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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two teenagers who I love very much. I currently volunteer at the battlefield and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. These words often add a degree of color and character not found elsewhere in their stories. A feature of this blog is the presentation of some of these quotes. My perspective comes from a 28 year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign that fortune could have gone either way. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Antietam Farmsteads

I just completed reading Antietam Farmsteads by Kevin Walker with Battle Narratives by K.C. Kirkman. Located within the confines of the Antietam National Battlefield boundaries are eleven farms. This book tells their story. Organized with a chapter devoted to each farm, Walker eloquently describes the architectural history of the houses, barns, and outbuildings, a chronology of the different owners from the first days of British settlement in the area through the battle of Antietam and the story of the families who worked the land at the time of the battle. In turn, Kirkman skillfully addresses the military action that occurred at the farms during the battle. Included are compelling first person accounts and quotations made by family members and soldiers who crossed paths at the battle.

The book is rich in blueprints, maps of each farmstead, contemporary battlefield drawings and
sketches made of the farms at the time of the battle, and wonderful black and white photos. Included are some never before seen drawings of noted Civil War illustrator Alfred Waud discovered by the authors as they researched the book. Each chapter contains a specialized pullout that addresses such diverse topics as fencing, drawings and artists, the recipe for whitewash, and beehive ovens.

Antietam Farmsteads is beautifully laid out and could be proudly displayed as a coffee table book. The wonderful illustrations and maps, the authors use of black and white photos, and the oversize dimensions of the book give it that nature. But this is a thoroughly researched, well written, and detailed account of these farms. Kevin Walker and K.C. Kirkman are park rangers in the Cultural Resources Division at Antietam National Battlefield and recognized authorities in the area of historic preservation. This book is a much needed addition to the scholarship of the battle and well worth your attention. The author's passion for the work they do shines through in this book.

The book is published by the Western Maryland Interpretive Association in cooperation with the Counselors of Real Estate. You can order it here from the Antietam Battlefield Bookstore or pick it up the next time you visit.

2 comments:

  1. The Hattaway/Jones book is really what got me interested in the Civil War. I had never thought about the war on that level before. Unfortunately it has been fourteen years since I've read it. I would really like to get back to it again someday.

    John C. Nicholas

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  2. John
    It reawakened my interest at the operational-strategic level. I cant think of another military history of the war as good as this. Wish I found it years ago. The other book at this level that I am enjoying is Rowena Reed's Combined Operations. Both books certainly present a fairer portrait of George B. McClellan.

    Jim

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