Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps. Stackpole. Jun. 2013. 160p. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780811712187. pap. $19.95. HIST
This attractively produced volume offers 180 color maps, 70 of which are full page. Accompanying pages of narrative text lead the reader through the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. A foreword explains the symbols used to depict movement and combat and the colors and styles of type used to identify individual units. The maps clearly convey the terrain and unit positions. With a few exceptions, the smallest units indicated are brigades. The maps follow the course of the battle, so those illustrating smaller actions are more detailed and of a larger scale than later depictions of the field when both complete armies were present. One disadvantage of this approach is that the maps can give only general positions of individual units. The advantage, however, is that the reader gets a comprehensive picture of the battle at a given time (e.g., “July 1, Late Afternoon”). Unfortunately, the prose that accompanies the maps is written in an over-the-top style, in the present tense, and with wide variations in tone. A dispassionate recitation will suddenly veer into purple prose (e.g., “Near the darkling swale of Plum Run, Barksdale is discovered….”), complete with mixed metaphors (e.g., “Like a mighty breaker exhausting to froth, the Confederate sweep eastward has run out of steam”). VERDICT Suitable for enthusiastic Civil War buffs and reenactors. The maps will also have utility for players or designers of war games.—Richard Fraser, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, Libs.
Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. Knopf. May 2013. 688p. photogs. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780307594082. $35. HIST
Much ink has been spilled over the Battle of Gettysburg. Readers might think there is little left to say and no fresh way of saying it, but Guelzo (Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, Gettysburg Coll.; Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation) proves such skeptics wrong with his riveting account of both the events leading up to the battle and the battle itself. Refreshingly, he makes clear that this account is his own: in any battle analysis a historian must weigh unclear and sometimes contradictory accounts by participants who could only see and interpret (or misinterpret) events in their own immediate vicinity. Using a wealth of 19th-century sources, from letters and diaries to regimental histories to the indispensable “Official Records” series, Guelzo has composed a narrative that is detailed and compelling on a human level but easy to follow on an operational and tactical one. Readers will discover Guelzo’s own distinctive positions, defended by citations, such as that bayonet charges were frequent and often effective in 19th-century warfare. The lack of a bibliography will be a sore point for some serious readers. VERDICT A triumph of source use and presentation, engaging for the general reader but rigorous enough for the scholar. Highly recommended.—Richard Fraser, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, Libs.
Huntington, Tom. Guide to Gettysburg Battlefield Monuments. Stackpole. May 2013. 208p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780811712330. pap. $9.95. HIST
This handy, logically organized paperback will help visitors, armchair and actual, to the Gettysburg National Military Park to understand the 466 monuments and 366 tablets that have been erected over the years on the Pennsylvania park’s nine square miles. Huntington (Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg) arranges his descriptions alphabetically by state (where markers for specific regiments are noted, for example), Alabama to Wisconsin; these are followed by a smaller number of monuments to specific men (Armistead to Zook); monuments to the armies as a whole; and, under “Other,” such entries as the Gettysburg Women’s Memorial and the Lincoln Address Memorial. Huntington cross-references the listings to positions shown on maps at the back of the book, as well as to GPS coordinates. Each description comes with a small color photograph of the monument or tablet, background on the subject (e.g., that a monument to the 134th New York Infantry “indicates the regiment’s position on July 2, when it helped defend East Cemetery Hill against the men of Jubal Early’s division”) and the date of the piece’s dedication. With a “Summary of the Battle” and occasional text boxes with primary-source quotes about engagements. VERDICT Exactly what it intends to be, and sure to be useful for its specific purpose.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Petruzzi, J. David & Steven A. Stanley. The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9–July 14, 1863. Savas Beatie. ( Orders of Battle). 2013. 192p. photogs. maps. ISBN 9781611210804. $32.95. HIST
