Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Artillery At Gettysburg

The Artillery of Gettysburg
By Bradley M. Gottfried, Ph. D

In many books written about the American Civil War and its battles the artillery is often relegated to a supporting role while the infantry takes the spotlight. Conversely the Battle of Gettysburg hogs the stage as the most written about battle of the war. In “The Artillery of Gettysburg” Bradley Gottfried has placed the artillery at center stage in the greatest battle ever fought on American soil.

In his forward, Mr. Gottfried introduces four key pieces of information that his readers will need to know: the first, regarding the organization and command structure of the Union and Confederate artilleries; the second, the different types of cannon used and their strengths and weaknesses; third a brief description of the different types of ammunition and their uses, and lastly a basic description of the job function of each man in the gun crew.

Using a chronological narration Mr. Gottfried leads his reader through the three day battle, describing the placement and the armament of each battery, their targets and their movements on the battlefield. No detail is spared of the horrible casualties caused to both men and horses by artillery fire, men are decapitated, arms and legs are ripped off, and bodies disemboweled, cut in half or literally blown to bits fill this book from cover to cover.

Mr. Gottfried, the author of “The Maps of Gettysburg” uses plenty of maps to illustrate the action on the field. In my opinion there can never be too many maps, and the one criticism I have, which I carry over from his previous above named work, is there is no time stamp on the maps. The author has also included two informative appendices: Order of Battle, Strengths and Losses of the Artillery at Gettysburg, and Characteristics of Civil War Cannon Used at Gettysburg.

This is not a book for the Civil War novice. This book is a book clearly for the Civil War aficionado who enjoys studying the minutia of a battle. Mr. Gottfried has written yet another indispensible book on the Battle of Gettysburg, and no student of the battle should be without a copy.

ISBN 978-1-58182-623-4, Cumberland House Publishing, © 2008, Hardcover, 352 pages, Photographs, Maps, Appendices, Endnotes & Index. $24.95

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