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Ian Cameron Martin


Sky Pony Press, NY., 2013, 190 pgs, index, bibliography, glossary maps, excellent illustrations, appendices


The author notes that his purpose and intention in writing yet another book on Gettysburg Battle is to provide an account that will both interest and educate younger readers. In this I believe he has succeeded admirably. Another selling point that the publishers promote is the inclusion of eye-witness accounts by teen-age locals. The author includes many features for readers unfamiliar with the battle and also military terminology. In the first pages he provides a listing of Army ranks during the Civil War and a list of the organizational structure of armies, from smallest to largest units. Throughout the book the author highlights terms he believes might require definition for young readers and provides a glossary toward the end of the book. He includes side-bar topics such as brief biographies and quotations throughout. And the selection of illustrations is excellent. Included are contemporary photos and current photos of buildings in and around town, as well as photos or portraits of significant individuals. And of special note are the great number of excellent color paintings by the famous artist, Don Troiani. The full color maps are very useful for the reader. The organizational layout of the entire book will make it appealing to readers.


Introduction - The author describes his personal interest in Gettysburg Battle from his first visit at age 15. He was impressed with the actions and character of the individuals who participated. He believes that everyone today and especially students, should understand this battle for its significance to America today. "If we are to understand ourselves as Americans and as a unified nation, we must have an understanding of the Civil War."


Prologue - June 26 - The story begins with the account of one of the young eye-witnesses, Tillie Pierce, as the Confederate troops first approach Gettysburg. This was the raiding party, a part of Richard Ewell's corps as it passed through the town on its way toward York.


Chapter One - Lee's Plan - This chapter provides the context, the events leading to Lee's decision to invade the North for the second time, the Confederate victories that enabled this operation, Lee's biography, Grant's campaign at Vicksburg, and a general campaign map showing the routes both armies took from around Fredericksburg to Gettysburg.


Chapter Two - The Armies March into Pennsylvania - The chapter begins with the movements of both armies across the Potomac. Among the significant incidents described are President Lincoln's decision to promote George Meade to command the Union army on the eve of the battle, Ewell's march to the Susquehanna and counter march toward Gettysburg, Stuart's 'Ride' around the Union army, and Buford's deployment of his Union cavalry to cover Gettysburg. There is an important side-bar describing the issue of Slavery in general and its significance to the African-American residents in town. Extracts from the young eye-witnesses are skillfully interspersed.


Chapter Three - Wednesday, July 1, 1863 -The first day of battle begins with Buford's cavalry blocking Heth's surprised Confederate infantry as they approach town from Cashtown. An excellent color painting by Troiani depicts Burford deploying his troops. The map shows both the initial Confederate attacks from the west and their later attacks from the north that drove the Union defenders out of town. The author includes a vivid eye-witness reports by Daniel Skelly, another of his teen-age diarists. General John Reynolds arrives on the scene at the head of the Union First Corps and is immediately killed, with Abner Doubleday succeeding to command. But Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of the Second Corps, assumes overall command. Ewell's attack from the north almost outflanks the Union defenders. Both Ewell and Hill attacking from north and west drive the Union units out of Gettysburg, but Hancock recognizes the importance of the Cemetery Ridge and Culp's Hill terrain and orders the Union units to regroup and fortify them. In 30 pages of vivid prose Mr. Martin manages to provide both a clear description of the battle and incorporate lengthy accounts from his selected eye-witnesses, plus an excellent choice of illustrations.


Chapter Four - Thursday, July 2, 1863 - The chapter begins with Meade's examination of the Union position and orders for deployment of men and artillery. Mr. Martin notes that Meade was a professional military engineer who knew his terrain. The author then describes this terrain and the Union organization of the defense, and includes eye-witness reports. The detailed map is excellent. The author discusses Longstreet's proposal to outflank the Union position my moving south around its left flank and Lee's rejection of this option in favor of a direct, frontal attack on the Union left. The caption of the accompanying Troiani painting of this scene does not mention the location of British observer, Colonel Freemantle, included in the text. But a careful study of the painting reveals him up in a large tree. Such details should increase the enjoyment for the reader. The engagement this day consisted of many separate unit actions that took place in phases in such famous places as Culp's Hill, Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Wheatfield and Peach Orchard. In 35 pages with several fine maps and numerous illustrations the author gives a clear picture of the fighting with names of the small units and their commanders. He also includes a fine account of Catholic Father William Corby's special absolution ceremony for the Irish Brigade and all the other participants with two illustrations and eye-witness accounts that mention General Hancock's presence. He might have included an illustration of Father Corby's statue that is now on the battlefield.


Chapter Five - Friday, July 3, 1863 - The crucial final day. The chapter begins with another account by Tillie Pierce, who had moved to a farm behind Cemetery Ridge and was attending to the large number of wounded. The author then provides Longstreet's later account of his meeting with Lee and the latter's insistence on a frontal attack of the Union center. We learn that Ewell's attack against Culp Hill failed. The massive Confederate assault on the Union center was a single operation, with the author is able to describe very well in 23 pages including the usual copious illustrations and maps , even including also the important cavalry battle between Stuart and Gregg behind the Union position.


Chapter Six - Aftermath of Battle - Lee's retreat and Meade's follow to the Potomac require only a few brief pages. The bulk of this chapter's 15 pages are devoted to the aftermath as it was seen and felt in Gettysburg. Gettysburg. The accounts are very moving. I am sure many more could have been included. The chapter is very important for the education of the reader.


Chapter Seven - November 19, 1863 - The Gettysburg, Address - What a great idea, to include this subject in an account of the significance of Gettysburg Battle for young readers. It an important way it greatly enhances the book's value. In 10 pages the author includes the full text of the address itself with its immediate and subsequent impact, Lincoln's personal view on Slavery, and a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the significance of his address on August 18, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial. This certainly brings the importance of the whole Civil War to the reader and should encourage further study.


Epilogue - A description of the meeting of Confederate and Union veterans at Gettysburg in 1888 and the various efforts that resulted in making the battlefield a 'hallowed ground' National Military Park.


Postscript - Brief but excellent biographical sketches of individuals who figure prominently in the text that include their lives subsequent to the battle.


Additional reviewer comments- The reader is immediately impressed with the quality of the book production - large size and print - excellent color and B/w illustrations, excellent graphic design..


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