Academic journal article Military Review

Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg

Academic journal article Military Review

Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg

Article excerpt

HALLOWED GROUND

A Walk at Gettysburg

James M. McPherson, Zenith Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2015, 207 pages

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James McPherson originally wrote Hallowed Ground in 2003 as a short account of the major events that occurred on the Gettysburg battleld in July 1863. The book is essentially a narrative that is augmented to assist the reader in conducting a battlefield tour. McPherson, one of this country's premier Civil War historians, takes the reader to different locations and expertly paints pictures of the events as they unfolded over the rolling Pennsylvania countryside. The reader can envision him pointing to Little Round Top and "The Angle," and can easily visualize the lines of blue and butternut clashing on these iconic landmarks.

However, in McPherson's original version, the single glaring limitation was the lack of any visual enhancement to his text. If the reader had never been to the battlefield, he or she likely would have a difficult time visualizing the scenes McPherson describes. In this updated 2015 edition, McPherson relates the adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and his intent to enhance his original words with photographs, paintings, and maps. He also updates this edition with the most recent changes to the national park and augments his text with quotes from major participants, such as Abner Doubleday, James Longstreet, and even George Custer.

Having served as a Gettysburg staff ride instructor for many years, I assessed this new edition for its value as a tour guide and as a possible source to build and conduct a staff ride. As a tour guide, this edition has great value. Although the descriptions of movement to different points on the battlefield are somewhat vague, a national park map can be used to augment the reader's navigation. Once at those points, however, McPherson's description of the basic actions allows for accurate visualization of the battle against the terrain backdrop. Because of his unique format of terrain orientation and action description, this edition is essential in conducting a battlefield tour. …

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