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The Last Invasion

Written by Allen C. GuelzoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Allen C. Guelzo



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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.

Excerpt

In the two-and-a-half decades after the battle of Gettysburg, the Union veterans who survived to tell the tale were nearly unanimous in the declaration that the key to the battle depended on holding one very important hill. The puzzle for most modern students of the battle is why, with one consent, those veterans seemed to choose the wrong hill. 

For the present generation of battlefield tourists, the most important hill on the battlefield is the cone-shaped moraine known as Little Round Top. Oddly, this was not the name by which it was known at the time of the battle. People referred to it variously as Wolf’s Hill, Sugar Loaf, or simply the “rocky hill,” and after the battle, John B. Bachelder (who set himself up almost at once as the official chronicler of Gettysburg) tried to fix the name “Weed’s Hill” to it, in honor of the most senior Union officer killed there during the battle, Stephen Weed. But Little Round Top it became, and Little Round Top it stayed, although even then it played a strictly back-seat role in the imaginations of the battle’s veterans. It was not until the 1890s when curiosity began to shift in Little Round Top’s direction, and not for another eighty years – after Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels – that Little Round Top suddenly blossomed into the key to the entire battle. From that point, and up through the Ronald Maxwell movie epic, Gettysburg, Little Round Top was transformed into “the key of the field in front beyond a doubt,” and popular historians upped the ante to the point where “they saved the Union at Little Round Top.” 

In particular, it has been Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s last-chance bayonet charge on Little Round Top on July 2nd which have taken most of the laurels for guaranteeing that salvation. Certainly, the stand of the 20th Maine makes for great drama in the midst of great drama. As the left-flank regiment of Col. Strong Vincent’s four-regiment brigade, Chamberlain’s 20th Maine held off at least two major rebel infantry attacks in their front that afternoon, and then, when their ammunition was virtually gone, fixed bayonets and charged downhill, surprising and scattering the rebels. It was a beau geste straight out of the story-books. The fact that Chamberlain had, only a year before, been an unheralded professor of rhetoric at Bowdon College made the charge all the more amazing: an amateur, in command of amateurs, somehow made not only the right call, but the most daring call that could have been made, and succeeded. Chamberlain’s story appealed to that deep streak of American self-reliance—that confidence in improvisation, that can-do spirit that trumps overly-intellectualized and hidebound European ways of doing things. That Chamberlain was a highly-intellectualized individual himself was beside the point.

It takes nothing away from the tenacity of the fighting – the last-minute arrivals, the desperate and sometimes hand-to-hand combat, the just-in-time swing and flow of the action – to say that the drama of Little Round Top has been allowed to run away with the reality. But looked at coldly, the real credit for defending Little Round Top belongs less to Chamberlain and the 20th Maine, and more to three others who have largely faded from attention: Gouverneur Warren, the Army of the Potomac’s chief engineer, who spotted rebel infantry swarming in the direction of the otherwise undefended hill and sent off gallopers to beg or borrow any troops they could find...Strong Vincent, who took his professional standing in his own hands, brought his brigade up to Little Round Top without authorization from his division commander, and organized its defense...and Patrick O’Rorke, who also bolted at Warren’s call and brought his 140th New York up and over the crest of Little Round Top just in time to shove an even more serious Confederate attack back down the slopes. Unhappily, O’Rorke was killed in the charge and Strong Vincent was shot through the groin and died after four days of suffering. Gouverneur Warren would outlive the battle, only to be pilloried for misconduct at Five Forks in 1865. That left Chamberlain as the best candidate for laurel-wearing. And he was not an unworthy candidate, either. He would survive three wounds in 1864 (one of them near-fatal), win the Congressional Medal of Honor, end the war as a major-general, serve four terms as governor of Maine and as president of Bowdoin. Even more important, he would publish at least seven accounts of Little Round Top, giving himself the starring role, and giving Little Round Top the starring role in the battle as the last extension of the Union Left flank. 

