Antietam and C&O Canal Reading Recommendations: On September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam erupted in rural Sharpsburg, Maryland. The battle was part of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s larger Maryland Campaign. Fighting raged across western Maryland and included conflicts and crossings at the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. This bibliography covers that wider geographic context.
This page is a partial excerpt from Bicycling Antietam National Battlefield: The Cyclist’s Civil War Travel Guide (Victor, NY: Civil War Cycling, 2020), paid link. Used with Permission. Please note that I may receive a small payment from Amazon if you purchase books through the links, below.
Antietam and C&O Canal Reading Recommendations
The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg)
Alexander, Ted. The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011. Written by the former chief historian of Antietam National Battlefield, this 190-page book presents a compelling summary of the Battle of Antietam. It includes black-and-white photos, several detailed maps, and an order of battle.
Bailey, Ronald H., and Time-Life Books, eds. The Bloodiest Day: The Battle of Antietam (paid link). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1984. This book has the feel of an old but good “coffee table” book. Bailey’s 176-page book contains many large black-and-white photographs that accompany a battle narrative framed by the words of Union and Confederate officers. It includes an index, but no endnotes.
Banks, John. Connecticut Yankees at Antietam (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013. Popular Civil War Blogger John Banks never disappoints. In 190 pages of flowing narrative, Banks brings to life the stories of twenty-nine soldiers. The book includes an impressive set of endnotes, bibliography, and index.
Carman, E.A. and E.B. Cope. Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam. Washington, DC: Antietam Battlefield Board, 1908. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008621532/. The U.S. Library of Congress website provides free access to many Civil War photographs and maps. This particular 18-page map set includes an order of battle.
Carman, Ezra A. The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume II: Antietam (paid link). Edited and annotated by Thomas G. Clemens. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2012. Although very dense scholarly reading, Clemens’ annotations are helpful and comprehensive. Read this book with a good military atlas by your side.
Downey, Brian. Antietam on the Web. antietam.aotw.org. You won’t regret perusing Downey’s website and blog for interesting material on the Battle of Antietam. It categorizes articles by People, Places, and Events.
Ernst, Kathleen A. Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign (paid link). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999. A well-edited book with a forward by Ted Alexander, Ernst tells the often forgotten stories of civilians in the border state of Maryland. This 300-page monograph contains ten riveting chapters, each of which cite primary sources as endnotes. It includes a bibliography and an index.
Frassanito, William A. Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day (paid link). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978. This book is a classic in Civil War photography, written by the man who set the standard for mining photographs for historical facts and stories.
Frye, Dennis E. Antietam Revealed (paid link). Collingswood, NJ: C.W. Historicals, 2004. This 200-page book by a former National Park Historian is a gold mine of 1,865 objective statements about the Battle of Antietam—listed in chronological order. I started to love this book when I realized that one could read the statements one after the other and develop a clear understanding of battlefield events.
Gallagher, Gary W., ed. The Antietam Campaign (paid link). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. A well-edited book in the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series, Gallagher’s Antietam volume includes ten chapters of essays by prominent American scholars. Each essay includes extensive notes.
———. Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign (paid link). Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1989. Dennis Frye, Gary Gallagher, A. Wilson Greene, and Robert Kirk each contributed reflective essays on Antietam. They each address the questions about the “origins, conduct, and outcome” of the Antietam Campaign. It spans 100 pages and includes an index.
Gindlesperger, James, and Suzanne Gindlesperger. So You Think You Know Antietam? The Stories Behind America’s Bloodiest Day (paid link). Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair Publisher, 2012. In 234 color pages, the Gindlespergers divide the Antietam battlefield into nine geographic sections and provide photographs and text for some of the more significant monuments at Antietam. I fact-checked much of this book against government records and did not find any errors. The maps, though accurate, are grainy. Appendices include the text of Lee’s Lost Orders, orders of battle, and a list of Medal of Honor recipients for service at Antietam.
Gottfried, Bradley M. The Maps of Antietam (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2012. A beautiful 326-page military atlas by cartographer and historian Bradley Gottfried, if I could buy only one Antietam book, this would be it. Left-side pages describe the battle narrative; right-side pages contain maps, and it is easy to understand how the two connect.
