Chapter 6 introduces Col. Jacob Higgins and the men of the 125th PA Volunteers on their march to Frederick, MD. A very large regiment of green troops, Higgins’s men represent the nearly 20% of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac that moved northwest to meet Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia after it had crossed the Potomac River into Maryland. These Pennsylvania volunteers barely knew how to follow commands on the field, having only mustered in around mid-August. Higgins must get his men ready quickly if they are to stand any chance on the battlefield against Lee’s veterans.
Happy 2021, everyone!
Today’s installment brings General McClellan back into the picture. Ride with him into Frederick, Maryland, on the morning of September 13, one day after his army has taken the city. Witness the cheering crowd welcome the general and then follow him to Ambrose Burnside’s headquarters on the east side of town.
With luck, the entire book will be out this year. I’ll keep everyone posted. Enjoy!
I’m a couple of weeks late posting this due to numerous obligations keeping me too busy before Christmas, but now that the holiday is behind us I finally found a moment to get it done.
Chapter four introduces Lucy Settle to the story. A women’s rights activist who lives in Middletown, Maryland, Settle finds herself caught away from home as the fight for Hagan’s Gap erupts atop Catoctin Mountain. She is a new type of character for this story, intended to capture a sense of the political ferment in American society prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The movement to achieve voting rights for women began in the late 1840s under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. What many people don’t know about Stanton and Anthony is that they also campaigned for the abolition of slavery, and when the war broke out they set-aside their political objectives to focus exclusively on supporting the war effort against the “slave power” of the South.
Settle acts as a kind of embodiment of the northern conscience in the story, bringing female balance to what is already an overwhelmingly male-dominated tale. I hope everyone enjoys her introduction.
With Christmas behind us I’ll wish everyone a Happy New Year! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the support. Let’s make 2021 a good one to remember.
Introducing Captain George Armstrong Custer. A member of General George B. McClellan’s headquarters staff, Custer has been attached to the Eighth Illinois Cavalry Regiment as an observer west of Frederick, Maryland. Join Custer in the fight for Hagan’s Gap against Jeb Stuart’s Rebel rearguard and scout the enemy’s line for an opening.
Comments and feedback are welcome.
Due out in Spring 2021, The Guns of September: a Novel of McClellan’s Army in Maryland, 1862 tells the story of George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War campaign against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. It is the follow-up to Six Days in September: A Novel of Lee’s Army in Maryland, 1862 (Savas Beatie, 2017), which told the same story from the Confederate perspective and that of townspeople in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Chapter One, provided here for the first time, describes the situation as General McClellan knew it on Friday, September 12, 1862, before the discovery of a lost copy of Lee’s Special Orders No. 191. It sets the stage for the rest of the campaign to unfold over the next six days.
Enjoy and please leave comments to let me know what you think!
Welcome! For those interested in virtually attending my Jacob Rohrbach Inn Summer Lecture Series presentation on August 19, 2020, here are images of the slides for reference in case they cannot clearly be seen during the Facebook Live presentation. Hope everyone finds them useful and enjoys the event.
Although COVID-19 has pretty much ruined this year for me and other writers who like to make public appearances, all is not lost!
There is a lot happening behind the scenes, so here is a quick update to fill everyone in.
First, publication of The Guns of September has been delayed yet again by the public health crisis. I had expected it to be out already, but now the new date is Spring 2021. Editing of the manuscript is 2/3 done and I think the book looks fantastic. I’m really looking forward to this one coming out and think readers will enjoy it. I’m working with Savas Beatie on potentially publishing a chapter here on this site, so stay tuned.
Next, I’m still out there in virtual land discussing Six Days in September. The Civil War Round Table Congress posted a presentation recently that we recorded in April 2020. In it I discuss the difference between writing small “h” history vs. big “H” history.
The former is novelized history that does not follow the convention of relying entirely on documents. The latter is standard history written according to the usual methodology. Is one better than the other? It depends on the proficiency of the writer and on what readers want. One thing I can assure you, however, is that books often published as “history” contain significant errors and even contrivances that render them as fictional as anything a novelist would write.
Consider for example the long-held argument that Robert E. Lee issued his order in the early morning for James Longstreet to attack the Union army outside of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. For decades this claim has been repeated despite the evidence showing that Lee never issued the order early in the day and that he never expected Longstreet to start his attack until the afternoon. In other words, the “history” everyone has been reading for decades is flat-out fiction.
In my presentation I ask readers to consider what they think history is and suggest its claims to the truth are not as reliable as one might think. Reading with a critical eye is more important now than ever. If as a reader you cannot go back to a source for the idea or argument being promoted then you are reading someone else’s later claim and not what the evidence actually says. Go back to the sources is the lesson!
Finally, I’ve completed a book of essays examining certain issues of importance to the history of the Confederate campaign in Maryland in September 1862. Here is a mock up of the cover.
