From the Peninsula to the Antietam

Benjamin Franklin Cooling

Great Campaigns of the Civil War Series

384 pages
8 photographs, 1 illustration, 13 maps


December 2013


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eBook (EPUB)

February 2020


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eBook (PDF)

January 2008


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About the Book

During the summer of 1862, a Confederate resurgence threatened to turn the tide of the Civil War. When the Union’s earlier multitheater thrust into the South proved to be a strategic overreach, the Confederacy saw its chance to reverse the loss of the Upper South through counteroffensives from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi. Benjamin Franklin Cooling tells this story in Counter-Thrust, recounting in harrowing detail Robert E. Lee’s flouting of his antagonist George B. McClellan’s drive to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and describing the Confederate hero’s long-dreamt-of offensive to reclaim central and northern Virginia before crossing the Potomac.
Counter-Thrust also provides a window into the Union’s internal conflict at building a successful military leadership team during this defining period. Cooling shows us Lincoln’s administration in disarray, with relations between the president and field commander McClellan strained to the breaking point. He also shows how the fortunes of war shifted abruptly in the Union’s favor, climaxing at Antietam with the bloodiest single day in American history—and in Lincoln’s decision to announce a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Here in all its gritty detail and considerable depth is a critical moment in the unfolding of the Civil War and of American history.

Author Bio

Benjamin Franklin Cooling is a professor of national security studies and former Associate Dean of Academic Programs at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Washington, DC.  He is a well-known author in military, naval, and air history and specializes in Civil War history, including studies of the conflict in Tennessee and Kentucky and defending Washington, DC.


“Cooling provides a new way of looking at the Maryland campaign and makes Counter-Thrust a necessary read for any Civil War scholar.”—Joseph-James Ahern, On Point

"Far from offering simply a book of battles, Cooling places the battles into a well-defined context and demonstrates how strategic decision making occurred at the highest levels during the Civil War."—S. J. Ramold, Choice

“Not only is [Counter-Thrust] exceptionally well written, but also it offers a highly critical account of what many scholars argue are the most significant campaigns of the Civil War."—Alex Mendoza, Journal of Southern History

“Counter-Thrust has few peers as an introductory volume to one of the most dramatic campaign summers in military history.”—Christopher S. Stowe, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“[Counter-Thrust] is the tenth volume to be released from the University of Nebraska Press’s Great Campaigns of the Civil War series. Author Benjamin F. Cooling has always been a great writer of historical narrative, but what makes his latest effort a wonderful addition to the series is the expert manner in which he mines the literature for the best scholarship the subject has to offer, dissects the findings, and concisely reprocesses it for the benefit of a wide range of readerships while at the same time injecting his own insightful analysis.”—Civil War Books and Authors Blog

“Cooling’s analysis of McClellan is especially insightful, as he synthesizes the latest scholarship on that enigmatic figure. . . . Counter-Thrust delivers as advertised with thorough research, historiographical knowledge and excellent writing, melding this with sharp analysis. It is a worthy addition to the University of Nebraska’s Great Campaigns of the Civil War series.”—Civil War Book Review

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Series Editors’ Introduction
1.  Summer Impasse
2.  From Tidewater to Cedar Mountain
3.  Stonewall and a Virginia Reel
4.  Lee and Pope at Second Manassas
5.  In the Rain at Chantilly
6.  Maryland, My Maryland
7.  South Mountain and Harpers Ferry
8.  The Bridges of the Antietam
9.  Opportunities Found and Lost
Bibliographic Essay

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