Harsh, Joseph L. Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862 (paid link). Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2000. Professor Harsh is an award-winning historian known for his provocative analysis of Confederate history. This 280-page book on the Maryland Campaign is a topical collation of research notes that include primary source attribution. The book contains many data tables that summarize Confederate brigade histories, civilian population numbers, civilian occupations (including slaveholder counts), and weather statistics.
———. Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 (paid link). Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1999. This 650-page tome analyzes Gen. Lee’s strategy for invading Maryland in 1862. It is a ground-breaking book that warrants careful consideration, even if one might not agree with Harsh’s conclusions. Read this book along with its companion, Sounding the Shallows.
Hartwig, D. Scott. To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 (paid link). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. Hartwig is a career National Park Service employee, having most recently served as a Supervisory Park Historian. His 794-page book is a military history that begins when Gen. McClellan regained command of the Army of the Potomac, and ends on the evening before the Battle of Antietam. Appendixes include orders of battle and strength and casualty counts.
Hoptak, John David, and Keith B. Snyder. The Battle of Antietam: September 17, 1862). [Sharpsburg, MD?]: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, n.d. Hoptak is an interpretative park ranger who writes in a clear and accessible manner. This 8″ x 11″ paperback is 84 pages of military history interspersed with color maps and photos. If you are looking for a detailed and relatively brief military study of the Battle of Antietam, this book is for you.
Johnson, Curt, and Richard C. Anderson. Artillery Hell: The Employment of Artillery at Antietam (paid link). College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. The six chapters in this 148-page book detail the strength and use of artillery at the Battle of Antietam. It includes a reprint of Joseph Mills Hanson’s 1940 NPS report. The book includes many tables and several black-and-white photos.
Kalasky, Robert J. Shadows of Antietam (paid link). Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2012. Kalasky tells the chronological story of the Battle of Antietam and its aftermath using black-and-white photos and artist sketches. The book’s 170 pages are unique in that Kalasky documents camera locations, times, angles, and even shadow angles.
Large, George R., and Joe A. Swisher. Battle of Antietam: The Official History by the Antietam Battlefield Board (paid link). Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1998. This is a 224-page military narrative that describes the Battle of Antietam in terms of the nineteenth century inscriptions on the park’s cast iron tablets. The book contains several pen-and-ink maps.
Luvaas, Jay, and Harold W. Nelson, eds. Guide to the Battle of Antietam: The Maryland Campaign of 1862 (paid link). Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987. Although usable as a 310-page auto tour guide, the book works just as well as a chronological summary of military maneuvers from the Battle of South Mountain through the Battle of Antietam. It includes numerous quotations from the Official Records and a nice set of black-and-white maps and photos. Orders of battle and strength and casualty tables are provided in appendixes.
McGrath, Thomas A. Maryland September: True Stories from the Antietam Campaign (paid link). Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1997. This 82-page book is a collection of vignettes and stories that span most of the month of September, 1862. It includes a bibliography, but no notes.
McPherson, James M. Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (paid link). New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. In this New York Times bestseller, Professor McPherson clearly and compellingly describes the Battle of Antietam. Eminently accessible to the general reader, the 204-page book includes seven black-and-white maps, endnotes, and a bibliographic essay.
Mingus, Scott L., Sr. Human Interest Stories from Antietam (paid link). Orrtanna, PA: Colecraft Industries, 2007. This is a delightfully interesting compilation of human interest stories from the beginning of the Confederate invasion of Maryland and on to the Battles of South Mountain, Harper’s Ferry, and Antietam. The source for each story is identified on the same page. This 104-page book begins with a one-page chronology of the 1862 Maryland Campaign.
Murfin, James V. The Gleam of Bayonets: The Battle of Antietam and Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign, September 1862 (paid link). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993. One of the first modern books on the Battle of Antietam, Murfin’s 452-page narrative is a respected classic. Mostly text, five appendixes include several important primary source documents, including Lee’s “Lost Dispatch” and thirty-three Confederate and Union letters of commanding generals.
National Park Service. Antietam National Battlefield. nps.gov/anti.
Orrison, Robert, and Kevin R. Pawlak. To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862 (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2018. Written as an auto tour book, this 172-page book covers towns and cities along the Potomac River; Maryland towns in the counties near the signal point at Sugarloaf Mountain; Harper’s Ferry, South Mountain, Sharpsburg (Antietam), and Shepherdstown, to name a few highlights. It is a very well-written and helpful touring book. Unfortunately, like all Emerging Civil War Series books, the publisher has standardized on narrow margins and overly dark black-and-white images.
