Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862

Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862

Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862

Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862

Synopsis

Complementing Confederate Tide Rising, Taken at the Flood is a detailed account of the Maryland military campaign itself. This volume focuses on military policy and strategy and the circumstances under which the two commanders, Lee and McClellan, labored. Joseph Harsh advocates rethinking the Maryland campaign and promotes the argument that Antietam was one of the most interesting, critical, and potentially enlightening episodes in U.S. history.

Excerpt

This is a book I probably could not escape writing. Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, and graduated from North Hagerstown High School, I grew up thirteen miles from Antietam battlefield. From an early age the Civil War mesmerized me, and at least from the second grade on I frequently roamed the rolling fields around Sharpsburg listening for echoes of the great event that had once made the ground tremble there. I remember that my eighth-grade math teacher, Elmer Poffenberger, a direct descendent of Joseph Poffenberger and heir to the farm behind the North Woods, took me into the barn where Fighting Joe Hooker had slept on the night before the First Corps launched the sunrise attack that opened the battle. I also recall that I went with John Eavey, my high school friend and biology lab partner, to visit his grandparents in Sharpsburg at their prewar ancestral home. We drank from a spring in the backyard that had quenched the thirst of Confederate soldiers.

One winter I spent every Sunday afternoon copying down onto index cards the information from the cast iron plaques that line Antietam's avenues. My Uncle Bunt Long accompanied me on most of these trips, and behind Bloody Lane, near the spot where the marker said that Gen. George B. Anderson had been mortally wounded, he found a blunted and brown-stained bullet, which he was sure was the one that had "done in" the general.

As a high school junior, I volunteered (with others) to put together an hour-long lesson on the Maryland campaign that was telecast to all of the eleventh-grade U. S. history classes in Washington County. Mercifully, little is remembered of the finished product, except that we kept a running count of the stupid mistakes committed by George McClellan, and in so doing quite filled a large poster. the summer before going off to college, I frequently went to Sharpsburg with my friend Jim Murfin . . .

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