Thursday, July 30, 2009

National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning

I went to Columbus, Georgia, to see the naval museum but also went to the National Infantry Museum inside Fort Benning. Once you pass gate security it was a great museum, luckily I was traveling with a retired Staff Sergeant so the MPs didn't bother us much.

The museum covers the whole history of the US Army. There are more exhibits on World War II but that is mostly because of the size of the collection.

This diorama of the Battle of Monongahela is not Civil War related but I thought it was interesting.

This is the flag for the 39th Infantry, it is a post war flag as the 39th was not formed until 1866.

The notation for this flag stated that it was found on the battlefield of Gettysburg. Was it a regimental flag? Did it fly over a building in town? No other info on its origin was on the sign.

Another flag for a Colored Regiment, the number is not clear in my picture. But since its actually referred to as a "Colored" regiment I believe that this is of Civil War vintage.

My pictures of the other Civil War exhibits didn't turn out too well due to the reflection and glare off the display cases.
Outside is a tank park, which are always fun to wander through.

And a picture of Confederate General Henry L. Benning, for whom the fort is named. Benning lived most of his adult life in Columbus.

I thought the museum was neat and probably would visit it again if I was in the area but wouldn't make a special trip to see. Yesterday though I saw pictures of the museum on Lee White's facebook and it appears much different, he even called it the best museum he's been to. I guess I'll have to go check it out again to see all the changes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Top Shiloh books

The folks over at the Shiloh discussion board are doing their own top Shiloh books, perhaps inspired by the recent Gettysburg blog carnival. Brett at TOWOC asked if I would be interested in participating and so here I am. Instead of a top 10 they went with a top 7.

1 Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 by O. Edward Cunningham
I'd often run into references of this manuscript as the premier study of Shiloh. Eventually I got tired of hearing about it and got a copy of the dissertation thru interlibrary loan, and I made my own copy. A few years later Tim Smith and Gary Joiner edited the dissertation for the University of Tennessee Press so now we can all get our hands on this book. And it is a great book. My fault with the dissertation was a lack of maps but that has been fixed in the UT printing.

2 Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged by DW Reed
Reed was the first historian at Shiloh and this book is really the first history of the battle. Once again UT Press has made Shiloh easier to research as they recently reprinted this book. Copies of this book were included in most of the state monument commission books so it isn't too hard to find the text. But it is now much nicer to not worry about potentially damaging a 100 year old book. The text is a little dry as Reed was more concerned with laying out facts about troop movements than weaving an interesting anecdote filled story. Reed is also responsible for the cast iron tablets on the battlefield today.

3 Shiloh: The battle that Changed the Civil War by Larry Daniel
Until Cunningham's dissertation was finally published Daniel's book was my favorite of the three modern works on the battle. It doesn't have all the detail that Sword's book (see below) has but it places the battle in the context of the war better than Sword did.

4 Seeing the Elephant: Raw Recruits and the Battle of Shiloh by Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves
Shiloh is one of the few battles that has large numbers of raw soldiers seeing combat for the first time. Even in other battles, like Perryville or Stones River, that feature many new troops there were also quite a few veterans in the army. In fact outside of Bull Run I'm not sure there is another battle that features so many fresh troops without a sizable veteran contingent. Frank and Reaves sifted through the archives at the park to describe the experience Shiloh's raw troops had. Its not a blow by blow account but is a wonderful way to get the feel for the soldiers' experience.

5 Untold Story of Shiloh by Tim Smith
In this volume Smith tries to fill in some of the gaps in the story of Shiloh. Some of this involves attacking the persistent myths, some of it is simply telling the stories that got shifted to the side.

6 Shiloh, Shells and Artillery Units by George Witham
I consult this book quite often when I need information on artillery units at Shiloh. It is not a narrative but more of an encyclopedia. For every unit at the battle Witham will say what type of cannon they had, how many men were there, how many casualties they suffered, list the officers and then usually have a portion of the Official Records to explain what they did at the battle. There are also many pictures of the different types of shells as well as many pictures of cannon on the field. Some batteries get better treatment as there was more information available for Witham to use, and some entries also include pictures of the men who served the guns.

