Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

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Overview

Winner of the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

The Battle of Gettysburg has been written about at length and thoroughly dissected in terms of strategic importance, but never before has a book taken readers so close to the experience of the ...

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Overview

Winner of the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

The Battle of Gettysburg has been written about at length and thoroughly dissected in terms of strategic importance, but never before has a book taken readers so close to the experience of the individual soldier.

Two-time Lincoln Prize winner Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the stone walls and gunpowder clouds of Pickett’s Charge; the reason that the Army of Northern Virginia could be smelled before it could be seen; the march of thousands of men from the banks of the Rappahannock in Virginia to the Pennsylvania hills. What emerges is a previously untold story of army life in the Civil War: from the personal politics roiling the Union and Confederate officer ranks, to the peculiar character of artillery units. Through such scrutiny, one of history’s epic battles is given extraordinarily vivid new life.

Winner of the 2013 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the beginning of the three-day confrontation that decisively turned the tide in the War Between the States. In this important new narrative, revered Civil War historian Allen Guelzo (Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; Abraham Lincoln) delves beneath the grand sweep of strategic decisions to grasp the stories of real people in the experience of war. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion reveals how the realities of nineteenth century warfare impacted the lives of those hurled suddenly into it. A spring release certain to be prominently reviewed.

From the Publisher
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

Publishers Weekly
Esteemed Civil War scholar Guelzo (Lincoln and Douglas) delivers a dense, impressively detailed account of the Civil War's turning point and bloodiest battle. Beginning shortly before the days of the actual engagement, his tome explores all aspects of Gettysburg as a military endeavor and the events that led to it. He addresses politics within the Union and the Confederate governments and armies, the personalities of major players and units, and places all within a greater historical and global context. Guelzo's beautiful prose transforms straightforward facts into a visceral, if gruesome, picture of the time and place (depictions of the injured and dead are as detailed as the discussions of military or political strategy), and supplementary maps and photographs aid visualization. Even while presenting the smallest details Guelzo contributes to a greater understanding of complexities of the battle and the Civil War as a whole—of particular note is a soldier's memory of opposing army bandsmen simultaneously playing "Home, Sweet Home" one night across the banks of the Rappahannock River from one another. While the sheer length and level of required engagement with the text make it not for everyone, readers who are willing to dedicate the time to read it will find this book enriching and enlightening. (May)
The New York Times Book Review - David W. Blight
In his graphic and emotionally affecting Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, Allen C. Guelzo, a distinguished Lincoln scholar who teaches at Gettysburg College, offers an extraordinarily detailed and realistic account.
Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
A stirring account of the "greatest and most violent collision the North American continent [has] ever seen," just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Though the battle site was not inevitable, the actual battle was: The giant armies of North and South were destined to lumber into one another in a time when, as Guelzo (Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction, 2012, etc.) cites a Confederate officer as observing, they "knew no more about the topography of the country than they did about Central Africa." What is certain is that Robert E. Lee's arrival in Pennsylvania sent "Yankeedom," to quote another Confederate officer, "in a great fright." The Union had reason to be concerned, but, as Guelzo documents, their foe was scattered and divided, with rivalries and miscommunication--and perhaps even insubordination--keeping James Longstreet from attacking, J.E.B. Stuart from arriving on the battlefield in time, and the much-disliked George Pickett from enjoying a better fate than being cannon fodder. And what fodder: If there is a leitmotif in Guelzo's book, it is the image of brains being distributed on the grass and the shirts of fellow soldiers, of limbs disappearing and soldiers on both sides disintegrating in a scene of "muskets, swords, haversacks, human flesh and bones flying and dangling in the air or bouncing above the earth." The author ably, even vividly, captures the hell of the battlefield while constantly keeping the larger scope of Gettysburg in the reader's mind: It was, he argues, the one central struggle over one plank of the Civil War, namely the preservation of the Union, that nearly wholly excluded the other one, the abolition of slavery. Robust, memorable reading that will appeal to Civil War buffs, professional historians and general readers alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307740694
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Series: Vintage Civil War Library Series
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 43,918
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

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 Wilson Quarterly to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal.
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Read an 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.”

