Their Maryland: The ANV from the Potomac Crossing to Sharpsburg in September 1862

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Students of the Civil War tend to think the story of Robert E. Lee’s 1862 Maryland Campaign is complete, and that any new study of the subject must by necessity rely on interpretations long-since accepted and understood. But what if this is not the case? What if the histories previously written about the first major Confederate operation north of the Potomac River missed key sources, proceeded from mistaken readings of the evidence, or were influenced by Lost Cause ideology? Alexander B. Rossino, the author of Six Days in September, demonstrates that distortions like these continue to shape modern understanding of the campaign in Their Maryland: The Army of Northern Virginia From the Potomac Crossing to Sharpsburg in September 1862.

Rossino reassesses the history of the Confederate operation in seven comprehensive chapters, each of which tackles a specific major issue:

– Did Robert E. Lee Intend to Foment Rebellion in Maryland in September 1862?
– The Army of Northern Virginia Crosses the Potomac to Liberate Maryland
– Confederate Encampments Near Frederick City and the Implications for the Lost Orders Debate
– Maryland Civilians and Confederate Failure in the State
– Rebels Photographed in Frederick, Maryland: The Case for September 1862
– A Critical Re-Assessment of Robert E. Lee’s Defensive Strategy at Sharpsburg
– Robert E. Lee on the Field at Sharpsburg

Did supply problems in Virginia force Lee north to press the advantage he had won after the Battle of Second Manassas? What did Rebel troops believe about the strength of secessionist sentiment in Maryland, and why? Did the entire Army of Northern Virginia really camp at Best’s Farm near Frederick, Maryland? Did D. H. Hill lose Special Orders No. 191, or is there more to the story? How did Maryland civilians respond to the Rebel army in their midst, and what part did women play? Finally, why did Robert E. Lee choose to fight at Sharpsburg, and how personally was he involved in directing the fighting?

Rossino makes extensive use of primary sources to explore these and other important questions, and in doing so reveals that many long-held assumptions about the Confederate experience in Maryland do not hold up under close scrutiny. The result is a well-documented reassessment that sheds new light on old subjects.


“Few Civil War military campaigns have been mired in more myth and misperception than the one that pointed Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River in September 1862. Now, Alexander B. Rossino lends his voice to a growing chorus of Maryland Campaign scholars—including Steven Stotelmyer, Tom Clemens, Kevin Pawlak, and D. Scott Hartwig—whose fresh eyes and sharp analysis are revising the traditional narrative of South Mountain, Sharpsburg, and Shepherdstown. In seven sprite chapters, Their Maryland supplies the most comprehensive assessment to date of how Confederate soldiers thought about and experienced their first foray north. More than an exacting reassessment of key details, Rossino yields new insights into Lee’s motivations for the campaign, his strategic thinking, and his performance on the battlefield at Sharpsburg. Engagingly written and persuasively argued, this daringly revisionist book is an essential addition to the Antietam bibliography.” — Brian Matthew Jordan, Pulitzer Prize finalist and associate professor of history at Sam Houston State University 

“Alexander Rossino explores several contested questions concerning the Antietam campaign in  this thoroughly researched and well argued book: Why did Robert E. Lee decide to invade Maryland?  How did Marylanders respond?  Why did Lee decide to stand and fight at Sharpsburg?  And most intriguing of all, which hapless Confederate officer lost a copy of Lee’s Special Orders no. 191?  Whether or not one agrees with all the answers, the reader will come away with a greater understanding of this crucial campaign and battle.” — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author of Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam

“What Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia hoped to accomplish when they crossed the Potomac in September 1862 continues to inspire debate among historians of the Civil War.  In Their Maryland, Alexander B. Rossino contributes to this debate with a collection of well-researched, informative, and well-written essays that merit the attention of anyone interested in the events that produced what is still the bloodiest day in American military history.” — Ethan S. Rafuse, author of Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865

“Alexander Rossino has crafted a thought-provoking book that takes a fresh look at many important aspects of the Maryland Campaign. Using a wide range of primary sources, many not consulted before, Rossino challenges many old paradigms with careful analyses. Each chapter stands alone and addresses pivotal components of Robert E. Lee’s army. The abundant footnotes add important information without interrupting the flow of the text. Rossino is clearly passionate about the campaign and has spent years researching it. His meticulous study of the campaign, combined with a crisp and engaging writing style, make this an outstanding addition to anyone’s library.” — Bradley M. Gottfried, licensed battlefield guide and author of The Maps of Antietam

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