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Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory, September 14, 1862 Hardcover – January 27, 2012
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Live close to South Mountain, so will enjoy reading this book!Published 17 months ago by Richard A. MacInnes
This is a really good book on a Civil War battle that not much has been written about. Quite detailed, very interesting.Published 21 months ago by Tom
Anyone who reads this book should be aware that the book was published less than three years after the author graduated from college. Read morePublished on July 13, 2012 by Hegelian
This is quite simply the best Civil War book I have read yet. The text is extremely readable, and combines strategic views with detailed tactical battle information, and mixes in... Read morePublished on April 2, 2012 by David Caskey