7 Shiloh: Bloody April by Wiley Sword
I was really conflicted over which book to list, Sword's or James Lee McDonough's "Shiloh: In Hell Before Night." Both are very good but in different ways. McDonough provides a good overview and deals with the battle from the brigade level on up. Sword goes down to the regimental level. I went with Sword in this spot because I've probably consulted it more often than McDonough over the years.

There are many other great Shiloh books out there. I'm fond of:
This Great Battlefield of Shiloh by Tim Smith (focuses on the formation of the park up to 1933)
Shiloh: A Novel by Shelby Foote (a great book I end up reading once a year)
Shiloh and Corinth: Sentinels of Stone by Timothy Isbell
Eyewitnesses at the Battle of Shiloh by David Logsdon
War College Guide to the Battle of Shiloh by Jay Luvaas, Steven Bowman and Leonard Fullenkamp

I also am interested in reading The Shiloh Campaign edited by Steven Woodworth. Its a collection of essays on the campaign that was published earlier this year and I still have not picked up a copy (shame on me).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Four Mile House

As promised weeks ago, for Fourth of July I took the aide-de-camp to Four Mile House for their annual celebration. I knew he'd enjoy it as there are always a lot of activities for the kids, plus he would get to see Civil War soldiers and Abe Lincoln.

Four Mile House is located four miles from downtown Denver and was named Four Mile House back when there was no downtown Denver, it was just Denver (or Denver City on some old maps). I've heard that this house is where the remains of the Hungate family were deposited by the Indians after their brutal killing east of town. It seems odd for the Indians to bring the bodies in when they could have just left them on the prairie and not run the risk of another fight near town so I doubt that story. The Hungate Massacre (the family was not just killed but chopped up) is what brings the citizens of Denver to a fever pitch against the Indians in 1864 and precipitates the Sand Creek Massacre. Before I get some angry comments, I'm not saying it justifies it I'm simply pointing out what was happening that year that prompted Denver's citizens to raise a regiment to fight Indians and culminated in a sad incident at Sand Creek.

In any respect the grounds of Four Mile House are now tranquil and are filled with reenactors of all sorts. There were mountain men and Sioux Indians, blacksmiths and suffragettes, and Civil War soldiers and Abe Lincoln.
I didn't get a picture of Lincoln as my son was a little nervous and didn't want his picture taken with Old Abe. Later he was in the mood but Abe was not in his tent, must have been having lunch. Abe has a wonderful sense of humor. While we were talking with him a soldier asked him to move as we were sorta downrange of the artillery that was going to fire off soon. Lincoln told the crowd that they should move, but that he was less worried about cannons; it was the small guns, like a derringer, that he was more scared of. The joke passed right over the head of the crowd but I enjoyed a little chuckle.

There were also carriage rides, wood crafts, kids games and an old time kitchen display. We got to churn some butter and squeeze some lemonade. The apple peeler/corer/slicer was already out of apples but we got to see what the final result was. My son enjoyed it all. He thought the cannon and rifles were too loud but he loved watching the blacksmith, he got to make a wooden race car and he enjoyed the carriage ride too.

At this point he was hot and tired, plus he just didn't want a picture taken, but he humored me somewhat.

Monday, July 13, 2009


My mom is sick. I don't want to share specifics but sick enough that she'll spend the next week in the hospital. So my thoughts are not with the Civil War right now. I'll blog again when things are looking up and my mind can focus once again. Not sure when that'll be but I'll post here next Monday if its gonna be two weeks away from the blog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Missionary Ridge

The Story of a Regiment: Being a Narrative of the Service of the Second Regiment Minnesota Veteran Volunteer Infantry by Judson Bishop. Edited by Newell Chester.

If you've ever wondered just how exactly the Union army decided to continue the charge up Missionary Ridge instead of stopping at the first line, as they were ordered, this book solves the mystery.

The very first chapter, "The Mystery of Missionary Ridge Unraveled" the amazing story is told. Captain John Reed Beatty, aide-de-camp to Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer had reached Company H of the 2nd Minnesota just after they took the first line of rifle pits. He saw that they could not stay there, they either had to retreat or go forward. So he ordered bugler Billings J. Sibley to sound the charge. He also made his old company (remarkably he had started the war as the first lieutenant of this company before joining Van Derveer's staff) promise not to tell anyone why the bugler had sounded the charge. Apparently Beatty had the presence of mind to make an attempt to protect himself from charges of "insubordination of a direct order" by eliciting that promise from his old comrades.

The men started the charge, the rest of the Union army soon followed their example and the ridge was won. The next day Sibley wrote his father but did not tell him of his historic part. Beatty never mentioned it in letters to his wife. The whole historic moment would have been lost except one comrade couldn't keep the secret forever. On May 9, 1916 Roswell Lyon Nason told the story to the Mankato Review. Beatty had died the previous month and Sibley had died three years earlier. Nason was the last surviving member and he thought it was his duty to reveal the story.

Why Beatty did not tell someone when he served on the Chickamauga Chattanooga battlefield commission in 1893 is unknown, by that time its doubtful anyone would have preferred charges against him. I bet if we looked at every regiment that made that charge we would find some similar stories. I looked through the three modern books on Chattanooga, by Wiley Sword, Peter Cozzens and James Lee McDonough, and found no reference to Beatty being responsible. I did find countless other counts of regiments or brigades that continued past the first line, were called back and then shortly thereafter went up anyway for a variety of reasons. Some essentially decided that it looked like everyone else was doing it, or about to do it, so they might as well go up too. Some received a message that said in effect that if you think you can take the ridge then go for it. I know Sheridan sent his aide to Granger to clarify the orders because some of his men had advanced and then returned. The aide came back with the message to the effect that they could charge but they'd better succeed, the gist being that if you do it no one will care why you did it but if you fail someone will face a court martial.

Nason tells a good story however there is certainly a fair amount of embellishment to the story. I think it is especially odd that Beatty did not share the story when he served on his state's monument commission for the park. It would have been a wonderful story to tell 30 years later. I'm sure it would have also set off a firestorm from other veterans saying that they started up the ridge before the 2nd Minnesota did, but it would have been a good story. Since Beatty never said a word to anyone I'm actually apt to believe he did not do what Nason claimed. I'm more likely to believe that Nason wanted one last moment of glory and telling this story as the last living survivor was a good time to do it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lincoln and the Decision for War by Russell McClintock

Awhile back a good friend asked me to make a list of pre-Civil War books, books that explore the growing conflict. I selected The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Freehling's Road to Disunion: Secessionists Triumphant, Lincoln: President Elect by Holzer, Cry Havoc by Nelson Lankford, Lincoln and the Decision for War by McClintock, Outbreak of the Rebellion by Nicolay and Fires of Jubilee by Oates. This list was being used to create a display at the Barnes and Noble he works at so I kept the list to recently published books or things I was sure would still be in print. No sense saying a book last published in 1959 was a must have, they could not stock it.

For some books I also said what I knew of it, what period of time it covered or whatever else seemed important to tell. For McClintock’s Lincoln and the Decision for War I wrote that I had heard from several other sources that this was one of the better books to come out in 2008 but that I had not read it. A day or so later I finished Grierson’s memoirs (my review of which was posted here two days ago) and I remembered my own words on the book, so since I did not have anything lined up to read next I started McClintock’s book. I don’t think I’d say it was the best book of 2008 but I did enjoy it.

McClintock follows the various political factions in the North from Lincoln’s election through his call for volunteers following the firing on Fort Sumter. He does a good job of explaining how the various Republican factions came together to win the election and then how Lincoln had to hold them together until Inauguration Day when he could wield firmer control. He ran the very real risk of elements of his party working together with the Democrats for peace at any cost, which he certainly did not want.

