- Hardcover: 732 pages
- Publisher: Da Capo Press; Rev Sub edition (September 21, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0938289810
- ISBN-13: 978-0938289814
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 2.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,708,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gettysburg July 1 Hardcover – September 21, 1995
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"Martin's Gettysburg, July 1 is now the standard source for the first day's fight." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Martin brought that first day of the Battle of Gettysburg to life and gave you what was happening on both sides while it was happening and a good approximation of the actual time it actually happened. You have to be a historian of sorts to know who was on which side as Martin didn't always mention the general's side each time his name was mentioned. I do not want to discourage the amateur historian like me from reading it. Those who are interested in the Battle of Gettysburg need to include this book in his/her library. He did a great job with the maps.
David Martin's study, "Gettysburg, July 1" is a thorough, detailed study of the first day of the battle, of the events leading up to it, and of the impact of the first day's fight on the remainder of the contest. The book examines day 1 of Gettysburg on the macro and micro levels. Martin discusses the strategies of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia after they stumbled into each other on July 1. But in addition to command decisions, Martin gives great attention to the battle on the division and regimental levels. He also painstakingly describes and analyzes many anecdotes, legends, and accounts of individual soldiers. The detail may make it difficult for the reader to separate the important from the secondary, and it makes the account repetitious at times.
Together with his account, Martin offers his own assessment of the course of the battle and of the decisions of the commanders. At times he falls into speculation and into "what-ifs", but he is clear to indicate to the reader when he is doing so. Martin is critical of the Union 11th Corps, of Union Generals Howard and Slocum, of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee and of Confederate Third Corps commander A.P. Hill. He praises the Union First Corps and Generals Meade, Hancock,Reynolds Doubleday, and Buford. His analyses flow well if slowly from his factual presentation. Martin treats his subject with seriousness and respect.
The reader would be well advised to begin this book with appendix 2 which is an outstanding account of the topography of the first day's battlefield and of the road network surrounding Gettysburg. These factors are critical in understanding the events of July 1. I also thought the maps in this book were highly useful in understanding the battle. The maps are of two kinds: a "situation" map showing the position of the troops at a given point in time and an "action" map focusing on an incident of the battle -- for example Confederate General Iverson's ill-conceived attack on Baxter's troops early in the afternoon.
Discussion of July 1 at Gettysburg almost always focuses on the Confederate's apparent failure to follow-up on their success and attack the heights -- Cemetery and Culp's Hills. Martin does a masterful job of showing how the Confederate decision was in fact a sum of many small decisions. I found his analysis helped me a great deal in sorting out and understanding this controversial issue. Martin concludes that General Lee (not General Ewell, comander of the Confederate Second Corps) was responsible for the decision not to advance on the heights and the attack probably would have been unsuccessful if it had been attempted.
As I indicated at the beginning of this review, there are many ways of approaching the Battle of Gettysburg and many levels of detail that may interest different readers. I suggest that this book can best be read by readers who have a good grounding in the Civil War and, more particularly, a good background in the battle of Gettysburg itself. But because of the detail of this book, I suggest the reader also have examined something of the first day's actions before tackling this study. I recommend Warren Hassler's shorter account of day 1 "Crisis at the Crossroads." Harry Pfanz's study of day 1 is also a detailed and lucid account, and shorter than Martin's book.
This is a thorough account of day 1 at Getttysburg that will appeal to readers with a passion to learn everything they can about this important event in our Nation's history.
As far as the book itself, I have read a lot of Gettysburg books and this one ranks up there with the very best such as Harry Phanz's book on the second day. It is an incredibly detailed account of the event of the 1st day.
There are two things about this book that most impressed me. First is the way Martin approached the battle itself. Rather than cover the entire battlefield together in one timeline, he approaches sections of the battle separately. It's almost like the book is a series of smaller books. He will take a brigade such as Cutler's Brigade and concentrate on them rather than try and insert into that narrative what was going on on other parts of the field. Then he will back up and cover in detail other regiments or Brigades that were going on simultaneously that are connected to the previous section and so on.
The result is he'll do Cutler's Brigade and then back up a bit and cover the 6th Wisconsin and how they connected to what was happening and then Stones Brigade. It allows the reader not to be overwhelmed with to many units at one time and develope a clear view about how it all fits together.
The second thing is Martin goes into details on certain controversies. Rather than say "this is definitely what happened" he will explain that there were alternate views of the same thing and then explain why he believes one has more merit than the other.
The only criticism I have of this book are the maps. I've walked the areas of the battle numerous times so I am familiar with the terrain but not everyone has had that chance. Many of the maps in the book cover the entire Gettysburg area as far south as Big Round Top. Far to wide ranging when you are dealing with regimental level actions on McPherson Ridge. The book would have served the reader better with more maps that covered a smaller area and just a few showing the entire Gettysburg area.
In short, this is a book that belongs in the library of anyone who has a strong interest in Gettysburg. It covers the first day in a way no other book does. It will become a prize book of reference for those who own it.
Most recent customer reviews
Martin writes a wonderful book. With Pfanz in hand, you will have Day One covered.Read more