Ezra A. Carman, edited and annotated by Thomas G. Clemens
Savas Beatie, 2012, 670pp., $37.50
Image courtesy of amazon.com
The classic off The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 has long been considered a classic in military literature but something which has been missing in the document is annotations. Upon reading primary sources, there are some questionable things which have been written in these accounts, but with a good annotation, the errors are corrected and sources properly. Thomas G. Clemens has provided these annotations and are an excellent way to re-read this classic.
Ezra Ayres Carman was born in Oak Tree, New Jersey and attended the Western Military Academy in Kentucky. During the Civil War, he fought with New Jersey units and faced some of the fiercest fighting throughout the war including the Battle of Antietam. After the war, he was appointed to the Antietam National Cemetery Board of Trustees and the Battlefield Board. Thomas G. Clemens has spent years studying the Maryland Campaign and gained his doctorate at George Mason University. He has written a myriad of magazine articles and has appeared in documentaries along with being a licensed tour guide at Antietam National Battlefield. Also, he is an instructor at Hagerstown Community College and also founded the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.
Much of volume one deals with the Battle of South Mountain and the process of reaching the battlefield of Antietam. Without volume one, volume two does not make much sense but both works stand as classics. In order to appreciate the full context of Carman’s work, both volumes need to be read and with Clemens’ annotations aid the work in the best way possible. Thomas G. Clemens has performed a labor of love and his notes on the Battle of Antietam are quite extensive. Throughout the text, there are quite a few good historic maps and the text is also fueled with many good photographs of the field. The Battle of Antietam is one of the most terrifying experiences from the Civil War and is considered the bloodiest day in American history. In all of the works on the battle, there are few which do not mention the work done by Ezra Carmen and since he was present at the battle, the primary source can be seen as more accurate than others. Without the words of Clemens, there could be some confusion on the part of the reader not quite familiar with the battlefield of Antietam or the rest of the Maryland Campaign.
The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Volume II: Antietam, stands on its own as a great work of Civil War literature, but is more appreciated with both volumes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Maryland Campaign or is just interested in the Battle of Antietam. This in depth work by a Civil War veteran brings the horror of the battlefield to the reader and the annotations of Clemens bring academia to the work. These two volumes will be hailed as the greatest edition of Carman’s work and a great addition to the annals of Civil War history.