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HCC professor publishes Civil War manuscript

Hagerstown Community College professor Thomas Clemens recently published “The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume I: South Mountain,” the first part of a two-volume historical, annotated manuscript that details one of the most famous campaigns of the Civil War.

The manuscript itself is the work of Ezra A. Carman, a Union colonel in the 13th New Jersey Infantry, who was later appointed as the historical expert to the Antietam Battlefield Board in 1894. After the war, Carman wrote a 1,800-page manuscript on the Maryland Campaign, using firsthand accounts from war veterans and his own personal experience. In addition to eyewitness accounts, the manuscript includes maps and photos. A biographical dictionary will be included in Volume II, which is expected to be released in 2012.

According to Clemens, Carman’s manuscript sat untouched for decades in the Library of Congress, referenced by historians but never published in its entirety. Clemens, recognized internationally as one of the foremost historians of the Maryland Campaign, began studying the campaign as part of his doctoral dissertation, and has spent the last 11 years editing and annotating Carman’s manuscript. The campaign itself Clemens has studied for more than 30 years.

“I see it as the pivotal campaign of the Civil War,” says Clemens. “This is the campaign that made the Emancipation Proclamation possible and ended the Confederacy’s hope of winning the war. It led to the Battle of Antietam, where more Americans were killed in a 24-hour period than in any other battle in Civil War history. Overall, it is incredibly compelling.”

A professor of history and political science, Clemens earned his doctoral degree from George Mason University, where he studied under Maryland Campaign historian Joseph L. Harsh. He is a licensed tour guide at Antietam National Battlefield and is one of the founders of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Inc., where he currently serves as foundation president. Clemens has been teaching at HCC since 1978.

A book signing will be held at the Hagerstown Borders on Sat., July 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. For directions or more information, call 301-745-5897.