‘Their Maryland’ Asks What We Get Wrong About the Army of Northern Virginia

“Interpretations of historic occasions evolve over time, pushed by the invention of latest proof and the introduction of recent concepts,” Alexander Rossino opines within the introduction to his deep dive into the Antietam Marketing campaign from the perspective of the Military of Northern Virginia and its commanding common, Robert E. Lee. “Thus, it advantages us from time to time to re-examine topics which may be thought-about settled within the historic literature.”

How a lot profit the reader could derive from Rossino’s meticulously researched evaluation will rely on his means to observe the creator’s minutely detailed investigations. For the novice reader, it poses a problem that’s nicely price accepting. Counting on a wealthy repository of main supply materials, Rossino hopes “my interpretations of those sources enhances our information on some topics, and corrects the document on others.”

Their Maryland: The Military of Northern Virginia From the Potomac Crossing to Sharpsburg in September 1862

By Alexander B. Rossino

Savas Beatie, 2021, $32.95

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Rossino begins by asking what Lee hoped to perform from the Confederacy’s first foray into Maryland, a slave state that didn’t secede. Was it a large meals raid to feed his hungry military? Did Lee consider he may problem the safety of Washington, D.C., or Baltimore? Did he count on {that a} second dramatic victory over a a lot bigger Federal power, onerous on the heels of his overwhelming success at Second Manassas, would impress overseas governments sufficient to acknowledge and assist the Confederacy?

Rossino argues, convincingly, that Sept. 6 was a pivotal date within the evolution of Lee’s considering. Whereas initially believing that the mere presence of his military would foment an rebellion from hundreds of sympathetic Marylanders, on that date Lee grew to become satisfied that solely a battlefield victory on Northern soil may arouse the overwhelmingly apathetic citizenry his military encountered.


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Rossino goes on to debate numerous expectations voiced by troopers within the ranks as they arrived in Maryland and their subsequent interactions with the locals. He then proceeds to find the encampments of the Insurgent military, noting that they have been extra extensively located than concentrated across the Finest Farm south of Frederick, as most historians doc. Figuring out particular items and the place they camped is vital when in search of to reply the various questions surrounding Particular Orders No. 191 — one of the crucial tantalizing mysteries of the complete battle. One other chapter is dedicated to figuring out the timing of a uncommon {photograph} displaying Insurgent troopers within the streets of Frederick. The ultimate two chapters assess Lee’s technique through the Battle of Antietam and his private conduct through the preventing.

Rossino’s appendices are an integral a part of the narrative. One in every of them discusses the creator’s investigation into who most likely misplaced Particular Orders No. 191, Lee’s battle plans that discovered their method into the palms of Union commander Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. Rossino additionally supplies an in depth bibliography, and Savas Beatie does students a definite service by placing footnotes on the backside of the web page moderately than on the finish of chapters or, worse but, on the finish of the narrative.

The completely different takes supplied in “Their Maryland” problem many long-accepted paradigms. Readers could not agree with all of Rossino’s conclusions, however inviting new debates into previous subjects could also be a very powerful side of this intriguing assortment of essays.