After a string of victories in Virginia, Robert E. Lee marches his Army of Northern Virginia northward across the Potomac River in search of one final battlefield triumph as the best way to bring about Southern independence. Little goes right for Lee when the garrison at Harpers Ferry refuses to evacuate and a lost order reveals his plans to George McClellan and his resurgent Army of the Potomac. The result is a divided Southern army severely weakened by straggling, a failed effort to hold the gaps through South Mountain, and a final stand at Sharpsburg on September 17 (the bloodiest day in American history) with the Potomac River and a single ford at Lee’s back.
Alexander Rossino weaves these momentous hours together brilliantly in Six Days in September. Readers live the high-stakes drama through the gritty minutiae experienced by a host of historical characters—including an injured and exhausted General Lee, the pious hard-fighting Stonewall Jackson, a frustrated but reliable James Longstreet, the acerbic Harvey Hill, and the irrepressible Kyd Douglas. Rossino also displays a keen understanding of daily travails undergone by the common foot soldiers, and the unique hardships Sharpsburg’s civilians lived through when two major armies decided to wage war around their sleepy Maryland village.
Six Days in September is a sweeping account, brilliantly written with a “you-are-there” sense that will linger long after you finish this book.