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    Dr. Guelzo's book finds new ground to break on the much-trodden

    Dr. Guelzo's book finds new ground to break on the much-trodden subject of the Battle of Gettysburg. Deftly switching from the eyewitness perspective in the form of hundreds of personal quotations and recollections to the overall command view of the actual invasion, Dr. Guelzo keeps each development in its proper context, raising new questions about both the true key points of the battle, and the intended objectives of the key leaders of both armies. Unafraid to tackle several myths and misconceptions, including the oft-repeated mis-characterization that the Civil War was 'The first modern war', Dr. Guelzo brings a new and fresh voice to the topic, doing so in a manner both eloquent and masterful. This is book will take its place in the ranks next to the works of Keegan and Holmes and represents a truly ground-breaking look at the face of American war in the 19th Century.

    19 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2013

    1863 in the Civil War was a year of turning points, such as the

    1863 in the Civil War was a year of turning points, such as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the battle Gettysburg, and the sieges of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Readers may think that publishers would overwhelm the marketplace with related books, yet it is not so. No other Civil War battlefield park is visited as much as Gettysburg and this year there is only one book that takes up the challenge to comprehensively present the battle. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion meets the challenge. Written in a style that is friendly for general readers, Guelzo’s work also meets the standards of scholars. It is a remarkable achievement.

    At Gettysburg College, Allen C. Guelzo serves as the Henry R. Luce III Professor of the Civil War Era as Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program, and is the author of 11 books of Lincoln, emancipation, the Civil War and American Christendom. In Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, he sets forth the story in a clear, concise and compelling manner. From the conception of the campaign in the minds of Confederate military leader Robert E. Lee and Confederate Presiden Jefferson Davis through President Lincoln’s delivery Gettysburg Address, Guelzo looks at the campaign and battle from several interesting perspectives.

    Those who are only familiar with Gettysburg because of a school visit or the film Gettysburg will be comfortable with Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. Guelzo’s account is straightforward and does not require extensive familiarity with the battle. Those who have read Noah Trudeau’s 2002 Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage or Stephen Sears’ 2003 Gettysburg will be delighted by the amount of new information and perspectives in Guelzo’s work.

    One of the enjoyments of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is the constant attention Guelzo gives to individual combat soldiers, commanders, and civilians. There is rarely a paragraph that does not contain direct remarks from participants. Describing the fighting during the morning and afternoon of July 1, Guelzo offers the testimony of many soldiers and seven civilian witnesses.

    At the college, student Martin Colver watches an artillery barrage from a third classroom window and is interrupted by a professor leading blue coated signalmen with flags and telescopes to the cupola. The college’s president Henry L. Braugher resigns himself to the failure of students to maintain attention during his lecture and dismisses them; soon a cannonball strikes the cupola where the signalmen are.

    Guelzo offers new and interesting remarks regarding a variety unique circumstances. He describes the non-combat duties performed by Africans Americans in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Guelzo estimates the changing fog of war by calculating the time it takes to transmit an order from the division commander to the brigade commander, then to the regimental commander. Confederate troops’ discipline included their viewing five executions for desertion after the invaders crossed the Potomac River and enter Maryland. Looting the dead and wounded occurred during the battle. After a successful attack, enemy corpses with their trouser pockets turned out immediately appeared. While being assisted away from the firing line, mortally wounded North Carolina colonel Henry Burgwyn nearly had his vest pocket watch stolen by a South Carolina lieutenant who is helping him off the field.

    Overall, the author drives his narrative forward with taut observations of the soldiers. Rebels “fell all over themselves with laughter” when they discover that Pennsylvanians believe there are secret handshakes and facial expressions that will spare them the invaders’ depravations. Federals soldiers along the roads “began to straggle and brigades leaked clots of exhausted soldiers”. Federal army commander George Meade remained cordial with corps commander John Reynolds “but privately his letters curdle with envy” when Reynolds received a promotion in 1862.

    Wisely Guelzo does not attempt to definitively answer contentious problems. Did Confederate cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart lose the battle by “galloping off on a senseless joy-ride” as the invasion began? Did Confederate corps commander Richard Ewell lose the battle because he lacked the energy and the ruthlessness to drive the Federals off Culp’s Hill during the evening of July 1? The author puts forward his reply to these and other questions. Guelzo believes that both reason and self-interest contend for readers’ opinions on these questions. He is not argumentative; he states his case on moves on.

    The author takes full advantage of a pair of remarkable resources. Gettysburg is the only battle to have its own magazine. Gettysburg Magazine, founded in July 1989, has published 47 issues of new scholarship on the battle and campaign. In its 24 years, it has offered troves of recently found diaries, reports, and changing interpretations on topics such as African Americans in the Gettysburg campaign, cavalry battles surrounding the main battlefield, the gathering of military intelligence and the farmstead hospitals. Also, Gettysburg National Military Park regular presents a scholarly seminar and publishs the conference proceedings which Guelzo regularly cites.

    Both George Gordon Meade's and Robert E. Lee's backers may disagree with Guelzo's conclusions. He believese that Lee never had a clear grasp of the terrain and the tactics to deal with an enemy and Meade was reluctant to fight on July 1, 2, and 3. Also, the July 3 cavalry battle, Farnesworth Charge and the advance of the the Pennsylvania Reserves brigade after the Grand Assault are described as they may have been. Guelzo does provide insights into the Virginia clique in the Army of Virginia and to the Peace Democrat generals of the army of the Potomac.

    Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is enjoyable, not only for its scholarship but also for its storytelling. “The sun soon came up, a dim blood-red disc behind the clouds on the eastern horizon” is reminiscent of the best writing in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Suspense is still found in the familiar story of Gettysburg. “So, rather than wait to be hunted by the Yankees . . . Lee would go hunting himself for the climatic victory he had always wanted” writes Guelzo. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion is indeed a remarkable achievement.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2013

    Worth the wait. I have read most Gettysburg (well alot anyway)

    Worth the wait. I have read most Gettysburg (well alot anyway) books. they all tell the story from different views. Dr Guelzo continues with this effort. While the basic story line is well documented from previous Authors, Dr. Guelzo adds personal accounts that brings the battle alive. Thank you sir for 2 weeks of excellent reading.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    I am a naturalized citizen and cannot wait to get to Gettysburg

    I am a naturalized citizen and cannot wait to get to Gettysburg for the celebration. It is a dream come tru for me. I am also taking my grandchildren and hope this event will open their eyes to what a great country we live in.So many citizens have nothing but complaints about how things are done in the USA let them try living some where else for a week and only then will they appreciate how fortunate they are.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2013

    Highly recommended.

    This must be considered the definitive book on the greatest battle that ever occurred in the Western Hemisphere. Prof. Guelzo follows the battle from the time Lee moves north out of Virginia through the dramatic retreat in the aftermath. Units are tracked through the battle as are the leaders, with a brief description of a soldiers strengths and weaknesses. The research that went into the writing of this book staggers the imagination. It is truly a masterpiece.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    One of the better Gettysburg books

    Straightforward in style and viewpoint, this book presents the three days of Gettysburg as well as I've read. There are minor quibbles, being from Minnesota, the Minnesota saved the day charge during day two followed by their placement in the center of the line for day three and thus meeting Pickett's charge full on is given short rift, but in battle this large any book has to pick and choose a bit.

    Still, the book doesn't sugar coat Lee's role nor explain Meade's in a way that most don't. That alone makes the book a worthwhile read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2013

    Recommended with reservations.

