September 17-19, 1862

Savas-Beatie has brought out two very useful books to commemorate this time 150 years after the fact.

Bradley Gottfried's The Maps of Antietam, like his Gettysburg book before it, is a volume you can get lost in for many hours. Let's see, 124 color maps at 10 minutes minimum per map, there goes 20 hours right there. I expect to see this in many tourists' hands on my next visit to the battlefield. (I wouldn't be surprised, either, if his mapped vegetation plots put some pressure on park plantings.)

Tom Clemens' second volume of annotated Ezra Carman is out, The Maryland Campaign of 1862, and it weighs in at 668 pages, for a total of 1189 pages including Volume 1.

The first volume covered the campaign up to the battle and this volume addresses the battle itself.here, moreso than in Volume 1, Clemens' discursive footnoting really comes into its own.

For example, I compared the same subsections of a chapter from Joseph Pierro's one-volume edition (516 pages total) of Carman's work with Tom's Volume II. The chapter is "The Burnside Bridge" which Joe changed (for some reason) to "The Rohrbach (Burnside) Bridge."

In this matched comparison of passages of the same length, the Pierro book shows four footnotes, all of the type
McClellan to Thomas, Oct. 15, 1861, 31
Pierro's sparse notes are intended to correlate some of Carman's material to outside sources such as the OR. A discursive note from Pierro's book might spend a sentence or two on the implications of misspelling Duryee as Duryea.

Clemens also has four footnotes, two of them short and two longer. Here is his version of Pierro's note (shown above):
McClellan's October 15 report, ibid., p. 31. This language is notably absent from his August 1863 report.
You see the value, immediately, even in Clemens' shortest notes.

In the matched passages, Carman describes the terrain around the bridge calling out a spot where four Union batteries were located. Clemens' footnote says how Carman likely developed the distance data. He also records, with interesting citations, that Carman is the only source for putting Roemer's battery at the bridge site on this day. Very nice points and not mirrored in Pierro's book, where notes have been pressed into a different kind of service.

In the passage addressing McClellan's order to attack over the bridge, Clemens gives an elegantly compact, masterfully edited note that embraces where Carman got his language for the narrative describing this incident; highlights of the controversy regarding the timing of the order; and he mentions a major contribution to the study of this controversy in 2007 by our friend Moe D'Aoust.

Pierro did us good service bringing a Carman edition public when there was none but the best is the enemy of the good. You have to buy Clemens' Carman for the notes. They are superb.

Meanwhile, here are Tom Clemens and Brian Pohanka in a two-hour CSPAN conversation about the campaign and battle.

Update 5/7/14: Mr. Pierro wrote a very nice email complementing the Clemens work and the scholarship involved. He sums it up nicely:
I applaud Tom for moving the ball further down the field in the years since the release of my edition. The difference between our two approaches reflects the difference between a landscape in which Carman's text was not readily available, and one in which it now is.
Regarding my question of the Rohrbach vs Burnside Bridge nomenclature, he said "Carman HIMSELF wasn't consistent in his original text," which is why there is a difference.
As I went on to explain in note 8 (same page), Carman thenceforth usually (but not always) referred top it as the "Burnside Bridge." But I believe (as I did then) that it is anachronistic to talk about soldiers fighting and dying for the Burnside Bridge when it was only the volume of that very fighting and dying that gave the structure a new name in later years.
Good point. He adds "Much the same spirit animated my very lengthy note on page 411 (n. 48) regarding the proper rank by which Joseph Mansfield should be referred when discussing September 17." I appreciate the updates!