He desired peace but there were certain things he would not waver on. The main thing he wouldn’t waver on was if any agreement was reached that made it seem he had to concede things to be allowed to be inaugurated. The Republicans had won an election fairly and if they now had to concede things it would be a backward step for democracy. The unhappy minority could not be allowed to dictate how things would happen, that would completely undermine the foundations of representative democracy. This prevented most forms of compromise from happening at all. This was also partly because the Democrats, mostly Southern Democrats, were not just happy with a promise of an extension of the Missouri Compromise Line, they wanted a much harsher fugitive slave law, or they wanted slavery protected in the Constitution, or some other promise that the Republicans could not agree to without abandoning the platform they ran on.

So how did Lincoln keep all these factions in line well enough that nothing was agreed upon that he could not live with? Through old fashioned party politics. He pressured state party leaders to keep their senators and representatives in line. He kept quiet enough that no one really knew what he was going to do, so they stuck to the party line to keep their own prospects bright. An example is that Lincoln kept his cabinet choices quiet much longer than he needed to partly because the various factions would not step out of line thinking it might cost their part of the party from a choice cabinet post when often the decision was already made. When the state party leader told them what was expected of them they mainly behaved because they didn’t want to mess up their faction’s, or their own, prospects.

McClintock does give President James Buchanan some praise, mainly by pointing out that it really was a very tricky situation and there was very little Buchanan could really do alone after the election. If Lincoln wanted to wait til he was president to make things happen, to work on a peaceful compromise there really was little Buchanan could do with the make up in Congress he faced then. There is one place that McClintock really points out a weak side of Buchanan, but doesn’t skewer him as savagely as he could have. Buchanan’s attorney general, Jeremiah S. Black, told him that he could not fill the vacant posts in South Carolina, such as customs collector, unless the local federal officers requested assistance. Since all the federal officers resigned in South Carolina there was no one there to request assistance so Buchanan could not send anyone down there to fill the abandoned posts. This is just nonsense. Basically Black was saying that since all of South Carolina’s federal employees quit there could be no federal presence there anymore. If one man had stayed on the job then he could ask for help but if he didn’t there would be no new appointees sent to South Carolina. But in reality these men just switched their allegiance to South Carolina. The duties were still collected but the money went directly to the state and not the federal government. Black envisions a federal government so weak that any state anytime could just have its federal employees resign in mass and the federal government could do nothing about it. Buchanan accepts this opinion. McClintock should have skewered this opinion as idiotic. He doesn’t do that but he puts the facts out there well enough that the rest of us can see how silly Black’s opinion was and think less of Buchanan for accepting such an opinion.

Cry Havoc covered some of the same ground as McClintock, although the focus of Cry Havoc was from the inauguration to the opening shots. And I’m sure Holzer’s Lincoln: President Elect also covers similar ground. I enjoyed Cry Havoc and have recently started President Elect. I definitely think there is enough new in McClintock’s book to recommend it.

I've read a review of Holzer's book that says he challenges the commonly held belief that Lincoln did not do much during the secession winter. I think McClintock does a good job too of showing that Lincoln did much but it was behind the scenes. Keeping the various factions together was a big job plus he also had to deal with early office seekers and crafting his inaugural address. Perhaps though Holzer spends more time on Lincoln as McClintock's goal was more of what was happening in the North while the South started to secede. Lincoln is definitely part of that equation but McClintock spends quite a bit of time discussing aspects from all areas of the North.
From what I've read so far of President Elect my initial opinion is that Holzer is providing more details than McClintock did. McClintock would report that Lincoln went to Chicago and met with Hamblin to discuss cabinet possibilities. Holzer gives more details like who Lincoln traveled with, who else he met with, who he had dinner with, etc. And there is value in all that but on the other hand a wealth of details can sometimes draw the focus away from the message. If I could only keep one of the two books I'm not sure which one I'd keep, not yet.

