Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
Colecraft Industries, 2006, 102 Pages, $9.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Many historians of the Gettysburg Campaign often tell narratives on a scope dealing with the entire battle, or just a section of the field. There are others who write biographies on a certain person either all throughout the Civil War, or just their time at Gettysburg. While Mingus has done both, he also writes this work on human interest stories which is a great introduction to the people and the special things which they performed during the battle.
Scott L. Mingus, Sr., is the award winning author of Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith, and The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, along with Flames Beyond Gettysburg. He is also the author of several books on Wargaming in the Civil War and is editor with his wife for “Charge!”: a magazine for miniature Civil War gamers. He now resides in York, Pennsylvania.
Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign is a work which is unique and unlike any other. While other books tend to elaborate on the subject at hand, Mingus gives a quick introduction to the story, tells us what happened and moves on to the next. However, he has crafted the work in a way which tells the story of the battle without getting involved in any of the major details. Most people reading history who are the regular book buyers will get lost in the strategy and tactics of the battle and would often find it tedious. But here, Mingus gives us what fuels the reading of the people. While someone like myself enjoys reading about tactics and strategy and the mechanics of war, the average reader does not. Here, in this collection, Mingus grabs the readers, gives them a taste of what happened and moves on to the next subject. This book is a great introductory for anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg. It is also a book which should be taken along on the battlefield with people as they tour. The chapters are easily set for the pre-battle stories, the battle broken up by days, and the post battle. While touring the areas of the battlefield, this could be a resource guide to help you understand the stories of the monuments. Not only that, Mingus’ narrative is completely readable. As with his other works, Mingus writes in such a flowing narrative that it is hard not to be enthralled with what is being written. He also gives you the source right away and does not make you search for his materials in the endnotes which are incredibly helpful when working with short stories instead of a long narrative. Still, to this day, the average person touring the battlefield is not enamored with strategy and tactics, but the human interest stories. Too many times, history has alienated people with the tedium of information which leaves out the humanity in the people. Here, Mingus gives us what makes history enthralling to the public. Here are the Human Interest stories in a solid volume and easily accessible to the public.
I highly recommend this book for even the most avid Gettysburg historian. These stories have stood the test of time and even the ones we have never heard of before are told with grace in the narrative of Mingus. There is always something new to learn when it comes to the Gettysburg Campaign and Mingus gives us those new things to learn. Paired with the second volume of these Human Interest stories, this collection is undoubtedly important to have on the shelf of any Civil War historian.