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Re: Col. Benjamin Davis near Sharpsburg on 9/14

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  • joseph_pierro
    Tom is correct regarding the distances involved in Carman s version of the event. It does give one pause. On the other hand, I ve yet to find any contemporary
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 4, 2008
      Tom is correct regarding the distances involved in Carman's version
      of the event. It does give one pause. On the other hand, I've yet to
      find any contemporary evidence to contradict the claim.

      Also, the purpose of picketing, after all, is simply to give notice
      of an enemy's approach, not to attempt any appreciable resistance.
      And we're talking about picketing during the operational stage of a
      campaign (as opposed to the tactical phase, when the bulk of both
      armies are in close proximity, in their main battle lines). Given the
      distances over which the ANV was scattered at the time, the vast
      expanse of mileage over which potential threats could come, and the
      number of different avenues of approach from which the ANV had to
      guard against being attacked in detail, a distance as great as Carman
      records for those pickets is not entirely out of the realm of either
      possibility or military soundness.

      On the larger issue, one good thing to keep in mind whenever dealing
      with the Carman mss. is that the focus of his research overall was in
      furtherance of his official task: to mark the battlefield of Sept.
      17. That's where the bulk of his energies were directed -- on
      Antietam. Much of his focus on other aspects of the campaign -- South
      Mountain, for instance -- was undertaken primarily with regard to
      what the unit strengths would have been by the time they reached the
      field at Antietam. 9/17 was always uppermost.

      Of course, his manuscript covers the entire campaign, however. I
      don;t mean to suggest that it isn't of tremendous value OUTSIDE of
      9/17, but the area of Carman's greatest expertise was on the battle
      of Antietam. (Or, to put it more generously, he was on even FIRMER
      ground when discussing Antietam than he was on other aspects of the

      I noticed in my work that, as he moves away from the battle itself,
      he tends to defer a bit more to his sources and is less willing to
      second-guess them.


      --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...>
      > I am familiar with Carman's account and the letters, reports, etc.
      he used to write that passage. Murfin used Carman as his source on
      this. I am also familiar with how far it is from Solomon's Gap to
      What is essentially today Sample's Manor and that is a hell of a
      distance to picket with 300 men. Given the reductions for picket
      reserves, those supporting Hart's guns and the signal detachment on
      Elk Ridge, it doesn't leave a lot of guys to stretch that distance.
      Dennis Frye, who knows the MD Campaign quite well and grew up in
      Pleasant Valley, finds this passage hard to accept. Yet Carman's
      sources say it happened, and he takes that as gospel. This passage
      really illustrates the difficulty and ambiguity of dealing with
      > Dr. Thomas G. Clemens
      > Professor of History
      > Hagerstown Community College
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