Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition To The Susquehanna River, June 1863, Scott L. Mingus, Sr., Savas Beatie LLC, 396 pp, footnotes, appendices, bibliography, order of battle, $18.95.
First, it must be noted that this book is not the 2009 Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition June 1863 offered by Ironclad Publishing. Yes, it has nearly the same title by the same author but, the 2009 edition is pale compared to the 2011 edition offered by Savas Beatie LLC.
The author reports that responses to the 2009 edition came from the readers in Adams, York, Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. They provided many primary sources that were unavailable to the author while writing in 2008. Having read the 2009 edition, CWL recognizes that indeed Mingus has written a new book, with a stronger narrative style, a greater wealth of sources, better maps, and a certain organization creates both depth and breath in the story.
From Lee's invasion plans through Gordon's withdrawal from Wrightsville, Mingus is in command of the story. There is a fine balance here between the dramatic personalities of the generals and the equally dramatic challenges met by the infantry and cavalry on the march. Civilian stories match the military adventures. The Epilogue covers fascinating material that relates what occurred after the war. Confederates such as Clement A. Evans, colonel of 31st Georgia, and Elijah White, lieutenant colonel of the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry are emblematic of Confederate veterans after the war. The stories of the Columbia Bridge and Hanover Junction after the Confederate withdrawal are compelling. Certainly Flames Beyond Gettysburg is a military story but the civilian story matches it page for page.
Key Confederate strategic decisions are presented as well as the responses of the Pennsylvania militia and the civilians in the path of the Confederates. The decision by Pennsylvania Militia to burn the Columbia Bridge is presented the light of military necessities and civilians' discomforts. Mingus's study includes appendices on casualties, weather, chronology, and driving tours. The tours include the Confederate route of march from Maryland; the June 26 skirmish at Gettysburg and the fight at the Witmer Farm; Lt. Col. Elijah V. White's cavalry raids on Point-of-Rocks and Hanover Junction; Gordon's triumphal march through York; the skirmish at Wrightsville; and the bridge burning.
Not only is the 2011 edition superior to the 2009 edition because it is based upon extensive primary source material. The reworking features much better and original maps by cartographer Steven Stanley. Ten maps are included and satisfactory but CWL, the map lover, would have appreciated maps of the counties of York, Lancaster and Dauphin. Scott L. Mingus, Sr. is a resident of the region in which Flames Beyond Gettysburg is set. This is distinctly an advantage for the reader. In the text the author is clearly on the ground and describes what he sees. There is an incomparable freshness in the narrative because Mingus has walked on the footpaths of the story.