Pawlak, Kevin R. Images of America: Antietam National Battlefield (paid link) . Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2019. A certified battlefield guide at Antietam, Pawlak assembled a stunning collection of black-and-white images that include photos and sketches associated with the battle, cemetery, battlefield, and monumentation. The book has 128 pages.
Priest, John Michael. Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle (paid link). Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books, 1989. A licensed battlefield guide, Priest carefully details the military movements at the Battle of Antietam. The narrative aligns nicely with the book’s maps and occasional black-and-white portrait photos of soldiers. This 421-page book is unique in that it provides an order of battle with interspersed strength and casualty counts.
———. Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battlefield; A Self-Guided Mini-Tour (paid link). Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1994.
Rafuse, Ethan S. Antietam, South Mountain and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide (paid link). Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2008. Professor Rafuse’s auto tour book is exceptionally well-organized and easy to follow. The tour covers sites not on the official NPS route, including McClellan’s and Lee’s army headquarters at Antietam, as well as South Mountain and Harpers Ferry. The black-and-white military maps in this 264-page book are crisp and clear. The appendixes include orders of battle and a section on military organization, weapons, and tactics. There are no notes.
Reardon, Carol, and Tom Vossler. A Field Guide to Antietam (paid link). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016. An auto tour guide, this 348-page color book focuses on what happened at each site, who participated in those events, and who might have fallen. I liked this book for its historical content and beautiful color images and maps.
Schildt, John W. Hail to the Chief: Presidential Visits to Antietam (paid link). Chewsville, MD: John W. Schildt, 2002. This is a 48-page booklet that brings into one place the record of U.S. presidents who visited Antietam up to the date of publication in 2002, ending with Jimmy Carter.
———. Monuments at Antietam. Chewsville, MD: Antietam Publications, 1991. Schildt catalogs ninety-six monuments and markers at Antietam National Battlefield in this 194-page book. The book includes a subset of monument inscriptions, quotations from dedication day ceremonies, and descriptions of the monuments themselves.
Sears, Stephen W. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam (paid link). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. Sears’ 432-page book reads like a novel, but it is a comprehensive history book that includes primary source citations, an index, and an appendix with orders of battle. It is a classic description and study of the Battle of Antietam. This is my current Antietam favorite for a book that is not a military atlas.
Stahl, Joseph, and Matthew Borders. Faces of Union Soldiers at Antietam (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019. This 192-page book includes six maps and six chapters, each of which focus on a particular area of the Antietam battlefield. Each chapter showcases the character and performance of several Union regiments and the men who served in them. Black-and-white portrait photos enhance the narrative.
Stotelmyer, Steven R. Too Useful to Sacrifice: Reconsidering George B. McClellan’s Generalship (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2019. Stotelmeyer’s 272-page book systematically argues that Gen. McClellan’s military performance deserves reevaluation and rehabilitation. Regardless of whether you agree with Stotelmeyer’s conclusions, this is a carefully researched and thoughtfully written book that advances the historical narrative.
Tilberg, Frederick. Antietam. Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1994.
Time-Life Books, eds. Antietam: Voices of the Civil War (paid link). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1996. This large 168-page book is packed with quotations from Antietam soldiers of all ranks. Its maps are large and colorful, and the black-and-white images are crisp and clean. The book covers South Mountain and then describes the Battle of Antietam as a set of four Federal attacks.
Trail, Susan W. “Remembering Antietam: Commemoration and Preservation of a Civil War Battlefield.” PhD diss., University of Maryland, 2005. This PhD dissertation was written by the (now) Superintendent of Antietam National Battlefield. It is an interesting read for anyone who wants to learn about the families, local and state politicians, and other social considerations that impacted the establishment of the national battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Vermilya, Daniel J. That Field of Blood: The Battle of Antietam (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2018. Vermilya provides a solid introduction to the Battle of Antietam. The book’s narrative flows well. It covers broad themes without the addition of overwhelming detail. Vermilya’s 166-page book includes seven black-and-white maps by Hal Jespersen. Its two appendixes include a listing of presidential visits to Antietam, a short history of the national battlefield park, and an order of battle.
