About Me

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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 young adult children who I love very much. I currently volunteer at Antietam 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. Since 2013 I have been conducting in depth research on the regular artillery companies of the Union Army and their leaders. I hope to turn this into a book on this subject in the future. 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. 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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Sentence

Middle Bridge
One of the charms but also a great frustration of reading Carman is reading Carman.  The prose is not for the weak of heart.  I give you this one sentence as an example that is found in Chapter 5 (The Middle Bridge). It describes the advance of Captain John S. Poland's (USMA May 1861) Second and Tenth U.S. Infantry troops up the Boonsboro Pike toward the town of Sharpsburg.  This is part of the Fifth Corps advance that so many don't seem to acknowledge ever happened.  Consult the map below to see the Second and Tenth Infantry position at 4:20 PM.  Here in Carman's words is his description of Captain Poland's movement:
Carman-Copes 4:20 PM Map Fifth Corps area
These he [Poland] deployed on his right, in skirmishing order and the entire line, quite a long one, went forward, ascended the slope of a hill and under a heavy fire of canister from Squires' and Moody's guns in front, and some guns beyond the road on the right, and from Garnett's skirmishers pushed over the high ground, passed the haystacks, where some of Twigg's men and others of the 17th South Carolina were captured drove back McMaster, who at the same time was attacked on the right by the advance of Burnside and, reaching Sherrick's lane halted under the cover of the fence and became closely and sharply engaged.[1] 

I count 109 words...in one sentence.  Some people may never be able to get past this in terms of trying to read Carman.  However I enjoy reading it; but I have to go slow, re-read, and I often find myself chopping up the excruciatingly long sentences like this one, into more easily understandable ones.  Despite my grousing here, I don’t think I would want it any other way.  It forces me to read deeply and repetitively. I am facing this sometimes obstacle course of words - and learning.  When I need clarity and context, the hundreds of phenomenal footnotes offered by editor Tom Clemens provide it. 

If you are ready to read the next sentence and find out what happened to Captain Poland's advance toward Sharpsburg, read The Maryland Campaign by Ezra Carman, edited and annotated by Tom Clemens.

--> Carmen, Ezra A. The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Vol. 2 South Mountain edited by Thomas G. Clemens. New York:  Savas Beatie, 2012 page 378.

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