narcissism, grandiosity, and paranoia In his own world, he could never do wrong You might think that Sears, by dint of writing McClellan s biography, would go soft on McClellan Moreover, in his other books, Sears has critically reevaluated and rehabilitated at least partially the reputations of General Joe Hooker who proved to be a fine corps commander at Antietam, until felled by a wound and General George Meade, the victor at Gettysburg Here, however, Sears declines the opportunity to polish McClellan s reputation Now, I have been led to believe there is a certain faction of revisionist historians who believe that McClellan has been posthumously shafted They point to his organization skills, as well as the fact that tactically speaking, he won battles than he lost despite getting kicked off the Peninsula, McClellan won most of the Seven Days Battle.Sears does not agree with this line of thinking He recites all the obvious problems with McClellan s leadership the grossly inflated estimates of his enemy his oft infuriating caution his well remarked upon slowness and his inability to take advantage of any opportunity, even when it s hand delivered along with three cigars Sears goes well beyond that, however, and is extremely critical of McClellan s battlefield handling of the Army of the Potomac Unlike Meade at Gettysburg, who was everywhere on the line, constantly shifting troop dispositions, McClellan spent most of Antietam sitting in a camp chair smoking a cigar, with all the apparent interest of a father looking at his kids watercolor painting while simultaneously trying to watch a football game As if that s not enough, Sears is less than awed by McClellan s job as an organizer indeed, he describes an Army of the Potomac that resembles a sluggish beast moving with all the speed and grace of a three legged 20 year old cat that has just polished off a saucer of milk The Army of the Potomac was never a fighting machine it was a huge, inefficient organism that hemorrhaged supplies, stragglers, and money In other words, it was the military equivalent of our current healthcare system Antietam is an interesting battle Its place in the historical firmament is written in the blood that was shed Tactically speaking, it was a draw McClellan won the field, but that was not his objective Lee had to retreat, but his army remained intact Strategically, unlike at Gettysburg, Antietam did not mark an overall military turning point In fact, Lee s greatest victories were still ahead Rather, Antietam marked a moral turning point Shortly afterwards, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation However limited the reach of the Proclamation Lincoln, the lawyer, tried to root it in his Constitutionally granted War Powers , it explicitly stated what had always been true about the Civil War that it was caused by slavery and that it must end with slavery s destruction Accordingly, one should not look at Antietam as a bloody draw a wasted opportunity for the Union and what might have happened had McClellan, the anti abolitionist Democrat won the Civil War at Antietam Instead, it should be seen as the moment when the Civil War lost its opaqueness and became a crusade No longer was the War clouded with ambiguous soundbites like States rights or restoring the Union From Antietam on, the war was about freedom those who were for it, and those who were against it It was a war, as Lincoln famously noted, that would last until every drop of blood drawn with the lash would be repaid by another drawn with the sword The Battle of Antietam, followed by the Emancipation Proclamation gave righteousness to the Union cause it made European intervention virtually impossible and it consigned the South to make its bitter fight alone.

  2. says:

    Excels in every way equal to the best of Bruce Catton This is the definitive story of the Battle of Antietam

  3. says:

    An excellent and readable history of the Antietam campaign Lee s motives in the campaign have been open to debate while some historians argue that Lee wanted to pillage supplies and take Union pressure off Virginia, Sears argues that Lee wanted to force the Union into an all out fight While Antietam is sometimes seen as a success for McClellan, Sears is critical of the general s sluggishness and, of course, McClellan s belief in the rebels numerical superiority was constant throughout the campaign.Sears draws heavily on primary sources and really fleshes out the fighting conditions of the war, and how traumatizing the defensive firepower of the Union was to the Confederates at Antietam While the writing can get a little dry at times, Sears insight into the various players is shrewd, and his rendition of the fighting is clear, and effective, with a judicious use of eyewitness recollections and a number of helpful maps A graphic, compelling, and thorough history of the campaign.