The book is not a comprehensive history of the campaign. It contains chapters that focus on specific subjects and analyze what the available evidence tells us. I wrote the book after doing years of research on the subject for Six Days in September. Readers will thus have an ability to go back see where I may have gotten an idea for certain scenes in the book. Other readers interested strictly in the history can read it from that perspective. I make an effort to clear up some common misconceptions and to correct the historical record, which has over the years taken on a life of its own as writers pile layer upon layer of interpretation onto the story of the events. Eventually what the sources themselves say is what we need to go on. I try to take us back to that foundation.
Good luck to every one in these crazy times. Stay safe and be well.
I’m beginning to think WordPress hates me. For the second time now I’ve been prevented from posting because I’ve become caught up in some kind of virtual doom loop that looks like my page but isn’t. Ugh!
There is plenty of news to share and you’ll be happy to know that none of it is Coronavirus related!
First, concerning The Guns of September, we have a tentative publication date of summer 2020. Ted and the good folks at Savas Beatie have all of the materials for the book, including maps, back cover blurbs, etc. so barring the end of western civilization I’m hopeful we’ll see the book out in a few months’ time.
In the meantime, the delay of Guns provided me with sufficient time to finish the historical essay volume I mentioned in my last post. I’m still calling it Their Maryland: Rebel Dreams, Aspirations, and Failure in September 1862.
The manuscript currently stands at 92,000 words or thereabouts, which is precisely what I had targeted. Here are the tentative chapter titles:
Rebel Revolutionary: Did Robert E. Lee Intend to Foment Rebellion in Maryland in September 1862?
High Hopes: The Army of Northern Virginia Crosses the Potomac to Liberate Maryland, September 4-7, 1862
Four Days on the Monocacy: Confederate Encampments Near Frederick City in September 1862 and the Implications for the Lost Orders Debate
The Rocks of Reality: Maryland Civilians and Confederate Failure in the State
Rebels Photographed in Frederick, Maryland: The Case for September 1862
We Will Make Our Stand: A Critical Re-Assessment of Robert E. Lee’s Defensive Strategy at Antietam on September 15-16, 1862
A Very Personal Fight: Robert E. Lee at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862
Ted and Savas Beatie have the manuscript for this volume, too, so we’ll be working it the second half of the year.
Lastly, I’ve managed to revise several sections of Six Days in September and run through the text to catch typos. These plagued the original publication due to a real shortage of time available to go back through the manuscript. Now I believe I’ve caught them all and changed a bit of the text, too. I’ll be giving a couple of chapters the once over this weekend to be sure before sending the manuscript off to SB. That’ll make three manuscripts from yours, truly in Ted’s inbox. He’ll have his hands full with them, I’m sure. 🙂
Once all of these are out I’m not certain what comes next. Frankly, having researched and written two books and one long essay in three years has left me a tad exhausted. Maybe a pina colada on a beach somewhere is in order! Well, a virtual beach, at least since I can’t travel.
I must apologize for not posting in some time. Between losing my password to the site and having trouble navigating the WordPress interface, I could not get in to provide an update. Today I’ll remedy the absence.
A lot has been happening behind the scenes, First, concerning the Guns of September, the manuscript is with the editors at Savas Beatie. I expect to receive feedback within the next two months, so stay tuned. The new anticipated publication date is April 2020.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have caught a few recent references to my next project. I’m going back to my roots by writing a work of history. The tentative title is Their Maryland: Rebel Dreams, Aspirations, and Failure in the Old Line State in September 1862. The book will be a series of analytical essays examining specific topics of importance to understanding the Confederate experience in Maryland during the September 1862 campaign. I’ve pasted the tentative chapter titles below. A few colleagues have read the first chapter and their feedback has been very positive. Savas Beatie has expressed interest, too, so I hope that means the book will be out in 2021. I have 55,000 words written already out of an expected total of 100,000. Fingers crossed that the muse continues to grace me with her presence!
Their Maryland tentative chapter titles
- Rebel Revolutionary: Did Robert E. Lee Hope to Foment Rebellion in Maryland in September 1862? (Completed)
- Liberating the Old Line State: High Hopes and Dashed Expectations in The Army of Northern Virginia (TBD)
- Four Days on the Monocacy: Confederate Encampments Near Frederick City and the Implications for the Lost Orders Debate (Completed)
- Confederates Photographed in Frederick, Maryland: The Case for September 1862 (Completed)
- Stuart’s First Failure: September 13, 1862 as a Harbinger of Things to Come (TBD)
- We Will Make Our Stand: A Critical Re-Assessment of Robert E. Lee’s Defensive Strategy at Antietam/Sharpsburg on September 15-16, 1862 (Completed)
- A Very Personal Fight: Robert E. Lee at Antietam/Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862 (Completed)
Last, but not least, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday. For those historically inclined I’d like to mention that the holiday we celebrate today originated with President Lincoln in 1863. I paste the proclamation below for your edification.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln (Source)
Onward and Upward!