Other veterans of Vincent’s brigade were not impressed: “Chamberlain,” complained Porter Farley of the 140th New York, “is a professional talker and I am told rather imaginative withal.” And the truth is that Chamberlain’s charge was only one of several such spoiling attacks that day, and Little Round Top was more of an outpost than the real flank of the Union line. It was the ex-professor’s considerable flair for self-promotion which vaulted him ahead of the others. 

Nor is it entirely clear that Little Round Top quite deserved the role Chamberlain attached to it. The puffing of Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine is a subset of the larger problem of glamorizing Little Round Top itself. Charles Hazlett, yet another forgotten player on the hill that day who manhandled his six 10-pounder Parrott rifles “by hand and handspike” up through the tangled trees and underbrush of the hill, warned Gouverneur Warren that Little Round Top didn’t afford much in the way of an artillery platform. The cone of the hill crested in a narrow spine which offered very little room for the deployment of artillery, and only permitted a line of fire facing west. Both Warren and Hazlett agreed that Little Round Top “was no place for efficient artillery fire—both of us knew that.” Hazlett only took the trouble to get up there because he hoped that “the sound of my guns will be encouraging to our troops and disheartening to the others.” 

Defending Little Round Top may even have endangered more than it protected the Union position at Gettysburg. The great Confederate attack on July 2nd had never been designed to seize Little Round Top in the first place; the plan laid down by both Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet was to swing a gigantic, curling blow up the Emmitsburg Road into the rear of Cemetery Hill, and brush past the “rocky hill.” When Gouverneur Warren began pulling, first Vincent’s Brigade, then O’Rorke’s regiment, then the balance of Stephen Weed’s brigade, up to Little Round Top, he was actually subtracting units which were intended to reinforce the Union line along the Emmitsburg Road, and thus made it all the easier for James Longstreet’s rebels to land the real blow of the afternoon. The Confederates who scrambled up Little Round Top were only there because they had wandered off-course during the attack, and probably would have made no difference to the overall outcome of events on July 2nd – except, of course, that they induced Union commanders like Warren to siphon-off troops which could have been used to shore-up the Emmitsburg Road. As it was, the thinly-spread Union troops along the Emmitsburg Road were crushed by Longstreet’s sledgehammer, and the Army of the Potomac was nearly brought to its knees. Had Longstreet succeeded in seizing Cemetery Hill, we would today be blaming, rather than celebrating, Warren, Chamberlain and O’Rorke for allowing themselves to be distracted by a useless piece of rocky real estate.

Because, in the end, it really was Cemetery Hill, not Little Round Top, which was the key, something the veterans of the battle attested to in the years after the war by making their pilgrimages to Cemetery Hill, not Little Round Top. Unlike the narrow spine of Little Round Top, Cemetery Hill was a broad, flat plateau, with the ideal elevation for the siting of artillery (which was, normally, 1% of the distance to the target and never greater than 7% of the distance) and plenty of back-space to accommodate limber chests, caissons, horse-teams and battery wagons. And although modern visitors to Cemetery Hill can get no idea of this because of the foliage that has grown up there since 1863, a four-negative panorama taken from Cemetery Hill in 1869 by the local Gettysburg photographers William Tipton and Robert Myers shows a dramatically uncluttered viewshed to the west, north and south. Cemetery Hill, in other words, constituted an artillerists’ dream. It was enough “to make an artilleryman grow enthusiastic,” wrote one Pennsylvania officer. “This high ground which dominated the town and the fields in all directions, save one” (to the east) gave to an artillerists’ eye “an unobstructed view of the rolling country open and accessible to the fire of our guns.” Even Confederate observers admitted that Cemetery Hill was “made, one might say, for artillery.” 

