❴Reading❵ ➿ Gettysburg Author Stephen W. Sears – Dailytradenews.co.uk

Gettysburg quotes Gettysburg, litcharts Gettysburg, symbolism Gettysburg, summary shmoop Gettysburg, Gettysburg e0c66ef0 A Masterful, Single Volume History Of The Civil War S Greatest Campaign Drawing On Original Source Material, From Soldiers Letters To Official Military Records Of The War, Stephen W Sears S Gettysburg Is A Remarkable And Dramatic Account Of The Legendary Campaign He Takes Particular Care In His Study Of The Battle S Leaders And Offers Detailed Analyses Of Their Strategies And Tactics, Depicting Both General Meade S Heroic Performance In His First Week Of Army Command And General Lee S Role In The Agonizing Failure Of The Confederate Army With Characteristic Style And Insight, Sears Brings The Epic Tale Of The Battle In Pennsylvania Vividly To Life

10 thoughts on “Gettysburg

  1. says:

    The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War fast approaches and I couldn t be excited It promises to be a bonanza of books, movies, documentaries, and various other retrospectives, including the New York Times laudable and addicting Disunion blog I can hardly contain myself, and have spent a bit of time preparing for the celebrations Fireworks Check Flask of whiskey Check Stale crackers that I will substitute for hardtack Check Irritatingly pedagogic emails to be sent to my friends on important dates Already written.Sure, as anniversaries go, 150 years is a bit arbitrary Then again, all anniversaries are a bit arbitrary Besides, I wasn t yet born for the centennial, and I won t be around for the bicentennial, so this is all I ve got Nothing like an anniversary to remind us of our fleeting mortality I look forward to a five year stretch during which something I m passionate about will move, briefly, into the limelight Perhaps for a few days, the battles of the Wilderness will overtake the pseudo battles on the gridiron, court, or diamond Perhaps for a few days, our nation will be interested in Lee s invasion of Maryland than the most recent urban invasion of the Kardashian sisters One can hope This impending revival has re sparked my love of the Civil War, and convinced me that I need to bone up on the literature I started with Stephen Sears Gettysburg because, frankly, you almost can t go wrong with a book about Gettysburg Gettysburg is the most famous battle in United States history, and among the deadliest It s one of those rare events easily identifiable as a pivot in history both American, and possibly, world history Had the Union lost at Gettysburg, shortly after a crushing defeat at Chancellorsville, there s no telling what might have happened Even if a Union defeat didn t lead immediately to collapse, it certainly would ve changed the details of the eventual outcome I still think the Union would ve won the Civil War, even if unsuccessful at Gettysburg The Yankees controlled the waterways, Lee was battered and had no siege train to take Washington, and there were a couple of guys named Grant and Sherman waiting in the west I don t believe that guys like Grant or Sherman would ve allowed the war to be lost The least that can be said with any certainty is that the Union victory changed the tenor of the Civil War After Gettysburg, General Robert E Lee never took the offensive again once he got knocked back on his heels, the war became a mathematical process of elimination With Professor Grant leading this particular lecture, entitled Numerical Superiority Plus Balls of Steel Equals Victory The outlines of the battle are well known General Lee disengaged from the Army of the Potomac and moved north through Maryland and Pennsylvania, using the mountains to screen his movements He intended to draw the Army of the Potomac into battle at a place of his choosing The Army of the Potomac, Joe Hooker commanding soon to be replaced by George Meade gave chase, taking care to keep between Lee and Washington The Union moved surprisingly fast, all the surprising to Lee because his cavalry, under J.E.B Stuart, was too busy circling the Yankees to send back reports On July 1, 1863, elements of A.P Hill s Corps, under Harry Heth, moved into Gettysburg on a reconnaissance mission and also to find shoes Heth was under orders not to bring about a general engagement however, when he ran into John Buford s cavalry brigades, he mistook them for local militia and attacked Buford held the high ground to the west of Gettysburg until he was reinforced by John Reynolds First Corps The Confederates brought up reinforcements as well, and the battle was joined When Richard Ewell s Confederate corps attacked from the north, the Union lines broke Retreating back through town, the Union army took up positions along a line of hills in the shape of a fishhook, anchored by Round Top and Little Round Top on the south, and Culp s Hill to the north Ignoring the advice of his lieutenant, James Longstreet, Lee decided to press his gains at Gettysburg On the second day, he launched attacks against