Charting Armies at Gettysburg; Troop Movements during 1863 Clash Also Laid out in Narrative

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

Charting Armies at Gettysburg; Troop Movements during 1863 Clash Also Laid out in Narrative


Byline: Thomas J. Ryan, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The baseball adage "You can't tell the players without a scorecard" resonates well in the Civil War context: You cannot follow the action without a decent map.

Writers of history frequently hear the lament that better-quality maps would have enhanced their publications considerably. Bradley M. Gottfried has met this challenge with his latest contribution to Civil War scholarship, "The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3-July 13, 1863." In this unique collection, the author juxtaposes each page of narrative to a related map.

Mr. Gottfried already is popular with Gettysburg historians because of his previous publications, including "The Brigades of Gettysburg," essentially a reference work on the Union and Confederate units that fought the battle, and "Roads to Gettysburg," which follows the armies as they marched toward the fateful July 1863 collision in south central Pennsylvania. "The Maps of Gettysburg" will earn even more gratitude because every person, from casual observer to dedicated scholar, will find it indispensable.

As the title states, this work encompasses a six-week campaign that culminates in a three-day battle. The story is told step by step, accompanied by sets of maps - 29 in all. Each set comprises two to 21 maps, with an average of five per set. The text and maps are literally side by side, one on each facing page. This permits the reader to remain oriented by glancing at the accompanying full-page map while following the narrative.

"The Maps of Gettysburg" serves multiple purposes. It can be an introduction for newcomers to the campaign as they vicariously participate in the action page by page. The author's objective was "to offer a broad and full understanding of the complete campaign." It is a compact guide to employ while touring the battlefield and an excuse to leave those unwieldy wall maps at home. It also is a useful reference tool for those engaged in Gettysburg research.

The amount of work required to produce each map did not permit the author the luxury of engaging in original research for the historical text. He relied primarily on secondary sources considered to be reliable. Though this proved satisfactory for the most part, there are times when the author's grasp of details is imprecise. …

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