So long as the Army of the Potomac held Cemetery Hill, it had a position from which its massed artillery could decimate any infantry Robert E. Lee attempted to throw at it – in fact, did decimate it during Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd. And so long as it held Cemetery Hill, it also gripped the Baltimore Pike, the principal life-line to its railhead and supply base in Maryland. Losing Little Round Top would not have won the battle for Lee, or lost it for the Union. Cemetery Hill would have, though, which is why, after the battle, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery was created on Cemetery Hill, why the first battlefield observation tower was built on Cemetery Hill, and why the first veterans’ encampments were held on Cemetery Hill. It would take another generation to forget Cemetery Hill’s importance, and the combination of a very gifted self-advertiser and a very gifted novelist to replace it with “the rocky hill.”
Allen C. Guelzo|Author Q&A

About Allen C. Guelzo

Allen C. Guelzo - Gettysburg

Photo © Allen C. Guelzo

Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America and Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, both winners of the Lincoln Prize. Guelzo’s essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in publications ranging from The American Historical Review and The Wilson Quarterly to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal.

Author Q&A

A conversation with Allen C. Guelzo
author of GETTYSBURG: The Last Invasion


Q: In the last 150 years, there have been many books written about the Battle of Gettysburg. What sets yours apart?

A:
Politics. The American Civil War was, at bottom, a political war, so we shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that politics slopped-over into military decision-making at Gettysburg. In the Union army, anti-Lincoln Democratic generals were as hostile to anti-slavery Republicans as they were to the rebels. In the case of George Gordon Meade, commanding the Union army at Gettysburg, politically-motivated decisions nearly cost him the battle.


Q: As we approach its 150 year anniversary, what do we still have to learn about the Battle of Gettysburg? What myths about the battle do you debunk?

A:
So much was at stake at Gettysburg that it’s no wonder so many myths were born out of the fighting. These myths serve mostly as a way of trying to reduce the battle’s chaos to something like rationality. But myths are still only myths.

The most prominent of these is that Robert E. Lee’s cavalry commander, J.E.B. Stuart, foolishly galloped his cavalry on a long detour around the Union army, and his extended absence deprived Lee of intelligence about the movements of the Union army. Actually, intelligence-gathering was not the job of cavalry; in fact, cavalry in both armies performed a comparatively insignificant role in the War as a whole. The ratio of cavalry to infantry in the American Civil War was less than half that of European armies, and it was almost entirely light cavalry, and so could perform only screening and raiding.

Another myth is that Little Round Top was the most critical feature on the Gettysburg landscape, and that the battle was saved for the Union by the heroic performance of one Union regiment there, the 20th Maine, under Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Actually, the most important piece of military real estate was Cemetery Hill. It was the finest artillery platform in south-central Pennsylvania. The fight for Little Round Top happened by impulse, and while it was done bravely and well, Chamberlain’s stand was only one of at least half-a-dozen brilliantly spontaneous decisions by mid-level commanders that day.

Maybe the most egregious legend is the one which says that the battle happened accidentally, that the two armies blundered into each other. Actually, Robert E. Lee had predicted a battle near Gettysburg, and was concentrating his army there when the fighting broke out.


Q: Your book describes the soldiers’ experience in more detail than has ever been done before. You even reference a schoolgirl essay competition in 1860! How did you go about your research? What did you discover that most surprised you?

A:
It was as much what I was looking for as it was what I was looking in. I spent several years doing little more than soaking myself intensively in printed and manuscript sources on the battle, and walking over one part of the battlefield after another (and believe me, it certainly helps to live next to it). That research took me to manuscript collections from the University of Virginia to Harvard, led to correspondence with historical societies and collections from Ohio to North Carolina to Maine to Georgia, and even to several late-night bar-stops with the reclusive national guru of Civil War battlefield photography. What I was looking for, however, was the texture of experience—the record of what the battle felt like, smelled like, sounded like, looked-like—and the recreation of the mental geography (the expectations, in other words) of those who fought in it.

Certainly the most surprising discovery for me concerned George Gordon Meade. I began this project originally believing that Meade had been vastly and unfairly misunderstood by Lincoln. But as I began reading the Meade family papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, an entirely different George Meade emerged for me—a temperamental, politically partisan, and highly insecure individual who mostly avoided losing the battle rather than actually winning it.


