Md. Campaign is subject of author's book

September 18, 2011|By DAVE MCMILLION |
  • Thomas G. Clemens, a professor of history at Hagerstown Community College, hands back a copy of his book, "The Maryland Campaign of Sept. 1862," after signing it Sunday at the visitors center at Antietam National Battlefield.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — When historians recount parts of the Maryland Campaign of the Civil War, they often rely on accounts from Ezra A. Carman, who led the 13th New Jersey infantry during the campaign, according to Thomas G. Clemens, a history professor at Hagerstown Community College.

But Clemens had a burning question.

“How does Carman know what he’s talking about?” asked Clemens, who has closely studied the Maryland Campaign.

After the war, Carman was commissioned by the federal government to give a report on the war. But Carman’s 1,800-word manuscript had few footnotes, so it was hard to determine where Carman’s information came from, Clemens said Sunday at Antietam National Battlefield, where he was signing copies of a book he wrote about Carman’s manuscript.

Clemens decided to find out how Carman came up with his accounts, which largely came from letters from other war veterans.

Many of those letters are on file in institutions like the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library, and Clemens decided to research the letters to see if their details matched Carman’s accounts.

For 11 years, Clemens worked on and off searching for the letters and examining them.

“You got to really dig for them,” Clemens said.

It turned out that Carman was very accurate in his accounts of the Maryland Campaign, which included the Battle of Antietam, Clemens said.

In his book, “The Maryland Campaign of Sept. 1862,” Clemens presents Carman’s manuscript again with footnotes and firsthand accounts from veterans, among other new information.

Clemens’ book is Volume 1, which includes the account of the Maryland Campaign up to and including the Battle of South Mountain, which occurred just before the Battle of Antietam.

Next year, Clemens said he hopes to release Volume 2, which will include the Battle of Antietam.

In studying Carman’s account of the Maryland Campaign, Clemens said he has noticed that Carman left many colorful, personal accounts of the war from veterans out of his report. Clemens said many of the veterans’ accounts are interesting and said he would like to include them in a third volume.

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