Fellow blogger, NPS ranger, and author John Hoptak was nice enough to send me a copy of his most recent book, Our Boys Did Nobly: Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania Soldiers at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. Hoptak uses the story of Schuylkill County soldiers of the 48th, 50th, & 96th PA Volunteer Infantry regiments to tell the larger tale of the 1862 Maryland Campaign. It’s an original and effective approach, and a good read.
The 48th and 50th PAVI of Ambrose Burnside’s 9th Corps, and the 96th of William Franklin’s 6th Corps were in good positions to use as bases for a narrative of the battles of South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap, with all three units seeing action. And while the 50th saw the biggest part of the elephant at Antietam, the author fleshes out the story of the rest of the battle more than adequately and with a variety of primary accounts. What happened on the southern end of the field after the crossing of the Antietam by 9th Corps typically gets short shrift in most studies of Antietam, and Hoptak has gone a long way to bringing into sharper focus those events. I’ve been reading and stomping Antietam for years, and learned a lot from Our Boys.
The book is self published and has some of the editing problems attendant to such a product, but the author more than makes up for those deficiencies with his demonstrated command of the subject and materials, and he’s put together a fast-paced narrative that will be eye-opening for readers of all levels.