Wednesday, January 17, 2007

CWL --- Walking Gettysburg's Battlefield: Artillery Front!

A Concise Guide to the Arillery at Gettysburg, Coco, Gregory A., Thomas Publications, photgraphs, maps, charts, order of battle, notes, glossary, 96 pages, 1998.

In countless ways, Gregory Coco has advanced our knowledge of the battle of Gettysburg. With books focusing upon the primary sources of the battle, such as anecdotes of the wounded and dying, the accounts of the hospitals, the farmsteads, and the soldiers' diaries, Coco has opened the study of Gettysburg for both the casually curious and the energized enthusiast. This particular volume, clearly and concisely provides an overview of the artillery slugfest at Gettysburg, its soldiers, their guns and the amunition of the artillery units engaged.

The Narratives of the Artillery in the Battle of Gettysburg section of the text is at the core of the material. For the Union army, the effectiveness of: each corps' artillery, the reserve artillery, the July 2nd and July 3rd Plum Run Lines, the Emittsburg Road and East Cemetery Hill concentrations, and the Horse Artillery are reviewed. For the Confederate army, the effectives of: each corps' artillery, the concentration fo artillery for the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge, the Horse Artillery and the artillery during the CSA retreat are presented. The contributions and failures of key officers, such as General Henry Hunt and General William Pendleton are reviewed. The successes of General Robert Tyler, Union Reserve Artillery Chief, Lt. Colonel Freeman McGilvery, organizer of the Plum Run Line, and Colonel Edward Alexander, organizer of the artillery of Confederate artillery for Longstreet's assualt and the July 3rd assault are briefly hightlighted.

Other strengths of Coco's work on the artillery is the order of battle, the list of the type and quality of the canons at Gettysburg, and the chart of canon tubes with calibers, powder charges, weight and range of projectiles. Also, brief and well done is the discussion of fuses and the glossary.

Though not a tour guide, this booklet is essential for those visitors driving or walking the battlefield park. Personal tours are enhanced by the maps in this brief volume; positions of the units on July 1 2:30-4:30p, July 2 7:15p, and July 3:15-5:00p are shown in a series of maps. This reader found these maps very helpful, but wished that a fourth and a fifth map showing artillery positions on July 2 4:00p and the East Cavalry Field had been included in the book. Also, the July 3 3:15-5:00p map does not include the artillery positions on South Cavalry Field. Unfortunately the booklet has not been indexed which limits ones quick and handy use of the material relating to commanders and units.

This booklet is recommended for those whose interest lies beyond the two hour driving tour of the battlefield. The best use of Coco's work on artillery will be made by those who have already a good knowlege of the infantry tactics used on the field.

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