Daniel J. Vermilya
Savas Beatie, 2018, 192 pp., $14.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
The Emerging Civil War Series is one of those collections that continues to show the wonderful scholarship of Civil War academia. It also provides what many consider to be an introductory look at certain conflicts within the war. That Field of Blood, is a new volume within the collection that brings the Battle of Antietam to this wonderful series. Much in the same vein as the other books, not only does this book provide a fine narrative to the battle, but also has some appendices that give other outlooks onto this bloody conflict. Daniel J. Vermilya has done great work to extend this series.
Daniel J. Vermilya is a Civil War historian who has worked at many of the battlefields as a park ranger throughout his career. He served at Antietam National Battlefield, Monocacy National Battlefield, and is currently working as a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park. He has also authored The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and James Garfield and the Civil War: For Ohio and the Union. In 2012, he was awarded the Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholar Award by the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. He is also a licensed battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield.
The Battle of Antietam will always go down in history as the bloodiest day in American History. And while many have brought this battle to life, there was just something about the narrative throughout Vermilya’s work which brought it to life. Not only does he handle the battle well, but some of the more complex aspects of the pre-battle campaign are addressed here as well. One of the more interesting characters throughout this campaign is George McClellan, and I felt as though Vermilya handled his actions quite well. Also, at the end of each chapter, as there has been with other works from this series, there are directions and points of interest of each section throughout the battlefield. Yet while there are many books on the subject, the narrative here just jumped out of the page for me. The book is well put together, sectioning each part of the battlefield off for each chapter. But what is even more interesting if that he details some of the points of the battle in the aftermath of the conflict, mainly in the epilogue. The maps were well drawn out yet again, and the photographs which accompany the book were well received for the ease of the reader.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the Battle of Antietam, especially if you are new to the subject. The thing that I love about this series is that these authors can bring the subject matter to life for someone just getting into the study. Even the suggested reading at the end was excellent, showing some of the fine works on this campaign. Daniel J. Vermilya is a fine author who has done a great service to this series, and I hope to read more of his work in the future. Highly recommended!