Book Review: Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army


by Jack C. Mason

Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2009. Pp. xi, 234. Illus, maps, notes, biblio, index. $29.95. ISBN: 0809329476

A very fine commander, the virtually forgotten Civil War general Israel B. Richardson had to wait nearly 150 years for a biographer after he died of wounds incurred at Antietam

In Until Antietam, Mason, who is an instructor at the Command and General Staff College, draws upon a recently uncovered cache of the general's letters, as well as other archival materials, to throw light on the life and service this very overlooked commander. A West Pointer (1841), Richardson served with distinction on the frontier, in Florida , and in Mexico , before resigning from the Army in the mid-1850s to take up farming. When the Civil War broke out, he answered the call, and rose from leading a regiment to division command in about a years by dint of tactical skill and an aggressive "Rough and Ready" approach to command. The book includes quite a number of impressive battle pieces, plus a good deal of insight into the character and life of the American volunteer during the Civil War.

Although the book does not give us much of a look at Richardson 's personal life, and Mason is perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about his subject, Until Antietam is a good book, and a valuable read for anyone interested in the Civil War, especially in the East, or in military leadership.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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