Q: What was the experience of townspeople during the battle? How long did it take to recover?

A:
A large portion of the townspeople weren’t even there. The most prominent—town office-holders, the local postmaster, bank clerks, the telegraph operator—all beat it eastwards, fearing they would be taken hostage. So did the most vulnerable—Gettysburg’s black population, which feared they would be kidnapped and re-enslaved. (They were right: approximately 500 free black residents of south central Pennsylvania were herded together and marched off to the slave markets in Richmond). Those who stayed to protect their property spent most of the battle huddling in their cellars, like college professor Martin Stoever, who smoked twenty-one cigars in a row while the fighting on the battle’s first day raged overhead.

The town did not take long to recover, however. The principal merchant in Gettysburg, George Arnold, was advertising new goods for sale within a week of the battle. In fact, Gettysburg would go on to a new apex of agricultural and business prosperity in the 1880s. But there are some senses in which the town has never recovered from the battle to this day, starting with the pockmarks and bullet-holes still visible in buildings around Gettysburg. We call the student delicatessen at the College the “Bullet-Hole.”


Q: Who were the main players and how were their personalities influential? How did politics shape the outcome of the battle?

A:
Clearly, they were the two commanding generals, George Gordon Meade and Robert E. Lee. Although Lee cultivated the image of a lofty patrician cavalier, he was really a relentlessly aggressive driver who was convinced that the Gettysburg campaign would be the knock-out blow that finished-off North’s will to fight. He was not alone in thinking that way: Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, had his vice-president, Alec Stephens, on board a pilot-boat in the James River, ready to journey to Washington and hold talks with Lincoln if the results of the campaign were favorable. Even the ordinary soldiers of Lee’s army were jubilant at what they saw as the opportunity to finish the war at Gettysburg.

Meade, by contrast, was notoriously temperamental, but also fussy, precise and cautious. Not that he lacked reason. Meade was appointed to command only three days before the battle, with barely time enough to discover where the parts of the army were located. He also was painfully aware that his predecessors in command—George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, and Joe Hooker—had been put up one-by-one and knocked down one-by-one, with little backing-up from the Lincoln administration.

In the end, Lee’s aggressiveness tipped-over into recklessness. But Meade’s self-righteous caution prevented him from gaining the all-or-nothing victory that was within his grasp.


Q: You write, “few people understood that the principal figure in making the Gettysburg battle happen in the way it did was a man who wasn’t even there for most of the three days, and that was John Reynolds.” Who was John Reynolds and what key role did he play?

A:
John Reynolds was a West Pointer and an artillery officer before the war, and had once been commandant of cadets at West Point. He had a reputation as a quiet, somewhat detached, but very competent combat officer, and by 1863, had risen to command the 1st Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac. He and Meade had a friendly but distant relationship, and in fact Reynolds had been offered command of the Army of the Potomac before it went to Meade.

As a Pennsylvanian—and a native of south-central Pennsylvania—Reynolds was anxious that Meade’s preoccupation with shielding Baltimore and Washington meant that Meade would allow the Confederates to rampage through Pennsylvania without serious hindrance. While Meade wanted to fight a defensive battle behind Pipe Creek in Maryland, Reynolds was eager to get to grips with the Confederates in Pennsylvania. In large measure, Reynolds bolted ahead of Meade and forced the reluctant army commander into fighting at Gettysburg instead. This amounted to a quiet sort of insubordination on Reynolds’ part, but Reynolds was killed just after the battle began, so there was never any question afterward about disputing his judgment.


Q: How did the outcomes of European wars influence the decisions of the Civil War generals? How did the opposing armies in the Battle of Gettysburg differ from all armies before them?

