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From the Peninsula to the Antietam

Benjamin Franklin Cooling

Publication Year: 2008

During the summer of 1862, a Confederate resurgence threatened to turn the tide of the Civil War. When the Union’s earlier multitheater thrust into the South proved to be a strategic overreach, the Confederacy saw its chance to reverse the loss of the Upper South through counteroffensives from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi. Benjamin Franklin Cooling tells this story in Counter-Thrust, recounting in harrowing detail Robert E. Lee’s flouting of his antagonist George B. McClellan’s drive to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and describing the Confederate hero’s long-dreamt-of offensive to reclaim central and northern Virginia before crossing the Potomac.
Counter-Thrust also provides a window into the Union’s internal conflict at building a successful military leadership team during this defining period. Cooling shows us Lincoln’s administration in disarray, with relations between the president and field commander McClellan strained to the breaking point. He also shows how the fortunes of war shifted abruptly in the Union’s favor, climaxing at Antietam with the bloodiest single day in American history—and in Lincoln’s decision to announce a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Here in all its gritty detail and considerable depth is a critical moment in the unfolding of the Civil War and of American history.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Great Campaigns of the Civil War


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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii

List of Maps

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

"Yankees called it Cedar Run; Rebels termed it Cedar Mountain. Confederates used the name Second Manassas; their opponents remembered it as Second Bull Run. Both sides spoke of Chantilly or Ox Hill, while Confederates preferred the name Boonsboro to denote what Federals referred to as South Mountain. Both combatants..."

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pp. xvii-xviii

"Special thanks go to Marilyn and Ron Snyder of Annapolis, Maryland, for making available the soldier letter that begins the book. Joseph Rubenfine of West Palm Beach, Florida, similarly provided a copy of the John Wotring diary. National Park Service staff members Jim..."

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Series Editors' Introduction

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pp. xix-xxii

"Americans remain fascinated by the Civil War. Movies, television, and video-even computer software-have augmented the ever-expanding list of books on the war. Although it stands to reason that a large portion of recent work concentrates on military aspects of the conflict,..."

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1. Summer Impasse

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pp. 1-31

"A union soldier known only as John wrote to his father on July 13, 1862, from a 'Camp near Harrisons Landing' on the Virginia Peninsula. He was well, he said, and hoped the home folks were also. 'Everything is quiet here now,' with 'no firing of cannon and musketry'..."

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2. From Tidewater to Cedar Mountain

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pp. 32-64

"George mcclellan spent the two weeks following receipt of HallecK's order trying desperately to avoid evacuating the Peninsula. Privately, he wrote letters excoriating Lincoln and other superiors for stupidity, duplicity, and culpability for what he took to be impending disaster. He dramatically reduced his estimation of enemy strength..."

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3. Stonewall and a Virginia Reel

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pp. 65-95

"Clarissa harlowe barton had not intended going into nursing. The daughter of an old New England Indian War veteran, Clara taught school and remained single. She eventually found a niche as a copyist at the Patent Office in Washington. When the war came, she..."

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4. Lee and Pope at Second Manassas

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pp. 96-137

"Stonewall Jackson's raiders left Manassas Junction a smoldering pyre by midnight on August 27-28. John Pope now tried to counter the disaster. His previous orders to subordinates to either reinforce the junction or scout toward Thoroughfare Gap had come..."

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5. In the Rain at Chantilly

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pp. 138-164

"August 30, 1862, was not a good day for Federal arms. Telegraph wires to Washington hummed with bad news from Bull Run as well as distant Kentucky. Out in the Bluegrass, a scratch force had been pulled together by Maj. Gen. William 'Bull' Nelson to contest Confederate Gen. Edward Kirby Smith's northward movement from..."

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6. Maryland, My Maryland

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pp. 165-195

"D. H. Hill's men led the vanguard of Robert E. Lee's army across the Potomac River near Leesburg, Virginia, in column of fours, 'well closed up, shouting, laughing, singing,' with a brass band in front playing 'Maryland, My Maryland.' The early September move was..."

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7. South Mountain and Harpers Ferry

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pp. 196-227

"The army of northern virginia evacuated its Monocacy camps on the morning of September 10, taking up the line of march west through Frederick. Possibly seventy thousand to seventy- five thousand would pass through the town in the process. The Confederates left behind few supporters among the populace but did..."

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8. The Bridges of the Antietam

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pp. 228-259

"In 1910, Maryland author Helen Ashe Hays wrote about a gentle stream flowing through Washington County, Maryland, 'whose name will be famous as long as America endures, the placid Antietam.' To her, writing long after the bloody events of..."

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9. Opportunities Found and Lost

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pp. 259-294

"Autumn had just begun its colorful ritual along the Antietam. But after the battle the forests and fields were scorched and bleak. Orderly Sgt. James A. Wright of the First Minnesota remembered buildings riddled by shot and shell, harvested crops singed by exploding..."


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pp. 295-328

Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 329-340


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pp. 341-355

E-ISBN-13: 9780803215436
E-ISBN-10: 0803215436

Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 9 photos, 13 maps, index
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Great Campaigns of the Civil War