Eric J. Wittenberg and Scott L. Mingus Sr.
Savas Beatie, 2016, 504 pp., $32.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There has been some recent attention to the month leading up the Battle of Gettysburg; so many studies have been written about the battle itself that this is well needed attention. The Second Battle of Winchester is one such work which brings to light some of the details of the footsteps of the battle we all have read much about. It is the Second Battle of Winchester which allows the Confederate army to punch through to Gettysburg and Eric J. Wittenberg and Scott L. Mingus Sr. have done a great service to the Civil War realm by writing such a work.
Scott L. Mingus Sr. is a familiar name to many. His works span Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863 and Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith: From Virginia’s Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat. His is a scientist and executive in the paper industry and has won the Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award. Eric J. Wittenberg is an accomplished Civil War historian, mainly in the cavalry realm. He has written many articles in magazines and is also the author of The Devil’s to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg, and Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions. He has won the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable’s 2015 Book Award.
As I have found with most recent Civil War works, the opening chapter was one of the most rewarding for me as a reader. The authors took a great deal of time and effort to bring us seven months worth of information from December of 1862 to June of 1863. This part was invaluable. However, the book becomes more valuable to the Gettysburg reader as it goes on. By breaking up the action by days, the book gives a well written and understandable account of the battle and very even tempered on both sides. While reading through the account of the battle, any reader can understand that this was one of the key battles leading up to Gettysburg. Both Mingus’ and Wittenberg’s narrative shows a mastery of not only the information, but of their incredible style of the writing. Up until this point, I had no idea that the Second Battle of Winchester was as exhausting on the men as previously thought. One of the appendices also offers a driving tour, which many know I find invaluable to any book; other appendices also gives the order of battle and even surgeons and chaplains captured. These parts not only gave the book something more for the reader, but gave the all around picture needed to understand this engagement. Add in the well drawn maps and what we have is the most comprehensive book about the battle I have read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War. Usually I recommend books to certain Civil War audiences, but this one seems to capture something that would make any reader of the genre interested. I learned much from these pages and have a better idea of what happened on the roads to Gettysburg here. Both Mingus and Wittenberg are masters of the craft and should be applauded for the work they brought here to Civil War academia. Highly Recommended!