From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Fifteen-year-old Gettysburg resident Matilda Pierce witnessed the momentous 1863 battle and recounted it in her 1889 memoir. Anderson combines lengthy excerpts from the memoir with a narrative that follows the teen and her family through the battle and includes background information about the Pierces and Gettysburg and its importance in the Civil War. The family lived in town, but as the Union and Confederate armies drew near, Tillie's parents sent her to a nearby farm to help a neighbor. It was there, near the area known as the Round Tops, that she observed some of the most savage fighting of the day. As she and the women at the farm saw the horrors of war firsthand, they aided Union soldiers, cared for wounded and dying men, and worried about their relatives in town. The memoir records the girl's anguish, and Anderson's use of those quotes and a smooth narrative will help readers identify with Tillie's feelings and better understand the human cost of the war. Large, well-captioned period photos and maps and sidebars about related topics supplement the text. Offering far more detail than Patricia Gauch's fictional account of Tillie's experiences, Thunder at Gettysburg (Coward, 1975), this book offers a unique perspective through the eyes of a young woman who observed and survived the worst of war.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MOα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This is not a book about what happened on the battlefield of Gettysburg. Rather, it is a book about a real-life 15-year-old girl and the small Pennsylvania town where she happened to live in 1863. Based mostly on Tillie’s own recollection of the conflict, which she wrote and published in 1889, this book combines that writing with Anderson’s smooth retelling to describe the weeks leading up to and following the battle from the perspective of an extremely relatable young witness. Anderson describes Tillie’s fear at seeing the arrival of Confederate cavalry on an otherwise quiet afternoon at school, as well as her tireless tending of the wounded as the battle raged. The narrative is driven home by captivating photographs of the town before and after the battle and of artifacts that were dear to the Pierce family. Copious endnotes and a carefully selected bibliography with plenty of primary source documentation speak to Anderson’s careful research on one of the most exhaustively covered events in American history. Grades 6-9. --Erin Anderson