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Until Antietam

Until Antietam

The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army

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Jack C. Mason


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
258 pages, 6.125 x 9.25, 27 illustrations


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About the Book

While researching this book, Jack C. Mason made the kind of discovery that historians dream of. He found more than one hundred unpublished and unknown letters from Union general Israel B. Richardson to his family, written from his time as a West Point cadet until the day before his fatal wounding at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Using these freshly uncovered primary sources as well as extensive research in secondary materials, Mason has written the first-ever biography of Israel Bush Richardson.

Mason traces Richardson’s growth as a soldier through his experiences and the guidance of his superiors, and then as a leader whose style reflected the actions of the former commanders he respected. Though he was a disciplinarian, Richardson took a relaxed attitude toward military rules, earning him the affection of his men. Unfortunately, his military career was cut short just as high-ranking officials began to recognize his aggressive leadership. He was mortally wounded while leading his men at Antietam and died on November 3, 1862.

Until Antietam brings to life a talented and fearless Civil War infantry leader. Richardson’s story, placed within the context of nineteenth-century warfare, exemplifies how one soldier’s life influenced his commanders, his men, and the army as a whole.

Winner of the Army Historical Foundation 2009 Distinguished Book Award


Jack C. Mason is retired both as a Department of the Army civilian and as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is a member of the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.


"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."— A. A. Nofi, The NYMAS Review

“Mason has done a valuable service in bringing Richardson’s fascinating story to life.”—The Civil War Times

“Mason’s representation of Richardson’s military actions in both Mexico and the Civil War are detailed yet quite vibrant and exciting. The book makes a welcome contribution to the overall study of Union leadership, filling the void of a fascinating, yet seldom-studied general.”—Civil War History

 "At 200 pages of narrative, it is a relatively short work that covers Richardson’s entire military career. Approximately sixty percent of the book offers a concise yet thorough portrayal of his brief, roughly eighteen-month involvement in the American
Civil War. This book was originally published in hardcover by SIU Press in 2009 and was the recipient of the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Book Award for that year. It has now been reissued by the press in a trade paperback edition. If you missed this title the first time around, now is placed your chance to learn how Major General “Fighting Dick” Richardson profoundly influenced both his men and his  superiors in the Union’s Army of the Potomac."--Paul Taylor, Civil War News