the Union right and left flanks Due to Union General Dan Sickle s criminal mishandling of his corps, the Union left nearly broke It took a Yankee engineer Gouverneur Warren , two amateur officers Strong Vincent and Joshua Chamberlain , and one undersized regiment turned sacrificial lamb the 1st Minnesota to save the day But by nightfall, both flanks held On the third day was Pickett s Charge and the Confederate high tide This is well worn ground So why does Sears Gettysburg stand out Simply put, it is a masterwork of historical research Sears has synthesized all the available scholarship, from the official records to diaries of private soldiers, and molded it into a readable, engaging tale He has added to that his own reasoned judgments and sharp analysis Most history books will tell you what happened or how, fewer attempt to explain why Decisions are not made in a vacuum Very few people intentionally set out to make the wrong choice Instead, decisions are pulled from a dense, tangled web that includes current knowledge which might be faulty , past history, and personality Take me, for instance, and my decision to stay up all night drinking beer and playing video games on my PS3 This is not a constructive use of my time, and will probably be used against me in my divorce yet I made that choice and I stuck with it until I passed out at 4 45 a.m There were reasons I did what I did, a context for that choice In my case, that context is a nascent alcoholism and the misguided belief that completing Red Dead Redemption is a principled achievement Sears fully recognizes that human reality When, say, General Lee or General Ewell or even that dope General Sickles makes a decision that is clearly wrong in hindsight, Sears explains why that particular road was taken Sears knows that we are all, Civil War generals included, constantly rationalizing our actions In the end, a disaster is usually a string of rationalizations that end in a heap There are a lot of blunders in war, and Gettysburg was no exception Sears excels at showing the reasoned thought processes that led to those blunders Again, none of these generals was trying to throw the battle as the result of a bet or dare He is relatively soft on the performance of General Lee, who is generally indicted for his overconfidence He shows how Lee s overconfidence, his aggressiveness, actually made sense Lee, after all, was fresh off his crowning victory over Hooker at Chancellorsville Today, many historians will tell you that Lee should ve followed Longstreet s advice and tried going around the Yankee army That ignores the fact that Lee very nearly won at Gettysburg and that his tactics were generally sound at the very least, though, Lee should ve written orders that weren t in direct contradiction to each other The most surprising thing about Sears Gettysburg is its elevation of Union commander George Gordon Meade In the years following the Civil War, the political and military acolytes of the deposed Joe Hooker took turns trashing Meade s reputation Meade wasn t helped by an oddly ungrateful Abraham Lincoln, who kept barking at Meade to follow up his victory and destroy Lee s army Geez, Abe, give it a rest Meade was in command a whole week before he won the biggest, most important victory of the war Give him a little credit Later histories have followed this early lead, attributing the Union victory to Lee s mistakes or, to a lesser extent, the vitality of certain Yankee commanders such as Buford and Winfield Scott Hancock Heck, if you watch the film Gettysburg based on Michael Schaara s The Killer Angels , Meade is barely to be found In a movie that is over four hours long , Meade is only on screen for five minutes, and in that time, he is portrayed as a doddering old man who looks like he s just crapped his pants and hopes no one notices the smell Sears lifts Meade s reputation back up to where it belongs He demonstrates that Meade took an incredibly active part in the defense of Gettysburg More than that, he was able to effectively counter all of Lee s aggressive movements by adroit shifting of his men along the line He was also able to delegate local command to worthy subordinates, such as John Reynolds killed on the first day and Hancock, who held Cemetery Ridge Finally, Meade was canny enough to know that not only was Lee going to attack on July 3, but also exactly where that attack was coming So much credit is given to Lee s ability to gauge his opponents, which allowed him to use his aggressiveness against passive foes such as George McClellan and Joe Hooker Here, Meade used his knowledge of Lee s aggressiveness to draw Lee into the center of his lines, where his artillery chewed Pickett s division into bloody bits Sears goes on to show that Meade s pursuit of Lee, while not as swift as possible or as swift as necessary to do the job , was probably the best that could be asked for under the circumstances especially since Lee was begging for a fight where the Union army attacked his entrenchments