What More Needs To Be Said About Gettysburg?

Gettysburg…apparently very little.

With the Future of Civil War History conference right around the corner it should come as no surprise that I’ve had Gettysburg on my mind.  I am also looking forward to a return visit in June for the annual Civil War Institute, which will focus on the battle of Gettysburg.  With the 150th anniversary just a few months away you would think that publishers would want to cash in on the general public’s interest in this specific battle.  It goes without saying that no other Civil War battle looms larger in the nation’s collective memory.

Surprisingly, however, there is very little that is slated for publication this summer.  In fact, the only full length treatment seems to be Allen Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.  Brooks Simpson offers a much more concise overview of the battle in his, Gettysburg, 1863 and for those looking for a detailed study of Confederate action on July 2 there is Philip Thomas Tucker’s BARKSDALE’S CHARGE: The True High Tide of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.  And that’s about it folks.

I really thought that the major publishers, in addition to Knopf, would find some way to squeeze something out of the 150th.  Perhaps I have overlooked additional titles.  If not, have we hit a wall?

Print Friendly
 

29 thoughts on “What More Needs To Be Said About Gettysburg?

  1. Eric Wittenberg

    You missed one, Kevin.

    The second edition of my 2002 book Protecting the Flank, about the July 2 fight on Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and the great cavalry fight of July 3, was released two weeks ago, Kevin. It’s got a new title, Protecting the Flank at Gettysburg: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, July 2-3, 1863, and has been completely re-written. It has lots of new material, an additional map, new images, and two new appendices. It likewise now has GPS coordinates in the walking/driving tour. The release was specifically timed so that it would take advantage of the Sesquicentennial of the battle.

    Reply
  2. Bill K. (@BurghBeerSnob)

    Now that you mention it, that is odd that such a low number of books are expected to come out with the sesquicentennial just around the corner. Also odd is the picture on the cover of the book you’ve pictured. It’s rare to find the plate of that photograph which depicts the tall tree on Cemetery Hill in the background. Most that I’ve found either have the tree fading and tough to notice or a blemish on the plate right over the face of the prisoner on the far right. Then again, we can do wonderful things with photo software nowadays. Still, it’s interesting to see that photograph the way it was intended.

    Reply
  3. Al Mackey

    I’m sure someone out there has an idea for something that hasn’t been done yet, though I lack the imagination to think of what it could be.

    Reply
  4. JMRudy

    I’ve gotten a good peek at Guelzo’s new manuscript, and the book stands to turn some age-old conceptions of the battle (and of how civil war combat played out in general) on their ears. I’m looking forward to watching the cocked hat that a some of the armchair set getting knocked into.

    That said, you’re right. I’ve heard of a few books that failed to meet deadline or had contracts broken in some authors’ grand gambits to pull together manuscripts in time. But the Gettysburg *military* well does seem to be beginning to run dry. Or rather, the old-school avenues of tactical inquiry alone are running dry. The sociomilitary wells are still free-flowing with new raw materials, if you attack the questions from the right angles.

    I had hoped to have my own book fished to a publisher and out in time for the hey-day. But that research and writing ship sailed long ago. Better to make it good than rush it to print.

    Reply
  5. Garry Adelman

    In May or June, the Center for Civil War photography will release Gettysburg in 3D with an awesome array of roughly 80 anaglyph views from 1863 to 1938 and beyond. Lots of views that none of y’all has seen before. I wrote the text!

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Sounds interesting, Garry. BTW, I’ve located the “Harvest of Death” field and will release my findings in a few weeks.

      Reply
        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          In that case I will give you the short version. It turns out that those photographs are from a different battle entirely. They were mistakenly included in the Gettysburg collection.

          Reply
  6. Ken Noe

    Jennifer Murray’s history of the battlefield under Park Service management is slated to appear this fall.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Thanks for the update. Now that’s something I’ve been looking forward to for some time. Who is publishing it?

      Reply
    2. Kevin Levin Post author

      Found it: On A Great Battlefield’: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933 – 2012 (University of Tennessee Press)

      Reply
  7. Bryan Cheeseboro

    While I don’t have any real problem with another Gettysburg book, I do have a big problem with the subtitle of this one. Gettysburg was not the last invasion of the North. Morgan’s Raid through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, a separate military action from the Gettysburg Campaign, continued through most of the month of July 1863. In 1864, Lee sent an Army under Jubal Early into the Shenandoah Valley to create a diversion away from the main focus of the war in front of Richmond. After victories at New Market and Lynchburg, Early crossed the Potomac again, won the Battle of Monocacy and made it into the District of Columbia- the Battle of Fort Stevens. I grew up a long city block away from the remains of the Fort which once sat in the midst of farms and countryside, and now is surrounded by urban houses and commercialization. After the defeat at Fort Stevens, Confederate cavalry went north and burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. And Early created a diversion of his own, sending cavalry under Bradley Johnson and Harry Gilmor all over Central Maryland. Their plans was to raid the Confederate POW camp at Point Lookout (where the Potomac meets the Chesapeake Bay) and liberate all othe the POWs there. Fortunately, they never made it that far.

    I’m just adding this comment because so often, at least to the mainstream, Gettysburg is treated like it’s the ONLY major battle of the war or the war ended after the battle. but there was a Third Invasion of the North in 1864. If the names Lee or Jackson were connected to it, you can bet it would be much better remembered.

