The Civil War battle waged on September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek, Maryland, was one of the bloodiest in the nation's history. On this single day, the battle claimed nearly twenty-three thousand casualties. In Landscape Turned Red, the renowned historian Stephen Sears draws on a remarkable cache of diaries, dispatches, and letters to recreate the vivid drama of Antietam as experienced not only by its leaders but also by its soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Combining brilliant military analysis with narrative history of enormous power, Landscape Turned Red is the definitive work on this climactic and bitter struggle.
Sears has provided a meticulous account of McClellan's foibles.
The narrative which Sears employs is constant and moving. It never seems to bog down for too long a period. His prose keeps the reader engaged, and to use an oft-used expression: he did bring the Battle of Antietam, with all of its movements, locations, and cast of characters alive.
"Landscape Turned Red" is not a difficult book to read and understand. Mr. Sears uses language that most everyone can understand, though he did not write it aimed at catering to the lowest common denominator. It is a very well researched work. Sears seems to support his claims in the book with facts, of which there are many, but still keeps the flow of the book moving forward.
An excellent and scholarly read that I would recommend to any and all.
I have read several other books by Stephen W. Sears and I thought that this was one of his best. The book starts with some comments on the Battle of the Seven Days and a short description of The Second Battle of Bull Run.
The drama of the battle began when Federal soldiers found a copy of Lee's detailed battle plans, Order 191, wrapped around three cigars. This gave George McClellan a terrific opportunity to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan followed his pattern of delaying and not using all of his troops and blew his chance to end the war.
I thought that Sears made excellent use of primary sources throughout the book that made the action come alive. He writes a detailed narration of the day's fighting with insightful commentary on the mistakes made by the Northern generals. Time and time again Lee's army is pushed to the brink of destruction but McClellan fails to make the final push necessary for complete victory.
There is a very good appendix detailing exactly how Lee's orders were lost and then found. Sears points out that there is a disagreement among the sources for this part of the story and we may never know exactly what happened.
This is an excellent book for a student of the Civil War. While it is well written and dramatic tale it may not be as interesting for someone who does not have that much interest in the war.
Sears focuses, instead, on McClellan's missed opportunities and failures of leadership. While they are legion, we already knew that stuff anyway. This could have been so much more. Sadly, I've stayed away from Sears ever since.