  4. says:

    The best account of Antietam I have ever read and probably the best book about any Civil war battle I have ever read I really appreciated Sear s sarcasm about the slowness of McClellan and his need to micromanage all the logistical details such as setting up camp the night prior to his offensive Great read

  5. says:

    How familiar are you with the American Civil War Can you tell McClernand from McClellan from McPherson Did you know there was a General Ewell of importance for both the Union and Confederacy One miniquiz question in what states would one find Shiloh, Corinth, and Fredericksburg What I am trying to say is that this tome, which is either the definitive work on the battle at Antietam or a strong contender, is written for those of us who are pretty well versed in the basics It won t explain the essentials as it moves along there is an assumption inherent in about 400 pages regarding the approach to this battle about the first 100 pp , the battle itself, and the consequences regarding same Sears writes with precision and authority, but he does not write for beginners.As you can see from the rating, I loved it.Sears isn t on a mission to merely recount, blow by blow, what happened when If he were set on hundreds of pages of injury and carnage, I don t know that anyone but a masochist would care for that many pages of horrifying detail Instead, he sets out to prove that General McClellan, who essentially held the Union Army hostage for the duration of his tenure as commanding general, systematically and deliberately prevented the Army of the Potomac from crushing the Confederate forces He proves the point Beyond any question, McClellan chose not to send his soldiers to fight because he was sympathetic toward the slaveocracy and wanted the Confederacy to achieve its goal He contemplated participating in a coup d etat,unseating Lincoln and tossing out the Constitution, but the vast groundswell of demand for such a thing,which he believed existed and might carry him to power, never unfolded Though he had carved out a base of support for himself and his views within the Army of the Potomac sufficient to cripple its use for the duration of the war, there were also soldiers in this army who were sick of not fighting for their country, and who were pleased to see him leave.I have read other histories of the Battle of Antietam, and they served the purpose of explaining who fought where, and how much blood was shed What no one else has done is to lay the blame where it rightfully belongs This battle should have been an open and shut deal, and the Confederate forces should have been disabled and the war brought close to a conclusion Instead, through his reluctance to fight at all and then only because it was clear that to do otherwise would cost him his job, McClellan managed to make the whole thing a bloodbath that was almost a stalemate.Technically, it was a Union victory, and that was what Lincoln had to have to declare Emancipation and prevent Europe from recognizing the Confederacy McClellan opposed of course the Emancipation, but he was already about to be fired The question was a political one no one wanted him to leave before the elections, lest he make a mess of them Once Congress was once filled with majority Republican forces on both sides, it was safe to cut the connection and send him packing.The manner in which he was fired was done with careful attention to military procedure so that he could not contest it without clearly committing a crime.I had long felt that too much was going unsaid about General McClellan, but I couldn t tell what it was I had a hunch it would not do him credit It was a little bit like childhood, when the grown ups around you use coded phrases designed to protect you from the terrible truth, and the longer you are aware that you can t be told something, the worse that something appears to be And so it was with McClellan I don t know whether he has a bunch of really proud ancestors that other writers feared to offend or why he hasn t been held suitably accountable before this Perhaps the evidence was buried too deep.One thing is certain Sears has built his case as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar Once the book is done, there can be no doubt whatsoever For the serious American Civil War scholar, this outstanding volume provides information that is generally not in circulation, and that is key to understanding Antietam, as well as much of what took place before it.

  6. says:

    Landscape Turned Red Battle of Antietam is without a doubt the best single volume history of the battle of Antietam Sears is a good writer and historian, and he brings the battle to life with emotion and close attention to detail The book tells the story of a lost opportunity An intelligence coup gave General George McClellan the opportunity to use the superb tool he had created, The Army of the Potomac, to destroy Robert E Lee s Army of Northern Virginia and quite possibly bring the war to an early end However, he dithered and gave Lee time to put his army in a strong defensive position behind Antietam creek This pretty much guaranteed a very bloody day for all concerned McClellan still could have decisively defeated the Confederate forces, albeit at a greater cost than if he had acted quickly, if he had been willing to commit his army to a general attack He had a 2 to 1 advantage in numbers and his army was better equipped and in better condition Instead he committed his forces piecemeal, permitting the defenders to hold them off and make their escape bloodied but unbroken the next day The war continued for another three years Opportunity lost.I would say this book is a must read for students of American history, and if one wants to write a story that includes that bloody day, this book should be constantly at hand.

  7. says:

    Sears book is probably the best single volume work on the Battle of Antietam written to date He covers the necessary details of the battle without losing the thread of narrative He has also written outstanding books on George B McClellan and Abraham Lincoln, providing even authority to his knowledge of major participants in the Maryland campaign For all intents and purposes, the American Civil War should have ended in September 1862 with the destruction of Lee s army by the Army of the Potomac, smashing it into the river opposite Shepherdstown, VA McClellan outnumbered Lee by than 3 1, and was even given the miracle of Lee s Lost Orders exposing the entire disposition and plans of the Army of Northern Virginia McClellan did not use any of the advantages available to him, and allowed R.E Lee to fight the Union Army to a tactical stalemate at the battle This book is one of the first to raise the question as to the qualifications of George B McClellan for battlefield command He was very good at organizing and training the Army of the Potomac, but he was not particularly adept at using it as a tool on the field of combat Lincoln would finally fire relieve McClellan from command in November of 1862but the damage had been done The war in the east would drag on for another two and a half years The great opportunity for ending the war earlier was lost.

