As a longtime historian of the Civil War, William C. Davis has written extensively about the conflict. This is one of his earliest works, a study of the campaign fought in northeastern Virginia in the summer of 1861. Davis's skills as a writer are on full display, as he provides an entertaining narrative that details the events of the battle as best he can. The book suffers, though, from a paucity of maps; those provided are only for the battle itself, and these are of inferior quality. This is the only serious criticism of the book, however, which remains the best single-volume study of the first major clash between the Union and the Confederacy.