Apologies, readers! It’s been a while since my last post – not because I haven’t had anything going on (I have been very busy), but rather because wordpress was down for a time and then I lost my password and couldn’t for the life of me get back on to write an update. I know … I’m a technology idiot, right? Not quite, but that’s my story so I’m sticking to it.
That out of the way, here’s a brief recap of what’s been happening recently. I update on coming events below.
First, an interview I did with the Hagerstown Herald-Mail appeared in the middle of April. I had a chance during it to go into my next book, The Guns of September, which is still slated for publication in September 2019.
Second, I had an opportunity in late April to finally sit down with the Rogue Historian, Keith Harris, and talk about writing, history, Robert E. Lee, and George McClellan. Keith did a wide-ranging interview and although we disagreed (mildly) on certain historical subjects, it was a candid and refreshing discussion that I thoroughly enjoyed. Keith does a great job developing presence online. I highly recommend his website and work.
I’ve a few things coming up. Please drop by if you see me.
Saturday, May 4, 2019 – 4th Annual Great Train Raid event at the Roundhouse in Martinsburg, WV. Commemorating an event that took place during the Civil War, the Train Raid will feature historical speakers, re-enactors, live music, and vendors. I’ll be hosting a table at the event where visitors can chat and buy signed copies of Six Days in September. Hours 10-5 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Gettysburg National Battlefield Visitors Center. I’ll be signing books all day at the impressive book shop.
Last, but not least, Savas Beatie is putting the final touches on its Spotlight essay series. My essay with Gene Thorp on McClellan and Lee’s Lost Orders (see the page on this website) will be the first offering. The program should be up and running in May.
See everyone around …
Greetings, everyone. The Guns of September: A Novel of McClellan’s Army in Maryland, 1862 has a new landing page at the Savas Beatie website. Here’s the text providing more background on the book. The book is also now available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Enjoy! AR
After John Pope’s devastating defeat at Second Bull Run, George McClellan reconstitutes the Army of the Potomac and marches in pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s invading Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederates have pushed north of the Potomac River into the border state of Maryland in search of one more decisive victory that might bring about Southern independence. Fortune smiles on “Little Mac” when a lost copy of Lee’s orders falls into his hands, revealing the Rebel general’s plan to divide his army and capture the Union garrison at Harper’s Ferry. McClellan pushes his army and catches Lee by surprise at South Mountain, where he inflicts a decisive defeat that turns Lee’s plan on its head and his army back against the Potomac for a final stand at Sharpsburg on September 17. The resulting battle could decide the fate of the nation.
Alexander Rossino brilliantly weaves together these momentous hours in The Guns of September: A Novel of McClellan’s Army in Maryland, 1862. Readers live the high-stakes drama through the gritty minutiae experienced by a host of historical characters—including a diligent General McClellan, the hard-fighting Joseph Hooker, a frustrated Ambrose Burnside, and the aggressive George Armstrong Custer. Rossino also displays a keen understanding of daily travails undergone by the common foot soldier, including experienced veterans from Ohio and greenhorns from central Pennsylvania.
The Guns of September is a sweeping account, superbly written with a “you-are-there” sense that will linger with you long after you finish the book. It is a masterful conclusion to his earlier volume Six Days in September: A Novel of Lee’s Army in Maryland, 1862, which is written from the Confederate perspective.
It’s here! The new cover for my next book, The Guns of September: A Novel of McClellan’s Army in Maryland, 1862 is finished. Savas Beatie plans to have the book out this year for the anniversary of the 1862 Maryland Campaign. I’m not sure yet where the launch event will be … maybe the Sharpsburg Historical Society. Check back here for more information as the date gets closer.
The completed Union companion to Six Days in September has been submitted to my publisher. Tentatively titled The Guns of September: A Novel of McClellan’s Army in Maryland, 1862, the text came in at just over 137,000 words. That’s a lot to write in 9 months and boy am I relieved it’s done!
For those curious about the title. it’s a hat tip to one of the first things I read as an undergraduate student, Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, which is her popular history of the weeks leading up to World War I. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s bound to be available in your local library.
I’m pretty happy with how Guns has turned out. The book’s style closely mirrors Six Days in that it follows George McClellan and a cast of other personalities, including Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George Armstrong Custer.
Yes, Custer aficionados, the blonde boy-wonder is a major character in this next book. He fills the role that Franklin Turner played in Six Days, acting as my eyes and ears on the field. Custer served on McClellan’s staff during the Maryland Campaign, but next to nothing is known about what he did. We know for example that he acted as a scout while attached to the 8th Illinois Cavalry. We also know he was at Hooker’s HQ on South Mountain the morning after the battle. We know that he participated in (and was cited for gallantry during) the cavalry clash at Boonsboro on September 15, 1862, and we know that he acted as a scout for Sumner’s Second Corps during the Battle of Antietam. Otherwise, we know next to nothing. The rest is a blank slate that provided me with the opportunity to put Custer in critical spots during the story.
The George McClellan whom readers will meet is probably as fully three-dimensional as you’ll encounter anywhere. You’ll be able to get inside of his head on the day he reads Lee’s Lost Orders, you’ll better understand why he breaks up the army’s wing structure on the morning of September 15, you’ll glean a better idea why he decided not to attack Lee on September 16, and you’ll follow his movements and orders during the Battle of Antietam. Like my portrayal of Lee, this depiction of Mac is intended to give readers insight they may not get elsewhere. Will you come away liking the Young Napoleon? I doubt it. You will better understand him, though.
Other personalities in the story include a trio of friends in the 23rd Ohio. The main character here is an Irishman named Thomas James Kelly. An immigrant from Galway, Ireland, Kelly represents one of the many ethnic groups that made up the Army of the Potomac. He’s a joker and a sentimentalist much like Gilbert Farney in Six Days. Kelly’s adventures behind the lines throw him for a loop, especially after he meets a suffragette named Lucy Settle in Middletown. A traditional, semi-literate, Irish Catholic and an educated, feminist, Protestant woman. What could go wrong with that mix?
Readers will also meet Colonel Jacob Higgins, commander of the 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers. A Mexican War veteran, Higgins raised the 125th PA in August 1862. His men arrived in Washington, DC shortly before the crippling defeat of Pope’s army at Second Manassas on August 29-30. The 125th then marched north into Maryland with almost no drill under its belt. These are green recruits Higgins commands. Readers will get to travel with them into the very heart of the fight at Antietam when Higgins is ordered to the West Woods. His regiment penetrates the farthest into Confederate lines of any federal regiment on September 17 and takes the brunt of Lafayette McLaws’s counterattack that day. The commander of a green regiment in the middle of the fiercest one-day battle of the American Civil War? Not a place I’d want to be.
That’s it for now. Leave a comment or a question if you’d like to know more.
Thanks for joining me! It took a few weeks, but my new site is up. Please have a look around.