Christ Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, and Daniel T. Davis with Foreword by Mark H. Dunkelman
Savas Beatie, 2015, 170 pp.+22 pp. introduction, $12.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
If there is one thing which can be said about the Emerging Civil War Series, it is the constant excellence it brings to both known and unknown aspects of the Civil War. In Fight Like the Devil, Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White and Daniel T. Davis, bring us a known unknown part of the Gettysburg battlefield: The first day of combat. This book not only gives the reader an excellent readable narrative of the first day of battle, but it also gives an incredible driving tour which closes each chapter. A book such as this has been long overdue and while there are books about the first day of combat, many of them are quite dense. Here, in Fight Like the Devil, the authors tackle the first day of combat as a whole which is needed for the Gettysburg beginner.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is an author of many other Civil War studies and is a professor in the school of journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. Mackowski is also a historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Park where he gives tours of the four major battlefields of the area including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. He also gives tours of the building where Stonewall Jackson died. Kristopher D. White is a historian for the Penn-Trafford Recreation Board and is also a continuing education instructor for the Community College of Allegheny County near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He served as a military historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park as is a former Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. He also has a Master of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. Joining them is Daniel T. Davis who is a graduate of Longwood University with a degree in public history. He has worked as a historian at Appomattox Court House National Historic Site and the Fredericksburg Spotsylvania National Military Park.
In the overall study of the Gettysburg Campaign, the first day of combat is usually the most ignored of all mainly due to the film Gettysburg and its counterpart The Killer Angels. While there was some of the action showed in both the movie and the book, it is quite limited in scope compared to what actually happened that day. In all reality, any person going to the Gettysburg battlefield for the first time might be confused as to what happened on those first days battlefields north of town. This book helps to clear the air of any confusion by not only presenting the strategy and tactics of the action, but giving the readers human interest stories and some of the politics behind the goings on of the army. There have been some narratives which end once the First and Eleventh Corps retreat through the town not telling the reader about the actions on East Cemetery Hill and the Brickyard Fight. Here, they are covered and done so with tour stops and aided by photographs and maps. This book is also filled with 8 appendices written by some respected Gettysburg historians including the authors. Both Eric J. Wittenberg and Matt Atkinson supply some of the appendices in this book along with a foreword by Mark H. Dunkleman. Overall, the narrative gives a cohesive understanding of the battle along with touring stops easy for anyone to follow.
I highly recommend this book to any Gettysburg historian and anyone new to the Gettysburg study. With the lack of concentration on the first day of combat by historians in the past, this book is a welcome addition into the realm of Gettysburg. I also highly recommend the Emerging Civil War Series which continues to publish this excellence along all areas of Civil War study. Mackowski, White and Davis should all be praised for the work which they have done here and have done for the series.