Saturday, July 18, 2009
New---The Complete Gettysburg Guide
The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest, J. David Petruzzi (text), Steven Stanley (maps, photographs, Savas Beatie Publishing, 306 pp., maps, photographs, bibliography, index, $39.95.
CWL suspects any book with complete in the title. But Savas Beatie Publishing, with J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley have come as close as possible given the fact that the book is reasonably priced at $40 and is a mere 306 pages. You will find the book in three places near an armchair, on the front seat of an automobile, and in the haversack of a walker. Opening the shipping envelope in late June, CWL really didn't put the book down for about three hours at home, at Starbucks and then in the car at stop lights.
Visually the book is engaging on every page. There are very few pages were there is just text; nearly all pages have either an attractive map, an clear period or modern photograph or an appropriate sidebar biography or period text. The eleven tours include: the June 26 Marsh Creek skirmish, the fighting July 1-3 including the four cavalry battles, the historical sites in the borough, the National Cemetery, the Evergreen Cemetery, the hospital farms, and the rock carvings.
Impressive as the book is visually, CWL tested the book July 2 and 3 on the Gettysburg battlefield with ranger led battlefield walks. Once with Matt Atkinson of Vicksburg NMP and twice Troy Harmon of Gettysburg NMP, the book went into the field. On July 2 morning Atkinson walked in the steps of Anderson's brigade of Hood's division from Pitzer's Woods to Houck's Ridge. Harmon covered the path of Avery's brigade of Early's division from Winebrenner Run to East Cemetery Hill.On July 3 morning Harmon followed Colgrove's brigade of Ruger's division from McAllister's Mill to Spangler's Meadow. CWLmatched the ranger's tour with the book and found the maps and text consistent with what the rangers said and where they went.
The tours of July 2 and 3 fight are not set forth chronologically in the book. The tours are of the area were the fight occurred. For example, tour stop 12 is Bigelow's Stand at the Trostle Farm (July 2), tour stop 13 is Longstreet's corps Assault at Cemetery Ridge (July 2), tour stop 14 is the Grand Assault (July 3), tour stops 15 and 16 are at Spangler's Spring (July 2) and Culp's Hill July 2 and 3, and tour stop 17 is the night attack on Culp's Hill (July 2). Organize in this manner the book is very useful for the touring student of the battle.
Highlights for this reader were the hospital farms tour stop 35 (the Camp Letterman General Hospital site) the entire tour of the historical sites of the borough of Gettysburg, both tours of the cemeteries, and the June 26 Marsh Creek skirmish. Cavalry enthusiasts will be happy with the tours of the four cavalry fights and the July 1am engagement by Buford. Having taken the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide exam twice (2006 and 2008), CWL saw dozens of exam questions' answers. Of the 60 maps in the book 54 cover the fighting and have in the upper right hand corner a clock with the time of the engagement. That was something that Trudeau in Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage and CWL wished more authors addressing other battles followed the examples of Trudeau and Stanley'
Is there anything lacking in the Complete Gettysburg Guide? Well, for CWL the June 30 Battle of Hanover is crucial but, as the author explained in an online conversation, it is ten miles away from the battlefield and the book is only 304 pages. Petruzzi et al. covered the importance of the Battle of Hanover in two chapters in Plenty of Blame to Go Around. A second edition will address some quibbles on a few of the maps regarding such things as the route across the front of the 13th New Jersey by 27th Indiana against the 49th Virginia across Spangler's Meadow during the morning of July 3 (page 125). The Complete Gettysburg Guide has a Facebook Page which carries readers' questions forward.
While carrying the book on the tours I loaned it to a friend to view over lunch. With his Blueberry phone he took a picture of the barcode and ordered a copy of the book from Amazon.com. I was surprised that could be done. Of course he said, 'Yea. There's an app for that.' I second buddy I escorted to Jim Glessner's American History Store at the corner of Baltimore and Steinwehr Streets and he purchased his copy in the more traditional manner.