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3495Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: The Complete Story of Antietam

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  • Joseph Pierro
    Jun 24, 2007
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      Dear Gerry:

      Please call me Jake. All my friends do.

      My apologies if i misquoted your earlier statement. As I read the post, someone made reference to the "about to be published" Carman manuscript as "the definitive work.

      Your statement in reply was something on the lines of "hardly definitive"--which I took as a remark upon my job of EDITING it. I see that you meant to refer to Carman's manuscript itself.

      To which, I concur that Carman is HARDLY the last work on the subject. In fact, he owes (and openly acknowledges) quite a debt to Palfrey (quoting him verbatim and at length in many passages) and other contemporaries. In that regard, I am not aware of ANY author who has written all that can be said on Antietam. (I'm hard pressed to think of any historian who has done that for ANY Civil War battle.)

      I think the word "definitive" sprang up in this conversation as a result of my use of the word in the subtitle to my edition of Carman. Marketing cache aside, I used the term in its literal sense. Carman's manuscript represnets the sum total of his reserach into the battle--research which formed the basis of the "official narrative" of Antietam as constructed by the Battlefield Board, and which has served--on some level--as the basis for all subsequent histories of the fight.

      Consciously or not, everyone who writes on Antietam is in some way beginning with Carman. The govenrment's account of the battle--as expressed not only in print, but in the layout of Antietam National Battlefield itself, in what was presevred and what was omitted, what was foregrounded and what was relegated to the sidelines--is the narrative Carman constructed for them.

      Which is to say (a point I express in my introduction) that Carman's work has "defined" all subsequent research. It's the baseline to which others historians have either adhered or deviated--but, by definition, they have never worked in isolation from it.

      As for its flaws, I am the first to admit there are boths errors of fact and errors of interpretation in Carman's work. (So too with every history.)

      I go back to my use of the word "baseline." I for one would never argue that Carman's work (by which I refer to the sum of his inquiries into Antietam, of which the Maryland Campaign is but one expression) is (or ever intended to be) the "last" word on the subject. I would argue, however, that it is, if not the FIRST word, the most influential on the subsequent course of Antietam historiography.

      ----- Original Message ----
      From: G E Mayers <gerry1952@...>
      To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2007 10:39:12 PM
      Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: The Complete Story of Antietam

      Dear Joseph,

      I think I understand now what you meant in your previous email to
      which I responded. Carman was the unofficial official Historian
      of the Battle of Antietam for the Battlefield Board and as such
      carried on a most exhaustive correspondence with surviving
      veterans of both sides.

      Being himself also a veteran of the fighting at Antietam where he
      was colonel of the Thirteenth New Jersey, a nine month unit which
      literally learned how to go through the motions of loading its
      muskets under Confederate fire (talk about "on the job
      training"!!! !), Carman had a personal interest in getting the
      facts right. I agree with you that Carman's manuscript continues
      to remain one of the highest sources for primary information
      about the battle but, like most all documentation, the manuscript
      is not without its flaws.

      Another very worthwhile work is that authored by Francis Palfrey
      titled "The Antietam and Fredericksburg" , which can be purchased
      in paperback form. IIRC Stephen Sears did the introduction to the
      paperback edition. I have the book and have read it and found it
      a very good source and containing much valuable information.

      Yr. Obt. Svt.
      G E "Gerry" Mayers

      To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
      on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
      Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
      the Almighty God. --Anonymous
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "joseph_pierro" <joseph_pierro@ yahoo.com>
      To: <TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com>
      Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2007 10:05 PM
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Re: The Complete Story of Antietam

      Dear Adam (and Gerry):

      There seems to be a little confusion about this book.

      It is not a study ABOUT Carman or his work (a biography of Carman
      written soem years ago by a student of Joe Harsh's, but it
      remains an
      unpublished thesis); the book Adam appears to be referencing is
      (soon to be) published and annotated edition of Carman's own
      page manuscript (Tom Clemens and I differ as to the number of
      my count comes in a little over 1,400.)

      As for it being "less than definitive"- -well, it is THE narrative
      that has shaped the park's own interpretation of the battle to
      day. Murfin, Sears, and Harsh all rely upon it. Which is not to
      it doesn't have its problems (it IS a 100 year old work, crafted
      standards of scholarship weren't as fixed and rigorous as a
      work faces), but even those wirters who disagree with Carman's
      interpretations first begin by taking him head-on. In Landscape
      Turned Red, Sears called it the most detailed history of the
      ever written. Nothing has changed since then to alter the truth
      that statement.

      Carman's a bit like Freeman in that regard--writers can disagree
      everythign he said, but they can't write on the subject without
      coming to grips with his work at some point.

      Had Dr. Harsh continued his series, I'd would no doubt have been
      exhaustive campaign study. I question, however, whether he would
      have gone into the tactical specificity Carman provided. I would
      agree that Harsh's work--even in its current state--supplants
      owes a debt to) Carman's as a large-unit, strategic/operation al

      I'm not sure how Gerry might have heard anything--positive or
      otherwise--about it, as it hasn't yet reached print. (Five
      have seen my edition to date. I'll let their reactions speak for
      themselves on the book's Amazon page.) Perhaps his opinion will
      improve once he sees it. ;)

      --Joseph Pierro
      Hanover Co., Va.

      --- In TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com, "G E Mayers" <gerry1952@. ..>
      > Dear Adam,
      > The book which you refer to about Carman has been referred to
      > as
      > than a definitive study. Dr. Thomas Clemens, who won his
      > Doctorate
      > an annotation of the Carman work, would be probably the best
      > person
      > qualified for a definitive work on the Carman manuscript.
      > Yr. Obt. Svt.
      > G E "Gerry" Mayers
      > To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
      > on
      > one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
      > Union,
      > passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from the
      > God. --Anonymous
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "Adam Zimmerli" <azimmerli@. ..>
      > To: <TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com>
      > Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 10:21 AM
      > Subject: [TalkAntietam] Re: The Complete Story of Antietam
      > I have to say I'm a fan of Joe Harsh's trilogy, but as far as a
      > definitive study, I hear that Ezra Carman's study will be
      > coming out
      > this summer (at a thousand pages and a hundred dollars).
      > --- In TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com, "James W. Durney"
      > <JWD2044@>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > > --- In TalkAntietam@ yahoogroups. com, "Thomas Clemens"
      > > <clemenst@>
      > > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > I would argue that had Joe Harsh finished his multi-volume
      > > > work
      > > the Union perspective, together with Confederate trilogy,
      > > they
      > be
      > > definitive. But very long.
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > I would only argue it would be very very very long. Having
      > > read
      > > some
      > > of your work, I hope to see a book on the battle some day> >
      > > James
      > >

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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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