David L. Schultz and Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
Savas Beatie, 2015, 532 pp. + 12 pp. introduction, $32.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
When I first saw that this book was being written, I was excited. Most people would not bat an eye at a book about the second day at Gettysburg, but this book dealt with an area which has been largely ignored in history. Most books focus on the southern end of the battle where many names ring out true: Chamberlain, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, and Hood. But this book deals with the center of the Union fishhook; most coverage on the center of the fishhook has to do with the action on the third day of combat. This book gives the reader some much needed treatment regarding the overall study of the Battle of Gettysburg.
David L. Schultz has written many books, articles, and other writings on the Civil War including Double Canister at Ten Yards: The Federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett’s Charge, and co-authored Guide to Pennsylvania Troops at Gettysburg with Richard Rollins. He is the recipient of numerous awards including citations from the House of Representatives and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Scott L. Mingus Sr. is a scientist and executive in the paper industry. He has written many books surrounding the Gettysburg campaign including Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863, Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith, and Human Interest Stories of the Battle of Gettysburg Volumes I and II. He was awarded the Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award and the Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize for his work on Confederate General William Smith.
The book begins with an overview with what has happened so far up to the second day of combat during the Battle of Gettysburg and while this may seem unnecessary at first, there are many important points made which are pertinent to the rest of the book. When the coverage on the second day of combat begins, Schultz and Mingus show the reader that all was not quiet on the part of the battlefield. The authors do pay attention to what else is going on the field, but the book shines when talking about the activity on Cemetery Ridge. This book proves that the adage, “there is nothing new to learn about Gettysburg” is false. One of the points which stood out to me through this text was the treatment given to the Bliss Farm which was destroyed during the battle. There are a few small monuments out on the field to commemorate where the Farm once stood, but nothing remains, and that includes writings on the action there. Schultz and Mingus give it a fair analysis into the second day’s action in that part of the field. In the end, what we have here is a comprehensive work on the second day’s fight at Cemetery Ridge that is invaluable to any Gettysburg student.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg. So many historians have quoted Little Round Top as the saving grace of the Union, but after reading this book, I am not so sure the efforts of one area of fighting was crucial to the second day of combat. The fighting here at Cemetery Ridge is definitely worth looking over and appreciating for what happened there. The authors make the action come alive with a sweeping narrative, fueled by excellent maps and photographs. When visiting Gettysburg, this is a must to not only have read, but to take with you in order to understand the terrain more so than before. This is a welcome addition to the Civil War academia.