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Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg Hardcover – July 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Troy Harman's Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg is a thoughtful, well-researched, and provocative study that seems certain to create controversy. All serious students of the battle will want to read it and ponder its conclusion."

About the Author

Troy D. Harman has been a National Park Service Ranger since 1984. His assignments have included historical interpretation at Appomattox Court House N.H.P., Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania N.M.P., and, since 1989, Gettysburg N.M.P. This is his first book.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1 edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811700542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811700542
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Yalensian VINE VOICE on September 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Troy Harman has written a truly outstanding and engaging work of revisionist history--revisionism based not upon some ideological or personal agenda but upon getting to the truth behind years of myths and (usually unintentional) distortions. He uses the historiographical methods of Carl Becker as a starting point, particularly the notion of an "ephemeral event" versus an "affirmed event." The ephemeral event is the actual historical occurrence--here, the battle--as it unfolds; the affirmed event is the event as it is described, explained, and constructed by participants and historians in the years following. The ephemeral event evanesces, is never completely knowable, while the affirmed event assumes layer upon layer of interpretation, exaggeration, and distortion. Harman seeks to strip away the chaff and get to what he believes is the true story of the ephemeral battle of Gettysburg.

Harman's thesis is straightforward: Lee's real plan at Gettysburg was to gain control of Cemetery Hill. His argument is cogently and logically presented; one point flows into, and provides a foundation for, the next. Beginning with the opening of the battle, Harman explains the importance of Cemetery Hill and why Lee focused on it. From there, he spends a great deal of time--indeed, the bulk of the book--on the battle's second day, July 2, and places the rebel assault, particularly Longstreet's, within the Cemetery Hill scheme, rather than in the affirmed version that depicts the day's action as an assault on both Union flanks. Lee's day-two objective was the Peach Orchard, from which artillery could fire on Cemetery Hill, and thus Sickles's moving his III Corps is seen as somewhat less foolish.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Maloney on September 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Harman offers in this fine little book a believable explanation of what Gen. R. E. Lee tried and failed to acomplish on the three days of battle at Gettysburg. Harman contends Lees' objective on all three days, was Cemetery Hill at the apex of the Union line. He argues this by quoting extensively from actual after battle reports as well as post war memoirs. If he is correct it goes far to explain and defend Longstreets actions on the second day as well as the disaster of Picketts charge on the third. He also diminishes the importance of the Roundtops in the battle and somewhat justifies Sickles forward movement to the Peach orchard. Both heretical opinions to most students of the battle. Since the book rarely goes below brigade level in describing troop movements it is much easier to follow than many other histories . Still I think it probably requires a previous knowledge of the battle and its controversies to be of interest. The one complaint I have were the poor photographs used to illustrate certain points in his thesis. The book has good maps , is printed on fine coated paper and has a sewn binding, all things I greatly appreciated.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By civwarguy on April 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Harmon's book is a repackaging of his thesis in his original book entitled Cemetary Hill-The General Plan was Unchanged. So if you have that book, you essentially know what he is talking about. This new book is a bit more polished. He presents an interesting theory, although unconvincing for me.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
From the moment of its conclusion, the Battle of Gettysburg has provoked endless controversy regarding its significance, the plans and strategies employed by the armies, the tactics, and the reasons for the result. It has been said that if a reader doesn't like a particular account of the battle, it is only necessary to read on to find a more appealing version.
Troy Harman is a historian and a ranger with the National Park Service at Gettysburg. He has intimate familiarity with the Battlefield and a thorough grasp of the literature on the Battle. In his book, "Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg" (2003), Mr. Harman takes issue with what he terms the "affirmed version" of the Battle and offers what he believes to be a new and competing account. His account is well and lucidly presented and will provoke thought among students.
Mr. Harman argues that most students of the Battle have tended to focus on the details of the three days of fighting and have failed to understand the plan that the Confederate commander, Robert E. Lee, developed for the Battle and pursued during its entirety. According to Mr. Harman, Lee's focus throughout was on the heights of Cemetery Hill on the Union right. At the conclusion of the first day's fighting, the Confederates did not attempt to capture Cemetery Hill. But in the second day of fighting on the Union left, (Little Round Top, primarily) and in Pickett's Charge on the third day, the objective of Lee's plans, Mr. Harman maintains, was Cemetery Hill, due to its height, its control of the town and roads, and its vulnerability as a salient exposed to potential attack on three sides.
This is a challenging claim, particularly as it involves the second day of the Battle. Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George J. Heidemark on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
History is a great argument and perspective is everything.Historian and National Park ranger Troy D. Harman has written yet another book about the Battle of Gettysburg,but this is a great addition to meaningful literature on that topic. Yes this is revisionist history but it is thought provoking. In the introduction, Harman quotes from historian Carl Becker who noted that when any historical event takes place it is "ephemeral" that is the event as it actually took place but that the event is fleeting and true knowledge of it quickly disappears.Becker says what often takes place next is the "affirmed event" which is an agreed upon understanding of an event.Harman's main thesis is that Lee did not shift his attack plans at Gettysburg as the 3 day battle progressed as is often cited by traditional descriptions of the tale.Instead of attacking Culps hill,then focusing on the Round Tops and concluding with an attack on the Union center at Cemetery Ridge, Harman argues that Lee always concentrated on attacking Cemetery Hill which he saw as the key to defeating the Union Army.This may offend people who see the events at Little Round Top as being the turning point of the battle. Harman further argues that the "copse" of trees was not the focus of the attacks on July 3, 1863 but that Lee envisioned a series of oblique assaults aimed toward Cemetery Hill.He also states that Pickett's Charge which plays an important role in the American imagination did not really resemble the more sophisticated, complex plan that Lee desired. The author also has an unconventional take on one of the popular "goats" of the battle, General Daniel Sickles. Many readers may not like Harman's conclusions but he makes you think. This is a great companion to Carol Reardon's excellent book on Pickett"s Charge. This book is not for beginners but it deserves attention when considering this fascinating battle which people have argued about since 1863.
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