  8. says:

    I read this book years ago, right after it was first published and enjoyed it immensely Also, I have a direct ancestor who was a young Lieutenant in the 21st Massachusetts with Burnside s Ninth Corps, and was badly injured at Burnside s Bridge during the Battle of Antietam I visited the battlefield in the fall of 1996 and literally had the entire battlefield to myself It was an almost spiritual experience wandering over the landscape and remembering the horrors that Sears described in Landscape Turned Red The Battle of Antietam I am looking forward to rereading the book sometime this year, as well as visiting the battlefield again in spring summer 2013.

  9. says:

    This is a book that I read a little over a decade ago when I was still in my early 20 s, and really taking the study of military history quite seriously It still stands as one of my favorite books not just on a campaign battle of the War Between the States, but of military history in general.The book is written lovingly, the narrative told with the grace and respect of someone deeply in love with the subject matter The meat of the book, the Battle of Antietam itself, which runs a little over a third of the main narrative, is superb Written in a fashion that not only clearly conveys what happened, and when, and by whom, but with just enough of a dramatic flair to make a layman fall in love with the subject, and an academic grind their teeth in envious frustration All of that said, to be perfectly clear and honest, where this book falls somewhat flat, and why it is a 4 and not a 5 star review despite being a long time favorite of mine, is that military history is at it s heart an analytical science In no other aspect of the profession of history is there need for dissecting why an event happened as it did, and extrapolating the immediate and carry on effects of said event as in the study of warfare Like in the waging of warfare itself, it is both an art and a science And Sears book, while narratively gorgeous, is far too subsumed by biases and subsequent analytical flaws to be truly useful as anything than an introduction to the 1862 Maryland Campaign Putting it bluntly, Sears despises General George B McClellan Throughout the course of the book, Sears takes every opportunity to snipe at, jab, and prod the Federal commander Every success McClellan had in the Campaign, and there were than the Lost Order episode, is chalked down to a happy accident Every failure, of which there were many of those as well, as there always is, are occasions for Sears to showcase the cowardice, and near treasonous character of McClellan This view of McClellan held by Sears went on to influence other Antietam scholars and writers including the author of the relatively recent Long Road to Antietam, who all but repeats, with a touch of hyperbole, Sears analysis of McClellan as a threat to the Lincoln Administration It is this, in my mind, unbalanced, and rather unprofessional personal grudge against McClellan that stains the reputation of an otherwise fine work of history Everywhere else, Sears has written a masterpiece His conclusion that the campaign itself was a strategic victory for the North, is balanced by pointing out that the Confederates inflicted, overall, twice as many losses during the campaign, and that the 12 hour bloodbath of Antietam was a tactical Rebel defensive triumph Sears rightly points out that Lee himself viewed Antietam as his greatest battlefield achievement of the war And in his analysis of the Emancipation Proclamation, Sears points out what many historians still seem to overlook it was a tremendously effective piece of Realpolitik The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was an ideological shot across the bow of the European Great Powers, most of whom were eying the American war with keen interest and a lust for reestablishing European domination over North America By framing the conflict in an ideological stance that it did not possess at the beginning, and that most on both sides in the ranks would disagree with anyway, Lincoln ensured that European intervention on behalf of the Confederacy would be seen as a defacto defense of Southern slavery And even if the Emancipation Proclamation itself freed not a single slave only freeing the slaves in Rebel territory, while purposefully ignoring slaves held in loyal areas or those areas conquered with loyal slave owners , it shattered any hope the South had of Great Power intervention From here on out, Lincoln had ensured that the War would remain strictly an American one The book covers the story both from the perspective of Generals McClellan and Robert E Lee and their respective Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia While far time politically is spent in Washington than in Richmond, this is due to the smoothness of the relations between the Confederate government and it s chief armies than that of Washington and theirs The summer of 1862 saw the South go on the strategic offensive in all the theaters of the vast, continental wide conflict, the only time they would do so This reversal of Union fortunes practically everywhere, was the most dramatic in the East Here the Army of the Potomac under McClellan had come within an ace of besieging