The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

Excerpt

This collection of essays addresses topics broadly related to the third day at Gettysburg. It inaugurates the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series, which will bring modern scholarship to bear on controversial issues and leaders, explore previously ignored dimensions of various campaigns and battles, and combine interpretation and fresh research in ways designed to benefit both professional historians and interested lay readers. In ranging over a spectrum of subjects, these six essays illuminate some of the ways in which campaigns influenced the civilian sphere and how expectations from home in turn affected men in the armies. Such connections often remain obscure in the literature on the Civil War. Writers interested in campaigns too often have treated their subjects as if the armies fought in antiseptic isolation from political or social forces; similarly, those interested in the societies behind the lines frequently have managed to explore the war years without mentioning the vast armed struggles waged by Union and Confederate armies. The result has been a bifurcated view of the war that can distort or obscure as much as it reveals. Volumes in the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series, while usually emphasizing leadership, tactics, and strategy, will seek always to place operations within the wider context of the war.

The third day at Gettysburg presents a number of interesting points of departure. As the final violent spasm of Lee's raid into Pennsylvania, fighting on July 3 set the stage for Confederate retreat and subsequent attempts to make sense of what had happened over the preceding month. The first essay looks at how men within the Army of Northern Virginia and Confederate civilians viewed the campaign in July and August 1863. Did they see Gettysburg as a major turning point for Lee and his army? Did they pair it with the surrender of John C. Pemberton's forces at Vicksburg as comparable disasters boding ill for the future of the Confederacy? Questioning the dominant interpretation of Gettysburg as a debacle that spread gloom across the South, this essay suggests a far more muted contemporary Confederate reaction to the campaign in Pennsylvania.

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