Colecraft Industries – Published in 2006
Philip M. Cole’s book Command and Communication Frictions in the Gettysburg Campaign brings about an interesting scholarship to the battle and campaign which has been so written about over and over again. But with grace, he has brought a new look into that which has been studied so prominently with fresh air.
Cole is a licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg and has military tradition in his family. He has traced his lineage to the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry otherwise known as the Keystone Zouves and has written other works on the battle most prominently the study of artillery on the field for those three days. Though published in 2006, Cole’s study on the command and communication frictions is more than just another Gettysburg study; it is a look into the structure and reason for some of the major problems in the battle when it comes to command.
The book is split in half between Command Friction and Communication Friction and then subdivided among the many different things which could have interfered with their plans. One of the most interesting new points which Cole brings out is that Hooker did not just “make time” as Coddington states in his work; he had many communication frictions between himself and the high command in Washington. Another problem with communication he brings about is the use of time on the battlefield and just how much time it takes to send orders around on the field.
Part of the command friction which was most interesting was the friction with senior commanders and wing commanders. Sometimes with complete disregard for orders, there were great issues among the men in the army. One thing which should have been obvious, but seems new in this work, is the personal relationships which are created through experience and can be a problem when the command changes. These studies are some of the reasons that this book should be among the library of any Gettysburg enthusiast.
One of the most interesting things Cole does in his work is not pay too much attention to Stuart’s downfall during the campaign. He recognizes the previous work done of the subject and leaves well enough alone and makes room for new scholarship. Cole’s work is one of the best studies presented on command in quite some time and though it has been in print for about eight years, should be part of any study of Gettysburg by Civil War historians. This book is highly recommended for any interested in command structure or issues during the Gettysburg Campaign.