    Reply
    1. Allen C. Guelzo

      Maybe it will help if I chime in and say that the subtitle is borrowed from Herman Meville’s poem, “Gettysburg,” and that the Morgan and Early raids were just that — raids. The Pennsylvania campaign in 1863 was an invasion, in which Lee was fully prepared to occupy Northern territory for an extended period.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        Hi Allen,

        Thanks for explaining the reference. Nice seeing you in Gettysburg and looking forward to the book.

        Reply
  8. Nathan Towne

    Kevin,

    There have actually been a bunch of new Gettysburg titles published over the last few months or will be published by the end of the year. Here are some of the ones that I have noticed.

    A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the battle through its History, Places and People by Carol Reardon and William Thomas Vossler

    Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps by Stackpole books

    Eyewitnesses to Gettysburg by James Robertson

    Gettsburg, 1863 by Brooks Simpson

    The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9 – July 14, 1863 by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley.

    Barksdale’s Charge: The True High Tide of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 [Hardcover] by Phillip Thomas Tucker

    Guelzo’s huge study of the entire campaign which you mentioned and I know has been eagerly awaited in some quarters. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

    Gettysburg: Lee’s Grand Gambit by Jason Frawley

    Confrontation at Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause lost by John Hoptak

    Gettysburg: A Graphic History of America’s most famous battle by Wayne Vansant

    The True story behind Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by Jennifer Armstrong and ALbert Lorenz. Somewhat Interesting

    Gettysburg Reader by Rod Gragg

    In Gettysburg’s fields: The story of the most important battle of the Civil War by John Cox

    There are others as well but those are the ones I have come across recently. Unfortunately, becuase my interest is primarily in the Western Theater I don’t have the time or energey to read anywhere near all of them. I may pick up Guelzo’s book and I will get a copy J. D. Petruzzi and Steve Stanley’s new book but that is about it. I also might pick up a new copy of Wittenburg’s book which has been reprinted. I hope that he addresses Carhart’s preposterous assertions in it.

    By the way Kevin, I have been reading your book simultaneously with Cooper’s book “The War is upon Us.” Strange, I know, but I do that, my mind can be in different places at once sometimes. It is quite good, I have learned things that I actually never knew before.

    Nathan Towne

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Hi Nathan,

      First, thanks so much for the kinds words about my book. Glad to hear you are enjoying it. I noticed a few of those books as well, but I intentionally did not include reprints, picture books and tour guides. What I find interesting is that the big trade presses (other than Knopf) seem to be ignoring the Gettysburg 150.

      Reply
      1. Nathan Towne

        It is somehwta strange, isn’t it, but there is still a large number of Gettysburg books being published around the 150th anniversary. Furthermore there isn’t a tremendous amount of room for a publisher right now because Simpson’s, Guelzo’s and Petruzzi’s books will all garner substantial readerships.

        Nathan Towne

        Reply
        1. Dave Conrad

          I’m sure that’s it: Petruzzi and Stanley’s book of numbers and synopses — lists! numbers! orders of battle! — is sure to be flying off the shelves with such rapidity and in such quantities that the big houses feared they couldn’t compete.

          (No slight against that book: it will be useful, I am sure, but it’s not exactly light reading, not exactly the book most people are going to buy if they buy only one Gettysburg book this year.)

          Reply
  9. Bjorn Skaptason

    Kevin,

    I was inclined to agree with you when I first read your post. Actually, I think I do agree with you in terms of the number of Gettysburg books coming out for the Sesquicentennial. It is lower than I thought it would be.

    On the other hand, in addition to Eric’s revised edition, we have an exciting looking title from Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler published by UNC Press. A Field Guide to Gettysburg. http://www.uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=3256

    The battlefield guide is among my favorite Civil War genres, but the genre is light on contributions from non-military history points of view. I haven’t looked at this book yet, but Reardon’s background suggests that this could be a volume that weaves non-traditional themes as well as memory study into a practical battlefield companion book.

    That would be a good contribution to Sesquicentennial literature.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Bjorn,

      I just opened a package not 5 minutes ago from UNC Press that contained Carol’s book. It looks like a lot of reading. I am going to bring it with me next week to Gettysburg.

      Reply
  10. Doug didier

    In former role,.. Data collection.. processing.. dessemination .. etc.. Was pretty useful for analysist to come forward with what was known and what was unknown.. Based on the known.. So in that vein.. Gettysburg..What don’t we know .. Or what do we know that doesn’t make sense..

    Reply
  11. Mike Pride

    My new book, Our War: Days and Events in the Fight for the Union, has two chapters on Gettysburg. One follows the second-day fighting through the eyes of three men, one from the Second Corps (Col. Edward E. Cross), two from the Third. My goal is to show through the experiences of these men and their regiments how the actions of the Third Corps influenced the fate of elements of the Second.

    The second chapter takes “Carleton” (Charles Carleton Coffin), the Boston Journal correspondent, from Gettysburg to a return visit to Antietam to examine that battlefield nine and a half months after he covered the battle there.

    I will also be at the CWI next month giving a talk and leading a tour of Cross’s July 2 at Gettysburg.

    You can see my blog on my book at our-war.com. The latest post is Gettysburg-related.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post here. I read your blog often and enjoy it.

    Reply

Join the Conversation