The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution

By Richard Slotkin

In the summertime of 1862, after a yr of protracted combating, Abraham Lincoln selected a thorough switch of strategy—one that deserted wish for a compromise peace and devoted the country to all-out conflict. the center piece of that new process used to be the Emancipation Proclamation: an remarkable use of federal strength that will revolutionize Southern society. In The lengthy street to Antietam, Richard Slotkin, a well known cultural historian, reexamines the demanding situations that Lincoln encountered in the course of that anguished summer time a hundred and fifty years in the past. In an unique and incisive research of personality, Slotkin re-creates the showdown among Lincoln and basic George McClellan, the “Young Napoleon” whose competition to Lincoln incorporated obsessive fantasies of dictatorship and an army coup. He brings to three-d lifestyles their ruinous clash, demonstrating how their political fight supplied accomplice normal Robert E. Lee together with his most sensible chance to win the warfare, within the grand offensive that resulted in September of 1862 on the bloody conflict of Antietam.

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If Pope had geared up the troops to be had correctly for protection they can definitely have held their flooring or made reliable an orderly retreat to Centreville, the place abundant offers and reinforcement awaited. besides the fact that, Pope used to be nonetheless confident that he had Jackson cornered, and that Lee and Longstreet have been an extended day’s march away. He ordered one other around of frontal attacks on Jackson, and to provide them weight he ordered Porter’s V Corps to go away its place protecting the army’s southern flank and subscribe to the assault. This left Longstreet loose to strike at will. the truth that Longstreet was once at the scene, situated to weigh down Pope’s flank, is one degree of the adaptation among McClellan’s method of drawing close conflict and Robert E. Lee’s. McClellan refused to hazard his VI Corps by means of sending it to Pope’s suggestions. among his warning and Franklin’s personal planned events it took 3 days for the VI Corps to maneuver twenty-five miles—and even then it did not succeed in the battlefield. against this, Lee had boldly risked Jackson’s wing to be able to in attaining his tactical targets. Jackson had demanded, and his troops had achieved, pressured marches masking 80 miles over a two-day interval. Longstreet’s wing had at an analogous speed; and on August 28, fearing that Jackson’s wing can be in difficulty, it coated the final twenty miles in part an afternoon. due to Pope’s lack of knowledge in their presence, they have been capable of leisure and get well at the twenty-ninth ahead of being referred to as upon to assault at the 30th. Lee sought after Longstreet to strike quick, however the latter suggested ready till the Federals have been completely entangled with Jackson. whilst he judged that V Corps used to be totally engaged he ordered his artillery to rake Porter’s traces. whilst the V Corps wavered Longstreet’s infantry complex, a few divisions rolling up Porter’s line, others sweeping out to the ideal to get in the back of the Federal military and bring to a halt its retreat. Jackson’s wing, which were hard-pressed, counterattacked because the Federal attack troops pulled again. Hit from front and flank, Pope’s military misplaced all harmony, and massive plenty of disorganized troops went streaming to the rear. but the military used to be now not solely routed. obdurate stands and counterattacks through well-led regiments and brigades checked the accomplice attack columns. A rear-guard stand at nightfall at the Henry residence Hill allowed virtually the full military to flee to the a ways aspect of Bull Run. nonetheless, the Federals suffered heavy losses, a few 16 thousand out of an engaged strength of sixty-two thousand. might be a 3rd of those have been �captured—although there have been no mass surrenders of brigades or divisions, which might have indicated common demoralization. hence by means of a mix of reliable making plans, demanding marching, great opportunism and Federal incompetence, Lee had accomplished a number of of his fundamental targets. He had shifted the area of war from Richmond to Washington and pushed Federal forces out of northern Virginia. He had additionally created a chance for the type of victory that will considerably harm the North’s skill to salary struggle.

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