To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, D. Scott Hartwig, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012, 8 black and white images, 17 maps, 3 appendices, bibliographic notes, essay on notes, index, 794pp., $49.96. Release date: October 15, 2012.
Both literally and figuratively, all other treatments of The Antietam Campaign may well stand in the shadow of Scott Hartwig's To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862. Having 800 pages and weighting three pounds, nine ounces, To Antietam Creek will be larger than any other book on most bookshelves. And . . . this is only half the campaign. Chapter one begins on August 30 with George McClellan smoking a cigar and requesting by telegram to rejoin the elements of the Army of the Potomac that are under the command of John Pope. The final chapter concludes with infantrymen and artillerymen in a restless sleep on the Henry Piper farm, George Line farms and the German Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg during the hours before dawn of September 17. The narrative style is reminiscent of Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy. The maps are clear, precise and well labeled. The September 14 Battle of South Mountain is described in seven chapters covering 221 pages. The capture of Harpers Ferry is covered in four chapters totaling 128 pages. Tom Clemens of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation states "By far the best work done on the Maryland Campaign . . . [it] will set the standard for many, many years to come." Yes, it looks that way.