A slightly different version of this review appears in the July issue of Civil War News.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gettysburg books

Brett at TOCWOC, has tallied the results from the joint blogging effort I recently participated in concerning the top Gettysburg books. Click here to see the full tally, but here is a shortened version of the top 10:
1 Gettysburg Campaign: Study in Command by Edwin B Coddington
2 Gettysburg - The Second Day by Harry W. Phanz
3 Retreat from Gettysburg by Kent Masterson Brown
4 (tie) Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A Frassanito
4 (tie) Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
6 Gettysburg July 1 by David Martin
7 Pickett's Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon
8 Plenty of Blame to Go Around by Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi
9 Pickett's Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg by Earl J. Hess
10 Gettysburg by Stephen Sears

I think the list is right on with one exception, I don't think two Pickett's Charge books should be in the top 10 but that's a minor quibble. I am surprised how highly Retreat from Gettysburg was ranked. Looking over my list again I'm shocked that I forgot to include Killer Angels in any fashion. That was the book that got me hooked on the Civil War and started all this craziness. I'm glad others remembered to include it so that it ended up in a tie for fourth.

Here's my list again for comparison:
1 Gettysburg Campaign: Study in Command by Edwin B Coddington
2 Gettysburg - The First Day by Harry W. Phanz
3 Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried
4 Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A Frassanito
5 Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps by John Imhof
6 Covered With Glory: 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg by Rod Gragg
7 In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg by Lance J Herdegen and William JK Beaudot
8 Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg by Troy D Harman
9 Retreat from Gettysburg by Kent Masterson Brown
10 Pickett's Charge by George R Stewart

This was a fun event and I hope we do something like it again in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Benjamin H. Grierson’s Civil War Memoir

A Just and Righteous Cause: Benjamin H. Grierson’s Civil War Memoir
Edited by Bruce J. Dinges and Shirley A. Leckie.
This review appears in the July issue of Civil War News.

If you desire a highly detailed account of cavalry operations in Mississippi from the Union’s perspective this book is for you. For much of Grierson’s service he commanded the cavalry in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee which required him to conduct many raids and scouting operations in Mississippi. He provides a ton of details on what roads were taken, what time his units moved at, the order of march of the units and much more. He must have kept incredible notes during the war that he was later able to turn them into this memoir. He also later served in Alabama at the close of the war but there was very little fighting by that time.

Grierson of course is most well known for his raid through the entire length of Mississippi in April-May 1863. That raid is recounted here in amazing detail, down to the names of the plantations he stopped at, although some of this detail is provided by the editors. Since Grierson’s memoir has remained unpublished until now his addition to the story of the raid will improve our knowledge of that operation.

Grierson’s superiors thought highly of his skill conducting operations in the Memphis area. His combat record suffered because when he went on joint operations in the field he was often saddled with a less than stellar superior officer. William Sooy Smith and Samuel Sturgis were no match against Nathan Bedford Forrest no matter how good their cavalry was handled. Eventually Grierson would benefit from having AJ Smith lead the joint operations and they would then gain victories against Forrest in northern Mississippi.

As a memoir there are two things I especially liked about Grierson’s memoirs that is not standard among all other memoirs. First is that he shows very little ego, in fact sometimes he is so humble as to seem ridiculous. This is probably because the memoir was originally crafted for his family’s eyes only, although at the end of the book he does make it seem that his intention has expanded to include a much wider audience. His supreme humble moments tend to center on his musical talents. He showed musical aptitude at an early age and when just a young man became leader of his town’s band. He will later mention that he played the piano at a Southern plantation and the assembled crowd that he did a good job. Of course he did a good job, he was a musical teacher before the war, he was writing his own songs and he had learned how to play a large variety of instruments.

The second thing I liked about Grierson’s memoirs is that he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to laying praise or blame for any action. One example I found refreshing was at the end of his chapter on the battle of Brice’s Crossroads. His commanding officer, Sturgis, was justly receiving a lot of blame for how the battle turned out. Sturgis sent Grierson a letter asking if he was to blame for the results of the battle. Sturgis probably was gathering information in case he had to face a court of inquiry or prevent one from being formed. Grierson wrote a letter back that the charges of drunkenness were false but that he did not know enough details of the orders Sturgis received to know if he was at fault for the battle. Grierson provides both letters in his text and then goes on to explain why he would send such a letter since his telling of the battle pointed out many things that Sturgis failed at. Basically Grierson says that at the time he knew that blasting his superior would reflect badly on himself plus he knew Sturgis would never have an important command again, which is true. Then Grierson recited all the ways Sturgis had performed badly and how he truly was to blame for the defeat. Reading why he wrote what he did in 1864 and something different twenty years later makes perfect sense.

