Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle

Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle

by John Michael Priest

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Overview

On September 13, 1862, in a field near Frederick, Maryland, four Union soldiers hit the jack-pot. There they found, wrapped carelessly around three cigars, a copy of General Robert E. Lee's most recent orders detailing Southern objectives and letting Union officers know that Lee had split his Army into four vulnerable groups. General George B. McClellan realized his opportunity to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia one piece at a time. "If I cannot whip Bobbie Lee," exulted McClellan, "I will be willing to go home." But the notoriously prudent Union general allowed precious hours to pass, and, by the time he moved, Lee's army had begun to regroup and prepare for battle near Antietam Creek. The ensuing fight would prove to be not only the bloodiest single day of the entire Civil War, but the bloodiest in the history of the U.S. Army.

Countless historians have analyzed Antietam (known as Sharpsburg in the South) and its aftermath, some concluding that McClellan's failure to vanquish Lee constituted a Southern victory, others that the Confederate retreat into Virginia was a strategic win for the North. But in Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle, historian John Michael Priest tells this brutal tale of slaughter from an entirely new point of view: that of the common enlisted man. Concentrating on the days of actual battle--September 16, 17, and 18, 1862--Priest vividly brings to life the fear, the horror, and the profound courage that soldiers displayed, from the first Federal cavalry probe of the Confederate lines to the last skirmish on the streets of Sharpsburg. Antietam is not a book about generals and their grand strategies, but rather concerns men such as the Pennsylvanian corporal who lied to receive the Medal of Honor; the Virginian who lay unattended on the battlefield through most of the second day of fighting, his arm shattered from a Union artillery shell; the Confederate surgeon who wrote to the sweetheart he left behind enemy lines in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that he had seen so much death and suffering that his "head had whitened and my very soul turned to stone."

Besides being a gripping tale charged with the immediacy of firsthand accounts of the fighting, Antietam also dispels many misconceptions long held by historians and Civil War buffs alike. Seventy-two detailed maps--which describe the battle in the hourly and quarter-hourly formats established by the Cope Maps of 1904--together with rarely-seen photographs and his own intimate knowledge of the Antietam terrain, allow Priest to offer a substantially new interpretation of what actually happened.

When the last cannon fell silent and the Antietam Creek no longer ran red with Union and Confederate blood, twice as many Americans had been killed in just one day as lost their lives in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American war combined. This is a book about battle, but more particularly, about the human dimension in battle. It asks "What was it like?" and while the answers to this simple question by turns horrify and fascinate, they more importantly add a whole new dimension to the study of the American Civil War.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781940669519
Publisher: Savas Publishing
Publication date: 05/21/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
File size: 33 MB
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About the Author

A retired high school history teacher, John Michael Priest has been interested in Civil War history since an early age. He is a graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore and Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and has written extensively about the Civil War. His many books include Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle (1989); Before Antietam: The Battle for South Mountain (1992); Nowhere to Run: The Wilderness, May 4th & 5th, 1864 (1995); Victory Without Triumph: The Wilderness, May 6th & 7th, 1864 (1996); and Into the Fight: Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg (1998). Praised by legendary historian Edwin C. Bearss as the "Ernie Pyle" of the Civil War soldier, Priest appeared on the Discovery Channel's Unsolved History: Pickett's Charge (2002), and is one of the historical consultants for the forthcoming miniseries To Appomattox. His newest work, Stand to It and Give Them Hell! chronicles the fighting on July 2, 1863 from Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top from the perspectives of the soldiers who fought the battle.

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Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
JustMe869 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Descriptions of the Battle of Antietam from the soldiers who fought it.