Again, there is a very human psychology at play here, and Sears does not neglect this Meade had only been in command a week think of the last time you got a new job did your boss ask you to save the nation He had just won a white knuckle victory while suffering some 23,000 casualties And not just any victory He d defeated the Great Lee and he probably hadn t slept in three days Lincoln s protests aside, I think Meade can be forgiven if he wasn t super keen to press his luck right at that moment Indeed, Lincoln should have been happy that Meade wasn t running around in circles peeing on himself while pulling at his beard and yelling Lee Lee Lee in a high pitched voice Because that is how I would ve reacted This is a big book on a single battle, and it does an admirable job thoroughly covering the subject This includes helpfully setting the scene behind Lee s invasion Still, so much happened at Gettysburg that a lot of events get a short shrift For instance, Chamberlain s famous defense of Little Round Top gets about a paragraph, as does the charge of the 1st Minnesota George Custer s repulse of Stuart s cavalry, which protected the Union rear, is almost treated as an afterthought While regrettable, this is also inevitable There is a triad to great history writing 1 scholarship 2 judgment and 3 literary merit Sears slam dunks the first two with the ease of Blake Griffin jumping over a Kia Optima for you basketball fans out there The third leg, though It s not that Sears is a bad writer Bad writing is unclear, ungrammatical, strained, dull, plodding, lifeless That s not what I m talking about here Sears is an accessible writer he is lucid in his explanations clear in his points and he makes deft use of primary accounts to add that firsthand presence to the story However, he doesn t have the narrative power of Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton Foote author of The Civil War A Narrative brought a novelists immediacy to his work however, his scholarship and objectivity left a lot to be desired Catton, on the other hand, to whom Sears has been compared and whom Sears worked with at American Heritage , managed to combine analysis with great prose Sure, there are times in his books when Catton gets carried away, but if there is ever a time for heightened rhetoric and soaring passages, it is in a book about the Civil War.Of course, I can t fault Sears for not being Foote or Catton A person s writing style is personal, and you can t force or fake it Still, I think there were some little things that Sears could ve done to make his narrative lively Namely, I would ve liked to see a bit detail When it comes to the personalities involved, Sears has a tendency to withhold One example, early in the book, occurs when Sears offhandedly mentions that A.P Hill suffered from prostatitis Sears doesn t tell you what this is, other than to hint that it s a sexually transmitted disease This forced me to stop reading and Google prostatitis, in order to find out that it is an inflammation of the prostate causing fever, chills, and the shakes It would ve been nice had Sears added just one sentence, if only to remind us that Civil War generals weren t made of marble and stone, but were actually people, like us, who sometimes had unprotected sex outside the confines of marriage There was another instance I noted during Sears description of the first day s fighting at Gettysburg General Francis Barlow, faced off with General Ewell, had placed a battery of artillery on a small hill, forming a salient This battery was commanded by nineteen year old Bayard Wilkeson Bayard s father, a reporter, was at Gettysburg, covering the battle for his paper Sears writes that Bayard was killed, and then includes a sad quote from his father Then he moves right along This was a golden moment for Sears to bring a little intimacy to war Obviously, Sears can t describe every death, for a variety of reasons space limitations, sheer horror, and the fact that most men died alone and unsung However, in Bayard s case, we know the details of his death, and they are astounding Start with the fact that Bayard was nineteen I don t remember what I was doing at nineteen, but I m pretty sure it involved Miller High Life and did not involve me commanding artillery Bayard was hit in the leg by cannon ball In response, he fitted himself with a tourniquet and amputated his own leg with a pocket knife Again, he was nineteen With a pocket knife Afterward, he was carried to an almshouse, where he died mercifully, if might be said Sears certainly has the intellectual angles of Gettysburg covered However, I believe that the addition of a few humanizing details would have given Sears Gettysburg a bit of the breath of life Still, this is the most minor of criticisms I ve read a lot about Gettysburg, and I ve walked the battlefield twice, and still after reading this book I found myself learning new things and thinking critically about old things and seeing a different vision of the battle unspool in my head.

