Da Capo Press


The bloodiest single day in American military history, the Battle of Antietam was also a pivotal moment in the Civil War that is nonetheless often overshadowed by more infamous battles such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg. Still, a number of good full-length accounts do exist. Among them are James Murphin’s The Gleam of Bayonets (1965), John Michael Priest’s Antietam: The Soldier’s Battle (1989), Stephen Sears’ Landscape Turned Red (1993), and James McPherson’s Crossroads of Freedom (2002). Besides the staggering numbers of casualties, perhaps what most attracts scholars and Civil War enthusiasts to this particular battle is the fame (or infamy) of its participants—Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Ambrose Burnside—as well as the battle’s role as a catalyst for Lincoln’s issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, it is this later facet of the Civil War that Justin Martin seeks to highlight in his newest book, A Fierce Glory: Antietam—The Desperate Battle that Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery.