Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

by Allen Guelzo
4.4 42

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Gettysburg: The Last Invasion 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
civiwarlibrarian More than 1 year ago
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.
danodado More than 1 year ago
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.
SnoopFl More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed learning and understanding the lower command characters i had not before known and how the attacks segued throughout the battle. Well done.
JeffMcK More than 1 year ago
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.
Bubwolf More than 1 year ago
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.
jmahon10524 More than 1 year ago
A very enjoyable read. Dr. Guelzo provides very interesting perspective through the state of the art of warfare in 1863 and the political differences within the leadership of each army, both before and after the battle. He then gives a battleline view of the many critical encounters between units in the two armies. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far the most personal, detailed view of the Soldiers and Officers who fought so valiantly at Gettsyburg. Highly recommend this to all veterans!
GLKR More than 1 year ago
I am glad I bought this book. It's a great read on a subject i have great interest in.
cct1 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
OldWahoo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Do we need another account about the battle of Gettysburg? When the writer is as talented and original as Allen Guelzo, the answer is yes. Guelzo is not afraid to ask tough questions. Was Civil War rifle fire as effective as conventional wisdom claims? To what extent was the Army of the Potomac crippled by pro and anti McClellan cliques among its officer corps? Was Jeb Stuart the cavalry genius military writers have claimed or was he a glory hound who flattered Robert E. Lee? Was there really friction between Lee and James Longstreet on Day Two? Did the fight at Little Round Top save the Union position or did it merely draw troops from other places where they were badly needed? That is just a partial list of the issues he addresses. Guelzo states in his conclusion that neither commander was really in control of the course of the battle. He closes with a review of Lincoln's address and its meaning in American history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author provides insights into both armies, their leaders and the men that I have not read before, even though i have many books about the campaign. A must read for those interested in this most significant event in U S history
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bleacherbum99 More than 1 year ago
If you are going to make the trip to Gettysburg or just got back, you should read this book. It's a very in-depth look of what happened and all the whys. It gets a little wordy and you can tell a history prof. wrote it. He could easily slice 100 pages out and not miss much. But it's a very complete look at the battle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MerlinDB More than 1 year ago
Very detailed (almost laboriously so) but accurate and informative if one is really into the War and the events of July 1-3, 1862.
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