From Publishers Weekly
An outstanding battle study by the author of Chancellorsville, this comprehensive narrative will lend extra impact to the 140th anniversary this July of the climactic battle of the Civil War. Sears casts his net wide, beginning with Lee's meeting with Davis in May 1863, where he argued in favor of marching north, to take pressure off both Vicksburg and Confederate logistics. It ends with the battered Army of Northern Virginia re-crossing the Potomac some two months later, a near-run on both sides as Meade was finally unwilling to drive his equally battered Army of the Potomac into a desperate pursuit. In between is the balanced, clear and detailed story of how 60,000 men became casualties, and how the winning of Confederate independence on the battlefield was put forever out of reach. The author generally is spare with scapegoating, although he has little use for Union men Dan Sickles (who advanced against orders on the second day) or Oliver Howard (whose Corps broke and was routed on the first day), or Richard Ewell of the Confederacy, who decided not to take Culp's Hill on the first night, when that might have been decisive. Sears also strongly urges the view that Lee was not fully in control of his army on the march or in the battle, a view borne out in his gripping narrative of Pickett's Charge, which makes many aspects of that nightmare much clearer than they have been before. This book is not the place to start a study of the campaign, but it is absolutely indispensable for the well-versed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This authoritative history of the Battle of Gettysburg opens with a scene pertinent to what we imagine transpiring in the White House in recent weeks: a military-strategy planning session. In this case, the time was summer 1863, and the setting was Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital; putting their heads together were President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and the Confederate secretary of war. The Confederacy badly needed a victory because the stronghold at Vicksburg, Mississippi, was certain to fall to Union forces sometime soon. The plan that emerged from the session was to send the Army of Northern Virginia on an offensive across the Potomac River. The Confederate offensive abruptly failed, and Gettysburg represented the turning point of the war. Sears, author of a half-dozen Civil War books and a former editor of American Heritage
magazine, leaves no stone unturned in his reconstruction of the battle, from preparation on both sides to the reasons for the Confederate loss. Readers thrilled by the minute details of battlefield maneuvers will be thoroughly engaged. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved