Professor Emeritus Harsh Passes Away

Posted: September 24, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: September 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

The following information was supplied by the Department of History and Art History and culled from published obituaries.

Joseph L. Harsh, Associate Professor Emeritus of History, passed away on Monday, Sept.13, at the age of 69. He lived in Centreville, Va., at the time of his death.

Harsh was on the Mason faculty from 1973 to 2003 and chaired Mason’s History Department from 1973 to 1983.

As the founding president of the Northern Virginia Association of Historians, Harsh also served as editor of the association’s newsletter, Courier of Historical Events, from 1980 to 1990.

Harsh’s articles appeared in Civil War History and Military Affairs, as well as other respected journals. A prolific author, his works include “On the McClellan-Go-Round”; “Battlesword and Rapier: Jomini, Clausewitz and the American Civil War”; “Lincoln’s Tarnished Brass”; “Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy” (volumes one and two); “Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategies in the Maryland Campaign”; and “Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862.”

In addition to his leadership and scholarship, Harsh was a brilliant and popular teacher. He was justly famous for his battlefield tours, especially at Antietam, which he had come to know well. Harsh directed many of the master’s theses written in the department. He was a superb lecturer and sensational extemporaneous speaker.

Harsh leaves his wife of 46 years, Trudy; sons Greg and Drew; and seven grandchildren. His daughter, Laura, predeceased him some years ago. Services were held on Sept. 17; he was buried in Hagerstown, Md., where he was born.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions in his memory to Save Historic Antietam Foundation, P.O. Box 550, Sharpsburg, MD 21780.

Write to gazette at