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The Cornfield (Paperback)

Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point

Military > By Century > 19th Century

By David A Welker
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781636242163
Published: 15th October 2022



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Antietam. For generations of Americans this word - the name of a bucolic stream in western Maryland - held the same sense of horror and carnage that the simple date 9/11 does for modern America. Even today, Antietam eclipses only this modern tragedy as America's single bloodiest day, on which 22,000 Americans became casualties in a war to determine our nation’s future. Antietam is forever burned into the American psyche, a battle bathed in blood alone that served no military purpose, brought no decisive victory. This much Americans know. What they didn't know is why this is so – until now.


The Cornfield: Antietam’s Bloody Turning Point for the first time tells the full story of the exciting struggle to control “the Cornfield,” the action on which the costly battle of Antietam turned, in a thorough yet readable narrative. It explains what happened in Antietam’s Cornfield and why. Because Federal and Confederate forces repeatedly traded control of the spot, the fight for the Cornfield is a story of human struggle against fearful odds, of men seeking to do their duty, of simply trying to survive. Many of the included first-hand accounts have never been revealed to modern readers and never have they been assembled in such a comprehensive, readable form.


At the same time, The Cornfield offers fresh perspectives about the battle of Antietam, arguing that the battle turned on events in the Cornfield because of two central facts - that Union General George McClellan’s linear thinking demanded that the Cornfield must be taken and that because of this, the repeated failure by the generals McClellan charged with fulfilling this task created a self-reinforcing cycle of disaster that doomed the Union's prospects for success - at the cost of thousands of lives.


The Cornfield offers new perspectives that may be controversial - particularly to those who accept unchallenged the views of the battle's first historians and its generals, who too often sought to shape our understanding for their own purposes - but which certain to change modern understanding of how the battle of Antietam was fought and its role in American history.

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About David A Welker

David Welker is a professional historian and military analyst for the Federal Government. He holds a master's degree in International Affairs from American University and a bachelor's in History and Political Science from Westminster College. He is also a published author. 

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