The Maps of Fredericksburg: An Atlas of the Fredericksburg Campaign, Including all Cavalry Operations, September 18, 1862 – January 22, 1863
Bradley M. Gottfried
Savas Beatie, 2018, 332 pgs, $37.50
Image courtesy of amazon.com
For avid readers of Civil War academia, the name Bradley M. Gottfried is synonymous with his atlases of battle. I remember the first time I picked up The Maps of Gettysburg and was amazed at the detail and narrative which went along with these fine maps. As my life continued as a Civil War reader, I saw the number of other campaigns Gottfried covered, and part of me even hoped that he would cover all of the major campaigns within the conflict. Today, we will be looking at The Maps of Fredericksburg, yet another entry into his fine collection of atlases that continues to aid readers into an understanding of this war.
Dr. Bradley M. Gottfried obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology from Miami University and worked in higher education for the better part of forty years. He is also a board member of the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust. He has authored Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade, Brigades of Gettysburg, Kearny’s Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade, and many others. Most notably is his atlas series which is comprised of The Maps of Gettysburg, Bristoe Station and Mine Run, and The Wilderness, along with others.
Much like his other works in the atlas series, The Maps of Fredericksburg sets aside some time for the pre-battle situations that shows the reader movements towards the fateful place which is immortalized. The Maps of Fredericksburg have a number of these map sets which show the movement that brought armies towards the town. We have sets concerning the movement of McClellan before Lincoln makes a change in command, we have maps of army movements when Burnside takes command, along with the setting before the fight begins. Now these were in all Gottfried’s previous works, but this one seemed a bit more extensive, mainly due to the interesting political situations the Union was placed in. His descriptions of the Confederate movement even details Stuart’s ride around McClellan’s force. Overall, the five sets of maps which bring the reader to the opening shots of the battle, are well made, but it was the narrative that kept everything flowing. This included the building of the bridges which crossed the Rappahannock, and the scouting which Barksdale had accomplished while the Union was constructing it. This also included portions where commanders of the Confederate force were informed to warn the people about the upcoming fight. All of this is told through the excellent narrative we have come to expect from Gottfried.
When the maps of the battle come into play, the details that surround them are quite interesting. We have the opening shots that explains the movement through the town of Fredericksburg, and we have the many waves of attacks that were delivered upon Marye’s Heights,. We even get a taste of attacking the right of the line, where much of the action of General Jackson took place. I have to admit that Map Set 8 through 12 are one of my more favorite parts of this book, mainly due to the attention that Jackson gets in his fight against the Union. Overall, I have to say that this book not only stands out to me as a great atlas of the battle, but as a great narrative as well. That is one of the reasons this series stands out to me. It’s not just about the maps, it’s about the research and narrative which accompanies them.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War. Even though it only focuses on the one campaign, I feel like this addition to Gottfried’s atlas collection would benefit any reader who wishes to know more about the conflict of the Civil War as a whole. I feel that way because of the staggering losses which the Union army obtained in this campaign. Fredericksburg continues to be a point where many Civil War authors draw from, and while they may not write about the campaign, it is often mentioned. As for the addition to the atlas collection, this volume is a must have in any Civil War library. The amount of details, research, and overall care that went into this work shines and Gottfried should be applauded for this continuance of his work. I look forward to the next volume of maps he produces. Highly recommended.