Retired Moderator
Oct 17, 2012
Middle Tennessee
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By Allen C. Guelzo
Alfred A. Knopf, $35, 632 pages
On July 1, Civil War historians and enthusiasts will mark the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.
Over the course of three days of intense fighting, the Union Army defeated the Confederate States Army on the bloodstained battlefield. It has become widely known as a crucial turning point in this tumultuous period of U.S. history. The loss of human life was extensive, families were torn apart and the country would never be the same again.
Allen C. Guelzo, one of America’s pre-eminent historians of this period, has written a superb account of this battle. He is the Henry R. Luce professor of the Civil War era, director of Civil War-era studies at Gettysburg College and an author of numerous books on Abraham Lincoln. His book “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” is a stirring compendium of personal stories, passionate observations and blow-by-blow details of each excruciating day. It is also the story of “two great armies, bound for the greatest and most violent collision the North American continent had ever seen.”
The Civil War was fought for different reasons from both sides. As noted by Mr. Guelzo, for “most in the Union Army, the war was a campaign to save liberal democracy from a conspiracy to replant European-style aristocracy in America.” The Confederates, meanwhile, “saw themselves as fighting for home and country, or for ‘sectional and financial interests,’ and some ‘for the inestimable right of self-government.’” The twin issues of slavery and freedom obviously played significant roles in the break between the Northern and Southern states. Many unique historical figures, including Robert E. Lee and George Gordon Meade, also emerged from the shadows to play vital roles in this civil war and incredible battle.

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Oct 3, 2005
Read this a few days ago. Quite good. He highlights the political infighting among the commanders of the Army of the Potomac. He contrasts Meade, only in command a few days, who struggles to grasp the reins, while his subordinate commanders rise to meet crisis after crisis. Chamberlain, Warren, Hancock, Greene and others are given their due. Lee, on the other hand is plagued by a more passive corps commander, Ewell, and the need to exert more hands on direction of the battle.

Guelzo argues that Gettysburg deserves its status as a major turning point of the war.

He also has strong opinions about Civil War combat. He attributes the massive loss of life to the tendency of the volunteer soldiers and their volunteer officers to march within sight of the enemy, then stopping and pounding away with rifle fire, often wildly inaccurate, instead of rapidly advancing with the bayonet.


Retired User
Jan 20, 2013
north central florida
We had threads on this book before, both pro and con.i read it was not that impressed except he does like to attack Meade.i prefer Sears book alot more then this one.

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