Gettysburg - The Second Day by Harry W. Pfanz is another of those recognized Civil War classics that set a standard for how battle accounts should be written. The author served for a decade as the Park Historian at the battlefield, followed by the position of Chief Historian for the National Park Service, so brought to the authorship of this 1981 work an intimate knowledge and understanding of the terrain, essential for anyone attempting to untangle the often overlapping, confused, and confusing participant accounts of the fighting here. Despite the title, Pfanz early on acknowledges the book will concentrate solely on the Confederate assault on the Union left and pay scant attention to the subsequent battles for Culp's and Cemetery Hills which he dealt with in a subsequent volume of what eventually became a Gettysburg trilogy. Over a hundred pages of this massive work (600 pp. total) are devoted to getting the forces into place to attack or receive the assault; only around p. 150 of the 439 pages of text does the fighting finally get underway. Along the way to the battle, the reader is treated to full discussions of the subsequent Lee-Longstreet and Meade-Sickles controversies and the maneuvering that brought the troops into contact. In the proceeding, Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet is absolved of any accusation of tardiness, his commander receiving a share of blame for his own slowness in formulating the plan of attack; and Union Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, while not exactly absolved of blame for disobeying orders, receives full consideration for the predicament he found himself in on the eve of battle, especially when John Buford's cavalry that had been covering his left flank was unexpectedly withdrawn. The roles of subordinates such as Gouvernor Warren, Henry Hunt, E. Porter Alexander, David Birney, Cadmus Wilcox, and many others are explored and described in detail. Union commander George Meade is given full credit for the eventual outcome of the day's activities, in contrast to the much weaker showing of Confederate leaders Lee, Longstreet, and especially A. P. Hill. Little is made of the confusion of the approach march of the divisions of John B. Hood and Lafayette McLaws; but a good deal of attention is given to the bizarre deployment of Wilcox's Brigade and the shifting of units of Sickles' Union Third Corps divisions and brigades. I gained a much better understanding of and appreciation for the difficulties and directions of the attacking Confederate units as they entered the battle, though again little was made of any supposed protestations on the part of Hood or his subordinates; instead, Lee's plan for the battle was seen as hopelessly flawed from the beginning due to faulty reconnaissance. I also gained a much fuller appreciation of the moves of Union reinforcing elements entering the contest, including those of the Second, Twelfth, and Sixth Corps at the end of the day along Cemetery Ridge that usually receive little or no coverage in most accounts. One problem with a work such as this is the sprawling nature of events as they unfolded, and Pfanz deals with this in a very rational fashion, proceeding from south to north as the successive Confederate brigades made their assaults. Individual chapters each deal with actions in Devil's Den; on the Round Tops; in the Wheatfield and its surrounding woods; the Peach Orchard and Emmitsburg Road line; before the Southern drive finally sputters out on Cemetery Ridge in the face of a successful Union counterattack. The only problem for the reader with this approach is that because the action occurring in each geographical location is described in full, there is necessarily a time overlap with other events occurring simultaneously elsewhere; that translates to many events having to be necessarily recalled or repeated in successive chapters. This means a continual returning to the many maps to locate units previously referred to in the shifting narrative. Pfanz does a superb job of following the succession of events; but as I neared the end I began to wonder if it would ever truly stop! This account relies on reports from the Official Records; period letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts; and postwar memoirs and reminiscences, many of which are contradictory, making it necessary for the author to decide, based on his experience, or provide the information for the reader to decide for himself. An interesting aspect of this is found in the differing narratives of the action on Little Round Top as presented in the accounts of Joshua Chamberlain defending it and William Oates attacking it. This was written before the popular version reflected in the novel The Killer Angels or the movie Gettysburg, so it's interesting to have a dispassionate look at events from both sides. The narrative ends with contrasting stories of the wounding and subsequent fates of key players William Barksdale and Dan Sickles, bringing an end to a fascinating in-depth look at what was likely the most important arena of the three-day struggle at Gettysburg. James N.