From Publishers Weekly
Remembered now as a grand patriotic epic, the Battle of Gettysburg was a source of disappointment and controversy in the North because of the Union army's failure to head off and destroy Lee's army in the wake of the clash. This superbly edited collection of transcripts from the ensuing Congressional hearings sheds fascinating light on the conduct of the battle and the convoluted politics of the war in the North. The Radical Republicans in Congress used the hearings to attack their political enemies in the army, pressing allegations of faint-heartedness and pro-Southern sympathies on the part of Union commander George Meade and the Democrats and West Pointers in the officer corps. Meanwhile, the Union generals who testified brought their own faulty memories and hidden agendas to the hearings, using them to play up their roles in the battle and settle scores with rivals. The picture that emerges is of an army beset by personal vendettas, factional infighting, resentments between political appointees and professional soldiers and rancorous divisions over military policy. Hyde, an amateur Civil War historian, annotates the transcripts with engaging background material on the personalities, careers and machinations of the participants and a running commentary that corrects and analyzes the many errors, deceptions and obfuscations of the raw testimony. The result is a highly detailed, often vivid account of the high points of the battle and its aftermath, one that eschews the typical Gettysburg hagiography and points up the blunders, miscommunication and character flaws of the principals. Although a little arcane for casual readers, Civil War buffs will find it an engrossing supplement to Gettysburg lore.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Bill Hyde is a retired businessman who lives in Enid, Oklahoma.