Gregory A. Coco
Thomas Publications, 1988
Savas Beatie, 2017, 210 pp., $19.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
As many who tour the battlefield notice, there are a number of signs delineating where the field hospitals of Gettysburg were located. However, while there have been a number of books talking about the field hospitals of Gettysburg, they usually focus on a few of the locations and what they did there. In A Vast Sea of Misery, Gregory A. Coco chronicles the location of each field hospital and some of the interesting cases which came from them. In this printing of Coco’s work, the reference of the field hospitals throughout the town are a welcome sight to see back in print once again.
Gregory A. Coco lived in Gettysburg for nearly thirty-five years. He served in the United States Army and also earned a degree in American History from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. While he was in the army, he served as a prisoner of war military interrogator and also served as an infantry platoon radio operator with the 25th Infantry. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. While living in Gettysburg, he served as a Park Ranger for the National Park and was a Licensed Battlefield Guide. He has written many other articles and books on the Civil War, but his most famous is A Strange and Blighted Land. Gettysburg: the Aftermath of Battle.
This book is separated into six parts all chronicling the field hospitals throughout Gettysburg. The first is the hospitals in the borough of Gettysburg, the second is the Union controlled hospitals, the third is the Confederate controlled hospitals, the fourth are other important medical sites, the fifth being the field hospitals of nearby towns, and the last being Camp Letterman. Overall, the entirety of the book is comprehensive when it comes to the study of what these hospitals performed. Going through the text are intricate details on the location of the hospital, who served there, who most likely was healed due to regimental position, and even a short narrative on what happened. In the end, what I’m getting at is, this is one of the most comprehensive books on Gettysburg hospitals I have ever read. Since this is a new printing of the book, I should mention that I had not read the first edition since I could never seem to get a copy. But this printing of the book is quite gorgeous, just as well done as Savas Beatie’s reprint of A Strange and Blighted Land. Even after the six parts are completed, the appendices are something to behold as they are a wealth of even more information.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg. Especially since the new printing is out, the accessibility of this work has reached even more than before. I will forever enjoy this reference material of the medical work which was done in the aftermath of battle and I thank Gregory Coco for writing it. While A Strange and Blighted Land is his most famous work, I find A Vast Sea of Misery to be just as important and a great companion book to the former. Highly Recommended.