The one drawback to this book is a lack of maps. There are only two maps in the entire book. One shows Illinois and the other shows Mississippi. The Mississippi map should have been more detailed. In addition his late war operations in Alabama are not visible on either map. And a map of the battlefield at Brice’s Crossroads would have been nice because he goes into great detail concerning troop dispositions there.

This is a well written memoir that while highlighting the talents of its author does not make it seem like he was the prime reason the Union was victorious, which does happen in some memoirs. If Grierson had just provided a nice memoir of his service that would be enough to recommend this book but he also provided a highly detailed account of his service. If someone wanted to learn details about the cavalry operations in Mississippi they would not have to compile it from the Official Records, they could use Grierson’s memoirs first and use the Official Records for additional information.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

I had a somewhat random thought last night. If the Confederacy had succeeded what day would Confederates celebrate as Independence Day? There was a lot of rhetoric about how they were continuing the work of Washington, Jefferson, etc so they probably would have had a 4th of July celebration but it seems odd for two countries to celebrate the same day for similar reasons. I think that eventually some other holiday would have become more prominent to Confederates. Would this have been the day that the peace treaty was signed, or when an armistice was declared, or the battlefield victory that made peace assured, or Jefferson Davis' inauguration, or the firing on Fort Sumter, or the first meeting in Montgomery, or the day South Carolina officially started the whole mess? My guess is that it would either be the Fort Sumter anniversary or whenever some battle secured peace.

I'll be celebrating Independence Day by taking my son to Four Mile House Park in Denver. They always do a pretty good Independence Day celebration. There will be a Civil War camp (infantry and artillery), Abe Lincoln (a pretty good local presenter), wagon rides and other fun stuff. Probably will also take him to a cemetery, he seems to like going through them with me. Then we'll go to my parents' house for some brats and burgers. We'll probably watch fireworks from our front yard like we did last year. I think the Rockies will also broadcast the stadium show, so we can watch that if there is not much locally to see. I should have some pictures to share Monday from Four Mile House.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Top Gettysburg Books

After much hemming and hawing here are my top 10 Gettysburg books. First the list and then some commentary follows below.

1 Gettysburg Campaign: Study in Command by Edwin B Coddington
2 Gettysburg - The First Day by Harry W. Phanz
3 Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried
4 Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A Frassanito
5 Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps by John Imhof
6 Covered With Glory: 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg by Rod Gragg
7 In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg by Lance J Herdegen and William JK Beaudot
8 Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg by Troy D Harman
9 Retreat from Gettysburg by Kent Masterson Brown
10 Pickett's Charge by George R Stewart

I made my list as if I had to trim my Gettysburg section to only 10 books these are the ones I'd pick.

1 - Coddington's Gettysburg Campaign. This is the classic book on the battle. Recently Stephen Sears and Noah Andre Trudeau have done very good books but its hard to knock Coddington off his perch. I didn't put Sears or Trudeau on the top 10 because I didn't want to have the list clogged with similar books. If I had made my criteria only the top 10, regardless of similarity then I think Sears and Trudeau would have made the list.

2 - Phanz's Gettysburg - The First Day. It was hard to pick only one Phanz book. he has also done good work with "Gettysburg: The Second Day" and "Gettysburg: Culp's Hill & Cemetery Hill." But I have an affinity for the first day so I picked this volume. Once again if I was picking just a top 10 of all time I'd probably have all three of these books in the list (but the list would already be 60% done and there are plenty of other good books out there).

3 - Gottfried's Maps of Gettysburg. I love maps, can't live without them, can't have too many. This book is perfect. I'm glad to see that Savas is making this a series that will extend to many other battlefields.