the Rebel capital of Richmond and ending the Rebellion, until Lee took command of the ANV following Joe Johnston s wounding at the Battle of Srven Pines Lee then reorganized the ANV, and went rapidly onto the defensive, throwing Little Mac back in a series of bloody, yet strategically successful offensives away from the environs of Richmond and rescuing the seemingly doomed CSA The Lincoln Administration organized a new army in northern Virginia, the Army of Virginia, under John Pope, in the hopes of squeezing Lee between two fires However, McClellan s Army was in a bind on the Peninsula, and while Sears analyzes it incorrectly, McClellan s Army was ravaged by malaria and other weather and geographical related illnesses including the decimation of the horses of the Army, which nearly wrecked it s logistics , making rapid movement in support of Pope genuinely difficult Lee and the ANV took advantage of McClellan s predicament, especially after it became obvious that Lincoln ordered him back north of the Rappahannock to support Pope in northern Virginia, to focus on Pope s Army The ensuing campaign of Second Manassas saw Lee and the ANV win a dramatic, and decisive triumph against the AoV and large elements of the AoP, and shove them entirely out of Virginia Judging the strategic situation as crucial, and refusing the relinquish the initiative, Lee invaded Maryland, hoping to win another decisive victory, and secure Southern independence Alas, it was not to be And while Sears is loath to admit it, McClellan deserves at least some of the credit for that outcome Taking command of the now combined armies, McClellan took a soundly thrashed force, hastily restructured it, reequipped it, and sent it into Maryland to monitor Lee s movements There the famous Lost Order episode allowed McClellan to act with a celerity that he normally didn t show He caught Lee with his veritable pants down around his ankles Lee s Army was divided into numerous detachments, seeking far too many, simultaneous, strategic rewards The thin screen of Rebel infantry and cavalry, despite a hard fight, was soundly whipped in the Battle of South Mountain on 14 September, and Lee was forced to hastily concentrate his Army at Sharpsburg, a position that was far from ideal as the ANV had at it s back the Potomac River Although Stonewall Jackson successfully seized Harpers Ferry after a brief siege and 11,000 Yankee prisoners and a treasure trove of war supplies , and raced towards the concentration point at Sharpsburg, McClellan still had a distinct numerical advantage over Lee, somewhat better than two to one with Lee having barely 40,000 men while the Federals could bring to bear roughly 85,000 men While Sears is correct in pointing out that McClellan s decision to bring battle on the 17th, rather than the 15th or 16th, allowed the ANV minus AP Hill s Division to muster along the banks of the Antietam across from Sharpsburg, it also rested his own men, and ensured that the entirety of the Rebel Army was before him, where it could be ground down in a deliberate battle of attrition McClellan understood the cultural character of the Federal Army, that it wasn t gifted for fancy maneuvers or snap changes in circumstances It did it s best work in set piece affairs, where they could call the dances tempo, and ensure it stayed at a smooth, deliberate, yet steady, rhythm While Sears is correct in pointing out that the Federal plan fell apart throughout the day, and that the various Federal Corps fought practically isolated engagements from each other, the point is unmistakable that the Federal forces came within an ace of grinding the outnumbered Confederates to a blood soaked powder Even so, the Rebels put up a hell of a fight and, with the last minute arrival of AP Hill s Division, pulled out a tactical victory, although just Despite the tactical success of the Confederate forces, the Army of Northern Virginia was a spent force having lost a quarter of it s force in a single day and nine General officers killed or seriously wounded Although Union losses were somewhat higher, and they too lost nine Generals, they had the resources to absorb such dreadful casualties, and enough unused reserves to ensure a decisive strategic success even if tactically the Confederates had, again, bested them And yet despite my issues with Sears analysis, I cannot unlove this book It is the first book on the 1862 Maryland Campaign I ever read, and it still stands as one of my favorites in my admittedly very large personal collection Few works of military history are as well written as this one, and despite my complaints, I still reccomend this as a good work on the Campaign A very easy four stars.

  10. says:

    I really enjoyed reading Mr Sears book Mr Sears described not only the battles in detail, but the leaders as well specifically looking at McClellan s handling of the Army of the Potomac and his interaction with President Lincoln The book itself covers than just the Battle of Antietam, it includes the entire Maryland Campaign from Lee s crossing of the Potomac and return Great reference material and detailed discussion of both the lost Order 191 and General Burnside s assault on Rohrbach Bridge.

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