    Very detailed (almost laboriously so) but accurate and informative if one is really into the War and the events of July 1-3, 1862.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    A worthy addition to the numerous volumes on Gettysburg

    A well researched and well written account on the immediate actions before, during, and after Gettysburg. The timeline is concise--one of the best "what happened when and where accounts" of the battle I've read. Especially interesting is the detailed description of the maneuvering of the two armies before the battle; these are glossed over in many if not most books on Gettysburg. The description of the battle itself is also superb; I gained a much better understanding of what was happening on different parts of the battlefield at different times, and a greater understanding of how the battlefield shifted from day to day. The description of what happened immediately after the battle is somewhat weaker in comparison, although the epilogue, pertaining to the Gettysburg Address, is quite good describing the physical state of the town, it's inhabitants, and the battlefield itself at the time of the address.

    A particular strength of this book is the numerous anecdotes of the soldiers, generals and townspeople, which helps bring a sense of what not only happened, but what it was like to be there. Another strength is the author's take on misperceptions of who was responsible for what deeds, (Joshua Chamberlain comes to mind), and how some actions of importance, such as Stuart's ride around Meade's army, may have been misinterpreted in how and why they happened, and overblown specifically in regards to the outcome of the battle.

    My main criticisms are twofold. The maps are extremely difficult to read on a nook or nook HD, and would gain immensely by simply being made larger. Also, when the maps are of relatively small areas of the battlefield, it can be difficult to determine where the action is taking place in the overall scheme of the entire battlefield--if maps such as these were accompanied by a map of the entire battlefield, with the area in question shaded in, it would help to quickly put what was being described into perspective geographically. My other criticism is that the author tends to be repetitive on certain subjects (i.e. that Dan Sickles wasn't perhaps the nicest human being, or ablest general), but it's a relatively minor criticism.

    Overall a book worthy of any serious library on Gettysburg.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Chractr Characters revealed

    I enjoyed learning and understanding the lower command characters i had not before known and how the attacks segued throughout the battle. Well done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    An excellent book!

    Well written, and easy to read. The author takes you inside many of the better known events and characters, but also adds the lesser known details that really bring the whole story to the reader.

    Especially relevant with the recent anniversary of the battle.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    A history book that reads like fiction.

    The book not only gives you details but makes you feel as if you are there. It testifies to the politics behind the civil war and the mechanics of 19th century warfare and the way of iLife of people in early America. A must read for anyone not only afficiandos of the civil war or history buffs. Give it a try you will not regret it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    my family does

    Civil War re-enacting and i absolutely love it!!!! My family and i are going to Gettysburg in abiut 2 weeks for the 150th anniversary of the civil war. It gonna be Huge!!! Theres gonn be around 20,000 men there. My mom is gonna be a nurse. I usually am a nurse but i am to young for this battle scince theres gonna be tons of calvery. I am only 13. My dad and brother are soldiers. And all i have to say is: God Speed To All! :)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A well written narrative of the battle. Makes his points well p


    A well written narrative of the battle. Makes his points well particularly that Lee lost the battle and Meade did little to win it other than move the army to Gettysburg. Gulezo argues persuasively that the Confederate command structure completely broke down with two new corps commanders and the only experienced one sceptical of the success of Lee's aggresive battle plans. Author also makes a point which I had not considered before- the Confederate infantry was stymied by the Pennsylvania countryside with its heavily fenced landscape which slowed down the charges and wore out the attackers . Altogether a good read and a good way to reconnect with the battle at its 150th anniversary.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

       

       

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Willmake Awsome

    101% good

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Highly recommend this book, Good flow throughout.

    I am glad I bought this book. It's a great read on a subject i have great interest in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    I am so disappointed in this book. It is full of names and rank

    I am so disappointed in this book. It is full of names and ranks, hard to keep track of what side they are on. One attribution after another. A sort of end to end description but not much analysis, not much meat on the long drawn on bone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Confusing and poorly written

    Poorly written book. Author confuses cumbersome wording with good writing. Would not recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    One of the Best on Gettysburg

    Informative, easy to read and contains some new insights on the many "whys?" of the 3 day battle. His writing style is perfect for this complex subject. I particaurlly like his side discussions on important factors throughout the book, such as the effect of the musket and minnie ball inaccuracy on battle strategy. Must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    true history

    true history

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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