  2. says:

    A very detailed account of the battle If you want a blow by blow, person by person narrative, this is it Well written I found the politicking of the generals interesting Some things never change Despite the fact it s life and death for the common soldier, many generals still are interested in their career.The dry narrative hides the horror of this kind of battle the bodies torn and destroyed.I used this book as a reference for my Gettysburg mission in Independence Day Time Patrol Independence Day because I needed to know why the Union didn t counter attack on the 4th of July The day after Pickett s Charge Lincoln was certainly pushing for it I agree with the author, and with General Meade, though, that an attack on Lee s forces on Seminary Ridge would have been a disaster Certainly Meade could have pursued Lee quickly after that, but it s easy to critique in hindsight What s amazing is that Meade won despite having been in command less than a week.I also found it interesting that Lee could never really admit that he made a mistake not he 3rd, preferring instead to lay the blame on the execution, not the orders.

  3. says:

    I was visiting Gettysburg the weekend I started reading this book and brought the book along as my textbook I ve read other books about Gettysburg, but I understand this is an especially good overview of the battle During the weekend I was in Gettysburg, I got to see the monument that commemorates the first shot fired at Gettysburg It s easy to miss because it s quite small and, until recently, was on private land The Park Service recently purchased the house and property on which the monument stands It was farther west of Gettysburg than I had anticipated I didn t realize that the Union s initial position began three ridges out from Seminary Ridge I highly recommend hiring a licensed tour guide at the visitors center when you visit the battlefield If you do and focus on a day of the battle at a time, the guide will share quirky little tidbits about the battlefield that most people miss I spent my time on the first day of the battle July 1, 1863 during my visit, but ended my visit there by watching the sunset from Little Round Top I have another trip to Gettysburg coming up in November and am going to set this book aside until I get closer to that visit.

  4. says:

    An excellent book about the most famous battle of the Civil War Sears does a great job of covering every last bit of the battle in depth He includes the lead up to the battle, with Lee s initial discussions with Jefferson Davis about invading Pennsylvania and the fallout from Chancellorsville in Hooker s army which eventually leads to Hooker s resignation and replacement by Meade when he is in the midst of chasing the Rebel army.The book paints quite an interesting picture of the squabbling and failings of the Confederate commanders at Gettysburg while being favorable to Meade than history has sometimes been.I thought one of the most interesting tidbits was Pickett s Charge had precedent to work 4 years earlier, the French had broken the Austrian center with an intense artillery bombardment followed by an infantry assault.Even the 3rd day fighting at East Cavalry Field gets a fair shake while Sears doesn t put forth the master plan suggested in Lost Triumph it does suggest Stuart was indeed trying to access the Union rear some historians have blown the whole thing off and suggested Stuart was merely covering the Confederate flank with no larger intentions Superb book I m going to be reading of Sears works.EDIT I originally read this book in 2009 after visiting the Gettysburg battlefield It started a great deal of reading on my part about the Civil War and a return to college where I completed a History B.A Now in 2013, after reading Gettysburg A Testing of Courage, I decieded to reread this book to compare and see if my opinion of it had changed While I found a few points to nitpick and few typos on this second reading, my overall opinion has not changed I still think this is an outstanding book He may be a little less entertaining than Trudeau, but Sears is still a great writer and this book is has insight and information than its peer The author s best work, probably the best single volume on the battle, and still one of my favorite history books ever Highest recommendation.

  5. says:

    I think I see the value of Sears work He is not an exacting historian He is not an archive rat who will prove the precise location of a regiment in an obscure battle He also has defined bias aganist certain men who can seemingly do nothing right in this book Howard, Slocum, Pleasanton, Kilpatrick, etc He is also not a person to overturn the existing orthodoxy This does not mean he does not have original insights His take on Hooker is fresh and solid although some of Hooker s less savory actions are ignored he was the man who prodded Sickles and Butterfield to attack Meade However, Sears writing is clear and evocative Although he concentrates on the actions of the commanders and his analysis here is usually fair he will always make clear the hellish nature of warfare For these reasons, I see him as the heir to Bruce Catton and one of the best Civil War historians out there.