A:
We tend to read the Civil War as a uniquely and exceptionally American event. It wasn’t, and Gettysburg was fought by soldiers who had lived through and observed the Crimean War (1854-56) and the North Italian War (1859) and were contemporaries of the Austrian, Prussian and French wars of the 1860s. These European conflicts shed an enormous amount of light on the behavior of soldiers and commanders on both sides at Gettysburg. Pickett’s Charge, for instance, doesn’t make much sense until you line it up beside events like the successful frontal attack of the British at the Battle of the Alma in the Crimean War, or the French attack at Solferino in 1859; after that, it seems perfectly reasonable.


Q: The Union victory at Gettysburg occurred virtually simultaneously with the Union victory at Vicksburg. Was one more significant in determining the outcome of the war?

A:
Yes and no. Vicksburg eliminated the Confederacy’s grip on the Mississippi River valley, which had blocked the North’s principal commercial highway. But the consequences of Vicksburg were more political and economic than military. Much of the opposition to the Lincoln administration had come from mid-western states which were hurting because of the Mississippi River blockage. The fall of Vicksburg took the steam out of a lot of that opposition. But it did not automatically change the military situation. The real line of operations, from a military point-of-view, ran along the line from Tennessee through Chattanooga into Georgia and Atlanta, and it would take the Union army another year-and-a-half to force that line open.

Gettysburg had more immediate military significance, because it demonstrated that the Confederate army was not irresistible, and that Robert E. Lee could be defeated. But that significance was limited by George Gordon Meade’s failure to follow-up and completely destroy Lee’s army. Lee would fight on for almost two more years. On the other hand, both Vicksburg and Gettysburg replenished Northern morale. They made July 4, 1863, the best Independence Day since, well, independence, and the best weekend the North had had in the war.

Q: Should Meade have pursued the Confederates after the battle? Had he done so, would that have ended the war any sooner?

A:
Abraham Lincoln certainly thought so, and Meade’s failure to bag the Confederate army afterwards was so bitter a disappointment that it’s one of the few moments on record when Lincoln (who was not a sentimental man) actually broke down and cried. It’s true that Meade’s army had been pretty badly battered by its victory, and that any hot pursuit of Lee involved some very real risks. But Lee’s army had been damaged much more greatly. Ironically, only six months or so before, Meade had turned on his former sponsor, George McClellan, for not taking risks. “I am tired of playing this war without risks,” Meade said then, “Such a general will never command success, though he may avoid disaster.” Those words rise up in judgment on Meade, because that’s exactly how he ended-up behaving at Gettysburg and after. The result was that the Confederates escaped, and the Civil War dragged on for nearly two more bloody, carnage-ridden years.


Q: The Battle of Gettysburg had the greatest number of casualties in the American Civil War (Lee reported 20,451 casualties in all; Meade reported 24,000 men killed, wounded and missing. What was the cause of such mass casualties?

A:
Like all Civil War battles, this was largely because the armies which fought at Gettysburg were volunteer armies, not long-service military professional armies or trained reserves like those we might find in Europe. The ordinary soldiers of the Civil War were poorly trained, poorly disciplined, and poorly led; even when they had West Point-trained commanders, the West Point training was an education in engineering, with almost no attention to combat tactics. The unendurably-long casualty lists flowed from amateur soldiers whose best idea of combat was simply to blaze away at short distances in motionless fire-fights. The great Prussian general Helmut von Moltke was supposed to have said that the American Civil War was really just two armed mobs, chasing each other around the countryside. Moltke actually had a far more serious interest in the Civil War than that comment suggests; but even if he didn’t say it, there is a nugget of truth in it all the same. Plenty of heroism, but not much professionalism. Which, unfortunately, is also how most American wars have been fought.


Q: You write about how the significance of rifling technology has been overrated by military historians, whereas the bayonet has been underrated. Why is that?

