Symposium Spotlight: Maryland Campaign “What If” Panel

Welcome back to our annual spotlight series, highlighting speakers and topics for our upcoming symposium. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to feature previews of our speaker’s presentations for the 2022 Emerging Civil War Symposium. We’ll also be sharing suggested titles that you may want to read in preparation for these programs. This week we feature Kevin Pawlak of our Maryland Campaign ‘What If’ Panel…

For a campaign that lasted less than three weeks, the Maryland Campaign of September 1862 holds plenty of intrigue, and the campaign’s outcome hinged on many events within that short span of time.

In the summer of 1862, the Civil War took a dramatic turn. In the Eastern Theater, the seat of war transferred from less than 10 miles of the Confederate capital at Richmond to within a day’s march of the United States capital, Washington, DC. Confederate advances occurred across one thousand miles of North American roads. The war effort never seemed so bleak for the United States and President Abraham Lincoln. Confederate independence seemed a near certainty in early September. Behind it all, Lincoln awaited a Union victory to announce the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

General Robert E. Lee

Once in Maryland, Robert E. Lee dispersed his Confederate army to subdue Union garrisons in the Shenandoah Valley at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry. He believed he had more time than he had. Instead, George McClellan reinvigorated and reorganized a Union force to meet Lee in battle and drive him out of Maryland. A lost copy of Lee’s campaign plans came into McClellan’s hands, and the armies battled one another at South Mountain on September 14 and three days later in the bloodiest single day of battle in American history at Antietam, ultimately driving the Confederates out of Maryland and opening the door for Lincoln’s proclamation.

Any different choices that the two army commanders and their subordinates and superiors made could have radically altered the outcome of the Maryland Campaign. How would the campaign have played out if Lee decided not to split his army and eliminate the Union garrisons in the Shenandoah Valley? Would McClellan ever have caught Lee without the Lost Orders? What if McClellan decisively defeated Lee’s army at Antietam? Find out answers to these questions and more during this year’s panel discussion at the Emerging Civil War Symposium featuring Kevin Pawlak, Dan Welch, and Kris White.

A limited number of tickets are available for this year’s symposium! Purchase your tickets here!

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