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Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory, September 14, 1862 Hardcover – January, 2012


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The War That Forged a Nation
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson looks anew at the reasons America's civil war has remained a subject of intense interest for the past century and a half. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Matthew Jordan graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College. The native of northeastern Ohio discovered a passion for history at an early age. He is a frequent speaker at Civil War Round Tables nationwide, delivers popular tours for Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and conducts seminars for various Teaching American History grant recipients. His published work has appeared in multiple journals including Civil War History. Jordan is currently working on a Ph.D. in History at Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie; 1st Ed. edition (January 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611210887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611210880
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Matthew Jordan graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College. A native of northeastern Ohio, he discovered a passion for history at an early age. He is a frequent speaker at Civil War Round Tables nationwide, delivers popular tours for Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and conducts seminars for various Teaching American History grant recipients. His published work has appeared in multiple journals including Civil War History and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography. Jordan is currently working on a Ph.D. in History at Yale University, and researching his next book, a cultural history of Union veterans.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
11%
3 star
22%
2 star
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See all 9 customer reviews
In addition to being informative, interesting and readable, it is a joy to hold.
James W. Durney
Best of all are the maps, which are very clear and contain information relevant to the battle and correlate well with the text.
David Caskey
When my nephew open the book and started to glance through the book, his quick page turning turned to one page at a time.
C. R. Harris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Warren on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book's great strength is its capturing the moment-by-moment unfolding of the battle, the grandeur of the scene and setting, and the euphoria of victory felt by the Union Army. The author succeeds in conveying the physical and personal demands that this struggle placed upon the participants, and he heroically champions the importance of South Mountain in the grander scheme of the War. This work provides much well-chosen descriptive material, and so importantly, good maps! I highly recommend this book for all of these reasons and more.

I do have a couple of quibbles. The author occasionally seems somewhat overreaching in his use of adjectives. For example, he pronounces J.E.B. Stuart "pompous," Lee's proclamation to the people of Maryland "prim and mawkish," and dismisses Dennis Hart Mahan's long legacy of military professorship as "flawed." All of these seem unfounded--arguable at best. He employed the word "pharisaical" in a context that was bewildering (sorry, I could not locate the reference).

The author expends a good deal of energy protesting the lack of respect for the Battle of South Mountain. Some of the points he makes are valid, such as his assertion that the ranking of battles overemphasizes casualty numbers. However, I believe that he ignores a more specific factor in this case. The Union Army's breakthrough was heralded at the time, but surely the later revelation that McClellan possessed Lee's entire battle plan ultimately detracted from the pride of victory. The author too easily asserts that Lee was informed right away of McClellan's possession of his order.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Mentioning the battle of South Mountain produces a limited set of responses.
The most common is a blank look.
This is closely followed by "Yes, that skirmish before Antietam."
A few people will mention Priest's book on this battle.
Checking Amazon, I find two other books that treat South Mountain as something other than an extension of the battle at Antietam.

South Mountain is a battle for three passes or gaps, separating the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac in September 1862.
Possession of the Gaps determines the course of the campaign. If Lee's army holds the Gaps, they are free to act as they wish.
Losing the Gaps, forces them to assume a defensive position.
On September 14, 1862, the Army of the Potomac drives the Army of Northern Virginia out of the Gaps, forcing Lee to rethink his plans.
This is no small skirmish. This is a full battle with the defense having position and the attacker having numbers.
The Army of the Potomac's victory here forces Lee to assume a defensive position behind Antietam Creek, ending any advance north.

The author takes the first 100 pages to insure the reader if fully aware of the situation.
This buildup pays dividends at the end of the book, when we read about the memory of the battle.
The current view is different from the post war view. The book tells the story of the three battles as standalone incidents.
This allows the reader to follow the action and better understand each battle.
This is not a problem as one fight has little impact on the others during the 14th.
However, we never lose sight of the "Big Picture". The author keeps us fully updated on each army's actions and reactions.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joseph R. Card on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brian Jordan has provided an excellent source of information and analysis on one aspect of Lee's first invasion of the North. The Battle of South Mountain has largely been looked upon as only a small side bar of the study of the Antietam Campaign. However, this engagement had Lee changing his whole plan of the invasion, and nearly had him retreating back into Virginia without a battle on the banks of the Antietam.

Mr. Jordan has given a wonderful account of not only the battle, but also the preliminary incidents leading to the clash at the three gaps at South Mountain. His in depth coverage of these happenings make it easier to understand how the battle was fought, why it was fought, and why the results of the battle were significant on the outcome of the 1862 Maryland Campaign.

The Battle of South Mountain almost ended Lee's Campaign, and if it had, it would have been looked upon as one of the great turning points of the war. However, the battle of September 14, 1862 was overshadowed by the bloody one of the 17th of September, but without the events at South Mountain, the decisive battle at Sharpsburg would probably not have taken place.
This new book by the young historian, Brian Jordan, helps us all to better understand the importance of South Mountain and give proper credit to the men that fought in those three small gaps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. R. Harris on December 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started by look for a gift for my nephew, who is a civil war buff. South mountain is a place I knew nothing about. It sound perfect for my nephew. I glanced through the pages and read the high lights of the chapters. It is informative and detailed. When my nephew open the book and started to glance through the book, his quick page turning turned to one page at a time. Engrossed in the book, he engorged everything else. It is hard to find something that will peak his interest when it comes to Civil War knowledge. Those who think they have read all the books on the major engagements need to rethink what transpires and how the battle of south mountain change things
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Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory, September 14, 1862
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