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Revisiting The Civil War with Dr. Alexander Rossino


Today, The Two Mikes spoke with Alexander Rossino, who holds a PH.D in history from Syracuse University, and is the author of Their Maryland: The Army of Northern Virginia from the Potomac Crossing to Sharpsburg in September 1862.

 

Dr. Rossino's book seeks to supply answers to a number of questions that still surround the whys and wherefores of the Sharpsburg/Antietam Battle. One of these questions is why did General Lee take his army into Maryland? One traditionally offered reason still stands true, Lee wanted to take the war out of Virginia to allow the state's farmers to harvest their crops. More important, though, Lee's decision for Maryland focused on a major political aspect of the war, expanding the Confederacy.

 

Lee brought his army into Maryland in an attempt to exploit what was thought to be the ardor of many Marylanders to join the Confederate States of America. In essence, Dr. Rossino explains, the army carried a message from Richmond that amounted to "we have come to welcome you into our new nation, if you so choose, and we are ready to spill the army's blood to protect you if you choose to join."

 

As things worked out, relatively few Confederates rallied to the offer from Lee and the Confederacy. Indeed, after some of the bloodiest fighting in U.S. history, Lee's army fought the Army of the Potomac to a draw, and was able to withdraw back across the Potomac to safety in Virginia.

 

Another question that always arises about Lee's actions is why did Lee and his army go into western Maryland rather than eastern Maryland along the Atlantic shore? This area, after all, was known to have strong supporters of the Confederacy and most of the state's slaves. Lee's motivation on this score was pretty clear cut, had he moved east he would have cleared a path for Union forces to sweep into the heart of Virginia. There is of course much more to answering both of these questions, and Dr. Rossino's book tells a fuller and more detailed story for each of them, as well as for several of the other major questions that are still asked about Lee's invasion of Maryland.

 

Dr. Rossino is an excellent speaker and tells his story in very clear and concise terms. It was our pleasure to speak with and learn from him.

 

Dr. Rossino's other Civil War-era books include: Calamity at Frederick; The Tale Untwisted: George McClellan and the Discovery of Lee's lost Order (co-author Gene M. Thorp); Six Days in September, A Novel of Lee's Army in Maryland; and the forthcoming, The Guns of September, McClelland's Army in Maryland,1862. All of the books are published by and available from America's top Civil War publishing house, Savas Beattie, as well as from Amazon and many other booksellers.


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