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Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign Hardcover – September 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kathleen A. Ernst, a Maryland native, is a graduate of Antioch University and the author of numerous articles in magazines such as Civil War Times Illustrated and America's Civil War. She lives in Wisconsin. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1st edition (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811716023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811716024
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst is the award-winning writer of adult mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction history books for adults and young readers. Her latest are "A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through The Seasons" published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and "Death on the Prairie," the sixth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery for adults published by Midnight Ink Books.

Over the years Kathleen's work has earned numerous honors, including an Emmy, a LOVEY, and Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations. To date, readers have purchased over 1.5 million printed, electronic, and audio copies of her thirty-three published books.

Kathleen has a Masters Degree in History Education and Writing from Antioch University, where her self-designed program focused on nontraditional methods of teaching and learning history, with a special emphasis on historical fiction. She spent over a decade as a Curator of Interpretation and Collections at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Old World Wisconsin outdoor museum, a job that provided great material for her novels.

She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband Scott (AKA "Mr. Ernst") and Sophie the cat. Some of her greatest pleasures include gardening, learning folk crafts, traveling to research new books, and hearing from readers. To that end, she maintains an extensive website,, an author's page on Facebook,, and a blog,

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Hornak on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Even the well read student or scholar of the Civil War can develop a slanted impression of the War in reading the bulk of the literature which concentrates on stategic and tactical details and the trials and hardships of the military personnel who fought it. In reading this very well written book of the experiences of the Western Maryland civilians who endured the conflict in this theater of the war, one gains a perspective of how total the horror of this war was for those who not only had to live through the actual battles, but remained to deal with the death and suffering in which they found themselves engulfed. These hardships (physical, emotional and economic) were endured repeatedly and for years after the actual battles and occupations.
I consider this a must read for any serious Civil War enthusiast.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charles W. Mitchell on February 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The foreword notes that the Sharpsburg area was the first organized American community to suffer both from combat and the sustained presence of two opposing armies. The combat was, of course, the September 1862 battle of Antietam, well known as the bloodiest day in American history. Ernst says that her book is one of stories. In so doing she observes the trend to explain history through the eyes of common people, rather than those of the generals, presidents, kings and other eminencies who have fueled traditional historical narrative. Ernst has dug deep into the letters, diaries, I-was-there personal accounts and oral histories of the days immediately before and after Antietam, as well as during the carnage itself. Ample photographs give human form to the names encountered throughout the book. The result is a smoothly written work blending the military and civilian dimensions of Lee's invasion of Maryland that, on a golden September day, etched into national memory names such as the Dunker Church, the Cornfield, the Sunken Road and Burnside's Bridge. Some of these stories illuminate dark subjects. Ernst's discussion of slavery in Frederick and Washington Counties reminds us that it was more prevalent in Western Maryland than we realize-the 1860 census recorded over 4600 slaves in the area. That there were then still three slave-selling sites in Hagerstown suggests that this region was populated by more than unionist German immigrants who opposed slavery. Ernst might have cited the definitive work on 19th century Maryland slavery, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground. The devastating psychological and economic impacts of the Antietam campaign on civilians are powerfully told through anecdote.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ken Roberts VINE VOICE on May 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow! Another book that tells of the dread and horrors that the Civil War brought to the civilians, and it is done as perfectly as one could ever hope. It is written in a lively manner and was very hard to put down. Based totally on facts, using diary and journal accounts, the writer brings the reader right in to the middle of the Maryland conflict, from the trepidation the citizens felt weeks before the battle at Sharpsburg/Antietam as the Rebs entered their border state, through the battle itself, and finally how they dealt with the after affects of the worst one day battle ever fought on American soil.
We here in the 21st century cannot fathom what our ancestors went through - what they felt...the aptly titled "Too Afraid to Cry" will give the reader at least a tiny idea of what life was like for the folks living in Maryland in the early Fall of 1862.
Wow is right!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Todd E. Newman on August 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seldom do we get a chance to read about civilians and their stories through out the Antietam Campaign. This book gives us a great look at just what the hardships Maryland civilians had to endure. Authors Kathleen Ernst and Ted Alexander have asembled an interesting book that features Confederate and Union early concentrations, skirmishes and battles around the Sharpsburg and Frederick areas that bring to life civilian response. Popular families such as the Prys, Pipers and Millers living in the area of Sharpsburg during the battle are covered along with many others that explain the ordeals and horrors these families faced while war was at their doorstep. Interesting and facinating the text explains the unknown hardships that civilians had to face while battles took place and how also many tried to survive after the bloody engagements. One can not just read about the battle and get a full perspective on the campaign without considering reading about the civilians and I highly recommend this book! 5 STARS!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Pumarejo on September 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
History books are undeniably one of the big niche markets in print media; the American Civil War in particular. Of the many I've tackled over the years, some are as well written and researched, but few make the narrative "come alive" like this one. Generally, you find dry campaign overviews, replete with chronologies for whatever battle, and/or Gen So-n-So, followed by the inevitable "armchair quarterback" critique. The other big trend is the dissection of an ever more specific sub topic. Thankfully, there are notable exceptions, this fine volume being one of them. "Too Afraid to Cry" is written from "the bottom up", so to speak. It starts and ends from the individual citizen or soldier's perspective. What Gen So-n-So did might be noted to provide context, but the focus is always on making clear the hell that war is, and the hell these Western Maryland people lived through. This stuff tends to get whitewashed in Civil War literature. Nowhere else will you read about how nearly EVERY house in Sharpsburg was ransacked, even with owners present! Consciously or not, the history establishment in this country helps to perpetuate the idealized facade of the Civil War as a "quaint" little conflict. Dozens of scenes in this book, like 5 yr old Ollie contemplating a growing pile of amputated limbs, or a farmer's civil rights being trampled, along with his property (that wasn't stolen!), don't sit well on the moral chassis of the Civil War Muscle Car they want to sell you. Then you turn the page and find that after more than a decade of legal wrangling, the ruined farmer ended up with a dime on the dollar for the damage claims he filed (if he was lucky), and moreover, that Uncle Sam didn't really give a flip... This is the perspective that "Too Afraid to Cry" gives you, and this is why I like this book so much. It's a refreshing switch from the sanitized, prepackaged norm. A double shot of Civil War reality, straight up!
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