Veteran Gettysburg authors Petruzzi and Stanley (The Complete Gettysburg Guide) here provide a wealth of statistical information on the campaign. They used every source available to compile the most detailed presentation yet possible of the casualties suffered between June 9 and July 14, 1863. The book’s 20 chapters provide summaries of over 40 battles, skirmishes, and sieges related to operations around Gettysburg. Included are itemized orders of battle for each engagement, charts showing the strength and losses of each side broken down by unit type, and maps of geography and maneuvers. Summaries of each skirmish or battle analyze casualties suffered and the impact of such losses on subsequent engagements.VERDICT The authors have met their stated purpose well. Anyone interested in the Gettysburg campaign, either in terms of the troops who served or the various battles and skirmishes related to it, should find this a useful source. Civil War historians will appreciate it as a valuable reference tool.—Matthew Wayman, Pennsylvania State Univ. Lib., Schuylkill Haven
Reardon, Carol & Tom Vossler. A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield Through Its History, Places, and People. Univ. of North Carolina. Jul. 2013. 464p. photogs. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780807835258. pap. $22. HIST
There is no shortage of battlefield guides to Gettysburg. But in addition to including the standard fare for such texts, the authors have gone far beyond. Reardon (history, Penn State; With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other) and Vossler (retired U.S. Army colonel and former director, U.S. Army Military History Inst.) provide 35 stops, allowing the reader to follow along on a self-guided tour. Sections for each stop contain several elements, including “Orientation”; “What Happened Here?”; “Who Fought Here?”; “Who Commanded Here?”; “Who Fell Here?”; “Who Lived Here?”; and “What Did They Say About It Later?” The volume concludes with “The Aftermath,” which discusses the consequences of victory and defeat, as well as the direct impact of the battle on the town of Gettysburg itself. The numerous illustrations—both photographs and maps—help the reader to visualize the terrain, troop movements, and men involved. VERDICT An excellent source for Civil War buffs and anyone interested in the history and locale of Gettysburg.—Matthew Wayman, Pennsylvania State Univ. Lib., Schuylkill Haven
Time Gettysburg: Turning Point of the Civil War. Time Home Entertainment. 2013. 186p. ed. by Kelly Knauer.illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781618930538. $29.95. HIST
This oversize volume encompasses both battle narrative and historical responses to Gettysburg. James M. McPherson’s introduction is followed by a prolog by Jeff Shaara in which he “explores the thoughts of a fictional Confederate fighter as he prepares his troops for Pickett’s Charge.” (Gene Tunney was a “fighter”; these combatants were soldiers and officers.) Next comes “The Road to Gettysburg,” followed by one section for each day of battle, and “Gettysburg in Memory.” While the main narrative and helpful profiles and time lines are by editor Knauer, there are interpretive essays throughout, including pieces by Drew Gilpin Faust and filmmaker Ric (not Ken) Burns and by Time magazine subject editors, on medicine, death, war photography, etc. The book is chock-full of illustrations, both the photography from the time (and some comparisons to the same sites now) and paintings. The paintings by today’s artists, for all the attention to detail, come across as schoolbook hero worship compared to the somber day-of-battle renderings by Edwin Forbes also reproduced here. Last, Richard Corliss assesses four Gettysburg-related movies, calling Gone with the Wind“a woman’s picture” and excusing D.W. Griffith as “racist politically, but…a cinematic humanist.” There are only three maps; those in Stackpole’s book, above, are far superior. VERDICT A hodgepodge, but it may stir high school students and novices to further research.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Tucker, Phillip Thomas. Barksdale’s Charge: The True High Tide of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. Casemate. May 2013. 384p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781612001791. $32.95. HIST
Tucker is a prolific writer—and a prolix one. Why refer to “the relatively cool shade of Pitzer’s Woods” when you can double the word count by adding “…that provided some relief from the intense heat”? While Pickett’s Charge, on day three of Gettysburg, has received numerous book-length treatments and become a phrase for the ages, Barksdale’s charge (lowercase c) the day before (July 2, 1863) has not. Gen. William Barksdale, former secessionist U.S. Congressman, was in command of four Mississippi regiments in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s corps, directed to attack from the woods, wheel northward, and break the Union lines. Barksdale got the go-ahead to charge as dusk approached. On his horse driving his troops onward, he seemed to have the Federals on the run. It was this moment, says Tucker quite reasonably, that was really the high-water mark for the Confederacy rather than Pickett’s Charge the next day. Had Barksdale paused to regroup and then charge again, perhaps, perhaps…. But he spurred his troops on, was mortally wounded, and the Union forces were able to hold on to fight another day. Tucker sets his narrative within the context of the battles and personalities leading up to that day’s near victory for the Confederacy. VERDICT This book, reviewed off an uncorrected manuscript, will be a good read for Civil War history buffs and reenactors if it gets the full professional edit that it requires.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal