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Small Arms at Gettysburg: Infantry and Cavalry Weapons in America's Greatest Battle Hardcover – December 18, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph Bilby is the assistant curator at the National Guard Militia Museum in New Jersey. He is also a regular columnist to the popular Civil War News.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1st edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594160546
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594160547
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,101,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Small Arms at Gettysburg: Infantry and Cavalry Weapons in America's Greatest Battle" should be of value to anyone seriously interested in the nature of fighting at Gettysburg in particular or the American Civil War in general. The author examines the numerous types of firearms used by both the Union and Confederate armies at Gettysburg, cavalry as well as infantry. The development history of these weapons is covered, as well as how they were actually used on the battlefield.

Although the greatest space is devoted to rifle-muskets (as well it should be, since rifle-muskets by far were the most common shoulder arms used at Gettysburg), smoothbore muskets and breechloading rifles and carbines and revolvers are also described as well. An item of especial interest to me was the author's detailed discussion of the "buck-and-ball" ammunition commonly used in smoothbores (and, as is made clear, a good many smoothbores remained in the soldiers' hands at the time of the battle), the most detailed description of this ammunition type I have ever seen: usually, it is mentioned only in passing, almost as a curiosity rather than a significant piece of military technology, but in "Small Arms at Gettysburg" the history and employment of "buck-and-ball" is given its due attention for the first time.

The writing is vivid, yet detailed. If you are a serious student of the military side of the American Civil War, this is a volume that belongs on your bookshelf.
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Format: Hardcover
Although the Battle of Gettysburg has been extensively studied, there are relatively few full-length treatments of the types of arms used in the conflict. Joseph Bilby's "Small Arms at Gettysburg: Infantry and Cavalry Weapons in America's Greatest Battle" (2008) offers a detailed discussion of the carbines, single-shot rifles,repeating rifles, smoothbores, sabres, and handguns that were used at Gettysburg. Bilby has written extensively on Civil War weaponry. He has also written regimental histories of Irish units during the Civil War.

In places, Bilby's book is technical and presupposes considerable background knowledge in the reader about Civil War arms. He discusses the history and technological development of the various types of small weapons (that is not including artillery) that found their way to Gettysburg. He also provides fascinating information about the companies and individuals that developed the weapons. But when it comes to explaining the manner in which each weapon worked and how, for example, one model of carbine differed from another, he is frequently difficult to follow. Bilby assumes that any reader interested in this book will have a more than elementary familiarity with firearms. Diagrams of selected weapons showing how they were loaded and how they operated together with some simple preliminary information would have been useful.

In addition to the technical information on the weapons, Bilby discusses the way the arms were used, developed, and tested during the Civil War. His discussion of these matters is insightful and clear even for those readers without much background in arms.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is well-written, informative, and a real treasure for those with a serious (i.e., have already read five-plus books on the topic) interest in the American Civil War. Ignorant of firearms and their development, I found
the author's detailed treatment of the topic to be both appropriate and highly useful.

His treatment of cavalry action on the first and third days is especially
well done, and his considered conclusions regarding the development and use of weaponry are insightful.

This one stays in my library - as soon as I get it back from my brother-in-law, who owns a gun shop...
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Format: Hardcover
Joseph Bilby, author of an excellent work on the development of repeating rifles, has provided another fine monograph on Civil War weaponry. This time he discusses the weapons used at our nation's largest battle. Bilby manages to make rather technical issues surprisingly interesting and understandable to the non-technical reader. In addition to discussing the weapons themselves, he illustrates their uses in battle. His section on sharpshooters is outstanding and worth the price of the book itself. While not a book for the beginner in Civil War history, this is a very readable work that will not fail to inform any reader.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is more than what the title indicates. With many references, the author shows the developement of firearms and their use by military from about 17th century to somewhat past the Civil War. This is much more than a book about who did what and when. Beyond being a useful augmentation to the battle at Gettysburg, this is a serious book about technology, military procurement, the need for marksmanship, and the need for leaders to understand the limitations of their "tools."
The writing flows well and keeps the interest. Actions from the Battle are use to illustrate. Missing is detail about the 20th Maine led by Chamberlain.
If one were to purchase one book on black-powder firearms, this is the book. You might, or might not, wish also to purchase a picture book showing such firearms.
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