A:
The rifle musket had actually been in combat use since the late 18th-century, and even more so from the 1840s in the new ‘system’ invented by Claude-Étienne Minié. It was much less a revolutionary surprise to the Civil War experience than we often think. But even more, while the Minié rifle (and its various imitations, the American Springfield rifle musket, the British Enfield rifle musket, and the Austrian Lorenz) improved the range and accuracy of the musket, it did not improve it by that much. The rifling which imparted the increased accuracy to the musket also made it more finicky to use in practice; and since the rifle musket was still a single-shot, muzzle-loading black-powder weapon, it kicked out clouds of powder-smoke which, in a very short while, created cloud-banks of powder-fog that removed any of the benefits from longer range. It doesn’t matter how accurate your weapon is, if you still can’t see the enemy through the smoke. For this reason, most fire combat in the Civil War takes place in parade-ground line formations, only eighty to one hundred and twenty yards apart, just as it had in George Washington’s day.

The weapon that was supposed to dominate the battlefield was the bayonet. Fire combat served either to soften up a defender or suppress an attacker; either way, it was only the prelude to closing with the bayonet. But that required a level of training which the Civil War armies never received. Hence, the tendency for battlefields like Gettysburg to bog down in slow-moving slugging matches, piling up corpses until one side or the other gives way.


Q: How did the circumstances of this battle affect its outcome? How was the land itself so crucial to how the battle played out?

A:
Geography made the battle. For anyone moving along the great Lancaster Pike, Gettysburg is the first major crossroads of east-west and north-south highways. Its location sucked the two armies into collision. Once begun, the battle was really a series of fights along Gettysburg’s north-south ridge-lines—McPherson’s ridge, Seminary ridge, Cemetery ridge—which gave most of the advantages to the defending Union forces.


Q: What commonalities do you see between the Battle of Gettysburg and the way war is waged today?

A:
Not many. The First World War was the moment where modern warfare broke completely and decisively from the past, due mainly to the advances in weapons technology before 1914. Sending soldiers in long lines to the attack had to give way to small-group infiltration tactics; artillery rather than rifles and bayonets became the chief source of casualties; the balance between the numbers of soldiers in combat and the number in rear-echelon support roles shifted drastically. The Civil War was still fought by soldiers, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder in long lines with short-range weapons; artillery in the Civil War mostly served to disrupt attacking formations and inflicted a much smaller percentage of casualties; and the Civil War ratio of combat to non-combat personnel was approximately 10-to-1. The Civil War faced backwards, to the wars of Napoleon and the 18th century, far more than it did to the future. You could not fight a modern war in the way the battle of Gettysburg was fought.


Q: You have lived in Gettysburg for the last ten years. How did your familiarity with the land influence your writing?

A:
It gives a very keen feel for what the soldiers could see, and what the commanders could know. It’s only when you stand on Cemetery Hill that you realize what a marvelous position it was for artillery. Most of the topography in south-central Pennsylvania is a series of undulating ridges, running from the outliers of the Appalachians to the Susquehanna River. But Cemetery Hill is a broad flat plateau, with gorgeous sight-lines for miles all around, and at just the elevation most desired by 19th-century artillery. But you’d never guess that merely from scanning a map.

The other gift given by living here is a familiarity with the look of the place. Except for the annihilation of the chestnut tree in the 20th century, the landscape is still dotted by most of the same species that the soldiers encountered in the battle. So, when soldiers in the 17th Maine talked about fighting at the edge of an alder thicket, you can find those alders still growing there today. And that lets me fill in the color palette of description in ways you couldn’t do if you were only an occasional visitor here. I’m a big fan of James Lee Burke’s mystery novels, and one thing I particularly love is the almost-touchable sense of the persimmon, cypress and pecan trees, the bayous, the sunlight of southwestern Louisiana. I’ve tried to do impart some of that same sense to the Gettysburg terrain.


