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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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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
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 ›
I would have suggested including more about the courage and tenacity of the isolated, vastly outnumbered Confederates in these engagements, like those of Drayton's Brigade at Fox's Gap. One of my ancestors fought with Drayton's Brigade at Fox’s Gap, while another was with the Tramp Brigade at Turner's Gap.
I also found that the conclusions in the last chapter concerning the post war history of the battle favored the natural biases of the Union veterans while ignoring or dismissing equally legitimate memories of the Confederate veterans. Labels such as the "Lost Cause" are used, yet it is also acknowledged that the Union had a significant numerical advantage on South Mountain, a key and accurate tenet of that same ideology.
If you are interested in the role of the Union troops at South Mountain and their later efforts to shape the memory of the battle, this book is for you. I will continue to search for additional works to augment the story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Live close to South Mountain, so will enjoy reading this book!Published 22 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 on May 14, 2014 by Tom
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. Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by C. R. Harris
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