Critical praise for Vol. II

Dim­itri Rotov, whose Civil War Book­shelf reviews are frank and objec­tive, had these nice things to say about Vol. II:
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.

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One Comment

  1. Moe Daoust
    Posted May 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dim­itri!

    Been awhile. Glad to see you are still keep­ing busy on your book reviews. Sadly, I’m not as involved in the Civil War as I used to be but would still love to sit down with you over a nice glass of wine one day soon and just catch up. Do you get up to Canada at all? Wanda and I are now liv­ing in Lake­field, Ontario and would love to have you visit us one day. Let’s talk about that. Please email me at moenwanda@yahoo.com. In the mean­time, take care my friend.

    Very best,

    Moe

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