FOR BOOKING INFORMATION:
Erica Hinsley / ehinsley@randomhouse.com / 212-572-2018
Erinn McGrath / emcgrath@randomhouse.com / 212-572-2035

Praise

Praise

Praise for Allen C. Guelzo's Gettysburg

“Graphic and emotionally affecting . . . an extraordinarily detailed and realistic account.”
The New York Times Book Review
 
“This is a masterful battle study, masterfully told. . . . Engaging. . . . Guelzo’s narrative is enlivened by frequent use of accounts by battle participants, observers and Gettysburg civilians, and his descriptions sometimes rise almost to lyricism.”
The Seattle Times
 
“[A] rich, original work. . . . Guelzo’s book enlarges the conventional battle narrative. . . . It’s his expansive, rolling storytelling that makes this book so engrossing and sets Guelzo’s Gettysburg apart from the many others. . . . Through those pages runs a thoroughly readable description of every hour of those three hellish days, in enough detail to satisfy the keenest student of tactics and courage. Some good battle histories are crackling accounts of tactical moves and soldiers’ memories, stepping along as jauntily as a Sousa march. This one proceeds more like a stately symphony, solemn but enlivened by surprise digressions and meditations, taking its time, building to a finish that is familiar to all, yet seldom conducted so eloquently.”
The Washington Post
 
“This is the finest single-volume account available. . . . There is a timeless quality to Gettysburg that makes it special.”
The Wilson Quarterly

“Among the finest campaign studies of our generation. [Gettysburg] earns this distinction with smart and vivid writing, innovative organization, and insightful analysis that manages to synthesize the Gettysburg story in a way that will appeal to the literate novice and the seasoned Civil War history reader alike.”
The Civil War Monitor

“Detailed . . . accessible. . . . Civil War buff and newcomer alike will find plenty to keep them interested. . . . [Guelzo’s] conclusions balance conventional wisdom with unbiased clarification and analysis.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“Wonderful . . . Guelzo’s book is an extremely timely reminder that the American experiment has not been, as the Founders asserted, a ‘self-evident truth’ but in fact a highly debatable proposition that needed to be proved, not just in July 1863 at Gettysburg but on many days and in many places since.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Wonderfully readable . . . [Gettysburg] marries scholarly rigor to a sense of narrative that rivals that of a novel.”
The Daily Beast

“A stylish, comprehensive, and entertaining narrative . . . [Guelzo’s] account is not a typical tick-tock of troop movements; the pages are soaked in rich language and vivid character studies . . . Guelzo knows the power of the telling detail.”
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History

“In this consistently riveting book, Allen Guelzo makes us feel that we are hearing the epic story of the Civil War’s most famous battle for the first time. . . . This is, simply, the best book about Gettysburg that has yet been written. It is hard, if not impossible, to imagine that there will ever be a better one.”
—Fergus M. Bordewich, author of America’s Great Debate

“What is there left to say about Gettysburg? In Allen Guelzo’s deft, scholarly hands, plenty. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is fresh, fascinating, and compellingly provocative. It is a marvelous book that deserves to be read and savored. And it deserves to be on the bookshelf of all Civil War buffs.”
—Jay Winik, author of April 1865

“An extraordinary work of thorough scholarship combined with a lifetime of judgment about historic events. . . . Everyone interested in the decisive moment in Freedom’s struggle should read Guelzo’s simply extraordinary book.”
—Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and coauthor of Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

“Despite all that has been written about the battle of Gettysburg, Allen Guelzo provides new information and insights in this stirring account. . . . Readers will find much to think about in this book.”
—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“Guelzo has composed a narrative that is detailed and compelling on a human level but easy to follow on an operational and tactical one . . . A triumph of source use and presentation, engaging enough for the general reader but rigorous enough for the scholar.”
Library Journal

“Guelzo’s entry identifies key controversies, trenchantly advocates its interpretations, and rests on a sensible foundation, the confusion of a Civil War battle . . . [Gettysburg] reads like the battle might have been experienced . . . Guelzo demonstrates versatile historical skill in this superior treatment of Gettysburg.”
Booklist, starred review

“Stirring . . . robust, memorable reading that will appeal to Civil War Buffs, professional historians and general readers alike.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Graceful . . . [Guelzo] gets up close and personal with soldiers and officers, providing a previously unseen level of intimacy with those who strategized and fought the battle . . . This exacting account of ‘the last invasion’ may well go down as the last word on the subject.”
Publishers Weekly

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