In view of the fact that the bloody Battle of Antietam was fought in Washington County, Maryland, it is perhaps ironic that no prior account of the role of Washington countians in the Civil War has ever been published. Armed with a mere handful of names, Roger Keller, a resident of Hagerstown in Washington County, decided, some 20 years ago, to set this situation to rights. In this remarkable book, he has compiled all that is now known about 1,500 Washington County natives who fought on either side of that great conflict. Open the book to almost any of the accounts and you will be struck by the extraordinary pull which the Civil War exerted on these men’s lives. Lives like that of Charles Bean, who moved from Hagerstown to Texas, later to serve in Gen. Hood’s Brigade at Sharpsburg, then lose a leg at Gettysburg, before returning to Texas after the war. While most of the notes pertain to the combatants themselves, interspersed among them are biographical sketches of a score of Washington County physicians who enlisted in the war and a handful of noncombatants who became swept up in it.
This second edition features more than 300 sketches not included in the original edition–fully 25% more. Many of the newly added soldiers served in units outside of Maryland (notably Pennsylvania and Virginia) but could be identified as residents of Washington County at the time of the 1890 “Special Census.” Some of the new soldiers are believed to have been from states like New York and Ohio who served in the vicinity of Washington County and located there after the war. Mr. Keller consulted all the major sources on the Civil War in Maryland, and he cites them in his bibliography.
This book is must reading for anyone interested in the genealogy or history of the Civil War in the Free State.
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