  6. says:

    Very solid, very thorough recounting of this key battle, including the immediate lead up and aftermath While there is a tremendous amount of they went here and did this , it doesn t generally get bogged down A few illustrations battle maps would have been helpful, but most readers should be able to follow the flow of battle in their head The book dealt a lot with the personalities, interactions, and foibles of the men who led the troops If you want a soldier s view perspective, you won t get that here, but the high level interactions were really interesting and added a lot of context and so, that s why to historical events that I previously knew about, but couldn t really put in context As for the accuracy, I can t really say I m just not enough of a Civil War buff to say whether the author s explanations for how why things happen fit the current consensus I can say that the book is highly critical of Lee though in a forgiving, how could he why would he make these mistakes and certainly highly critical of other generals on both sides If there s a main weakness, it s that the author focused on personalty and personal interactions at the cost of some discussion of strategy and background information If you don t know about Civil War era weapons, tactics, equipment, etc., well, you won t after reading this either It s not a major flaw in the realm of no author book can cover everything , but that may be a meaningful omission to some readers who don t know as much about that era.

  7. says:

    I am going to Gettysburg this autumn and plan to read or re read several of the most authoratative books of the battle Sear s has written an excellent and gripping chronicle of the battle and the military and political context around it His source material for the military intelligence and command decisions of Army of the Potomac is excellent On the other hand , there is not any new insight or perspective on the reasons for the most controversial actions of Lee s army Lots of speculation and references to accounts written years later , but he did not take a position on some of the enduringly perplexing actions taken by Lee or his commanding generals Nevertheless , a superb book.

  8. says:

    Gettysburg by Sears is a military study of the Gettsyburg Campaign, beginning just after the Battle of Chancellorsville and ending with the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River in mid July 1863 The strengths of the book or maybe accurately my prior weaknesses come prior to the battle and after the battle Sears does a good job of explaining Lee s sales pitch to President Davis for a Northern Invasion Lee desires to go on the offensive in order to regain strategic imitative, and not be pinned down by the Army of the Potomac in an attempt to defend Richmond Trouble is mounting in the Western Theater as Vicksburg threatens to fall, and Lee sees an aggressive maneuver against the North as a countermeasure and in the best case a way to relieve pressure on Vicksburg Sears does not speak to Lee s general attitude towards the Western Theater or in an alternative universe whether Lee would have been able to shuttle off Longstreet to aid in the West.Sears also does a good job of describing the palace intrigue brewing within the Army of the Potomac, as the loss at Chancellorsville and General Hooker s overall unwillingness to assume the majority of the blame for the defeat result in wisespread loss of confidence in his command among the Officers of the Army Hooker s struggle to maintain command and his eventual dismissal play a key role in contextualizing the battle of Gettysburg, which begins only days after General Meade assumes command from Hooker The actual march North is well covered as well, with military routes and strategic goals well described Sears faults Stuart heavily but ultimately places the blame for the Confederate s missing Calvary screening on Lee s acceptance of the Stuart proposal In the context of the March, Sears does go into some detail as to atrocities committed by Confederate troops and the impact on civilians most notably and least known to me was the enslavement of free African Americans by the Confederate Army even well into Pennsylvania Sears cites a letter from Longstreet s command regarding human contraband to emphasize that these actions were not occurring behind the backs of Confederate Officers this was a subject I was not taught about in school, and I would be interested in reading about it Moving on, Sears effectively places the armies at Gettysburg while portraying the fog of war well I left with a strong impression of how little each Commander knew about the other Army, and how difficult commanding over 100,000 infantry, animals, artillery, and supply lines must have been from a logistical perspective.The details of the battle itself are also well written if you are interested in particular skirmishes and elements within the battle, they are all well covered The maps are mostly good though often I wish then were broken down to the Regiment and labeled accordingly but this would have probably been overkill Sears is methodically in describing the atrocities of the battle so much that it is easy to forget exactly what he means when he states for example that a particular regiment lost over 70 percent of its fighting power in a single days fighting or sometimes even an hours worth of fighting Sears is at his best or perhaps I find Sears most engaging when he is discussing and questioning strategic decisions and contextualizing battle reports Officers were often overzealous in their praise, or making up for previous blunders or cowardice in their decision making, and Sears appears to be careful to point out when this occurs This provides a needed context for understanding the motivations behind Officer decisions and allows the reader to both hear from the actual Officers and privates involved as well as scrutinize those accounts.Overall, I would recommend Gettysburg to those looking for detail on the lead up and the battle itself I found Gettysburg most disappointing in its treatment of the consequences of the battle Sears spends almost no time discussing the strategic or political consequences This could partly be due to Lee s insistence that his strategy at Gettysburg was correct, only the exectuion of his plan was flawed The Gettysburg Address is given a page, and the book ends with the feeling that the reader has work to do to contextualize the battle For a battle that has been described by many amateur historians as the turning point of the war I was hoping for a greater examination of the consequences of the Battle of Gettysburg.

