The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point

Casemate. Feb. 2020. 356p. ISBN 9781612008325. $34.95. HIST
The single bloodiest day in the Civil War took place at Sharpsburg, MD, along Antietam Creek, as General George McClellan faced General Robert E. Lee. Welker (Tempest at Ox Hill) presents a detailed look at the September 1862 battle with an emphasis on the fighting on a cornfield. This patch of land was the site of bloody back-and-forth clashes between Federal and Confederate troops. Lee hoped for a victory that would pressure Lincoln into a peace agreement. Instead, Lee suffered tremendous losses and turned his troops back into the South. Many historians believe that McClellan could have ended the war if only his army had followed Lee and taken advantage of larger troop numbers and supplies. Welker argues that McClellan’s linear thinking was a major reason the Union army did not pursue Lee’s soldiers and why Antietam wasn’t a resounding victory for the North.
VERDICT The extensive use of primary sources makes this book of interest to all Civil War enthusiasts.

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