An Update

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.

Their maryland

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.





Delays, delays, etc.

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:


Chapter One

Rebel Revolutionary: Did Robert E. Lee Intend to Foment Rebellion in Maryland in September 1862?

Chapter Two

High Hopes: The Army of Northern Virginia Crosses the Potomac to Liberate Maryland, September 4-7, 1862

Chapter Three

Four Days on the Monocacy: Confederate Encampments Near Frederick City in September 1862 and the Implications for the Lost Orders Debate

Chapter Four

The Rocks of Reality: Maryland Civilians and Confederate Failure in the State

Chapter Five

Rebels Photographed in Frederick, Maryland: The Case for September 1862

Chapter Six

We Will Make Our Stand: A Critical Re-Assessment of Robert E. Lee’s Defensive Strategy at Antietam on September 15-16, 1862

Chapter Seven

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.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Friends,

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

  1. Rebel Revolutionary: Did Robert E. Lee Hope to Foment Rebellion in Maryland in September 1862? (Completed)
  2. Liberating the Old Line State: High Hopes and Dashed Expectations in The Army of Northern Virginia (TBD)
  3. Four Days on the Monocacy: Confederate Encampments Near Frederick City and the Implications for the Lost Orders Debate (Completed)
  4. Confederates Photographed in Frederick, Maryland: The Case for September 1862 (Completed)
  5. Stuart’s First Failure: September 13, 1862 as a Harbinger of Things to Come (TBD)
  6. 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)
  7. 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.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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!


Tale Untwisted is Out!

My co-authored essay with Gene Thorp on Mac’s handling of Lee’s Lost Orders is out and it promises to change perspectives! These eminent Civil War scholars had the following to say about it.
This well documented and logical explanation of the controversial Lee’s “Lost Orders” debate finally puts the actions of General George McClellan in a proper context. Before a single Union soldier took a step in response to any order based on finding S.O. 191, Lee remarked that he found the Union army “advancing more rapidly than convenient.” Now we know why. — Thomas G. Clemens, ed., The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vols. 1-3.
Thorp and Rossino make a very persuasive case for McClellan having received the Lost Orders in mid-afternoon and sending his dispatch to Lincoln at midnight on September 13, 1862. If I were writing my Antietam book today, I would follow their account. — James M. McPherson, author of Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam and the Pulitzer prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom.
Click on the image to get your copy now in digital format for a measly $3.99.
Tale Final Cover

Latest News

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.

Coming Events

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.

Spotlight Series

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 …


New Landing Page at Savas Beatie

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 Enjoy! AR

Layout 1About the Book

September 1862

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.

New Book Cover

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.  Layout 1

What a Relief!

Boonsboro Pike

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.