4- Frassanito's Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. At first I thought this seemed pretty high to have a picture book, but its become a classic. I cannot think of any other picture book I'd put in the top 10 at all. David J. Eicher's "Gettysburg Battlefield" was good, but has its own issues/irregularities that I can't rate it in the top 10.

5 - Imhof's Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps. I realize that's two map books in the top 5 but if you've ever seen Imhof's book you'd understand why. Of course Imhof's book is exceptionally rare, only 1500 copies printed. I know 1500 is a pretty healthy sized print run but when the book is being listed for $575 to $1300 online (and not autographed copies) it indicates that the demand is still out there. I've heard that copies have sold in the $400 range so the $575 isn't a crazy figure, its high but not so out of line to absurd. For whatever reason the publisher has no interest in printing a second edition.

6 - Gragg's Covered With Glory. This is the story of one of the hardest hit regiment's in the war. They have a horrific experience at Gettysburg getting into a tough scrap with the 24th Michigan on July 1st and then making the attack on the Angle on the 3rd. I couldn't read books with such a detailed focus all the time but do enjoy them. Gettysburg has more of this small story books than any other battle.

7 - Herdegen and Beaudot's In the Bloody Railroad Cut. Once again I picked a small scale book. This time the focus is the fighting in the railroad cut, of which the 6th Wisconsin played a huge role. My family is from Wisconsin and I had a relative in the 6th Wisconsin (though he enlisted post-Gettysburg) so I have an affinity for all things Iron Brigade. Herdegen has also come out with a new book on the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg. I haven't bought it yet but will. If we do this list next year that book may edge out this one.

8 - Harman's Lee's Real Plan. It seems like a few years ago we had a bunch of books come out that were titled Lee's Real Plan, or something similar. Harman's book makes the point that Lee could never have seen "The Copse of Trees" and instead was focused on Ziegler's Grove. I think he makes a ton of sense and proves his point. I think the title is overplaying it a bit too much but this book does somewhat shift our understanding of Lee's plan. Of course it means the whole thing was messed up as the attack makes its penetration south of Ziegler's but after all the other mistakes of the campaign one more isn't such a big deal.

9 - Brown's Retreat from Gettysburg. We've also been treated to a couple of books on the retreat from Gettysburg after it being widely ignored. I haven't read the book done by Wittenberg, Petruzzi and Nugent but have heard it is good too. One day I'll read it but for now I'll include Brown's on my list.

10 - Stewart's Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge is the iconic moment of Gettysburg. When I talk to average people they don't know about the Peach Orchard or Culp's Hill or Barlow's Knoll. But they will have heard about Pickett's Charge. How could I leave that moment off a top 10 Gettysburg list? I couldn't. The last spot was hard to pick as there were several good books I haven't mentioned but in the end I had to have Pickett's Charge here.

There are many other good Gettysburg books I have not mentioned. In addition to the other ones I listed in my notes above I'd also like to say that I enjoyed the following books (I guess I needed to do a top 25 list). In no particular order:

Brigades of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried
Pickett's Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon
Gettysburg Day Three by Jeffry D Wert
Pickett's Charge: Eyewitness Accounts edited by Richard Rollins
Lincoln at Gettysburg by Gary Wills
The First Day at Gettysburg edited by Gary W. Gallagher
The Second Day at Gettysburg edited by Gary W. Gallagher
The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond edited by Gary W. Gallagher
War College Guide to Gettysburg edited by Jay Luvaas & Harold W Nelson
Gettysburg's Bloody Wheatfield by Jay Jorgensen
North with Lee and Jackson: Lost Story of Gettysburg by James A. Kegel
Gettysburg by Lt Frank A Haskell & Col William C Oates
Battle of Gettysburg: The Official History by George R Large
Grappling with Death: Union 2nd Corps Hospital at Gettysburg by Roland R. Maust
35 Days to Gettysburg by Mark Nesbitt
Struggle for the Round Tops: Law's Alabama Brigade by Morris M Penny and J Gary Laine
The 19th Indiana Infantry at Gettysburg by William Thomas Venner
Days of Darkness: Gettysburg Civilians by William G Williams