Walker, Keven M., and K.C. Kirkman. Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape (paid link). Sharpsburg, MD: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010. Walker and Kirkman have assembled a fascinating history of eleven Antietam farmsteads. Of its 144 pages, almost all of them contain high-quality black-and-white photos, sketches, and maps. The narrative includes quotations from Sharpsburg citizens and describes the Battle of Antietam as it impacted Sharpsburg’s farming families.
Civil War MarylandMore…
Baker, Jean H. The Politics of Continuity: Maryland Political Parties from 1859–1870. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
Bockmiller, Stephen R. Hagerstown in the Civil War. Images of America (paid link). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2011.
———. Washington County in the Civil War. Images of America. (paid link) Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2016.
Cottom, Robert I., Jr., and Mary Ellen Hayward. Maryland in the Civil War: A House Divided (paid link). Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1994.
Cox, Richard P. Civil War Maryland: Stories from the Old Line State (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2008.
Fields, Barbara Jeanne. Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland during the Nineteenth Century (paid link). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.
Floyd, Claudia. Maryland Women in the Civil War: Unionists, Rebels, Slaves and Spies (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
———. Union-Occupied Maryland: A Civil War Chronicle of Civilians and Soldiers (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2014.
Hedberg, Jacqueline Simmons. Plantations, Slavery and Freedom on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019.
Mitchell, Charles W., ed. Maryland Voices of the Civil War (paid link). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
Schildt, John W. Frederick in the Civil War: Battle and Honor in the Spired City (paid link). Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Snyder, Timothy R. Trembling in the Balance: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal During the Civil War (paid link). Boston: Blue Mustang Press, 2011.
Soderberg, Susan Cooke. A Guide to Civil War Sites in Maryland: Blue and Gray in a Border State (paid link). Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books, 1998.
Swank, Mark A., and Dreama J. Swank. Maryland in the Civil War. Images of America (paid link). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2013.
Toomey, Daniel Carroll. The Civil War in Maryland. 4th ed. (paid link) Baltimore: Toomey Press, 1990.
Jacobs, Charles T. The Civil War Guide to Montgomery County, Maryland. Rockville, MD: Montgomery County Historical Society, 1996. First published 1983.
Blue and Gray Magazine. History and Tour Guide of the Antietam Battlefield (paid link). Columbus, OH: Blue and Gray Enterprises, 1995.
Luvaas, Jay, and Harold W. Nelson. Guide to the Battle of Antietam: The Maryland Campaign of 1862 (paid link). Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987.
Orrison, Robert, and Kevin R. Pawlak. To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862 (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2018.
Parzych, Cynthia. Antietam: A Guided Tour Through History (paid link). Guilford, CT: Morris Book Publishing, 2009.
Priest, John Michael. Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battlefield; A Self-Guided Mini Tour (paid link). Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1994.
Rafuse, Ethan S. Antietam, South Mountain and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide (paid link). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
Reardon, Carol, and Tom Vossler. A Field Guide to Antietam (paid link). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
TravelBrains. Antietam Expedition Guide (paid link). N.p.: TravelBrains, 2004.
Hiking & Biking
Broadwell, Larry. Hiker’s Guide to Civil War Trails in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Vienna, VA: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, 2015.
Hahn, Thomas F. Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal. Harpers Ferry, WV: Harpers Ferry Historical Association, 2015.
High, Mike. The C&O Canal Companion: A Journey through Potomac History. 2nd ed. (paid link) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.
Joyner, Leanna. Hiking through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail (paid link). Harpers Ferry, WV: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 2015.
Shelton, Napier. Potomac Pathway: A Nature Guide to the C&O Canal (paid link). Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2011.
Snyder, Keith. Antietam Remembered: A Walking Tour. [Sharpsburg, MD?]: Western Maryland Interpretative Association, n.d.
———. Bloody Lane Trail. Ibid.
———. The Cornfield Trail. Ibid.
———. The Final Attack Trail: September Harvest of Death. Ibid.
———. Union Advance Trail. Ibid.
———. West Woods Trail. Ibid.
TrailGuide: Official Guide to the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage. 16th ed. Homestead, PA: Great Allegheny Press, 2020.
Trailhead Graphics. Battlefield America: Antietam National Battlefield. Civil War Map Series. Aurora, CO: Trailhead Graphics, 2012.
———. Civil War Campaigns Across the Potomac. Civil War Battlefield Series. Aurora, CO: Trailhead Graphics, 2006.
U.S. Department of the Interior. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal: Official National Park Handbook; 142. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1991.
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