  9. says:

    In Gettysburg, Stephen W Sears charts the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 to July 24, 1863, Confederate General Robert E Lee s second invasion of the North during the American Civil War The campaign culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 3, in which approximately 48,000 Americans became casualties In the end, nothing was gained except these men added to the casualties rolls.No two armies could have been similar and yet different than the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern Virginia For the first time, the two armies neared manpower parity While Lee s army was supremely confident, even contemptuous of its opponents, George G Meade s army had no illusions about the coming fight Its men were eager to prove they could win a victory.Where Lee s command was rife with disagreement, miscommunication, apathy, and poor decision making, with some exceptions the leadership of the Army of the Potomac had its finest hour Sears convincingly demonstrates that the Union army s leadership simply out classed their counterparts, at least on this battlefield.Much has been made over the years of Confederate cavalry commander Maj General J.E.B Stuart s absence during the critical days leading up to the battle Sears in some ways exonerates Stuart Stuart was following Lee s orders when he rode around the Union army, capturing supplies and disrupting communications The very concept of Stuart s expedition was fueled by overconfidence and misjudgment at the highest command level, he argued While frustrated with Stuart s absence, Lee made no effort to rectify the situation until after the battle was underway.The Army of Northern Virginia lost many of its finest men and officers at the Battle of Gettysburg It would never recover Faced with opposition from his generals for the first time, particularly Lt General James Longstreet, Lee dug in his heels and stubbornly refused to budge This inability to properly manage his subordinates was at the heart of the campaign s failure Where Lee failed at managing his subordinates, Meade succeeded Sears concludes, Meade thoroughly out generaled Robert E Lee at Gettysburg In some ways, Sears judges the Army of Northern Virginia too harshly Despite some missteps, the first day was a stunning victory for the Confederates, and the second day was at worst a draw The Union army occupied a strong defensive position on high ground It is questionable whether any Confederate army could have dislodged it Still, Pickett s Charge on July 3 was an inexcusable disaster that everyone except George Pickett and Robert E Lee seemed to know would fail.Perhaps no Civil War battle has been written about than Gettysburg, but Sears still manages to break new ground There are no factual bombshells here it is a familiar story, but the author s analysis is as insightful as his writing style is clear, concise, and at times even poetic This is truly a masterwork.Stephen Ward Sears born July 27, 1932 , of Norwalk, Connecticut, is a graduate of Lakewood High School and Oberlin College He began his writing career in the 1960s as a World War 2 historian but later found a niche writing about the Army of the Potomac in the American Civil War, and particularly its most famous commander, General George B McClellan His other books include Lincoln s Lieutenants 2017 and George B McClellan The Young Napoleon 1988.

  10. says:

    This book is fairly recent and the blurb says if you re going to read one book about Gettysburg this should be the book But I ve got to say that reading verbal descriptions of battle maneuvering has got to be the dullest thing in the world The reader was pretty good and it really did make you think that he was maybe just sitting there and chatting with you about a war story And there were a few sides about personalities But mostly there were just battle descriptions in a way that I just can t follow And how many times do you want to hear someone say we re just going out there to get killed And how many times do you want a general to say you can blame me Or of the stories about how other people were second guessing the decisions of the general I guess it isn t any amazing to read about guys with guns running across Fields being shot at by guys on the other side of the field We just went through the D day invasion one time with boatloads of guys coming up on the beach and dying before they even touch the sand It was kind of like that at Gettysburg evidently For three days in a row they just shot at each other with rifles and cannons from fairly close range Only they had to re load after every shot.I see it took me three days to read this book Or I should say to listen to it July 1 through July 3 just like they did it in 1863 That was an accident.

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