Civil War Book Review: THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF SEPTEMBER 1862: Volume II, Antietam

by Ezra A. Carman & Thomas G. Clemens

The MarylandCampaign Of September 1862: Volume2,Antietam by Ezra Carman (Ed. by Tom Clemens)Product Details

  • Hardcover: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie (September 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161121114X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611211146


Ezra Carman commanded the 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry at Antietam.  After the war, he worked for the government becoming involved with the National Military Parks.  In a sense, Carman never left Antietam, spending much of his life studying the Maryland Campaign of 1862.  He corresponded with everyone he could find, walking the ground with veterans.  Asking questions, requesting clarifications, matching different memories until a cohesive picture of the battle emerged.  These endless hours made him, the historical expert for the Board created Antietam National Battlefield.  Ezra Carman preserved his research in a 1,800 page handwritten manuscript and series of maps.  While the maps were published in 1904, the manuscript was never published until a few years ago.  The manuscript did not sit alone being ignored.  Historians recognized Carman’s work as the essential source for this campaign.

Thomas Clemens, like Ezra Carman, spent most of his adult life at Antietam.  After studying under Joseph L. Harsh, he lived and taught in the area giving him a “boots on the ground” understanding.  While co-founding the Save His­toric Anti­etam Foun­da­tion, he serves as a licensed Bat­tle­field Guide and a National Park Ser­vice vol­un­teer interpreter.

Together, Carman and Clemens, posses a unique set of skills that might be impossible to duplicate.  Carman participated in the campaign.  His military experience provided insights into the thinking of participates as it deepened his understanding of what they told him.  Clemens’ training, professional experience and observation of the area links him to Carman.  This unique book is the result of their working “together”.

This is the Battle of Antietam starting on the 16th and ending on the 17th.  About 20 pages cover the two days following the battle and 40 pages cover the 16th. Savas Beatie announced third volume covering the end of the campaign.  About 480 pages of text and 80 pages of Appendix are devoted to the battle.

Clemens’ editing cleans up spelling, grammar and makes 19th Century prose readable without losing Carman’s writing.  The result is a very readable in spite of a very detailed battle history.  In a sense, this is two books.  Clemens’ notes are the second book.  He walks us through the manuscript explaining the reasons, sources and problems we encounter.  These are page notes allowing the reader to follow the discussion without flipping hundreds of pages every couple of minutes.

The level of detail is astounding and can only come from the veterans.  The book presents an operational and tactical Antietam.  Yes, this is a large book and very detailed.  However, I did not find it a chore to read.  I never bogged down in the details and always found a map in the right place at the right time.

Those of us who read Civil War history owe Savas Beatie a debt of gratitude for bringing manuscripts that only historians could see to us.


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