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Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed the Course of American History Paperback – June 10, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
How small can a Civil War battle be and still claim the mantle of war-changing decisiveness? That proposition is tested in this engaging account of the 1864 Battle of Monocacy Junction, in which some 16,000 Confederate troops trounced 5,800 bluecoats on a Maryland field. Not a surprising outcome, but Leepson (Flag: An American Biography) contends that Union Gen. Lew Wallace's doomed stand held up Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's surprise lunge at Washington, D.C.—which was held only by a hapless force of invalids, militia and government clerks—by one crucial day. The result was a photo finish, with Union reinforcements arriving in the nick of time to save the capital from capture (hence the decisiveness). Leepson lucidly narrates the campaign, adding color commentary about Early's panoply of abhorrent personal traits and the incompetence, apathy and possible drunkenness that prevailed among Union commanders, along with plenty of vignettes of the horror and pathos of war. He also debunks the campaign's premier anecdote, which has Lincoln coming under rebel fire while looking out from Washington's ramparts (true, he finds) and getting chewed out—Get down, you fool—by a young Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (false). Gettysburg it ain't, but it's still a hard-fought, dramatic episode that Leepson brings vividly to life. Photos. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Old Glory was the topic of popular historian Leepson's previous book (Flag, 2005), and the Stars and Stripes flutter again in this volume. So does the Confederate battle flag, for Leepson's topic is Jubal Early's advance on Washington, D.C., in July 1864. Chronicling the episode generally from commanders' post facto accounts, Leepson captures the consternation provoked by the appearance of Early's force before the federal capital. Although small by Civil War standards, Early's army outnumbered the Union's locally available troops and routed them at the Battle of Monocacy. The defeat delayed Early, however, and Union reinforcements arrived in the nick of time, dissuading Early from assaulting the city's fortifications. That's the shape of the strategic story, while an associated anecdote will attract interest from Civil War buffs, namely, the exact circumstances of President Abraham Lincoln's exposing himself to the gunfire of Early's rebels. Leepson judiciously turns over the veracity of its details and acquits himself well in the overall battle narrative, producing a campaign history that will count with the Civil War set. Taylor, Gilbert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I found him extremely interesting and decided to read his book. I found it to be very thorough and totally enjoyed his style of writing.
The information was presented in such a way that you could follow the campaign as it progressed and he used diaries to incorporate the voices of those that were there to help you feel and understand what was actually taking place and what they experienced throughout the campaign. It brought their fear, excitement, concerns and experiences to life. Easy read for both the Civil War novices and enough substance for the Civil War enthusiasts. It was a small battle of the Civil War that had a huge impact .