I recently finished reading “The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 1: South Mountain.” This is the first of a two part series edited by Tom Clemens. Clemens is a professor of history at Hagerstown Community College and received a doctorate of arts in history education from George Mason University. An expert historian on the Maryland Campaign, Clemens’ vast knowledge of the campaign is evident in the wonderful footnotes that grace this book.
Colonel Ezra Carman was commissioned as lieutenant colonel in the 7th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry on September 9, 1861. He would be wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. Upon returning to duty, he would be promoted to colonel and would actively recruit the 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. He would lead his regiment during the Maryland Campaign, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Carman would temporarily lead a brigade to extinguish the New York Draft Riots. He would be transferred to the Western Theater, with the XII Corps, and would participate in the Battle of Chattanooga and the Atlanta Campaign. He would receive brevet promotion to brigadier general on March 13, 1865. After the war, Carman would become chief clerk of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and would be a historical expert on the Maryland Campaign. He was the superintendent at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Battlefield. His first love, however, was as a historian. His manuscript on the Maryland Campaign would occupy much of his time after the Civil War. He would use firsthand accounts from commanders and soldiers to write his manuscript in addition to regimental histories and newspaper articles. As Clemens told me, in our interview, the Carman manuscript would be used by other historians to write their narratives on the Maryland Campaign. While the manuscript does contain some biases, it is still the definitive work on the subject.
Clemens did a masterful job of editing Carman’s manuscript. His publisher, Savas Beatie, LLC, worked with him to ensure that the footnoting appears on the same page as Carman’s text. This makes reading the book, and digesting the editor’s footnotes, a much easier experience. I find myself often skipping footnotes, in other books, when I have to go to the end of the chapter or the notes section. In “The Maryland Campaign of September 1862,” I read all of the footnotes in their entirety and it made Carman’s manuscript much more enjoyable to read. I would often find myself chuckling while reading them as Clemens injected sarcasm and humor into his notes. You will inevitably have an appreciation for Carman’s work, and Clemens’ research, when you read the book. These footnotes alone make this book a great value. Clemens also supports his editing of the manuscript with wonderfully unique maps. The maps are in the front of the book and were created by cartographer Gene Thorp. They are easy to understand and support the book well.
“The Maryland Campaign of September 1862” is intelligently organized. The “Forward” was written by Ted Alexander, historian at Antietam National Battlefield. Clemens’ well written “Introduction” is followed by the important section “Note on the Carman Manuscript” which provides detailed information on the manuscript and the challenges it presented Clemens during the editing process. The chapter breakdown follows.
- The Confederate Invasion of Maryland
- The Confederate Army Crosses the Potomac
- General McClellan and the Army of the Potomac
- Advance of the Army of the Potomac from Washington to Frederick and South Mountain
- Harper’s Ferry
- South Mountain (Crampton’s Gap), September 14, 1862
- South Mountain (Fox’s Gap), September 14, 1862
- South Mountain (Turner’s Gap), September 14, 1862
- From South Mountain to Antietam
- McLaws and Franklin in Pleasant Valley
The chapters are followed by an Appendix 1: Organization of the Armies followed by the Bibliography that makes it readily apparent how difficult Clemens editing project was.
I would highly recommend “The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 1: South Mountain” to any serious Civil War student or enthusiast. I’m certain you will find the book extremely interesting and enjoyable to read.
I was able to interview Tom on August 2, 2010. As always, I have broken the 90 minute interview into multiple parts to make it easier to enjoy; you can listen to the parts at your leisure and come back to the next part when your time allows.
Details about “The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 1: South Mountain”
Written by: Colonel Ezra Carman
Edited by: Thomas G. Clemens
Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Savas Beatie, LLC
Date of First Edition: May 19, 2010
Click HERE to order this and other excellent Civil War titles from Savas Beatie, LLC
Tom Clemens Interview – 15 Parts
“The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 1: South Mountain”
Interview Date: August 2, 2010
Total Time: 1 hour 29 minutes 49 seconds
Part 1: Tom Clemens Interview Part 1
Contents: Welcome and introductions | About Tom Clemens | Why use Ezra Carman’s manuscript? | About Carman and his famous manuscript
Part 2: Tom Clemens Interview Part 2
Contents: Maryland during the Secession Crisis | Why did it take so long for Carman’s manuscript to be published in its entirety? | Tom’s research methodology and the difficulties he encountered | The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia pushes for an invasion of Maryland as early as 1861
Part 3: Tom Clemens Interview Part 3
Contents: Why did Jefferson Davis finally approve the invasion of Maryland in September 1862? | Did Lee believe a victory on northern soil would lead to Confederate recognition in Europe? | Why the Confederate authorities believed they could control the Mississippi and receive support from the northwest states
Part 4: Tom Clemens Interview Part 4
Contents: A discussion on Robert E. Lee’s decision to divide his Army of Northern Virginia | Carman’s belief that Harper’s Ferry was lost with the abandonment of Maryland Heights | Did the deliberate movements of US Major General William Franklin’s VI Corps make the surrender of Harper’s Ferry inevitable?
Part 5: Tom Clemens Interview Part 5
Contents: A discussion on Carman’s disdain for Halleck and the eventual capitulation of Harper’s Ferry | The tactical situation in Pleasant Valley and Harper’s Ferry prior to the surrender of Harper’s Ferry | The censure of Dixon Miles and the special commission’s decision with regards to the surrender of Harper’s Ferry
Part 6: Tom Clemens Interview Part 6
Contents: A discussion on Carman’s assertion that Lee could have been beaten piecemeal had Franklin’s VI Corps moved rapidly into Pleasant Valley in conjunction with a rapid movement by McClellan towards Boonsboro | How Frederick affected the movements of the Army of the Potomac
Part 7: Tom Clemens Interview Part 7
Contents: Franklin’s VI Corps attacks Thomas Munford at Crampton’s Gap | Carman’s criticism of CSA Brigadier General Howell Cobb
Part 8: Tom Clemens Interview Part 8
Contents: The fight for Turner’s Gap and Fox’s Gap | Tom’s description of the terrain at South Mountain and how it affected troop deployments and movements | Walking a battlefield is important to understanding the battle
Part 9: Tom Clemens Interview Part 9
Contents: The death of US Major General Jesse Reno and the fight for Fox’s Gap | Carman’s criticism of CSA Brigadier General Roswell Ripley
Part 10: Tom Clemens Interview Part 10
Contents: The fight at Turner’s Gap and the performance of US Brigadier General John Gibbon’s Iron Brigade | The performance of US Major General Ambrose Burnside | The other Iron Brigade from New York
Part 11: Tom Clemens Interview Part 11
Contents: The other Iron Brigades (continued)
Part 12: Tom Clemens Interview Part 12
Contents: Robert E. Lee orders his troops from South Mountain and Harper’s Ferry | A discussion of Carman’s criticism of McClellan’s slow movements from South Mountain
Part 13: Tom Clemens Interview Part 13
Contents: A discussion about McClellan’s lost opportunities of September 15, 1862 | The arrival of the Army of Potomac at Antietam | The tactical situation on September 16 at Antietam | An assessment of McClellan’s actions in the Maryland Campaign | Tom’s opinion on Ezra Carman’s manuscripts and their balance
Part 14: Tom Clemens Interview Part 14
Contents: Further discussion on the Carman manuscripts and the difficulty in researching them | Tom’s extensive database on Carman’s manuscripts
Part 15: Tom Clemens Interview Part 15
Contents: The status of The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. 2: The Battle of Antietam | A discussion on the footnoting of Tom’s book | Wrap up and closing